Sangha - Before Chas get too carried away...
Chas argues that leaders (rather than correct faith) hold a sangha together.
He also claims I'm setting up my own sangha. And of course, Chas loves the notion that disrupting the sangha is one of the big no, no's in Buddhism (well unless it's his organisation, his leaders and his erroneous teachers who are doing the disrupting, in which case it's OK). He uses this theme a lot in his attempts to frighten and scare SGI members who might be reading this forum, into compliance. Rather like his current SGI masters wgi use the same tactic.
But before Chas gets carried away with his new word, "sangha", lets just pause to reflect on whether it's use by Chas and his SGI masters in this way, is correct in terms of Nichiren's teaching. And also, consider the use by WND Translators and Gosho committee of the term "Buddhist Order", which is used as an alternative for sangha
First the latter "Buddhist Order". In Major Writings Series, which SGI used up until just after it's excommunication, in the On Repaying Debts of Gratitude, the phrase "treasure of the priesthood" is used.
In the new translation (WND), "priesthood" was replaced by "Buddhist Order", suggesting that SGI WND translation commitee saw an equivalence between the term "Priesthood" and the phrase "Buddhist Order".
In this latter Gosho, "What It Means to Slander the Law"
The term "Buddhist Order" is again used. In the NOPPA translation, this term is also used and later in that passage, "samgha" (sangha) is used as an alternative term for Buddhist Order.
So this is what Nichiren tells us about sangha (buddhist order)...
"As to the causes that condemn one to this hell, it may be said that those who commit any of the five cardinal sins will fall into this hell. The five cardinal sins are killing one’s father, killing one’s mother, killing an arhat, causing a Buddha to shed blood, and causing disharmony among the members of the Buddhist Order. In our present age, however, since there is no Buddha now living, it is impossible to cause a Buddha to shed blood. Likewise, since there is no Buddhist Order, it is impossible to cause disharmony among its members."
"Likewise, since there is no Buddhist Order, it is impossible to cause disharmony among its members."
He goes on to say...
"Thus the only offenses possible are those of killing one’s father or killing one’s mother. And since the laws of the sovereign are so strict in their prohibition of the killing of a parent, it is rare to find anyone who commits such an offense. Hence in our present age, one would expect that very few people would fall into the Avīchi hell."
"However, there are offenses that are similar in gravity to the five cardinal sins. There are many persons who burn the wooden or painted images of Buddhas or Buddhist halls and pagodas, who appropriate the lands donated to such Buddhist images, who hack down or burn the stupas, or who kill wise men. Such persons will fall into the sixteen separate places that are attached to the Avīchi hell. Thus we may be certain that many of those living in the world today will fall into these sixteen separate places, and those who slander the Law will also fall into this hell."
That seems pretty explicit to me. Disrupting the Buddhist Order is nit possible in this age, at least according to Nichiren.
The point of this Gosho, is to focus on the offeses that will cause one to fall into Avinci Hell, that of slandering the True Law Dhama, in this age. It's all about faith.
So disrupting the mind of faith, leading believers down an erroneous path away from Gohonzon and a beleif in the power of faith in the Daimoku alone as the only way ro attain buddhahood, that is a grave offense. Disrupting the BuddhistcOrder per se, is not, especially since Nichiren states that tgus offense is impossibke to commit in this age.
That makes sense doesn't it? After all, Nichiren clearly spoke out and chalkenged, he left his teacher and his school and relentlessly against their doctrines. If SGI had been Tendai and Nichiren one of the many ex members that claim the same thing, that SGI teaching has fallen inti error and confusion, well he'd have been commiting the sin of disrupting the buddhist order.
But he didn't and wasn't able to becausecit was impossible ti commit that sin in his age. And the same is equally true tiday witg the SGI and its members, well, according to Nichiren.
What is a sin is slandering the true Law.
This by the way is why I am "picky" on the correctness of faith and also why I urge people to be careful not placing conditions on the Law.
No Chas, it is not OK to teach people that there is a transmission through the "mystic bond of mentor-disciple" and that if one does "follow the way of mentor-disciple one cannot attain buddhahood." Entry is through faith alone and attainment of buddhahood is achived through embracing and sustaining faith in the daimoku, well at least according to Nichiren.
To teach otherwise as the SGI and it's leaders now do, is to teach that embracing and sustaining faith alone is insufficient and that is a direct slander to the True Law and inconsistent with Nichiren's teaching. It happens to be important.
That is what your "Mentor" is teaching Chas. One of the supposed "three eternal mentors for kosen rufu" is teaching that faith in the daimoku alone is insufficient to attain buddhahood. That is the faith he and the SGI is now spreading around the globe.
Nichien goes on...
"Question: I understand now that the sin of slandering the Law is even graver than the five cardinal sins. But just what does it mean to slander the Law?"
Answer: The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai Chih-che in his commentary on the Brahmā Net Sutra says, “‘To slander’ means to turn against.” Thus one who turns against the Law is slandering the Law. Vasubandhu in his Treatise on the Buddha Nature says, “To hate a thing isto turn against it.” The meaning of this passage is that one who hates the Law and causes others to reject it is slandering the Law."
Do you not hate the Law woth you words and actions when you teach that embracing and sustaining faith alone is insufficient to inherit the Law?
Do you not hate the Law, when you falsely assert that the only way to attain buddhahood is by following the way of mentor-disciple?
Do you not hate the Law, when you promote an unclear teaching based on unclear and ill defined labelling, which you know is unnecessary and is confusing (as a means to further your organisation and promote your brand), and which results in people turning thier backs on the very clear and very simple principle that entry is through faith alone and that this is all they is needed to attain buddhahood?
If I'm to fall into Avinci Hell, it won't be because I didn't follow your "Mentor" Chas, or follow current SGI teaching, it will be solely because I didn't have enough faith in the Law or was unable to sustain that faith.
I have repeatedly drawn attention to the priority that Nichiren set. 1) Sutra, 2) latter commentators.
Nichiren tells us that this order should always be used. He also tells us that it is unacceptable to use latter commentary when the meaning of the Sutra is clear and that if there is a conflict between commentary and Sutra, the commentary should be rejected and the Sutra accepted.
Applying this principle to Nichiren's own work, is it acceptable to publish lectures amd guidance when Nichiren's meaning is clear? For sure, bringing in relevant context, for example where the writing sat in the timeline and relationship to other related Gosho or main themes, that is helpful, so long as it's aim is to elucidate understanding, is necessary and is accurate .
Inventing an "SGI Teaching" of "mentor-disciple" and reinterpreting the Gosho to support the new "sutra" you have invented is not.
Make no mistake, SGI leaders, its study department and its "Mentor" concept is all tertiary commentary on Nichiren's Gosho and the Sutra.
The priority is clear, Sutra, Nichiren, anyone else.
Current SGI mentor-disciple teaching, its lectures and guidance, it value creation pedagogy, it's Human Revolution, it's supposed Buddhist Philosophy are collectively, the SGI's "sutra" or teaching.
As far as these accord with Nichiren's teaching and to the extent they lead to correct faith and do not block the path to correct faith, they are to be judged good/ bad, erroneous/accurate.
What cannot happen is that SGI's provisional teachings are used to refute the True Law. Immendiately this occurs one has slandered the True Law.
As Nichiren puts it...
"If we consider this fact, then we can see that, although one may simply be following the teachings of the sutra that one believes in, if one attempts touse that sutra to refute a sutra that is superior to it, then one will be slandering the Law. And if this is the case, then those persons who put their faith in provisional Mahayana sutras such as the Meditation Sutra and the Flower Garland Sutra, though they may carry out the practices prescribed in the text of the sutra, if they fail to set aside such sutras and put their faith in the sutras that are superior to them, or if they dare to assert that their own sutras are superior, then they will in effect be slandering the Law. Thus, for example, though one may understand the teachings as they are taught in the Meditation and the other sutras, if a sutra appears that refutes those teachings and yet one fails to accept that sutra, then one is slandering theLaw. The principle here is the same as in the case of the Hinayana sutras discussed above."
Does SGI "...dare to assert that their own sutras are superior..."?
If they do, "then they will in effect be slandering the Law."
By accepting, promoting and defending a teaching and fallacious intellectual framework, that states
"if one forgets the way of mentor-disciple one cannot attain buddhahood" you dare to suggest that faith in the Daimoku alone is insufficient for the attainment of Buddhahood.
You assert the superiority of SGI's sutra over the Lotus Sutra and use the teaching if the former to refute the latter. That my friend is direct slander, no good can come of it, for you, for the SGI, for it's leaders, for it's mentors or for it's members or it's supporters.
It wasn't always this way, at least in my experience, so how can it be remedied?
SGI published the words, it alone is responsible for its "sutra" and how it teaches.
It can understand the problem, understand the confusion it is creating by mislabelling and it can direct it's members back to Gosho and set a clear and consistent priority between it's guidance and Gosho, as it once did, ensuring it's members always understand the latter is superior and encouraging them to reject and challenge erroneous guidance.
It can change its tack, focussing less on its leaders and the supposed glories and achivements if Daisaku Ikeda and discouraging tendencies towards idealisation and idolisarion of this man.
This stance, by the way, is entirely consistent with gus teaching on this matter. He argues repeatedly that the tendency to idolise, idealise and mythologise spiritual leaders is chatacteristic if religions and tgat the resylts if doing this are that people end up existing to serve the religion rather than the religion existing to serve the people.
Given Daisaku Ikeda's utterances in this natter, it should be quite a simple matter for the SGI to make this change and actively work against it's members developing this unhealthy and counter productive ideation of Daisaku Ikeda.
That strategy will protect the SGI and it's members but such an open culture will not protect any corrupt leaders, which again is beneficial to the organisation and it's members.
One doesn't want corruption in such an organisation, the SGI's power and wealth make it a very attractive target for people who have a veneer deep interest in promoting correct understanding of Nichiren's Buddhism, little care for its members and every care for using the organisation for their own selfish gain. These people will fight and typically they will do so using guile. The defence against such tactics? Clarity, openess, transparency, challenge and accountability.
The question is has the SGI for all it's rhetoric about religion in the 21st Century and Buddhist Humanism built an organisation that reflects those values in its structure, culture, care for past members, gratitude and focus on the many who built it, past and present, conduct and behaviour towards those it disagrees with and openess to outside scrutiny?
I leave others to consider how much say they had in the decision to change the prayers. How much say they have in the building of yet another Culture Centre for an organisation that has had a drop of 40% in it's global membership, from 20 million to 12 million since 1988 amd at a time when the world, it's leaders and corporations should be doing everything possible to reduce carbon emissions, pollution and environmental impact in an effort to mitigate the risks to future generations. Is investing money and irganisational focus the best way to do this? Has that debate even been started by the SGI leaders?
In Rissho Ankoku Ron, Nichiren argued that embracing erroneous teachings and slandering the True Law to internal strife and external attack. The calamaties that result from the three poisons of Greed, Anger and Stupidity naturally play out in a nation so wrongly based. And so with organisarions that are likewise wringly based or that have allowed themselves to become so. SGI is one such, can it find a way back? Part of me hopes so but the other part says that it has gone too far down the wrong road.
For the life of me I don't understand how the likes of Mr Harada, Mr Wada, Mr Kaneda were able to turn the likes of SGI UK leaders, who were firm and crystal clear about The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin and who had created such a glorious, effective organisation, into gushing, incoherant Ikeda Promoters willing to teach something other than faith in the Daimoku as the sole route to Buddhahood.
If it wasn't buddhism, it could easily be the plot line from Star Wars as members are turned from the light side to the dark, through trickery and crucially by stoking their anger in a perceived and widely promoted external enemy.
The result is the same, authoritanarianism, tight central control, propoganda and indoctination of its faithful "storm troopers" and the loss of their individuality for the "greater good" and the glory of their "supreme leader"...lool come back Luke, the SGI needs you... ;)
Be well :)