"I too had a most unpleasant experience with SGI and mine also came in the form of the Contribution video. The first red flag was when I walked into the meeting, there were only women. The second red flag was when Ikeda appeared on the screen….the women started to cry and say how much they loved him. The third was their insistence that I could not receive a gohozan without the $50 to SGI. The fourth was when the SGI member who invited me to the meeting, came into my house, went into my bedroom and dismantled my altar with Shayamuni Buddha on it. She then stated that I would incur severe, bad karma for having such a statue on my altar.
I became enraged, threw her out of my home and asked her to never come back.The last straw was, after I sat and thought about it…why were there no men at the meeting…why were the women segregated? Why were we obligated to practice alone amongst ourselves? It was just strange.
Sitting in that room during the video, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I wanted to run away and fast…. something was just not right. Eventually, I was able to speak to that SGI member again and I conveyed to her that SGI had the feeling of a cult to which she replied: “If it was a cult, I would not be in it for 26yrs.” Immediately, my thought was, how can she not have an inkling of the cult-like atmosphere?
I felt sad for her because she did not realize that all those years, she has been participating in a cult and thus, would never be able to relate to me on any type of level other than that of the SGIs views.
Then the phone calls, emails and offers to “come visit you at your house” started. I simply stopped answering their calls, emails and gave a polite “no thank you” to the offers of visits.
As one who practices alone too, what I have found is that I practice in the way that feels “right” to me. In my observations, the reason there are so many different sects, not only in Buddhism, but in every other religion, is that as humans, we cannot agree upon the “correct” way to worship. This of course, is the ego telling us that our way is the only way and every other way is wrong.
I do my best to stay true to the practices…doing the rituals and prayers as prescribed. I’m sure since I have no teacher or others to guide me, that I sometimes do things incorrectly. However, what I am most sure about is that no matter what, the simple act of practicing, having faith and believing, studying and reading…all those things are correct. So don’t sweat the small stuff. Keep doing what you’re doing and may you gain great insight and wisdom." -- Tara