A letter from Lisa Jones
Dear Representatives of the SGI Corporate Entity:
There will never be a really free and enlightened SGI organization until the organization comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him (or her) accordingly.
I paraphrased that line from Thoreau's Civil Disobedience, the treatise that inspired Gandhi and countless others. Thoreau's allegiance was to his conscience: "The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right."
I have read the recent SGI memo
regarding the Gohonzon and the IRG. I note that it was not signed by an individual or individuals, but is the expression of a religious corporation. I am writing to inform you that I respectfully decline to be bound by any authority that the SGI corporation wishes to exert over me. I have taken refuge in the Buddha, the dharma and the sangha -- the community of individuals who seek kosen-rufu -- and this is where I remain with or without corporate blessing or censure.
Any religious organization that asks its members to follow its dictates instead of the dictates of individual conscience, is, in my view, arrogating to itself an authority which it cannot rightly possess.
To borrow again from Thoreau: I imagine an organization that can afford to be just to all people, and to discuss all topics openly -- an organization that does not feel threatened if a few members live aloof from it, or wish to reform it, or disagree with some points of organizational policy, who otherwise fulfill all the duties of Nichiren Buddhist practitioners and fellow human beings. An organization which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious organization, which I have also imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.
Wishing you a pleasant May 3,