30 years is a long time but it would be like writing a book. Right now it seems like a blur probably because I am pressing fast forward in motion in my mind. There are things that stand out changes I saw both orgs go through. Remember I was in NSA from 86 through to the "breakup" then maybe 10 years in NST then left to be independent and then on and off for the remaining years between sgi and nst and independent. By independent I mean I just chanted on my own but that was just so depressing cause of all the programming that I would bounce back to one or the other org quickly. One thing I can say NST never changed except for one very specific change around i think 98 which i believe was beginning od their demise. They created a strict wall between priest and member and their was this rotating shift of people (gatekeepers) that took or were elected for positions at the temple. They were always an extremely scary bunch. Just very solemn extremely strict and never ever reach out to you group of folks. With all respect to anyone who has had shock therapy that is the best way I can describe them. It was this overzealous hand shake and maybe hug and hello how are you and then they just turned off like a light switch. Like geisha girls except they were American men and women. And when you asked to see the priest you have to make an appointment. Which makes sense but they made a huge deal out of it. It was like trying to get into a club in the 70's or 80's in NY. VERY COLD FREEZING reception. The priest always seemed friendlier than the whole crew of followers or believers or whatever we were. When I first started it was truly a relationship between a priest and you, like a student teacher relationship and they were much more accessible people and teachings and it wasn't so uptight. Then suddenly it got real rigid in there. Even when it came to the material we studied it was very strictly guarded. You only study what is in publication. They discouraged any other kind of study. They were strictly what they were and no room for humanity. My only memories of humanity were with some of the priests and I can count the experiences (about 3) and then the one very bad experience I originally shared. I still don't acknowledge it. I wrote it. I know it. But I don't acknowledge it. Its not time yet. Little by little it will come to me and I'll let it out in tears, therapy, or in a friend's arm. Switching topics..SGI took the opposite route. I am an ex corporate person and lets just say SGI are rockstar marketers. I mean walking into an NST meeting your like "who died?" Walking into an SGI meeting is like everyone did a spontaneous line or 2 or 3 of a white substance. No matter how long the meeting 2 or 3 hours everyone was "on!". It was impressive. I would look around and be like wow that is how I want to spend my day. HAPPY OUTRAGEOUSLY HAPPY OPTIMISTIC POSITIVE FAILING IS NOT AN OPTION...yeah yeah i want what they have. I gotta get on this chanting. I couldn't be right they had to be right cause they were "the happy ones". I know i sound sarcastic but I am a little sarcastic to begin with and when i begin to talk sometimes it takes up speed. So let me slow down a bit and just say that I feel some of them were happier than me (I suffer from some depression), kinder, and genuinely wanted me to be happy. They proved it in every way shape and form. But as I said I am quite the observer and I could see how they hand chose certain people and groomed them. Those terrible songs about Ikeda, in the bookstore he was the author of 90% of the books (come on now!) and when i would say I like SGI but I have to leave because i can't worship Ikeda. He really does make my hair stand up on my neck and the way people act about him. It just scares me. They would tell me...no one worships Ikeda or the Gohonzon guidance session after guidance session directly after giving me guidance that my only hope in life is to chant, worship the Gohonzon , but first and foremost Ikeda. I remember leaving guidance session in tears cause I knew Ikeda was a deal breaker for me and whoever I just spoke with was a robot. Total contradiction. No matter which org you are in you feel like a number and a worshipper of something "questionable" but that should never be questioned. You feel like a slanderer every single time a question pops in your head or a thought or a feeling contradictory to theirs appears. "But that song is militant and cultish" I would say. "But I already tried chanting a million daimoku campaigns" I would say )and I did!). I chanted so much I opened and shut the temple and the sgi centers in the different cities I lived I was such a regular. I helped others. i did activities. So while their marketing is better.... like in the Wizard of OZ that curtain sure does blow open many times and for those who see what is behind the curtain you will be told something or other. So they are not seamless but they are superior in marketing but also in caring. I feel the members are unaware of things that some of the leadership knows. You could kind of tell because leaders always have either robot look on their face or a kind of "I saw something they shouldn't have seen or know something they shouldn't know" but those leaders don't last too long. Not everyone but a lot of them. Also this month of May contribution thing is such paper thin hypocrisy I used to avoid meetings in May altogether. I had to keep from throwing up and get a handle on my eye rolling. Nothing amazing to share nothing except some day to day things that would make no sense to post. Nothing but an accumulation of 30 years of people and experiences. What bugs me is that I always felt I was the only one in the room going WTF!!!!!!!!!!!! at the top of my inner voice and everyone was carrying on like nothing. No one ever says "I don't know" they just quote and tell you stay or point something out to make you feel its you. No one has ever said, maybe this isn't for you sweetie. There's a whole big world out there. Go explore it. Its ok you are free, you are good, you are kind. I was waiting for permission. Thats my part in it. Reaching out to your community was me beginning to step foot outside the world and seeing what is good for me. Not saying Im there. No way. Been crying off and on since my first post here. But the tears are different. They feel like a release of some kind of snake oil or magic potion bullshit thinking I've been holding on to. But it was almost my whole life. I never had children I was too busy with activities (this I grieve with all my being). I turned away 5 serious relationships between by 20 to 30 because those guys thought my practice was weird and I was "too into it". Magical thinking and grandiosity after some marathon chanting sessions made me make some real dangerous turns right off some of the highest cliffs in life. I crashed and burned but still here. I went the wrong way many times because i was not living in reality. When you think you can make anything happen you do some really stupid things. This is going to take me a while. Im not dwelling in it either. Ive been keeping quite busy but its like an open wound right in the center of my chest that changes from numb, to scared, to infuriated, to phew that was close, to thank goodness, and back to numb...rinse and repeat. Again so thankful to all of you for sharing freedom with me. I feel stupid writing some of this stuff but hey its the story so far. I dream of being free. Im dreaming of it and smiling as I post this right now. Could it happen for me? Am I too far gone. A post is just a post but a 360 in life will take me some time it is not yet my reality. Or should I say I haven't woken up to reality yet. I wish everyone a cool and beautiful Friday night.