When the Bodhisattvas Never Despise of this era tell them, "you will all become Buddhas", SGI members say, "we are already Buddhas. We don't need your false predictions."
Cris Roman helped shape the doctrines of the SGI in the sixties and early seventies. His essay, Ethics and Morality in Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism, for example, has numerous errors but it is not completely erroneous. That is the danger of the Soka Gakkai: It mixes the clean with the unclean and the correct with the incorrect. For this reason, SGI members are confused and fail to obtain the fruit of the Nichiren faith.
1). "Ultimately the goal, at least for me, is to arrive at a point where personal suffering is minimized so that more and more of my finite energy as a single human can be exerted in relieving the suffering of others."
In pre-Lotus Sutra or provisional Buddhism, suffering (specifically the Lower Six Worlds and generally, the Nine Worlds excepting Buddhahood) can be eliminated or 'minimized". On the other hand, the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren, and Tientai teach that the infinite and eternal Nine Worlds exist in the infinite eternal World of Buddhahood and visa versa.
Nichiren teaches, "In suffering awake to the nature of suffering; in joy rejoice. Realizing both suffering and joy as they really are [tathata], chant Namu Myoho renge kyo." and "relatively minor hardships, such as exile, imprisonment, torture and execution." One who is practicing the Lotus Sutra, yet trying to eliminate or diminish suffering (which is neither eliminable nor diminishable), is destined for a rude awakening and they may abandon their faith. Nichiren prepared his disciples for the best of times and the worst of times. There is also the matter of the Eight Winds (prosperity, decline, disgrace, honor, praise, censure, suffering, and pleasure). As Nichiren teaches, " a truly wise man will not be carried away by the Eight Winds." Of course, actual proof in the real world, as accomplished by Shijo Kingo, is important but his change in circumstance was a product of his striving ever more in faith and not his striving to diminish his sufferings. Nichiren Daishonin writes in the Kaimoku Sho which he entrusted to Shijo Kingo:
"You people, why then do you not also strive for the sake of the Law?"
He did not say "strive to end or diminish suffering."
In Letter to Yorimoto (Shijo Kingo) he writes:
"Even though I myself have been able to withstand attacks with sticks of wood or tiles and stones, vilification, and persecution by the authorities, how could people such as lay believers, who have wives and children, and are ignorant of Buddhism, possibly do the same? Perhaps they would have done better never to have believed in the first place. If they are unable to carry through with their faith to the end, and uphold it only for a short while, they will be mocked by others. So thinking, I felt pity for you. But during the repeated persecutions I suffered and throughout my two sentences of exile, you have demonstrated your resolve. Though that has been wondrous enough, I have no words sufficient to praise you for having written a pledge to carry through with your faith in the Lotus Sutra, in spite of your lord’s threats and at the cost of your two fiefs."
Hardly was Shijo Kingo striving to eliminate suffering or acquire new lands.
2). Cris continues:
"Buddhism does not promise the annihilation of all suffering. Sakyamuni's teachings began when he perceived suffering as an inevitable aspect of life. What Sakyamuni intended and what Nichiren perfected was a way to totally illuminate my Buddha nature, thereby providing me the wisdom and strength to eternally transform all the sufferings of life and death into fundamental joy. Daimoku provides the wisdom, strength and opportunity while the Bodhisattva ideal supplies the moral imperative."
The Lotus Sutra does not promise the annihilation of any suffering, not one iota. It promises Buddhahood. There is no transformation whatsoever. There is no human revolution. There is only awakening to the true nature of life and the joy derived from the Law. I'm not sure what he means by, "...the bodhisattva ideal supplies the moral imperative", so I won't say much except that, moral imperative is a Buddhist, Confucian and Christian concept of the World of Tranquility [Humanity], not the World of Bodhisattva. The Bodhisattvas imperative is faith in the Lotus Sutra, actions to put into practice the words of the Buddha and Nichiren Daishonin, and the vow to awaken all beings.
The SGI doctrines are so distorted that hearing them makes me realize the true meaning of suffering. If in fact, I am correct that Cris Roman was formative or even merely a vessel for the propagation of the erroneous SGI doctrines, then he should prostrate himself on the ground and apologize to those he hurt and continues to hurt. Also, like Vasubandu, he should write dozens of essays and thesis, both refuting their previous mistaken doctrines while praising and expounding the truth of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Daishonin's teachings.
3). Through Buddhist practice, I can elevate my perspective to a place where I recognize my suffering as a lack of some sort of support from an infinite universe with which I am one and to which I am inextricably and eternally bound.
Here we see a mixture of Lotus Sutra Buddhism, New Age, and Value Creation philosophy. Suffering is not a lack of anyTHING. It is being attached to wrong views and things. It is the beginningless and endless Nine Worlds that is as much a part of us (and Buddhahood) as our heart and liver, the dying of a child and the blooming of a flower. The Lotus Sutra states:
"At that time the four groups
Were devoted to (material) things." (Chapter 20, Bunno)
"The Four types of devotees at that time
Were attached to [wrong views]" (ibid. Hurvitz)
Those delusional people who persecuted Bodhisattva Never Despise and who hadn't met the Buddha in India must have been reborn as SGI members in Mappo. Here they assert the very same thing as the "four groups", only they are more arrogant. When the Bodhisattvas Never Despise of this era tell them, "you will all become Buddhas", they say, "we are already Buddhas. We don't need your false predictions."
[3). continued] "At this point, simple Newtonian physics would have me understand that if I wish energies to be directed toward my being, I need to create forces that emanate outward from my life. This is similar to the attitude of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," which resonates with the Bodhisattva ideal."
Here he is mixing Buddhism with New Age and Christianity. Being a Bodhisattva is not "wishing energies" to us like selfish beggars but to follow the mandate of the Buddha of the 16th Chapter of the Lotus Sutra and Bodhisattva Jogyo (Nichiren).
Further down we read:
4)."Similarly, the concept of the Middle way is bound up in the determination of what the proper approach to a given situation may be. Just as an artist might draw the line in the pictogram at either end or in the middle, according to his or her individual propensity, so too does the finding of the Middle Way imply that, under certain circumstances, it may indeed involve going to an extreme."
"In seeking the Middle Way, the Buddhist invokes Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and uses the wisdom that naturally wells up within to make the appropriate causes at the appropriate times. Even our seeming mistakes are made so we can learn. The promise of the Lotus Sutra is that life will not end before we have realized our absolute power."
Here Cris mixes more New Age, Value Creationism, provisional Buddhism, and true Buddhism. The first paragraph directly above fails to go beyond the Hinayana view of precepts, the Mahayana practice of the paramitas, the conventional view of cause and effect, and the teachings according to the capacities of the people (rather than according to the teachings that befit the time). Strategy boils down to the faith and practice of the Lotus Sutra, not the faith and practice of proper approaches. That is why SGI members run around like cats chasing their tails, wasting precious time with the "proper approach" to promoting the World Tribune, the mentor disciple relationship, and employing every strategy other than the Lotus Sutra, statistics, for example. How can you strategize for an exile or an attempt on your life? Only through deep faith in the Lotus Sutra, the Gohonzon, and Shakyamuni Buddha are we neither influenced nor frightened by them. The character myo is endowed with all sorts of meritorious benefits. Nichiren states that the character Myo signifies perfect endowment. He also states it means to open and to revive.
In the second paragraph above, he somewhat corrects himself but then boasts:
"The promise of the Lotus Sutra is that life will not end before we have realized our absolute power."
Nichiren writes, however:
"Is any single great matter to be found in the other sutras? The Lotus Sutra contains twenty outstanding principles. Among those twenty, the most vital is the “Life Span” chapter’s revelation that the Buddha first attained enlightenment numberless major world system dust particle kalpas ago. People may well wonder what this revelation means. Explain that it teaches that common people like ourselves, who have been submerged in the sufferings of birth and death since time without beginning and who never so much as dreamed of reaching the shore of enlightenment, become the Thus Come Ones who are originally enlightened and endowed with the three bodies. That is, it reveals the ultimate principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life. From this perspective, you should firmly establish that the Lotus Sutra is the most profound among all the Buddha’s teachings.
You may bring forth this point in an official debate, but not during personal discussions. Should you indiscriminately mention it to whomever you meet, on any occasion or at any time, you will certainly incur punishment from the Buddhas of the three existences. This is the doctrine that I have always referred to as my own inner realization."
In their ends justify the means marketing approach, they go around indiscriminately preaching, "We are Buddhas, you are a Buddha.", contrary to the guidance of Nichiren
Cris Roman's writing, Ethics and Morality in Nichiren's Buddhism, cites principally, one Writing of Nichiren Daishonin, On Attaining Buddhahood In This Very Life. Despite his few correct insights based on this writing, I would be remiss in failing to point out that this writing is a disputed text and at the very most, an early writing of Nichiren. We too, from time to time, use the disputed texts but such texts as The True Aspect of All Phenomena, On the Treasure Tower, and the Ongi Kuden for example, are the SGI's bedrock foundation. Why? Because their erroneous distorted doctrines such as, "Nichiren as True Buddha", "we are Buddhas just as we are", "the Lotus Sutra has lost its power in the Latter Age", etc., are not found in the authentic texts. You will notice that Cris relies heavily on the commentary of Mr. Matsuda. He would have done better relying on the Lotus Sutra itself and the commentaries of Nichiren Daishonin. There are additional commentaries on the Ethics and Morality of the Lotus Sutra that are more in depth and more in line with the Lotus Sutra and the writings of Nichiren Daishonin than this writing. For a further discussion of this topic, Google search is a good place to start.. One such article, Ethics in the Lotus Sutra, a collection of papers, states:
"As you will see on reading the papers, no consensus on any ethical issue was reached. There was not even an agreement on whether or not the Lotus Sutra taught an "ethics." In discussion, Gene Reeves argued that "ethics" could be understood in three ways. First, in the philosophical sense of the word, it is the systematic study of the principles of right and wrong, and in this sense, is absent from the Lotus. The second sense of "ethics" as a list of moral principles to be followed is also lacking. However, Reeves argued, the Lotus Suutra does contain "ethics" in the third sense of a telos or a guide for doing good.
Damien Keown countered that none of the three senses captures the essence of the Lotus. Keown suggests that it focuses on the nature of the Buddha and his Dharma, and only touches on ethics tangentially. There is no ethical analysis or discussion in the text, and it would miss the point to derive an ethics from it. The parables cannot support such an effort. In my view, Reeves is probably right. At any rate, followers of the Lotus Sutra, like members of Rissho Kosei Kai, certainly look to it as a practical guide to ethical life."
4)."With the Daishonin's Buddhism, people who do not have the capability for such reflection -- the vast majority -- need simply to chant daimoku in order to manifest the reality of the ultimate life entity. This makes Buddhism infinitely more accessible, and rather than indulging in only internal, reflective, somewhat selfish meditative behaviors, the Buddhist can make real causes for the creation of global peace and harmony."
The SGI would be a much less slanderous organization if all they promoted was the chanting of the daimoku. But they say daimoku isn't enough, you have to follow the living mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, "The prime point of the Lotus Sutra", according to these heretics. Worse, they go around slandering the other practitioners who chant the daimoku. They don't meditate but the leaders rigorously promote "reflective behaviors". For example, if one disputes a leader or asks too many questions, one is apt to hear from a leader, "You lack faith. You should reflect upon it, chant Daimoku about it" (about disputing the leader or the act of asking too many questions). This promotes a trivializing of the daimoku, making it into all those things Cris criticizes about meditation. Finally, here, he equates accesability with making the causes for global peace and harmony. Certainly the SGI has made Nam(u) Myoho renge kyo accesable but there is no more disruptive organization of Nichiren believers in the past, present, and probably the future. Why? Because the daimoku they chant is the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra in name only. Even a parrot can chant the daimoku. It is not merely the mouth that chants the Daimoku that accrues merit but the heart and one's behavior as a human being.
He then goes on to say:
5)."I want to reiterate that Middle Way does not mean that you seek the middle. It refers to the entity of life at the center or core of all existence that projects the light which we see -- as well as the shadow we do not -- upon the movie screen of our daily lives."
It is bad enough that the SGI has turned the Lotus Sutra into some new age philosophy. Worse, they promotes the Buddha as the Law (Dharma) Body, misunderstanding and misappropriating the teaching of the Three Buddha Bodies stating that, "the entity of life at the center or core of all existence that projects the light which we see -- as well as the shadow we do not -- upon the movie screen of our daily lives." Where can we find this doctrine? In the Avatamsaka (Flower Garland or Kegon) Sutra and the Buddha of Universal Life Sutra, not in the Lotus Sutra and the teachings of Nichiren.
"The sutras which came before the Lotus Sutra taught that all phenomena derive from one's mind. The mind is like the earth, and phenomena are like the plants growing in the earth. But the Lotus Sutra teaches that the mind is one with the earth and the earth is one with its plants. The provisional sutras say that a tranquil mind is like the moon and a pure heart is like a flower, but the Lotus Sutra states that the flower and moon are themselves heart and mind." (A Gift of Rice)
Nothing is "projected". We are the earth, moon and plants.
In conclusion, Cris writes:
6). "So what of homosexuality, abortion, capital punishment, infidelity, gun control and all the other issues that have become buzz words in our national obsession to define morality?"
Buddhism would say each man and woman must determine for him or herself what the proper take on each of these subjects may be, and encourage people to make their decisions based on the deepest wisdom they find within.
He goes on to do the very thing he rails about, he promotes various agendas. As long as homosexuals [or heterosexuals] chant the daimoku, "they will surely attain Buddhahood". However, according to Nichiren, those who chant the daimoku but destroy it's intent can not attain Buddhahood in this life.