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  #1  
Old Nov 23, '10, 8:10 pm
flameburns623 flameburns623 is offline
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Default Soka Gakkai

Should I get this person a gift oriented towards his own present religious perspective? Should I attend his Gohonzon investiture service?

Friend of mine is becoming Buddhist, joining the Soka Gakkai sect of Japanese Buddhism after years of practicing Hinduism. (He was raised a Protestant Christian but has been involved in Hinduism, on-and-off, since his teens).

He is well read on Catholicism and loathes our faith, although he has numerous Catholic friends beside myself.

He admired Mother Teresa, and even has some grudging respect for Benedict XVI--but thinks they gave or give good service in a bad cause.

He appears invincibly convinced, despite his extensive reading (which includes Karl Keating, Robert Sungensis, and other articulate apoloigists) that the RCC is a fundamentally evil organization which unfortunately contains many good-hearted and well-meaning people.

Actually,engaging my friend in religious debate is not especially good for his mental or emotional health. He has had issues apparently since he was a young child. He has never been personally harmed by anyone Catholic--in fact he was once treated in a Catholic hospital and thinks kindly of the nuns who served there.

He suffers under mental illness which cause him to sometimes direct ascerbic attacks against the Catholic Church towards his friends. He has lost at least one Catholic friend over this, though he is usually remorseful and apologetic once he has come to himself.

His outbursts are not exclusively restricted to Catholicism: he tends to adopt strong and even extreme positions on many issues, and then villifies those who do not share his views.

His therapists have strongly encouraged him to pursue his interests in Eastern religion and practice because the meditative practices apparently complement his treatment. He is also struggling to avoid direct confrontations on any sort of controversial issue which has historically tended to excite or upset him.

He is NOT going to change therapists, btw, no matter what I suggest. For one thing, it is difficult for him to find therapists willing to accept his government medical assistance. For another, he is not going to change just because Christians, let alone Catholic Christians, disapprove of Eastern philosophy.

And he will not engage in any of the Catholic meditative devotions such as Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, etcetera, precisely because they are Catholic.

He finds chanting of the Soka Gakkai mantra helpful. I am not in a position to gainsay his perceived relief, particularly given that he seems to be following the medical advice of his therapists.

Given the direction his spirituality is taking I am thinking of getting him a CD put out by the Soka Gakkai organization for new practitioners of that faith.

He of course wants to invite several of his friends to the service where he will be invested with a Gohonzon, a sort of mandala or object of veneration, used as a focal point of meditation in the Soka Gakkai liturgy. (We would not be required to be active participants in the investure ceremony, just guests and friends).

I would go only to show my support for my friend's efforts to become healthy, not as an endorsement of his newfound religious credo. Not attending might well affect him more adversely emotionally (giving him perceived grounds for his irrational distaste for Catholicism), but would not be likely to deter him.

Thoughts? Feedback? Thanks!
__________________
Shut the eyes that flame and hush the heart that burns:
In quiet we may hear the old primeval cry:
God gives wisdom to the spirit that upturns:
Let us adore now, you and I.

G. W. Russell, "Prayer"
  #2  
Old Nov 24, '10, 2:36 am
Apollos Apollos is offline
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Default Re: Soka Gakkai

This is meant to be a joke, right? He trashes our religion and you want to give him a gift?

Going to the service is a statement of support for what he is doing. It doesn't matter what "meaning" you want to pretend it to have. Would you attend a ceremony where I attempt a second, adulterous marriage after leaving my wife and children?

Let this messed up loser go, and move on with your life.
  #3  
Old Nov 24, '10, 3:01 am
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Izdaari Izdaari is offline
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Default Re: Soka Gakkai

Long ago, when I was in a seeker phase, I attended a few meetings of that particular sect of Buddhism. It seemed to lack everything I like about some other flavors of Buddhism (Zen, for example), but it did have some of the worst features of some flavors of Christianity (aggressive proselytizing, pressure to give, and prosperity theology). I had a bad feeling about it and never went back. I have little evidence for it, but my subjective impression is that Soka Gakkei may well be a fundamentally evil organization.
  #4  
Old Nov 24, '10, 3:30 am
Anrando Anrando is offline
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Default Re: Soka Gakkai

Hello,

Firstly, Soka Gakkei is NOT a Buddhist sect it is the "lay" organization of Nicherin Sho Shu (sic) Buddhism.

Unfortunately, this lay group is more of a cult than a religious organization and has actually broken with the priesthood and the "religion" itself because of arguments over control. Their "leader" a guy name Ikeda is around 90 now, and still runs around with a gaggle of young women "assistants" and "translators" and spends his time jet setting around the world spending his tax free billions. They require HUGE amounts from their members and here in Japan they are generally, shall we say "disliked" by non members because of their pushy proselytizing.. They run a political party and own huge amounts of real estate, including properties in Malibu and Irvine California where they have their "University". It is a huge money making empire, all under the control of one guy.

Their "religious practice" consists of repeating "Namu Yo Horenge Kyo" (sic) 1000's of times, the faster the better. If you say it enough times you will receive whatever it is you want. Money, new car, girl friend etc. There is NO philosophy, no study, except reading from the dear leader's books, which are rambling essays on "world peace", you know, if you give enough money and say enough magic phrases world peace will break out, that sort of thing.

It is popular with some celebrities and others not willing or incapable of putting any thought into religion. Say the words...........that's all that is required.

Their "gohonzon" is a small paper scroll with the words "Namu Yo Horenge Kyo" written on it. THAT is what they "pray" in front of.

I know this because my wife's sisters are members, and my wife was when I met her. She has since seen the error of her ways. They are like zombies, giving 25% of their income, working for the cult every weekend and donating time and money for their political campaigns. They are required to sell so many subscriptions to the cult newspaper, and on and on. Like all cults they prey on the weak and lonely. They are very friendly and encouraging until they get their hooks in and then they never let go. A few years ago 10 million dollars was found in a suitcase thrown in a rice field. It is widely suspected that this was Soka Gakkai money that was "hidden" and disposed of for unknown reasons.

I would do NOTHING to encourage your friend's participation in this. It will damage him greatly in the end I'm afraid. This is SO not a religion, and will never lead to any peace for your friend.

W.Unland

Last edited by Anrando; Nov 24, '10 at 3:44 am.
  #5  
Old Nov 24, '10, 3:41 am
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Izdaari Izdaari is offline
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Default Re: Soka Gakkai

Right, Nichiren Shoshu is the name I couldn't think of when I posted.

Btw, "nam myoho renge kyo", loosely translated, means "what goes around, comes around". They might as well be quoting Bob Marley.

Except that Marley would be a much better influence.
  #6  
Old Nov 24, '10, 2:56 pm
flameburns623 flameburns623 is offline
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Default Re: Soka Gakkai

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apollos View Post
This is meant to be a joke, right? He trashes our religion and you want to give him a gift?

Going to the service is a statement of support for what he is doing. It doesn't matter what "meaning" you want to pretend it to have. Would you attend a ceremony where I attempt a second, adulterous marriage after leaving my wife and children?

Let this messed up loser go, and move on with your life.
You caught the part about his mental health issues, right? Had you forgotten perhaps the line of the Gospels where Christ said "I was sick and you cared for me"?

There is some room here for compassionate understanding. Folks with Tourette's Syndrome frequently blurt vulgarities because of their affliction, and my friend's issues are not far removed from that.

So far as the rest of your comment: I am not prohibited by Catholic teaching from attending the Protestant baptism or wedding of a friend, so long as I am not an active participant in the religious ceremonies. Attendance at an event does not automatically signify endorsement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anrando
. . . . I would do NOTHING to encourage your friend's participation in this. It will damage him greatly in the end I'm afraid. This is SO not a religion, and will never lead to any peace for your friend.
Thanks Anrando. I am leery of Soka Gakkai myself, though your analysis of the religious practice is not fully fair-minded.

The prayer discipline involves morning-and-evening prayers dervived from Buddhist Scripture, along with systematic study of the writings of Nichiren Daishonin, the founder of Nichirenism.

Chanting is of course a signficant part of the religion as well, and they do seem to have a Buddhist variant of the Christian 'prosperity gospel'.

Soka Gakkai has had a falling-out with the high priesthood of the Nichiren ShoShu sect of Nichirenism Nichiren was a 13th-century Japanese Buddhist reformer. His teachings are propagated by several Japanese Buddhist sects."ShoShu" means something like "Orthodox Faith".

Nichiren ShoShu is the largest and oldest of the Nichiren sects, and their high priest has excommunicated Soka Gakkai and it's members. As I understand, Soka Gakkai is now working with other Nichiren priests, whom the ShoShu priests denounce as renegades.

The New Komeito Party of Japan is known to have close ties with Soka Gakkai. I believe however it is a well-established and generally well-respected political party, even if you happen to disagree with it's platform.

About Ikeda's personal life I have no particular information. Easy to cast aspersions, though.

If my friend were going to pursue Buddhism, as opposed to the Hindu practices he currently embraces, I would tend to prefer to see him doing Zen. It's not my personal decision to make on his behalf. I may take your advice however and get him a non-religious gift rather than encourage his newfound faith practices.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Izdaan
Btw, "nam myoho renge kyo", loosely translated, means "what goes around, comes around". They might as well be quoting Bob Marley.
Actually, the mantra means "I devote myself to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra". And the Lotus Sutra is one of the more-revered books of Buddhist Scripture, so I understand.

I personally find Buddhism to be rather wanting as a form of spirituality. Millions, however, do embrace it and find fulfillment therein. I'd prefer my friend embraced Catholicism but this seems beyond his limitations. I can be forgiven for hoping he finds peace and healing in this new practice.

Thanks for the feedback.
__________________
Shut the eyes that flame and hush the heart that burns:
In quiet we may hear the old primeval cry:
God gives wisdom to the spirit that upturns:
Let us adore now, you and I.

G. W. Russell, "Prayer"
  #7  
Old Nov 24, '10, 3:46 pm
Anrando Anrando is offline
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Default Re: Soka Gakkai

My "analysis" of Soka Gakkai is based on 30 years experience. Take it for what it is worth to you. They are not "affiliated" with Komeito, they own it. All candidates are high level members of Soka Gakkai. And NO they do not study the writing of Nicherin, the religion does, Soka Gakkai studies Ikeda's writings. Sorry, I live in the middle of it, I know how it works, at least here in Japan.

Their falling out with the priesthood was over control of temple properties and money....what else! Ikeda considers himself more important than their high priest. The high priest thinks he is the head of the religion, so they split and have nothing to do with each other. Soka members are PROHIBITED from even visiting the religion's temples by the dear leader.

To me it is a cult. Nicherin Sho Shu is NOT, Sokka Gakkai IS. Sorry that's my opinion after watching it and being around it as long as I have. I was married in their temple for goodness sake, so please do not assume my opinion is baseless and "uncharitable".

Actually their chanting means "hail to the Lotus religion (sutra)" in old Japanese. Their morning and evening prayers are in Heian period Japanese that NOBODY can read or understand, it is archaic and contains parts of the "lotus" sutra supposedly dictated by the buddha. None of the members that I know understand but a few words of it. They are far more interested in the "meat" of the meal so to say, the repetitive "gongyo", for hours on end.

Have they sold your friend his Soka approved "Budsudan" to house his scroll yet? You MUST buy it from them. Over here they cost anywhere from 2-10K for the wooden box with doors. They are very interested in the money side of things.

I am not trashing any religion here. Only Soka Gakkai, which is not a religion. Once again it is a group of laity founded by Ikeda, it is NOT a religion. It would be like calling the Knights of Columbus a "religion". I don't like them because I see my far from wealthy sisters in law giving them so much while the elites in the organization, ie; group leader rank and above, live quite a comfortable life with estates available only to them all over the country in the best resort areas. At one point my youngest sister in law was giving 50% of her income to the group while she lived off of the generosity of her mother. And they were pushing her to give more. That is just wrong.

Ever seen their mansion in Malibu, oh that's right regular folks can't go in. All the army of ants get for the price of admission is a promise of "changing their karma" and in so doing improve their material lives........yeah, that seems right. Sorry if I am biased, but there is just so much WRONG about Soka Gakkai that overshadows any good hidden in their message.

Good luck to you, really, and I am being totally sincere, with what ever you choose to do. It is not my life. I was only trying to share my experience with the group. Dismiss me if you choose. Others may have a different view, but I doubt they have been around it as long as I have.

W.Unland

Last edited by Anrando; Nov 24, '10 at 3:57 pm.
  #8  
Old Nov 24, '10, 4:24 pm
flameburns623 flameburns623 is offline
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Default Re: Soka Gakkai

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anrando View Post
My "analysis" of Soka Gakkai is based on 30 years experience. Take it for what it is worth to you . . . . Their falling out with the priesthood was over control of temple properties and money....what else! Ikeda considers himself more important than their high priest. The high priest thinks he is the head of the religion, so they split and have nothing to do with each other. Soka members are PROHIBITED from even visiting the religion's temples by the dear leader.

To me it is a cult. Nicherin ShoShu is NOT, Sokka Gakkai IS. Sorry that's my opinion after watching it and being around it as long as I have. I was married in their temple for goodness sake, so please do not assume my opinion is baseless and "uncharitable".

Actually their chanting means "hail to the Lotus religion (sutra)" in old Japanese. Their morning and evening prayers are in Heian period Japanese that NOBODY can read or understand, it is archaic and contains parts of the "lotus" sutra supposedly dictated by the buddha. None of the members that I know understand but a few words of it. They are far more interested in the "meat" of the meal so to say, the repetitive "gongyo", for hours on end.

Have they sold your friend his Soka approved "Budsudan" to house his scroll yet? You MUST buy it from them. Over here they cost anywhere from 2-10K for the wooden box with doors. They are very interested in the money side of things.

I am not trashing any religion here. Only Soka Gakkai, which is not a religion. Once again it is a group of laity founded by Ikeda, it is NOT a religion. It would be like calling the Knights of Columbus a "religion". I don't like them because I see my sisters in law giving them so much while the elites in the organization, ie; group leader rank and above, live quite a comfortable life with estates available only to them all over the country in the best resort areas. Ever seen their mansion in Malibu, oh that's right regular folks can't go in. All the army of ants get for the price of admission is a promise of "changing their karma" and in so doing improve their material lives........yeah, that seems right.

Good luck to you, really, and I am being totally sincere, with what ever you choose to do. It is not my life. I was only trying to share my experience with the group. Dismiss me if you choose. Others may have a different view, but I doubt they have been around it as long as I have.

W.Unland
What they are doing in Japan seem very different from what they do here. Your tone suggests you might have an axe to grind. Forgive me if I have misapprehended.

A butsu-dan is a "House of the Buddha", a box with doors designed to enclose the Gohonzon, the object of veneration in Nichirenism. (Other Buddhists, in Japan and elsewhere, also use butsu-dan, which may vary according to the practices of the given sect--some venerate statuary or other objects).

"Starter butsu-dan" for new converts start at about $40.00 US and are made of plastic. The SGI-USA store doesn't appear to sell anything more expensive than those. I am told members who want better-quality butsu-dan are free to buy them from any supplier they choose, so long as the butsu-dan is designed to house the Gohonzon scroll.

This is supposedly the same policy followed in Japan. A simple google search turns up dozens of Japanese suppliers of butsu-dan, many identified as suitable for members of Soka Gakkai. You live there, but perhaps some of your information comes from biased sources?

The topics of gosho study are readily available on the SGI-USA website and clearly center on the writings of Nichiren Daishonin. Ikeda does feature prominently as well, admittedly. Fully two-thirds of the books sold on the SGI-USA bookstore are by Ikeda.

Soka Gakkai is a lay organization, true enough: it was established by an educator named Makigucci, who was imprisoned and persecuted to death by the Japanese Imperial Government during WWII. One of his followers, Josei Toda, took over the organization after the war; Ikeda succeeded Toda. It was my impression Ikeda has received accolades and recognition for his efforts for peace among nations.

Soka Gakkai does have the reputation of being the "Jehovah's Witnesses of Japanese Buddism". They were fiercely iconoclastic and abrasive under Toda and in the early years of Ikeda, but reportedly began to moderate considerably in the late 1970's and since. I believe you are correct they are still not perceived with warm regard by many Japanese.

Many of the American members I knew in college are rather ecclectic and even syncretistic in their religious attitudes, and certainly rather a peaceable lot, if enthusiastic to the point of zealotry about the virtues of chanting.

My understanding is that the Japanese of the Soka Gakkai liturgy is approximately as archaic as the English of the King James or Douay-Rheims Bibles. It's not quite true that "nobody can understand it", but many modern Japanese, like most modern Americans, probably don't have much taste for classical language.

I don't find the Soka Gakkai quite so appealing as Zen. If I were not a traditional Catholic I would probably be a Zen Buddhist--or maybe a Baha'i, I dunno. Moot question since I no longer see myself as a seeker and have no desire to depart from the faith I once again embrace as my 'home'.

Am merely trying to be as caring and supportive of a suffering friend as possible. As noted in my opening post, he would not welcome something of a Catholic nature. I would not however want to lend material support to something which might be spiritually unhelpful, even if my friend is doing this partly on the strength of medical adivice.

I will identify something more appropriate.
__________________
Shut the eyes that flame and hush the heart that burns:
In quiet we may hear the old primeval cry:
God gives wisdom to the spirit that upturns:
Let us adore now, you and I.

G. W. Russell, "Prayer"
  #9  
Old Nov 24, '10, 5:14 pm
Apollos Apollos is offline
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Default Re: Soka Gakkai

Quote:
Originally Posted by flameburns623 View Post
Had you forgotten perhaps the line of the Gospels where Christ said "I was sick and you cared for me"?
I didn't know that lurking in the back row of the temple or whatever constitutes a medical treatment appropriate for his type of mental illness. But you know more about the situation than I do.
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Old Nov 24, '10, 5:34 pm
flameburns623 flameburns623 is offline
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Default Re: Soka Gakkai

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apollos View Post
I didn't know that lurking in the back row of the temple or whatever constitutes a medical treatment appropriate for his type of mental illness. But you know more about the situation than I do.
You missed the nuance. Happy Thanksgiving, btw, to you and to all who read this!
__________________
Shut the eyes that flame and hush the heart that burns:
In quiet we may hear the old primeval cry:
God gives wisdom to the spirit that upturns:
Let us adore now, you and I.

G. W. Russell, "Prayer"
  #11  
Old Nov 25, '10, 1:46 am
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Izdaari Izdaari is offline
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Default Re: Soka Gakkai

I actually do have a lot of sympathy for Buddhism, just not for this particular sect. I also have a lot of respect and some gratitude for Taoism, which provided a stepping stone for me to recover from agnosticism tending toward atheism.

Happy Thanksgiving!
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