[quote="Anrando, post:7, topic:220614"]
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.
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.