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The Brainwashing Of Daisaku Ikeda
I met Buddhism in the late 70’s. At that time I had my own medical clinic in Battersea, London and my girlfriend had a male friend who’s job was to watch TV programs and rate them, this to me sounded like quite a good job as you spent your life like a couch potato watching films all day. He had a friend called Anne who had just come back from Africa having lived with a Masai warrior in the Masai tribe in Kenya. She said that the reason she did not get lost in the jungle was because she always used to chant nam-myoho-renge-kyo. She said to me why don’t you come along to some meetings.
A whole series of events occurred at that time. I left analysis and then started analysis and then after a year left it again for good. I split up with my girlfriend and then became engaged and then broke off the engagement.
The analyst could not understand how I could chant a few meaningless words and I am sure he thought this was part of my emotional instability.
However, I remember being attracted to the sound of chanting when I went to the first meeting. Everybody was very nice and said that you could basically get whatever you chanted for. I used to have strange dreams regarding the Mandala or Gohonzon that we chant to. I also used to find that when I chanted I felt very light and almost illuminated with a clarity I had not experienced before. It was like a new lease of life. When I used to travel to places the traffic lights would always be green and I was always in harmony with life. I used to hear music very differently and everything sounded much more clear and creative. This is the reason I kept on chanting because I found it had a beneficial effect on the way I perceived and experienced things. I presumed that all the other events in my life that had occurred at this time were related to the effect of me doing the chanting and therefore making transformations and changes without really realizing what was happening.
I started studying Buddhism, reading books and learning the recitation of the Lotus Sutra called Gonya. A lot of the members were artists and singers and creative people and as I’d never met people like this before I found it very exciting and new.
People would talk a lot about getting benefits through chanting and changing their unhappy karma. There was a saying that if you had not got a good place to live then if you received the Gohonzon then you would get a nice place to house your Gohonzon in and this would often happen to those people who were devoted to chanting regularly.
The emphasis was on the Gohonzon which is the Mandala we chant to as being some kind of magic box. Basically you could do whatever you wanted, included smoking, drinking, partying as long as you chanted. With chanting anything was possible and the more you chanted, the more benefits you’d get. So people who got benefits were looked upon as being successful in the organization. They was also a heirachy of leaders, a good percentage who were Japanese as the organization had originated in Japan. This was the Buddhism of the 1970’s and 80’s full of go getters and people aspiring to be leaders in a competitive organization run by a charismatic guru called Dick Causten.
I began questioning the nature of the practice of Buddhism from the start and wished to find the truth behind the grape vine and the gossip which surrounded the members. Initially there were only a few hundred members in the 1970’s. There was an unspoken competition as to who was to be leaders in the organization. At one point there were several people who would have liked to have become head of the organization, including Max Forsyth and Yosho Kawahara. Dick Causten would have none of this. He had his own committee of disciples around him and although leaders were meant to be elected in terms of the depth of their faith, it was obvious they were elected if they were part of Dick Causten’s clique.
In retrospect, I realize that this Soka Gakkai organization called at that time Nichiren Shoshu UK was a sect. It’s fundamental basis was based on chanting and faith and the reliance of a hierachy of leaders to give often misguided and useless advice to unwitting pure hearted members. They have and still do have a magazine which is very glossy and very attractive. It lists a lot of seemingly remarkable affects that people have had from chanting through faith. It has become a strong, vibrant organization with several thousand members in England with several centres in London.
However this sect is in no way now related to Buddhism. It does not follow the basic tenants of the teaching laid down by the Buddha Nichirin Diashonin 750 years ago. From the start, the Soko Gakhai never emphasized personal empowerment, compassion or the true nature of Buddhist chanting meditation which is to seek the core of truth and enlightenment within the self. In fact, little was made of the nature of true self, true relationships and true community. The teaching was distorted by an arrogant hierarchy and a charismatic guru called Diasako Ikeda who rules over the 20 million inherents of the Soko Gakhai around the world.
Ikeda has basically usurped the place of the original Buddha Nichirin Daishonin and in his place taught Ikeadism which is a distorted form of Buddhism based on Diasako Ikeda’s idea as to what it is to be a human being. According to Diasako Ikeda, to be fulfilled one has to compete and succeed at any cost. He is like the champion of the strong. He talks in rhetoric befitting of an army general and his greatest desire is to either receive the Nobel Prize or to enhance the standing of the political party which he founded in Japan, called the new Komeito Party. On every magazine that is written by the Soko Gahkai in every country of the world there are always pictures of the great Guru, like some kind of politician staring benevolently at you from the page.
When I first met Ikeda through a video in the 1970’s I was astounded at the way he was treated like some kind of God like figure. There were these huge culture festivals attended by thousands of people in stadiums in Japan. When Ikeda was there and spoke the thousands of people would roar their approval at him by raising their fists like fascist saluts. He was a Japanese Baraka Obama.
Dick Causten, the leader of the NSUK Soka Gakhai in England would talk about the master disciple relationship to the members and say how the authentic linage was found within the Soka Gakhai. He would diminish the significance of the essential master disciple relationship which is found between the Buddha and his disciples and emphasise the Japanese model.
I was so brainwashed by this organization that I took it for granted that a lot of the guidance giving members and leaders would be Japanese who of course knew nothing of English culture and were often loud and bossy. I did not realize how as the years went by the organization deteriorated into this hierachical restrictive, limiting sect which distorted the original freedom that it started off with in England.
I think one of the biggest drawbacks to Sokka Gakhai and probably to this Buddhism is taught in general is that emphasis is always placed on overcoming the unhappy karma and overcoming suffering. The whole idea is that humanity is suffering and that the way we can turn this around is by chanting as much as we can day and night. Even the Buddha Nichirin Daishonin stated that all those people who did not chant would end up in hell. Once again we see a fundamentalism creeping into religious tradition. Just as Christianity and Islam talks about unbelievers ending up in hell if they don’t have faith, the exoteric teachings of this Buddhism appear to say the same thing.
In psychoanalysis, I also found that I was being condemned by the analyst for having certain desires and proclivities which needed to be changed in order for me to adapt and adjust to a sexually mature and normal society. This of course is not the case. Our society is neither sexually mature or normal. How can one adapt to Freud’s idea of normality when our society is so utterly dysfunctional and full of inhumanity and inequity and also pornography.
Similarly, to imply exclusivity in a religion is to deny the very humanity and interconnectedness that all religions are mean to espouse. The Sokka Gakahi itself is based on power and success and control. The successful members are the ones that have adapted to society and obtained financial abundance and wealth. Is this the way we measure success in Buddhism?
Fortunately, the esoteric teachings of Nichirin Daishonin’s Buddhism are very different from what is preached even by the every day sermons of the priests.
The Buddhism makes it quite clear about the ultimate truth inherent in the universe and the inextricable relationship between life and all phenomena and the innate Buddha state within all humanity. We also have to understand the Nichirin Daishonin was teaching a new form of Buddhism in medieval Japan and had to align his teachings with the predominant ways of thinking at that time.
When I finished psychoanalysis I had no idea that I was in fact in a state of disorientation and what one could call post traumatic stress. After enduring years of brainwashing I’d found some kind of solace in a new kind of spiritual teaching which still had allegiance to a hierarchy which I was becoming deeply suspicious of.
I became a very good devoted member of this NSUK and decided that I wanted to go into relationship with an Australian woman who was also practicing this Buddhism.
It was my behaviour that was the problem. I was being brainwashed by Dick Causten into thinking that I could create world peace by going to Australia. I was suffering from post traumatic stress having come out of analysis relatively recently and could not see the wood for the trees. I was not observing myself or my mind, I was not behaving like a Buddhist. Let’s face it, nobody in the Sokka Gakhai were ever given guidance on traditional meditation or mindfulness. It therefore decided that I would go to Australia.
I firmly believe that at that time Dick Causten saw me as threat. I had already criticized him for his fanaticism and the fact that a member had died from tuberculosis by chanting hours and hours rather than seeking medical attention. I was also a threat because I was one of only two doctors in the organization and therefore by my status could eventually threaten his status if I had become more outspoken. I think he was taking no chances.
He therefore one day spoke to my parents who visited him about how good it would be fore me to go to Australia. I now realized there was something seriously wrong here because I was no there when he spoke to them. He manipulated my parents through his strange charisma and fanaticism.