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Daisaku Ikeda, longtime Soka Gakkai lay Buddhist leader, dies at 95

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By Anton Bridge

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Daisaku Ikeda, who helped spread Buddhist thought around the world through Soka Gakkai 

Daisaku Ikeda spread Daisaku Ikeda thought. Nowhere in traditional Buddhist teachings was chanting "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo" - to absolutely no-one - in order to attract material wealth and worldly possesions, ever taught.

Arguably 20th century Japan's most charismatic and influential scam artist.

3 ( +12 / -9 )

Nowhere in traditional Buddhist teachings was chanting "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo" - to absolutely no-one - in order to attract material wealth and worldly possesions, ever taught.

Sound very much like the prosperity gospel theology peddled by many of the evangelical base supporting right wing populists like Trump.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/11/05/paula-white-trumps-spiritual-adviser-african-south-american-angels/6173576002/

Scammers in USA and Japan, possibly the ones in the Japan like with Soka Gakkai are slighly less on the scale of harm, but similar methods.

1 ( +12 / -11 )

It was Nichiren Daishonin (1222-1282) who spread the teachings of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Nowhere in traditional Buddhist teachings was chanting "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo" - to absolutely no-one - in order to attract material wealth and worldly possesions, ever taught.

It is chanted by members of all sects of Nichiren Buddhism with the purpose of reducing suffering by eradicating negative karma. I guess we can define "traditional" in various ways. I've known a lot of Soka Gakkai members in Japan and here in Scotland. I don't think any are more intent on pursuing material wealth than other people.

On the other hand, I agree he was probably elevated to a ridiculously high status level by many group members. But then, don't most religions have such figures?

10 ( +14 / -4 )

Ikeda filled the vacuum of religiosity left after Japan's military defeat and the demise of Emperor worship and ultra-nationalism. He quickly learned how to seize his chance to sell balm for lost souls and fund political ambitions. A major player in the money-politics that hinder the development of a real democracy.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

It is chanted by members of all sects of Nichiren Buddhism with the purpose of reducing suffering by eradicating negative karma. I guess we can define "traditional" in various ways.

Thank you for sharing. I should have clarified "traditional" as "not belonging to sects founded by a 13th century heretic."

2 ( +8 / -6 )

U_S__reamer: "Ikeda filled the vacuum of religiosity left after Japan's military defeat and the demise of Emperor worship and ultra-nationalism. He quickly learned how to seize his chance to sell balm for lost souls and fund political ambitions. A major player in the money-politics that hinder the development of a real democracy."

A lot of you guys really are clueless. It's like listening to Evangelical talk about their knowledge of the Quran when they know ZERO about it, and then they turn around and support a guy like Trump who is 100% against what they claim to believe and love. Well, you don't especially sound like the latter part, but the former for sure. Tsunesaburo Makeguchi and Josei Toda were both imprisoned by the government during the war for their opposition to said government and its policies, and it was during that time Toda more earnestly began his Buddhist studies and realized the potential for people to grow from it.

As for hindering democracy, it is the Komeito Party, and NO ONE ELSE, who has pushed for suffrage for foreigners to vote (and gotten it for some very small municipalities, or at least had with one in the past), and also want more open dialogue and better relations with nations like China instead of the military spending and bombast the LDP always seem to want.

RIP, Mr. Ikeda. 95 is nothing to scoff at.

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

Daisaku Ikeda died in his very old wooden 2LDK house in Shinjuku, where he had lived with his family for most of his life. He could have lived in a mansion but he didn't. His needs were very humble not even owning a car. Until he got old he had a bicycle he would ride around Shinjuku. Other than his family home Ikeda owned no property.

The money earned from his publications went to the organization.

During the war Soka Gakkai was opposed to the war and the founder Tsunesaburō Makiguchi, was imprisoned in Sugamo Prison and died there in 1944.

My last letter from him was last month.

He spread the Buddhist teachings to 192 countries.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

I agree with the post by smithinjapan.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

A relative had to pledge all his family’s wealth to the organization. He had to get divorced to break away from them. It sounded to me very much like the Unification Church in that respect.

As to Mr Ikeda, may he rest in peace.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Article 20 of Japan's Constitution reads, in part: Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all. No religious organization shall receive any privileges from the State, nor exercise any political authority. [italics mine]

Japan's judiciary miserably failed in its duty to uphold the Constitution when it allowed a "lay" group of Buddhists to form a political party. At present, thanks to SG and its so-called "Clean Government Party," no law is passed in the Diet without the seal of approval of a religious organization.

I fully agree with the pronouncements of the late Meiji U. professor Hirotatsu Fujiwara that SG is "a completely self-serving organization."

0 ( +4 / -4 )

As a long time Nichiren Buddhist I have mixed feelings about Ikeda.

I always preferred the propagation style of Toda over Ikeda, but of course what worked in post-war Japan would never work in various diverse countries.

Ikeda was not without critics, including British journalist Polly Toynbee

Believe it was Richard Causton who accompanied Polly Toynbee on the trip to Japan in 1984, and her scathing criticism of Ikeda is often swept under the carpet when Soka Gakkai members play up the friendship between Ikeda and Arnold Toynbee.

Ikeda travelled to more than 50 countries for talks with leaders including then-Chinese leader Zhou Enlai

And can the Gakkai members please explain why Ikeda was eager to be friends with all the big political leaders, especially someone like Zhou Enlai.

Anyways, lived a more meaningful life than most people so RIP nonetheless.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I had the opportunity to know him personally, and the only thing I remember of him is the impression I had that he had a very high opinion of himself, more than anyone else I had met in my life.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Hopefully his cult will die with him.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I fully agree with the pronouncements of the late Meiji U. professor Hirotatsu Fujiwara that SG is "a completely self-serving organization."

I can't think of a selfless religious organization. That's why they must lose their special statuses and subject to tax oversight and asset forfeiture.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Tsunesaburo Makeguchi and Josei Toda were both imprisoned by the government during the war for their opposition to said government and its policies

No, they did not oppose the government but only opposed the fact that the government of that time was foisting Shinto over Japan.

also want more open dialogue and better relations with nations like China

Yeah, and why is Komeito's soft corner reserved only for China? There are 2 other nuclear armed rogue neighbors of Japan, so where is the Buddhist compassion when it comes to them?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Soka Gakkai has opposed war, all wars

*

Tsunesaburō Makiguchi, the founder of the Soka Gakkai, was imprisoned during World War II in Japan. Makiguchi was a staunch advocate of religious freedom and a proponent of the idea that education should foster the development of individuals' character and virtue. However, his views and actions came into conflict with the militaristic government of Imperial Japan during the war.

Makiguchi, along with his close associate Josei Toda, refused to adhere to the state-mandated Shinto rituals and the government's policy of merging Shinto with state-sponsored patriotism. Their opposition to the government's control over religious practices and their commitment to their own religious beliefs led to their arrest in 1943.

Both Makiguchi and Toda were charged with violating the Maintenance of Public Order Act, a law that aimed to suppress dissent and opposition to the government. Makiguchi died in prison in 1944, and Toda continued to be imprisoned until the end of the war in 1945.

Their resistance to the government's control over religious and educational institutions, and their commitment to principles of religious freedom and humanistic education, later became part of the legacy of the Soka Gakkai movement. After the war, Josei Toda played a crucial role in revitalizing and expanding the Soka Gakkai, and Daisaku Ikeda succeeded Toda as the third president, further developing the organization into a global Buddhist movement. The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) continues to promote peace, cultural exchange, and education based on the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

nandakandamanda

A relative had to pledge all his family’s wealth to the organization. He had to get divorced to break away from them. It sounded to me very much like the Unification Church in that respect.

In 40 years, I have never heard anything like that. Maybe your relative was looking for an excuse for a divorce. I know several major donors but they are people who can afford it. Usually, donations are made once a year, at the end of the year when small amounts are given.

The major part of Soka Gakkai's income is from its newspaper and other publications.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

@wallace

For an alternate point of view go through the below -

https://apjjf.org/2014/12/37/Brian-Victoria/4181/article.html

It's clear that Makiguchi and Toda opposed the governments efforts to impose Shinto upon the population. It's less clear that they opposed the war itself.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I tick none of these boxes. Your comebacks require a better understanding of who you are arguing with.

Well then, clearly, I know as much about you as you do I. Still, always good to have these discussions now and zen.

Regardless, the majority of the schools of Mahayana are so far removed from the original philosophy that it's simply ridiculous that they are even been considered a part of the Buddhism umbrella.

Buddha's teachings are encapsulated in the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Anything beyond that - such as what was found in Nichiren's whacky heretical offerings - is faux Buddhist fluff.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Did he ever personally call half-remembered elementary school classmates to try to get them to vote Komeito?

I like leaders who do a bit of foot soldier work.

My old coworker ( a proper Trot ) said she used to give the irritating callers a bit of a mouthful.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

So many cults in Japan. Ikeda san will rust in peace Soka members are not bad people but after the ningen sender soka filled a void.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

From the standpoint of separation of church and state, Soka Gakkai has ties to New Komeito, and during elections it receives calls from Soka Gakkai members requesting election support, making it clear that the organization is not much different from the Unification Church.

For ordinary Japanese people, there is no big difference between Soka Gakkai and Aum Shinrikyo.

Japan and the Japanese people should be happy that Daisaku Ikeda, who used organizations for money and power, seems to have finally died.

If Kishida breaks with the ruling coalition Komeito and is able to bring the Soka Gakkai and Komeito to a judicial knife, his approval rating may recover a little.

I don't think it would be possible.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Time to move on.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My parents followed the tenets of Buddhism and still do, they taught me the good side of them which I also follow. They were members of  Soka Gakkai in Europe for a while but became disillusioned after a year or so, mainly because the focus was always on this man, oh, and that there were no prominent women there. I have met many members over the years and have not like many of them because they seemed very selfish and cliche. We do not practice it now although we still have all of their regalia like a Butsudan, a big bell set, and Gohonzon and countless Buddha figures through out the house.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My experience of living in Japan was that Soka Gakkai or SGI has a terrible reputation in Japan for being a cult similar to the moonies. They control a political party called Komeito as people mention above and have been accused of running a prosperity cult that promises worldly desires are granted in exchange for absolute reverence of Ikeda and the daily recital of a chant in Japanese (and of course, generous donations from their members, who are usually poor and uneducated)

It’s strange that he is held in such high regard in some of these articles, yet hasn’t really done anything for Buddhism or World Peace in any meaningful way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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