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Experience of a Former Temple Member

I joined the temple in 1992 because I was told by a temple member that if I didn't join, I would suffer serious retribution. I decided to try to understand the difference between the SGI and the temple by joining the temple. Also, I couldn't help people receive the Gohonzon in the SGI, because temple was denying the Gohonzon to SGI members at that time.

When I brought my first guest (an SGI member) to the temple, the Hokekko members said derogatory things about SGI; for instance, they said that SGI members are "pig people". They also referred to SGI as the "Ikeda sect." They said SGI members never came close to practicing correctly and the efforts made by the SGI were meaningless. As a result, my guest was turned off to the meeting.

I brought many more friends to temple meetings, but none would join because of the rudeness and innuendoes at each and every meeting. The last person I brought was a close friend at the time. He was interested in chanting. After the temple meeting, he said he had decided not to practice because of the negativity at the meeting. He said, "If no one is happy there, why should I do it?" With his words, I understood there was no joy of practice at the temple.

When we were in SGI, my son was happy and doing well in school. But after practicing at the temple, he became fearful of practicing and started having trouble in school.

I never received any spiritual or material benefits like I did when I practiced with the SGI. The priests told us that chanting for benefits was wrong. I felt like I was being controlled in a negative, childlike manner and not respected as an adult. I realized I was not having fun and I was definitely not happy.

When the SGI began issuing the Nichikan Gohonzons, we were told they were counterfeit. They referred to them as Hell Gohonzons or Money Gohonzons (because they were green). I wondered then what it would be like to chant to the Nichikan Gohonzon. I've had the opportunity to do so since then. It was wonderful. 

I think my decision to rejoin the SGI shows in my smile. I feel better about my whole life. Now  my practice is based on happiness and not on fear. I enjoy attending meetings where the members have a voice. My son immediately recognized the difference and is happier and more secure in SGI than he ever was with the temple.

I am constantly encouraged because I see my SGI friends bettering their financial situations, buying homes, getting married, having kids, overcoming life-threatening illnesses, smiling, being good people, and having fun.

I feel again the great pride of being an SGI member. I appreciate Mr. Ikeda who has always stood up for the correct way of practicing Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism. I am more determined than ever to show the happiness that can be obtained by practicing with SGI.