It is indeed shocking, even if there is the slightest truth to it, that such episodes are happening within our humanistic organisation. After reading it, it is not difficult to imagine the agony, frustration and distress this YMD had endured after going through this scope of events for the past 3 years. When one attempts to analyse the chain of events leading to his graduation, it is obvious that there is indeed more than what meets the eye.
“For the past 3 years since the removal of the group of YMD seniors from their leadership positions, I was targeted and persecuted. Despite the pretense of dialogues and fake acts of compassion shown to me, it was obvious that there was a plot on-going to get me removed – subtly and slowly to escape accusation. I was black marked and passed a death sentence since 2011. It was naïve of me to even put in the effort to meet up with these leaders holding dialogue after dialogue, only to find out that all dialogues were merely actions to disguise their plot and intention…”
[Extracted from Aaron Chan Facebook posting dated February 24, 2015.For full text of his posting, click here]
In the course of the 3 years, this ex-YMD chapter leader was first sidelined. He was then humiliated when the MD chapter leader, backed by the region and SHQ leaders, forced him to make an apology in front of his 4-division district leaders for posting on facebook two years ago – an event which they deemed to have caused the adult leaders to have mistrust towards him, but yet denied him the opportunity to have dialogue with the leaders concerned to resolve any misunderstanding.
Following that, this YMD was cornered during a dialogue where attendees, including region and SHQ leaders, came prepared with an agenda to execute–to bulldoze the appointment of YMD assistant for the chapter, even to the extent of raising their voices to silent him when he tried to explain his perspective.
Soon, this YMD became less active due to his personal challenges, which was of no surprise after he was left abashed. Instead of supporting him to break through his personal life, this became a convenient reason for the YMD chief to step him down to an assistant Chapter leader after an intimidating dialogue.
Finally, just three months after the execution of this swap, another similar dialogue heavily attended by senior leaders were once again held, which this YMD was clever enough not to attend and be cornered once again. This time, the objective was to graduate him to MD, which they succeeded.
The first glaring issue in this entire episode was the way the top leaders had treated this defenceless YMD. Does a chapter level YMD leader, who was close to the removed leaders, pose such a threat to the top leaders that they had to execute such conspiracy? Regardless of his previous actions and views on any issue, no member should be subjected to such ordeal and be intimidated and disparaged. By inflicting such mental distress on him, providing absolutely no support during his challenging times and with the YMD chief even telling him off for “not doing enough” without understanding his circumstances, these top leaders had shown absolutely no compassion whatsoever.
Even if they deemed this YMD as wayward in his views and perspective, shouldn’t there be attempts to reach out to him by embracing and supporting him rather than using authority to suppress him and eventually oust him out altogether?
President Ikeda has always reminded senior leaders, sometimes strictly, of how they should embrace the leaders they are taking care of. He gave the following pointers to youth leaders in 2007:
Leaders should pray first. They should pray for the health and happiness of their fellow members and peace and prosperity of their respective societies. Prayer is linked to compassion. Compassion becomes prayer. Compassion transforms itself into action and wisdom.
The three keys to fostering capable individuals are: a leader’s consideration, a leader’s encouragement and a leader’s caring attitude. Don’t just promote meetings. Rather, shine a light upon each person through one-on-one communication. Leaders should learn to be good listeners and understand their members. Become their friend and ally.
Did our youth senior leaders pay heed to the above guidance?
President Ikeda reminded us of the SGI’s mission during his Special Lecture Commemorating November 18 in 2013. One of its mission is as follows:
“Transcending all forms of discrimination and prejudice, the SGI will forever spread its network of human equality.”
By harping on the facebook issue that had already came to a closure two years ago during the various dialogues seems to suggest that the YMD senior leadership is still holding suspicious views of certain YMDs in the organisation. RHQ YMD leader may have revealed the top leaders’ true intent when he made the following statement by a slip of the tongue, “HQ is still monitoring all those who ever wrote in Facebook during the YMD facebook issue.”The intimidating and insinuating remarks from YMD chief during his dialogues with this ex-YMD chapter leader further confirms this.
Instead of warmly reaching out to these leaders, encouraging them and guiding them back to faith, top YMD leaders have chosen to discriminate and hold prejudice against them. We cannot help but support this ex-YMD chapter leader in his claim that the true intention of the YMD SHQ leaders all along was to get him removed.
The other disturbing trait in this saga was how the top leaders worked in cahoots with specific leaders to achieve their aim. Seemingly, genuine concerns raised were all brushed off or even silenced. Yet when they could not convinced people with logical reasoning, things were bull-dozed through using their leadership position where they work in cahoots to talk and act in a pre-planned and coordinated manner to achieve an orchestrated outcome.
These senior leaders outwardly tried to show concern, yet harboured so much hatred deep in their heart! They schemed and plotted to achieve their ends, conspiring with others who also had their own private agenda, but were willing to work together towards a common goal. This is so typical of how devilish function works!
This episode shared lots of similarities with the high-handed way in which five YMD senior leaders were removed from leadership and the sixth were expelled from the organisation a few years ago.
One area stands out - The lack of genuine dialogue. Dialogues to clarify misunderstanding and rebuild trust (if the so called mistrust was not fabricated) were rejected. Discussions were prepared, planned and easily executed with the sheer number of senior leaders attending. All the one-to-one dialogue by YMD senior leaders with this YMD revealed that they came with an intention to communicate a set message.
Isn’t open and heartfelt dialogue the beginning of all peace activities of SGI? Isn’t dialogue the starting point to change lives? A Buddha is after all a master in holding genuine dialogues. It is due to the tireless efforts of President Daisaku Ikeda who hold heart to heart dialogues with world figures for all these years that genuine understanding of the Soka Gakkai movement spread far and wide.
From the above, we see that these top leaders had clearly succumbed to devilish functions. Neither have they put the happiness of members as their priority nor try to resolve issues sincerely through genuine dialogue.
No matter how high the leadership position one may hold, no matter how one may speak about their conviction in faith and relationship with their mentor, no one is exempted from being poisoned by evil. And when this happens, they betray the organisation and the members they are supposed to take care of.
We can also recall at least one clear instance in which the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) top leaders succumbed to such devilish functions:
In 1979, the First Temple issue took place in which President Ikeda was forced to step down as third President of Soka Gakkai on 24 April. While Mr Ikeda could understand the evil intentions of the Priesthood all along, what had saddened him even more was that none of the SGI top leaders, including the senior youth leaders stood up to protect him. They were the ones who were trained by him personally for many years. Former Soka Gakkai Chief Legal Counsellor Masatomo Yamazaki, in particular worked in cahoots with Nichiren Shoshu to exterminate Soka Gakkai.
Mr Ikeda said, “… I didn’t care what they might do to me. But their actions constituted a betrayal of the sincere faith of the members, who were linked together by strong ties of mentor and disciple that spanned the three existences of past, present and future. A women’s division member at the gathering commented angrily later: 'Why didn’t the leaders have the courage to proudly declare that the phenomenal development of the kosen-rufu movement was all due to President Ikeda?!’
“When I left the meeting, the applause again was hesitant. I had heard that one of the top youth division leaders had told members not to applaud very much at the meeting for it would antagonize the priests — and, in particular, not to applaud at all for me. He had been poisoned by the frightening evil of the priesthood. He had turned cowardly in the face of those bellicose asuras…”
If Soka Gakkai top leaders who were trained by President Ikeda and were physically close to President Ikeda could also succumb to the devilish functions, do you think top leaders in Singapore can be immune to it?
If we fall victim to negligence or cowardice even a little, we create an opening by which the devilish functions can enter to try to destroy our faith and the foundation of our happiness. [NHR, Crown Champions]
When top leaders in the organisation fall prey to devilish function, it is an urgent crisis for Buddhism itself.
However, this is precisely the time for a “wise person,” possessing wisdom of the correct teaching of Buddhism to discern the true nature of individuals, combat that evil, and restore the ideal of respect for all people that is the original aim of Buddhism. It is important for these wise and awakened citizenry to detect error, fight it to repudiate misguided teachings. We are not without any guidance or teachings to guide us.
Mr Ikeda spoke of the devilish nature of the people involved at First Temple Issue:
… “We must never, never allow ourselves to follow such perfidious, scheming individuals. Whatever oppressive measures they may take, we must remember that faith means endurance. We of the Soka Gakkai are practicing in complete accord with the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin. We are devoting ourselves selflessly to propagating the Mystic Law. We should always wear the gentle armour of endurance. Those self-serving priests who bore hostility toward the Soka Gakkai, borrowing the guise of the Daishonin, sought to turn the true emissaries of the Buddha — the Gakkai members — into pawns, exploiting them and finally destroying the Soka Gakkai. We were confronted with an insane rampage of the terrible, insidious nature of authority.”
The last thing we want is for our senior leadership succumbing to such devilish functions. But the signs are showing…