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Thursday, April 2, 2009

An open letter to Monica in California, USA

Monica,

When I checked my blog around lunchtime today, I saw that you had replied to my previous comment. However, this evening after returning home from work, I discovered that somehow your message had been deleted. I certainly didn't do it, and I'm not sure what happened. I'm going to reply as best I can from memory of what you had written.

First of all, I owe you an apology for my erroneous assumptions. However, having done so, I have to say that considering your personal and professional histories, I'm having trouble comprehending how you of all people, who should be well-aware of the accusations and controversies related to Soka Gakkai, Daisaku Ikeda and the Komeito, would still willingly choose to align herself with such an organization. Like I asked before, did you do any independent research before making the decision to become a member?

I'm also still having trouble understanding how you found my blog. You say who came across a link to Sponge Bear while you were researching "Daisaku Ikeda", but when I ran the same search on Google, I couldn't find my blog on any of the first ten pages (and I wasn't about to look at all 231,000 listings!). However, when I entered "SGI Fengyuan", well what do you know - Sponge Bear was the second entry! I'm certainly not out there trolling in cyberspace looking for pro-SGI blogs where I can leave opposing comments. Perhaps I'm being a little paranoid, but I find it a little creepy how on the couple of occasions when I wrote something about my personal experiences with Soka Gakkai, in less than 48 hours someone connected with the organization felt the need to leave something on my blog (which isn't private, by the way. Everybody is free to take a look, and I don't delete comments).

If I remember correctly, you then went on to write something to the effect that as a journalist, you were conscious of the need to present factual-based, objective information. I certainly wouldn't disagree with that. But you then proceeded to dismiss out of hand everything that was contained on the two links I provided. I'm afraid I can't recall your exact words, but I went back and looked through that 19-page report on the CAIC website, and I can't find anything that looks made up. As for the link to the Victims of Soka Gakkai Association, obviously these people are going to biased in their outlook, but can you just so readily dismiss all those allegations so quickly? As you claim to have training in journalism, shouldn't you at least look into such stories first before reaching any conclusions? For some reason, I'm reminded of those southern police chiefs in the U.S. in the 1960s who blamed civil rights disturbances on "outside agitators", or those spokespeople at the Chinese Foreign Ministry who brush off any questions about Tibet, food safety etc. as the acts of "splittists" out to tarnish the image of the country.

I also did a Google search this afternoon on the two academics you cited, and while I'm sure they are competent researchers who are sincere in their beliefs, the first thing I noticed was that SGI-approved blogs were among the first links that came up. I'm not satisfied that they are the kind of "independent sources" I wrote about in my earlier reply to you.

Monica, your religious beliefs are your own business, and I'm not out to change your mind. But I am curious about several things. If you don't mind my asking, I have the following several questions for you:

1.) As someone who says she has studied religion, do you really feel that chanting just a part of the Lotus Sutra over and over is enough to grasp what Buddhism is getting at?

2.) Spirituality is a personal matter, is it not? If so, why do you feel the need then to identify your spiritual beliefs with a large organization, especially a controversial one that has a political agenda, and is dominated by a single individual?

3.) And to repeat the query from my previous comments, why is it necessary to chant in Japanese?

Give my best to Orlando!

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