Jamie and David's Experience

 
  1/14/01  
 

Jamie:

My name is Jamie Williams Rivera. I have been practicing Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism since 1985. I came to this practice because I fell in love with this practice. I just hate what the organization has become. We always hear that the structure of this organization is one of an inverted pyramid where the membership is on the top and the leadership is on the bottom. But in actuality it's the other way around. The members revere the leaders in fear of them and that's not how it should be. The beginning of the end of my association with the SGI began when I practiced with Flushing district in Queens, in the position of a district leader, and a leader by the name of Mrs. Ihara was appointed as a senior leader to our district.

She entered our district and immediately started giving orders and blocking the member's wishes as far as conducting district meetings. This didn't make any sense to me because for years, Mary Zir was a Chapter leader and we had perfect harmony in the district and the chapter. When Mary got sick and went on a sabbatical, this woman Mrs. Ihara came in to take her place.

The first meeting she had attended I had an argument with her when our group leader came to a planning meeting about neighborhood reorganization. In front of the meeting she asked him to leave without consulting with us. This group leader had been to every neighborhood planning meeting we had since the beginning and he had taken the lead doing most of the work himself. He was indispensable, and in any case all over the SGI there were many hanchos at these meetings.

We had a discussion in the kitchen and I tried to inform her of this person's contribution and the wonderful progress this district had made and the procedures we had adopted. She said to me "I am the chapter leader, do you want to be the chapter leader?" in a sarcastic way. It was so cruel to say this to me after all the member's and my own sincere efforts. I broke down and started to cry. I could not believe how I was being treated. This kind of behavior from a leader never happened in our district before! Eventually the person whose house it was in, finally convinced Mrs. Ihara with other members, to let that person stay. That person's name is Walter Ford. Later on when I asked him why he did not speak out to Mrs. Ihara about her constant abuses and when I was being attacked, he said, "The SGI is the only family I have and I am afraid that if I speak out I will be ostracized". I often wondered how could Walter justify living like this. It's a sad state of affairs, no wonder he turned his back on me. The threat of fear he was put under was greater than his desire for justice.

There was another time we were planning a big celebration meeting and we wanted to combine our celebration with another district. The district leaders already had worked out plans to have it together, and Mrs. Ihara told all the district chiefs, after we planned the meeting, that this could not be done. We had planned to have the meeting together because many of the district members from the two districts lived in the same area and we were in the midst of the neighborhood reorganization. We all agreed that this would be a great opportunity to get to know each other. We went ahead with the meeting anyhow and it was tremendously successful with many members and guests showing up and members that had not been coming out for years. At that time Mrs. Ihara went behind our backs and told all the hanchos that what we were doing was wrong and we found out she had been doing this on a consistent basis. Mrs. Ihara showed up at the meeting late and with a sour face and helped serve the food, but did not attend the formal meeting. Also at the meeting Stan Zir was invited as a pioneer member to give his experience in the early years of the organization, where he helped lead the fight against some renegade priests that were trying to destroy the organization. Since we were now having trouble with Nikken, we thought this would be as good ideas. Mrs. Ihara vehemently opposed his coming with no good reason at that time but we would find out later her motive. 

Mrs. Ihara raked havoc over the other district leaders and chapter leaders in the chapter. Eventually the district leaders and the women's division chapter leaders had had enough of her tyrannical behavior and we scheduled a meeting with the senior leaders to deal with her negative reporting to the hanchos about us, and trying to overturn our decisions through them. As I will repeat again, we never had this trouble before with our hanchos. Mrs. Ihara was unbending about the procedures we now had to follow since she came in, and would never listen to common sense and if we disagreed with her, she treated us with disdain.

At the meeting with Mrs. Ihara, all the top leaders were there including Mrs. Kasahara and all the territory chiefs. When the meeting started Mrs. Ihara pulled out a large pad and began talking non stop for approximately 45 minutes. The senior leaders were stunned. Whenever one of the chapter or district leaders tried to talk, they were interrupted by Mrs. Ihara saying they were at fault. Finally, Mrs. Ihara said something that had astonished everyone; she said this was all Stan Zir's fault. Unfortunately, Mrs. Ihara was getting false reports about Stan Zir, now that he was in Queens. She thought he was trying to undermine her since he was Mary's husband and she was the chapter chief. Unfortunately for Mrs. Ihara, two weeks later, Stan and Mary received a public apology in the culture center from the senior leaders for passing out false information about him. Since Mrs. Ihara just trusted what the leaders were saying about him, she acted with contempt towards Stan and the other district leaders. That coupled with her own arrogance, lead to a very poisonous situation and caused great disunity in that chapter. In a sense Mrs. Ihara was betrayed by her own leader's cover ups, but her behavior towards us was far beyond anything to do with Stan, as other leaders reported to us, she had been this way for years. They told us they were glad we took action because they did not know what to do with her. Mrs. Ihara was relieved of her duties in that chapter by her seniors but not dismissed from her position as a senior leader.

This was a major victory for us and for our membership. Before Mrs. Ihara came we had a wonderful unity built on respect of the members, which was the result of Mary Zir's untiring efforts and the untiring efforts of the district chiefs. It must be noted that Mary was beloved by all the members. Unfortunately, damage had been done and when new leaders transferred into the chapter, plus some of the hanchos who knew Mrs. Ihara, heard she was removed, they never got an explanation from their seniors as they had promised. So a month latter when one of these hanchos called Mary a devil out of nowhere at a meeting and was asked was this because of what happened to Mrs. Ihara, she denied it. But later it was found out that she had said to Phil Orenstein that what they did to Mrs. Ihara was terrible. She said that Mrs. Ihara is such a sweet person, how could they do that to her. Her name was Carmen Copell and she was the woman who called Mary a devil, which was repeatedly said to Mary as time went on by many members. But she knew nothing of the truth about Mrs. Ihara and also believed that these women had no right to challenge Mrs. Ihara in that way. She had just transferred into the chapter and began spreading on-shitsu against all the district chiefs and chapter leader, Mary Zir, as it became obvious by her actions later.

As it turned out, something beneficial resulted from all this. The facts were that all these junior leaders had stood up to an authoritarian leader, plus that fact that Stan Zir was falsely dismissed and his character was ruined by spreading false rumors. This gave birth to the grassroots committees (PRC) to oversee the actions of the leaders, which was originated by Mary Zir.

David:

My experience began when I heard a leader saying that there was some trouble concerning Stan Zir and Jim Corwin. The rumor was that Stan had threatened to beat up a women's division leader. When I asked Stan, since we had been friends for many years, he told me what was going on, because lies were being spread about him and that leader would not stop even when told by the members that were present that is was not true. Stan said he had no choice but to go to his friends who knew him and worked with for years because these lies were spreading and he and his wife's reputation were being ruined and the leaders refused to listen to the reports of the members. He said he had no other choice.

So I decided to look into the matter because Stan had always communicated with me and visited me when other leaders rarely did. What was happening then was that we were breaking up into an organization by neighborhood and Stan who had been a headquarters chief was not being reappointed. In reality had been dismissed because he had the audacity to challenge a top leader's neglect, when he reported a chapter leader's abusive behavior toward the members that had been going on for years, and their lack of responsibility for protecting the members. Stan finally stood up to these leaders. Subsequently the leaders started spreading lies about him to discredit him. I also confirmed this report with Frank Kearney, who was a top senior leader, who told me what Stan was saying was true and that they would not listen to him when he found out the rumor was not true.

When I asked Jim Corwin what was going on he told me it was none of my business. He said that this was between him and Stan. But the information was already out to other members. I also found it was strange that Stan was not being appointed because we could have used him in my own chapter. Territory leader, Richard Witkowski had promised to visit me for years and I never saw him, but time and time again after Mary Zir pleaded with them to visit with me and to develop their juniors, they only did once or twice in a few years. Stan had a reputation of keeping his word and visiting and raising many district, chapter, hanchos and unit chiefs. Something was wrong.

Then a very discouraging thing started to happen the moment I inquired into what was happening. I was starting to be shunned by the leaders. When I went to the culture center, I would be followed around by the gajokai. I knew this, because I used to be gajokai and we used to follow people around the culture center when we thought they were suspicious.

When I went to men's chorus practice I was made to feel very uncomfortable by the leaders and that had never happened before. When one of the hanchos said Stan was causing problems in the organization. I realized I was being associated as someone who supported Stan when I was just trying to inquire into the truth. Then my member's reactions to me became unsupportive. Behind my back friends talked. People I had known for years just gave me stares when I met them. I always wondered why did they not come to my face. I thought when the truth came out, they would certainly be ashamed of what they did to me and when the apology came to Stan and Mary in public, not one apologized for their actions towards me.

Jamie:

During the time before the leaders apologized for there actions to Stan and Mary, I had decided to invite Stan to our district meeting to talk about his experiences and give encouragement to the members about the Nikken Issue. For we all knew about his history in fighting against the priesthood and furthermore, he was a pioneer member. When I told Mrs. Ihara she said Stan can't center a meeting and you should not invite him he is not a member in your district. When I went to Kisae Kakefu in the cultural center and asked if Stan can center a meeting about Nikken issues she said no. When I said many pioneering members were invited to give encouragement and even center meetings, she said look at the personnel manual for the SGI-USA and she gave me a page number to look at when I got home. Then she said that it was the policy of the SGI that no member can center a meeting. I said, even a pioneer member? Because Frank Kearney had centered meetings and he was not a leader any more, he was just a pioneer member. When I went home to look at the page there was nothing there or anywhere saying that a member is prohibited from centering a meeting, especially a pioneer member. 

Finally, I called Mr. Kasahara and asked him if Stan could center our district meeting. He said, did the members agree, and I said yes, they were anxious to have him. They all knew Stan and it was brought up at the planning meeting and all agreed. He said it was our choice. I then asked him why wasn't Stan appointed to a position? Then he said he had offered Stan a position but he had turned it down. But he omitted telling me the details. I called Stan and said why are you telling people you were dismissed when I just talked to Mr. Kasahara who said he offered you a position and you turned it down? Stan then told me the whole story. He said Mr. Kasahara offered him a position on the guidance committee, and offered it to Mary as well, but he specified he would have to give up his line position and in addition he would not be able to give guidance to members that were having trouble with leaders, other than to chant about it. Stan said he could not agree to this and would never avoid such an issue with a member by just telling them to chant. He would lose their confidence. Stan said it was a way to shut him up. He then said, he told Mr. Kasahara he was transferring to Queens from Brooklyn and signed a paper to take a leadership position as a chapter chief to support getting closer to the line level and in that position he could fully and freely address the problems of the members. He said that he would take the position of chapter chief and thanked him very much. Mr. Kasahara said O.K, it's your choice. By not telling the full story, Mr. Kasahara made Stan look like a liar. Mr. Kasahara did not tell me he made this offer a month before Stan was going to transfer into Queens. When Mr. Kasahara talked to me, it was already 3 months later and in that time Jim was not appointing Stan and Mr. Kasahara knew. So he was covering for Jim by saying that Stan turned down the position.

David:

Everyone that tried to investigate these lies was treated unfairly. My district members started to hear these lies about Stan and right away their attitude towards me started to change since they knew I had contact with Stan. As a men's division district leader I tried my best but all my hanchos seemed to be against me because of Mrs. Ihara's dismissal and because they thought I had sided with Stan.

I was always late at planning meetings because my wife worked and I had to take care of my child. In the past this was understood. It was ok. But they would start the meeting plans without me and they were not excusing me for being late. This went on for a year. This was all based on a lie that we as district leaders had harassed Mrs. Ihara and I was a friend and in communications with Stan. This was all before the apology to Stan and Mary. 

Events after the public apology:

Soon after the public apology, everything was going well. The district leaders and the chapter leaders decided to start a "Nikken out" Toso on the weekends and it was very successful. At the time we were transferring members in the organization closer to where they lived, and me being a district leaders and my wife being a district leader, we had decided to practice together. At that time we also held our first Grass roots PRC committee meeting to discuss it with the members as was promised by the leaders in their public apology. At that meeting, we were shocked that the youth division members and many of the hanchos said we never had permission to try this grassroots committee on an experimental basis, and all efforts to discuss it were nullified by claims we were liars and parasites in the lions bowels. Richard Morgan even said that he was the chapter chief and we did not discuss this with him even though he knew of the public apology. Furthermore, he never supported all the district chiefs and chapter chiefs when they were harassed by Mrs. Ihara. He totally ignored what they told him, and they had lost respect for him for not protecting them. This same chapter chief for years only visited me once or twice. Need I say more?

At that time, as the reorganization was going on, since I was a district leader and my wife and I lived in the same house and it would be easier for me to make meetings on time since they were close to my home, it made sense for us to practice together as district leaders. Also my wife did not have a counterpart. When I took this request to my senior leaders they said no, we can't do this. I would have to become a general member! I was shocked. I must preface this with what was happening before my request. After the first meeting that was held about a discussion on the grass roots committee, the senior leaders all started to come around and suddenly they were at every district and planning meeting and everyone wanted to suddenly visit me. They hadn't visited me for years like they had promised, and when they now visited me, all they talked about was Stan and Mary Zir. They had no interest in my personal problems and at that time and I had many personal problems. The true intent of their visit was to keep me away from Stan.

It must be noted during that time, me and my wife had to suffer the persecution of the members because of the blind trust they had of the leaders and it never occurred to them to look into the matter themselves. The leaders had covered up their actions about Mary and Stan and turned the members against him and all those that supported him the first time. Now they lied openly by breaking there promises that everyone heard at the cultural center and the members even believed the leaders again. It's mind-boggling. The reaction of the members was something out of the movie "The Invasion of the Pods" how did such a relationship between the members and the leaders ever come about? How could this ever have anything to do with Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism? It was pure insanity. It was like a cult. In the end they told me I had done nothing as a district leader, only after I asked to be transferred with my wife. The strange thing is that Richard Morgan rarely visited me for many years, and neither did Richard Witkowski even after the pleadings of Mary Zir. They were now telling me I was not doing anything even though I was visiting members with Mary Zir. In the end, they replaced all the district chiefs and Mary Zir with the hanchos becoming the new district chiefs and taking our places, because they convinced the hanchos we were breaking unity and the hanchos were now acting on behalf of the territory leaders whose lies they believed. I must remind you unlike Mrs. Ihara, we were always very respectful of our hanchos and members. But for months they were very disrespectful to us calling us devils etc based on the false information they received from their seniors. It was not until the very end that we stood up and responded strongly to them and the senior leaders to stop this abuse.

Jamie:

When we set about to implement this peoples committee, the idea was to provide a checks and balance to prevent any kind of persecution of the membership or leaders, by any leader that could go unchecked. It was set up to protect the rights of any member who challenged the leaders authority who was using the current system to gain support for their personal agenda; a system that does not permit the leaders to be held accountable to anyone in such circumstances. Therefore there is no check on their behavior.

When we tried to do something positive to take away the authoritarian nature of the leaders, the members were given false information by the leaders that we were destroying the organization.

After that, the senior leaders would show up like watch dogs, seeing if we ever talked about the peoples committee at the district meetings, which we did only on one or two occasions. One case, where Alma announced the meeting of the grass roots committee in a respectful way, and another where Mary Zir spoke for 2 minutes about Makiguchi's guidances about the people overseeing the actions of the leaders. The funny thing is that we could never get senior leaders to show up at our meetings and now they were coming out in droves to planning and district meetings. They would take over as far as directing to us what was to be discussed and they would always be giving the final encouragement. Once we tried to invite Frank Kearney to a meeting and it was agreed by all present at the planning meeting. When the senior leaders found out that he thought the grass roots committee was a good idea, Jackson Yiu a YMD hancho, called up Frank Kearney on his own and told him he could not attend this meeting as a central figure. Frank Kearney, who was on the guidance staff, was a 34 year pioneer member, well respected by all the members. Jackson was very rude to Frank and it was obvious he got his information from the senior leaders.

The bottom line was that the leaders felt threatened and they did not want anything to take the place that would break the hold of power they had over the members. Because anytime we would mention President Ikeda's guidance or Makiguchi's guidance about member's empowerment, we were called devils creating a parallel organization. In the end, it's very ironic that the members would let their lives be dictated to them in this way, in an organization that was designed to spread peace and justice.

During the midst of all this, Mary Zir said we must chant about Nikken's resignation and implemented two 12 hour tosos on the weekend. Every Saturday and Sunday we got together to chant and soon the whole chapter joined in. We were getting a great result. After two months, one of the members went to the cultural center where she met Mr. Kasahara at the book store. She invited him to the toso, and he said to her that he could not come because he "didn't like to chant" and then turned away. It was not a joke because Mr. Kasahara was very serious and as she stood there he then went about his business but did not return to tell her he was kidding. You would think Mr. Kasahara, a top leader in New York and a representative of President Ikeda would have been delighted, but he was not.

It was obvious that Mr. Kasahara was very upset, because he had already approved a vicious letter that was sent out condemning us and slandering the committee members with false reports and lies. These were the people that were leading the way in the territory with a successful toso against Nikken, while he and the other leaders were having trouble rallying the members in New York to even involve them in the Temple issue.

When this woman came home she called me on the phone she had become distraught but was afraid to say anything because it was Mr. Kasahara, and because of her fear to stand up to leaders and withstand the negative pressure that would have been put on her. She ended up opposing the PRC committee, which could have taken that leader to task for his actions of the treatment to people who were supporting the campaign to oust Nikken. But it did not end here, they stopped the Nikken Tosos too.

What happened was that the hanchos that were onshitsuing us proposed a unity toso to take the place of the Nikken toso once a week. It was held in Carman's house. It was to discuss how to have unity in the chapter. But the unity toso happened during the week with a small amount of chanting and turned out to be an onshitsu fest against the district and chapter leaders who had started the PRC committee. It must be noted that many senior leaders attended these unity tosos and supported such false information but they had rarely attended the Nikken Tosos. In the end Mary and Stan Zir went to one of their meetings and had it out with these people face to face. No more back stabbing was going to occur after that. Now they effectively stopped the Nikken Toso because no one would come after the unity tosos started. The main issue that President Ikeda told us to fight with our lives for, they managed to destroy.

David:

Now at this time, the senior leaders were trying to appoint members and they wanted to appoint new hanchos all over the chapter without consulting with the district leaders or even agreement at the chapter level. We received information that the senior leaders (territory level) were holding a secret meeting without letting the district leaders and Mary Zir, a chapter leader, know. They were going to appoint many members to hancho positions. When we showed up at the meeting, they were astonished and the senior leader immediately covered up by changing the plan. They did not get away with it. It was an odd meeting. They couldn't make any appointments.

The senior leaders at that time, territory and up, were trying to appoint hanchos and replace the old district chiefs with people that they had convinced that we were evil. This was purely political and we caught them at it. 

Finally David, my husband and I were dismissed as the last course of action. They had to get rid of us to hide their own actions and because of our association with the peoples committee and because we would not submit to their lies and would not humiliate ourselves to such people. The dismissal was done so tacky. It was done over the phone. It was disrespectful and didn't follow the SGI guidelines at all. A senior leader by the name of Larry May, and one by the name of Richard Witkowski called us. They were territory leaders. Larry just told David he was being dismissed. Then Richard Witkowski called and when I got on the phone he simply said: "You guys are finished!" meaning that we were no longer leaders in Bayside Flushing.

Most discouraging was that the women's division senior leaders did not even call. I was dismissed by a men's division territory leader in a disrespectful manner. Mary was dissmised by letter after being told by Tariq Hassan to "cease and desist" about any discussion of PRC or guidance pertaining to it. Where were our compassionate women's division? Where were our home visits that was in the procedures?

Finally after we were dismissed, the leaders and members who had turned against us kept calling for us to come back to the meetings as if nothing had happened. But how can we come back after being treated so horribly and disrespectfully by the leader and the members? How can they ask us to sit and listen to these leaders give final encouragement?

I love this practice. I will keep my Gohonzon and continue to chant but not in this organization. They have to realize from top down there has to be a drastic change with the structure of the organization. These leaders in place, who use the people like puppets at there whim must be removed, or we will not rid our selves of all these terrible forces and never see kosen rufu unfolding in our lifetimes. 

David:

Everyone that tried to investigate these lies was treated unfairly. My district members started to hear these lies about Stan and right away their attitude towards me started to change since they knew I had contact with Stan. As a men's division district leader I tried my best but all my hanchos seemed to be against me because of Mrs. Ihara's dismissal and because they thought I had sided with Stan.

I was always late at planning meetings because my wife worked and I had to take care of my child. In the past this was understood. It was ok. But they would start the meeting plans without me and they were not excusing me for being late. This went on for a year. This was all based on a lie that we as district leaders had harassed Mrs. Ihara and I was a friend and in communications with Stan. This was all before the apology to Stan and Mary. 

Events after the public apology:

Soon after the public apology, everything was going well. The district leaders and the chapter leaders decided to start a "Nikken out" Toso on the weekends and it was very successful. At the time we were transferring members in the organization closer to where they lived, and me being a district leaders and my wife being a district leader, we had decided to practice together. At that time we also held our first Grass roots PRC committee meeting to discuss it with the members as was promised by the leaders in their public apology. At that meeting, we were shocked that the youth division members and many of the hanchos said we never had permission to try this grassroots committee on an experimental basis, and all efforts to discuss it were nullified by claims we were liars and parasites in the lions bowels. Richard Morgan even said that he was the chapter chief and we did not discuss this with him even though he knew of the public apology. Furthermore, he never supported all the district chiefs and chapter chiefs when they were harassed by Mrs. Ihara. He totally ignored what they told him, and they had lost respect for him for not protecting them. This same chapter chief for years only visited me once or twice. Need I say more?

At that time, as the reorganization was going on, since I was a district leader and my wife and I lived in the same house and it would be easier for me to make meetings on time since they were close to my home, it made sense for us to practice together as district leaders. Also my wife did not have a counterpart. When I took this request to my senior leaders they said no, we can't do this. I would have to become a general member! I was shocked. I must preface this with what was happening before my request. After the first meeting that was held about a discussion on the grass roots committee, the senior leaders all started to come around and suddenly they were at every district and planning meeting and everyone wanted to suddenly visit me. They hadn't visited me for years like they had promised, and when they now visited me, all they talked about was Stan and Mary Zir. They had no interest in my personal problems and at that time and I had many personal problems. The true intent of their visit was to keep me away from Stan.

It must be noted during that time, me and my wife had to suffer the persecution of the members because of the blind trust they had of the leaders and it never occurred to them to look into the matter themselves. The leaders had covered up their actions about Mary and Stan and turned the members against him and all those that supported him the first time. Now they lied openly by breaking there promises that everyone heard at the cultural center and the members even believed the leaders again. It's mind-boggling. The reaction of the members was something out of the movie "The Invasion of the Pods" how did such a relationship between the members and the leaders ever come about? How could this ever have anything to do with Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism? It was pure insanity. It was like a cult. In the end they told me I had done nothing as a district leader, only after I asked to be transferred with my wife. The strange thing is that Richard Morgan rarely visited me for many years, and neither did Richard Witkowski even after the pleadings of Mary Zir. They were now telling me I was not doing anything even though I was visiting members with Mary Zir. In the end, they replaced all the district chiefs and Mary Zir with the hanchos becoming the new district chiefs and taking our places, because they convinced the hanchos we were breaking unity and the hanchos were now acting on behalf of the territory leaders whose lies they believed. I must remind you unlike Mrs. Ihara, we were always very respectful of our hanchos and members. But for months they were very disrespectful to us calling us devils etc based on the false information they received from their seniors. It was not until the very end that we stood up and responded strongly to them and the senior leaders to stop this abuse.

Jamie:

When we set about to implement this peoples committee, the idea was to provide a checks and balance to prevent any kind of persecution of the membership or leaders, by any leader that could go unchecked. It was set up to protect the rights of any member who challenged the leaders authority who was using the current system to gain support for their personal agenda; a system that does not permit the leaders to be held accountable to anyone in such circumstances. Therefore there is no check on their behavior.

When we tried to do something positive to take away the authoritarian nature of the leaders, the members were given false information by the leaders that we were destroying the organization.

After that, the senior leaders would show up like watch dogs, seeing if we ever talked about the peoples committee at the district meetings, which we did only on one or two occasions. One case, where Alma announced the meeting of the grass roots committee in a respectful way, and another where Mary Zir spoke for 2 minutes about Makiguchi's guidances about the people overseeing the actions of the leaders. The funny thing is that we could never get senior leaders to show up at our meetings and now they were coming out in droves to planning and district meetings. They would take over as far as directing to us what was to be discussed and they would always be giving the final encouragement. Once we tried to invite Frank Kearney to a meeting and it was agreed by all present at the planning meeting. When the senior leaders found out that he thought the grass roots committee was a good idea, Jackson Yiu a YMD hancho, called up Frank Kearney on his own and told him he could not attend this meeting as a central figure. Frank Kearney, who was on the guidance staff, was a 34 year pioneer member, well respected by all the members. Jackson was very rude to Frank and it was obvious he got his information from the senior leaders.

The bottom line was that the leaders felt threatened and they did not want anything to take the place that would break the hold of power they had over the members. Because anytime we would mention President Ikeda's guidance or Makiguchi's guidance about member's empowerment, we were called devils creating a parallel organization. In the end, it's very ironic that the members would let their lives be dictated to them in this way, in an organization that was designed to spread peace and justice.

During the midst of all this, Mary Zir said we must chant about Nikken's resignation and implemented two 12 hour tosos on the weekend. Every Saturday and Sunday we got together to chant and soon the whole chapter joined in. We were getting a great result. After two months, one of the members went to the cultural center where she met Mr. Kasahara at the book store. She invited him to the toso, and he said to her that he could not come because he "didn't like to chant" and then turned away. It was not a joke because Mr. Kasahara was very serious and as she stood there he then went about his business but did not return to tell her he was kidding. You would think Mr. Kasahara, a top leader in New York and a representative of President Ikeda would have been delighted, but he was not.

It was obvious that Mr. Kasahara was very upset, because he had already approved a vicious letter that was sent out condemning us and slandering the committee members with false reports and lies. These were the people that were leading the way in the territory with a successful toso against Nikken, while he and the other leaders were having trouble rallying the members in New York to even involve them in the Temple issue.

When this woman came home she called me on the phone she had become distraught but was afraid to say anything because it was Mr. Kasahara, and because of her fear to stand up to leaders and withstand the negative pressure that would have been put on her. She ended up opposing the PRC committee, which could have taken that leader to task for his actions of the treatment to people who were supporting the campaign to oust Nikken. But it did not end here, they stopped the Nikken Tosos too.

What happened was that the hanchos that were onshitsuing us proposed a unity toso to take the place of the Nikken toso once a week. It was held in Carman's house. It was to discuss how to have unity in the chapter. But the unity toso happened during the week with a small amount of chanting and turned out to be an onshitsu fest against the district and chapter leaders who had started the PRC committee. It must be noted that many senior leaders attended these unity tosos and supported such false information but they had rarely attended the Nikken Tosos. In the end Mary and Stan Zir went to one of their meetings and had it out with these people face to face. No more back stabbing was going to occur after that. Now they effectively stopped the Nikken Toso because no one would come after the unity tosos started. The main issue that President Ikeda told us to fight with our lives for, they managed to destroy.

David:

Now at this time, the senior leaders were trying to appoint members and they wanted to appoint new hanchos all over the chapter without consulting with the district leaders or even agreement at the chapter level. We received information that the senior leaders (territory level) were holding a secret meeting without letting the district leaders and Mary Zir, a chapter leader, know. They were going to appoint many members to hancho positions. When we showed up at the meeting, they were astonished and the senior leader immediately covered up by changing the plan. They did not get away with it. It was an odd meeting. They couldn't make any appointments.

The senior leaders at that time, territory and up, were trying to appoint hanchos and replace the old district chiefs with people that they had convinced that we were evil. This was purely political and we caught them at it. 

Finally David, my husband and I were dismissed as the last course of action. They had to get rid of us to hide their own actions and because of our association with the peoples committee and because we would not submit to their lies and would not humiliate ourselves to such people. The dismissal was done so tacky. It was done over the phone. It was disrespectful and didn't follow the SGI guidelines at all. A senior leader by the name of Larry May, and one by the name of Richard Witkowski called us. They were territory leaders. Larry just told David he was being dismissed. Then Richard Witkowski called and when I got on the phone he simply said: "You guys are finished!" meaning that we were no longer leaders in Bayside Flushing.

Most discouraging was that the women's division senior leaders did not even call. I was dismissed by a men's division territory leader in a disrespectful manner. Mary was dissmised by letter after being told by Tariq Hassan to "cease and desist" about any discussion of PRC or guidance pertaining to it. Where were our compassionate women's division? Where were our home visits that was in the procedures?

Finally after we were dismissed, the leaders and members who had turned against us kept calling for us to come back to the meetings as if nothing had happened. But how can we come back after being treated so horribly and disrespectfully by the leader and the members? How can they ask us to sit and listen to these leaders give final encouragement?

I love this practice. I will keep my Gohonzon and continue to chant but not in this organization. They have to realize from top down there has to be a drastic change with the structure of the organization. These leaders in place, who use the people like puppets at there whim must be removed, or we will not rid ourselves of all these terrible forces and never see kosen rufu unfolding in our lifetimes. 

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