8th September 16:05
Dissent In tge Ikeda Cult: SGI-UK Reassessment Group (faith slander temple case clear)
Report on the SGI-UK Reassessment Group
unhappy about in the SGI-UK organization, such as a top heavy, autocratic
hierarchy that seemed to be there for life and not budging. The UK had, at
that time, a Central Committee of about 44 people who made all the decisions,
had to attend every special group meeting, etc., which led to burn out and a
bottleneck at the top of the organization.
Mr. Baynes asked a group of 12 people to form a group which named itself the
Reassessment Group. Ricky Baynes was a member of this Group, and it was an
officially sanctioned activity. Their task was to use the principles of
dialogue to come up with a proposal. Over a six month period they met twice
a month for all-day meetings. Each of the participants had different
agendas, but they were proud of the fact that they proved the process and
value of dialogue and daimoku. They underwent huge amounts of human
revolution, in that they all had to completely let go of their own ideas at
some point in the process and really listen to those of others. What they
produced was a proposal, but only as example. At the end of the 6 months they
felt that the process of dialogue was the way forward. Also that 12 people
were not the ones to tell everyone else what to do; rather they recommended
that all of the members should have the opportunity to go through the same
process, if they so wished in the form of Focus Groups.
(NOTE: The proposal included a blue print for a different style of HQ that
could be taken by the members and recreated into a workable structure that
was right for where they lived and practised. It suggested choices that
could be considered, i.e. no chapters, working in teams; not run by divisions
- but rather by all people who wanted to be involved; people putting
themselves forward for appointments etc. This was already in place in one
of the initiator's headquarters.)
The proposal and its findings was presented to the SGI-UK Central Committee
with great enthusiasm, but was received poorly (one group member said it
"fell flat"). It was very difficult for the Central Committee to understand
the results, in the opinion of one group member, "when they had not undergone
the process the Reassessment Group had experienced". Nevertheless, another
group was formed from the Central Committee to go through this process, which
was called the "Way Forward," and the facilitator of the Reassessment Group
was asked to facilitate the new group. Sue Thornton, Women's Division Leader
was part of this group. Again they came up with an almost identical proposal
and a call for Focus Groups, which was this time agreed. A small steering
group was formed to see the Focus Group process through. This was made up of
some members of the Reassessment and Way Forward Groups together with Baynes,
Kazuo Fuji (Vice General Director) and Sue Thornton.
The people who attended or took part in any way in Focus Groups (over 400 in
all) found it to be a difficult process. The only way forward, they found,
as had the prior Reassessment Group, was based on daimoku and doing the human
revolution to really listen, dialogue and embrace differences. This is what
they were specifically campaigning for: democracy; accountability; to have a
voice; diversity so that the organisation would be attractive to all types of
The resulting findings and recommendations were a result of these people
coming together, on the most part for the first time, and getting involved in
the process of dialogue. The facilitator said, "I believe the process was
actually more important that the results. Again this is what we are
campaigning for, that all members are able to freely take part in this sort
of process to create their own organisation and not be informed by a minority
as to how they should carry out their faith."
Opposition to the process:
There had been opposition to this endeavour not only from the Japanese
members in SGI-UK, but also from the "fundamentalists" (as they are referred
to by many of the Focus Group participants) who accused them of using
management techniques and not having any faith. Many of the key members,
including Ricky Baynes, experienced verbal and written abuse. One described
how they were ostracised at a party and SGI-UK activities where before they
had been on friendly terms with these people. What kept them going was the
support of Baynes, Fuji and Thornton, their own daimoku, and the group's
commitment to dialogue and creativity.
According to the reports, there was a group of "fundamentalists" (mostly
English, some with Japanese spouses) who banded together, in their view, to
save the organisation from the Focus Group's work. They wrote to the SGI
leadership in Japan, Europe, and to Baynes and Fuji at various stages making
their position clear, which was that they did not trust or respect Baynes or
Fuji, or the Focus Group Process.
The Focus Group steering group was suddenly dismissed at the end of last
year. Baynes, Fuji and Thornton "decided" they now had to make the decisions
on their own (against the principles of the Reassessment).
In May, Baynes and Fuji proposed a plan that included the Focus Groups,
involving a two-month cycle: one month an organisational directorate meeting;
the other the Focus Group/cultural groups meeting, which gave the members in
general a lot of hope. At this point two Area leaders wrote to President
Ikeda to say that they represented the largest area in the UK, and that they
objected to the Baynes/Fuji proposals. Their members were not consulted, and
our contacts are certain that most of their members are unaware of their
actions. Other leaders again contacted Europe and Japan asking for "help".
They seemed to fear that Ricky Baynes was just going to agree to the Focus
Group Proposals as they were.
In April/May of this year, the SGI leadership from Japan became involved.
The Focus Group members we talked to could not say with certainty exactly
what happened, but they got varying indications. However it appears that SGI
have taken over. One member told us,
"I can accept how difficult it is for them (Baynes and Fuji); they are
employed, their wives practice, it is their whole life. If they have had to
buckle under, I accept that. I wouldn't like to be them for all the tea in
China. However the very people who betrayed them now surround them…my
opinion is that many of the people who are now Directors, Regional or
otherwise, have been rewarded for their bullying tactics. There is now
closed shop, secrecy and authoritarianism even worse than before. It shows
me how much **** Causton must have always protected us from the Japanese
cultural way of doing things."
Meeting on August 1, 1999:
On August 1 a meeting was held for headquarters level leaders and above from
throughout the SGI-UK. Mr. Kaneda from Italy was appointed "special advisor
to UK." During the meeting there was no mention of the practice of the
Daishonin's Buddhism. The overall theme was "back to basics; you naughty
children, you have gone off the rails." "Back to basics," in this case,
means fight the Nikken sect, contribute to the kosen-rufu fund, and get more
Mr. Kitano (SGI advisor to the SGI-UK, similar to Mr. Wada for the SGI-USA)
talked for one-and-a-half hours about the temple issue. It was, according to
one Reassessment Group attendee,
"…Dismal, depressing, uninspiring, and with no talk of vision, future, and
joy. He kept on repeating that it was always people from within the
organisation that tried to destroy it, which I realised he was aiming at all
of us in who took part in the Reassessment Process (which is well over 500
There has been no mention of Focus Groups since. It is like it never
happened. It was announced that a restructuring of the SGI-UK leadership
would take place, with another level of leadership to be added at the top,
including the re-appointment of many older leaders, some who had previously
resigned. It many cases those against the Focus Groups have been rewarded
with Directorships. Ricky Baynes, who had been supportive of the process all
along, was silent, as were Kazuo Fuji and Sue Thornton. No one has contacted
those involved in the process.
Since then, various members have asked questions and received the following
1. Question to Mr. Kitano: Why did he come to England and only meet with and
listen to those who complained about and opposed the Reassessment?
Answer: I was not swayed by what they said, because I already had made up my
mind before I came. [http://www.cebunet.com/sgi/memo.htm]
2. Question to Mr. Kitano: Why did you not speak to the people who were
actually working on the focus groups?
Answer: Sensei has written in the "New Human Revolution" what the
organisation should look like, so who are you to say it should be different?
You should have spent the last four years studying the "NHR" instead of doing
the Reassessment. [http://www.cebunet.com/sgi/memo.htm]
3. Question: Why have the Focus Groups been completely pushed aside and not
even discussed or spoken about?
Answer (from an SGI-UK director): We will look at these proposals, but we
will make our decisions based on Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and not on certain
4. Question: But what is the point of that? Since the majority of the new
Directorate actively opposes the Focus Groups, how will that be fair?
5. Question: What about Headquarters and Groups that have already made
changes? (I.e. no chapter chiefs, no secret appointment systems,
Answer (Several different directors): They will be allowed to continue;
however, every activity has to be approved by the Group of 12 Directors.
6. Question: What about the fact that the members who have betrayed Ricky
and Kazuo and the Focus Groups are the ones who have now been appointed to
Answer (Several different directors): These people could have caused a split
in the organisation. So by bringing them back into the centre they can't harm
7. Question: Why have some people who stepped down been appointed as
directors? (This refers to older leaders who had previously "retired.")
Answer (a director): Well that is a Japanese thing. They like to have
positions for all of the oldies. They don't like people to retire; they like
people to continue working for kosen-rufu until they are 90.
One member of the now-disbanded group said:
"We are still too stunned to see the way ahead clearly. We really want to be
careful not to create any causes that might in anyway be seen as trying to
destroy the organisation. We want time to work through our emotions and then
to decide on our plan of action. However we decide to go forward, it will be
in an open way, living the principles we believe in, we all believe that
everyone is only doing what they think is best. There is no cause for
"Most of us have dedicated at least the last four years to this process,
above other areas of our lives. We need to grieve, to work through the
emotions and then galvanise ourselves for the future."
As of this writing, we are unaware of a general announcement to the SGI-UK
membership of any details regarding these events. Some of the key
participants in the original Reassessment Process have now withdrawn from
further participation in the SGI-UK organization and its activities.