I just saw this post on a Y! group that is similar in spirit to this one--providing a free voice outside of an otherwise controlling climate, in their case the Buddhist group/cult SGI (Soka Gakkai International). I'll have to provide a quick dictionary at bottom, but the concerns they voice are worthy of especial note--I'm hilighting in color some of the key points...
Leader worship is the third of the powerful enemies
People personalize issues sometimes to the point where they fail to
understand them. I think a careful reading of the Gosho,
especially "Repaying Debts of Gratitude" in tandem with the Kaimoku
Sho sheds light on this tendancy of people to turn their leaders --
expeically spiritual leaders -- into "unreachable stars" as Jim
Jone's followers did to him, Jim Bakker had happen to him, or as the
average CEO of Japan expects his employees to behave.
First, leaders are not angels. They are administrators, spokesmen, or
ministers. They serve the cause, they serve the people. They have a
job to do, a mission to accomplish, and the only thing we should care
about is how well they do their job. The trouble is that they
sometimes do their job so well that their followers start thinking
that even their "stuff" doesn't think. In fact, historically fawning
and fearful followers will portray leaders such as Kobo Daishi (who
founded Shingon) or Jikaku Daishi; Jim Jones, or the founder of
Microsoft, the leader of Toyota, the head of the Treasury, as if they
were Saints with all the answers. When something becomes a movement,
the tendancy is to invent a trinity or a pantheon.
Sometimes those leaders themselves will start to think they can do no
wrong. And that is where they go very wrong. At that point they've
been completely deluded to the point where one can speak
metaphorically of "possession." Mara steps in and the third powerful
enemy is born. Now the leader can actually be dead and this can
happen among his followers. Anytime someone gets portrayed as a
magical being with extraordinary powers, and rather than being used
as a practical, pragmatic, positive model; becomes a super-human
beyond the reach of ordinary folks, model; Mara has won.
The battle is not with the particulars. Kobo and Jikaku were genuine
sages who did great things for Buddhism. One may agree with Nichiren
that their take on the esoteric value of tantra conflicts with
the "hidden in plain sight" universal esotericism in the Lotus Sutra,
or one may disagree, but the fact is nobody need be put up on a
pedestal and worshipped. Our criticism of the High Priests of
Nichiren Shoshu flowed from that argument. The Gakkai spent almost
10 years teaching this in the 80's and 90's, only to have that
teaching undermined from within by those who found it convenient or
who bought into its premises.
It's not good for anybody.
--- In SokaGakkaiUnofficial@yahoogroups.com
Quick glossary in case anybody got lost:
Gosho and "Kaimoku Sho"--'gosho' is the general term for a certain portion Buddhist canon, "Kaimoku Sho" being a selection from it.
Mara --also called the "Devil King of the Sixth Realm", sorta like Apophis in that he opposes Buddhism and Enlightenment.
Nichiren Shoshu --a sect of Nichiren Buddhism, from which Soka Gakkai derives. The two groups have been rivals since the 80's or thereabouts.
Remember, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.