Friday, January 7, 2011

I’m having a problem with Shakubuku

Or rather the way that some NB organizations are presenting it. Maybe because I'm a recovering Jehovah's Witness (more on that later). I have a real problem telling someone that his/her religion is wrong or inferior and mine is right or superior. In case you didn't know, as I understand it, Shakubuku is what Nichiren Buddhists call the process of proseltyzing and converting non-believers. Most times it's passive, not active like going from door-to-door.
I mean, it's different if a person comes  to me and says, Hey, I heard you're a Buddagan, can you tell me more about that? Then I'll say, sure, here is a brief rundown of my spiritual beliefs. But to go and seek out people to convert, I just can't and won't do it. I notice that Pagans in general have no conversion process or goal. If you have questions, you can find a Solitary or a teaching coven to assist you. But you have to make the first step. Pagans don't go around forcing folks to join. I don't have experience with other Buddhist paths so I don't know if shakubuku is only a Nichiren Buddhist thing. I'm in no position to tell someone – not even my own children  - what religion or spiritual path they should take.
I guess I should tell you my shakubuku story: a coworker decided to invite me to a Nichiren Buddhist intro meeting. Something I said to her made her feel that it would be a good idea. To this day neither one of us can remember what that was. Anyway, I'm glad she did. I was at a point in my life where I felt something was missing. After a few failed attempts to rejoin the JW flock, I needed a change. So I went to the meeting. I was a bit weird with all the chanting but after I went to the 2nd meeting I was used to it. I was told that I didn't have to change my current belief system although I eventually did on my own.
I started chanting. "Mama Buddha" said that's how I can see for myself whether it works. Yeah I was skeptical but I chanted anyway, just saying nam myoho renge kyo sans gohonzon. I noticed changes in me. So did my husband. This was in March 2010. I guess I owe shakubuku breaking free of my previous brainwashing. But Mama Buddha didn't refute my beliefs or break me down. She invited me to a meeting, answered my questions, and let me decide for myself if I wanted to continue. It was more like this meaning:
Quote from the site says "Shakubuku is not breaking and subduing people, it is stopping suffering and awakening to life's potential."
If Shakubuku is helping people to stop suffering and awaken their Buddha nature, then cool.


  1. Your experience is more what the Japanese would call "shoju." Shoju is used in cultures where Buddhism is not prevalent. Nichiren participated in shakubuku (break and destroy) because of the misleading teaching of other so-called "Buddhists" of his time.

    Your sponsor introduced you to the practice in exactly the appropriate way. At least for in the US in this day and age - for most people. I for one don't have a problem being more aggressive with those who are really messed up.

    I feel that if one ISN'T proselytizing there must be something wrong with their faith. If I get benefit from something, of course I want to share it. Check out Penn Teller's take on proselytizing

    One day, based on your Buddhist compassion, you will share Nam Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo with someone, just as your co-worker did for you.

  2. Good point on proselytizing in the video. I have to think about that some more. I guess it's the aggressiveness that's such a turn off to me.