Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mahikari kids

I've just been looking over ZT's new blog about his experience of leaving Mahikari after spending all his teenage years as a kumite, along with his mother and sister. It must be so hard for someone in his position to leave Mahikari! [Feb 2007 note: The posts on this blog were removed several months later.]

I joined and left Mahikari as an adult, so I obviously have no experience of what it must be like for kids who are born into a Mahikari family or who join as a family. It must take tremendous guts to break free of the dual influence of family and Mahikari at the same time. This is one case where I can't help being glad that teenagers tend to rebel!

If anyone who was a Mahikari kid is reading this post, maybe you could look at ZT's blog and offer comments? Swapping notes and providing mutual support has got to make a difficult process a bit easier.

Personally, I would love to hear how Mahikari kids have managed to break free.

Please leave a comment here about your experiences. Then, if others comment on your comment, etc., this thread might even help some of you create a network of people to talk to. You can also use the "Contacting contributors" link under Previous Posts (once we have some contributors to contact, of course!)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Sharing views on Mahikari

The purpose of this blog is to provide a virtual community where the issues facing kumite when they leave or have left Mahikari can be discussed with others who are going through, or have been through, a similar process.

Therefore, I've made it easy for anyone to post comments. You may remain anonymous if you wish but, if so, please use a nickname so that we can get to know you. When posting a comment, please bear in mind that both current and former members of Mahikari include many sincere and idealistic people, and that all these people deserve respect. Comments will be moderated (sparingly) in order to weed out overly vitriolic and completely off-topic posts.

I hope to add articles concerning various relevant topics, such as the origins of Mahikari, escaping mind control, Japanese new religions in a historical context, the two Mahikaris, etc. If you wish to submit an article, or an experience story, please post it to me and I'll post it as a new post rather than as a comment.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Cooperating with other religions

I've just found some more interesting quotes. Perhaps we could start some sort of Quotes of the Week feature!

Here is a rather interesting excerpt from the Sukyo Mahikari Europe & Africa official website (click on Aims in the sidebar, then click the co-operate link):

"Since the core of each religion is one, that is, Creator God, Sukyo Mahikari does not consider itself the only path leading to God, nor the only way to get closer to God. [Really?! I certainly had the impression that Mahikari considers itself to be the one true path, etc.....but I'm interrupting. Sorry.] One aim of Sukyo Mahikari is to encourage dialogue between different religions, and to work with others to introduce the universal principles to more people around the world. Persons who become members of Sukyo Mahikari are free to pursue their own religious practice."

Don't you think the above sounds just a little bit deceptive? Maybe whoever wrote the above official publicity for Mahikari needs to re-read the founder's words in Sunkyo, pages 25-26. He said the following:

"The various religions of today have even come to be called religions for the handling of funeral services, faiths of sacred music and dancing that use God, or just sight-seeing enterprises. They have lost their power to perform spiritual miracles and give salvation and cannot save mankind or solve the world's problems. The more you support such religions and traditions the more you will be standing in the way of the progress of the divine plan. The time has come in the history of mankind's religions when such practices will be cast aside."

I would not have thought that an official spokesperson for Mahikari would want to "stand in the way of the progress of the divine plan", even if doing so does make Mahikari sound more palatable to the general public.

Don't get me wrong. I'm perfectly in favor of cooperation between people who happen to hold different beliefs. I'm just not too impressed by deceptive advertising.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Persuasion or mind control?

In retrospect, it's amazing how quickly some of my basic views changed when I first joined Mahikari. In a matter of weeks, I changed from being a staunch atheist to being an enthusiastic kumite. I started to accept a vertical hierarchy, despite years of being egalitarian. I started (reluctantly) wearing skirts, despite years of feminism....although I must admit there was a purely practical element in that. I found it much more comfortable to sit on my knees giving light in a skirt than in jeans!

In contrast, when I left Mahikari 10 years later, it took me an enormous amount of time to decide which teachings (if any) were true, and I continued to wear omitama for several years. At the point when I left Mahikari, I guess I still thought most of the teachings were true. Since many teachings are circular and unprovable, I found it very difficult and painful to try to think through what I believed and what I didn't. Mostly, I simply tried not to think about Mahikari.

It took me something like 6 or 7 years to reach a point where I'd rejected most of the then I'd noticed that life went on just fine without doing all those things kumite feel they have to do.

At about that point, I read Garry Greenwood's book, All the Emporer's Men. This was immensely upsetting for me. I began to feel that I had been duped and wasted 10 years of my life on something that was not what it pretended to be. Reading that book cured me of believing any of the teachings...although some of them are rather general and perhaps accidentally true.

All this was a long time ago, so I've not gone into much detail. The really interesting (to me) part of my story started a few months ago when I decided it was time to find out, once and for all, what Mahikari is really all about. I read everything I could find online and followed that up with a trip to the library to borrow whatever references I could find.

I spent every moment I could reading voraciously and thinking as honestly as I could about all my experiences. Much of this was rather painful, as I'm sure you can appreciate, but I had at last managed to strike up email communication with another former member. Having someone to write to about my thoughts was an enormous help in making me clarify what I thought and how I felt. (This is the main reason why I decided to set up this blog for communications between former kumite.)

Anyway, while I was reading experience stories from people who had been involved in cults such as the Moonies and Hare Krishnas, I felt like something (what?) in my brain kept on snapping open. These stories were not about Mahikari, so it was easy to be objective and see what mechanisms were involved in making their converts believe their teachings. Despite some obvious differences in the daily lives of these people compared with kumite, many elements sounded horribly familiar. I felt thoroughly humiliated as I began to reluctantly admit that what I'd been involved in was not much better than these other cults.

You know what? Every moment of painful realization was worth it. I now feel like I have the "real me" back again for the first time since I joined Mahikari!

In the past, I often felt that I didn't think through even major decisions thoroughly enough. I was also aware of a slight "fog" when I looked around me. This fog has now suddenly gone and I'm thinking amazingly clearly again. Do you remember kanbu saying things like "Don't think" (just give light or whatever)? I suspect that the instruction to not think must have somehow got implanted in my subconscious and still been affecting me.

Other things have suddenly changed, too. I often used to assume a sort of child role when interacting with other people. Remember, at kenshu, being told to be like a child? I now finally feel and act like an adult. I often used to feel like the weight of the world was on my shoulders for no good reason. I wonder why. I now feel more relaxed and free and strong and confident than ever before.

I was never aware of any sort of mind control in action when I was a kumite, but its starting to look to me like there was. The frightening thing to me is that, even though I left Mahikari a very long time ago, and consciously rejected their teachings many years ago, "information" planted in my subconscious has still been affecting me (impairing my ability to function at full potential) till quite recently. If only I had done all that reading and thinking years earlier....!

Have any of you had any experiences that suggest mind control (rather than ordinary persuasion) in action in Mahikari?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Sukyo Mahikari's 'first Messiah'

Here is just a little food for thought on the subject of Mahikari's founder, Yoshikazu Okada, and religious leaders in general. Please excuse the Mahikari quotes...they are there to set the scene.

This first quote, written by Okada on October 10, 1969, is from the Preface of Goseigen (p. 3):

"Furthermore, God revealed that He had given me, such a plain man like me, the important mission of establishing a true prosperity for the future of mankind. That is the mission of "the First Messiah" who is to let mankind make a great turn towards the Righteous Path of tuning in with God."

In the following quote, also from Goseigen (p. 269, revealed December 8, 1965), God is talking about Okada's role:

"Your Master is not the Master just for you. He is now the Master of the eternal life of all Mankind as the true God's Deputy for this world, for I have had him complete five years of spiritual training of Bodhisattva. Consequently, he has become the Master Who is the One not only for you but, He is the soul that I shall make the Master for all mankind; and whom I shall use for the holy work of establishing God's Kingdom."

In this final quote, from Chapter 9 of Steve Hassan's Combatting Cult Mind Control, Hassan is talking about a conversation he had with a Hare Krishna member:

"It was also important for him [Phil] to see that there are other groups who are led by people claiming to be spiritually superior. When I eventually told him that there were some three thousand cult groups, and that if one of them was in fact led by the one legitimate great leader (which I seriously doubted), then the odds that he would have found the right one on the first pick were three thousand to one. Not very good odds."

No, not very good odds at all.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Contacting contributors

It occurs to me that, once some discussions get going on this blog and we start to get to know the personalities behind the nicknames of regular contributors, some of you may prefer to get in direct email contact with each other. Let's face it, you probably don't want all your thoughts displayed in public! I imagine there'll be times when one-on-one conversations would be more appropriate.

Since one purpose of this blog is to develop a community of former members, I've tried to think up a mechanism that would enable contributors to exchange their email addresses without publicly placing them on the blog. Of course, you can display your email address publicly in your comments if you wish, and simply ask the other party to contact you. However, if you don't want to do that, here's what I suggest.

If you want to exchange private emails with person-X, simply use the comment function below this post to ask X if they are willing to swap email addresses with you. If X wants to do that, X can say so via the comment function, then both of you can send a brief email to me saying who you want to contact. I would then simply forward your emails to each other. You would then have each other's email address and could begin private communication. (I would not pass on your email address to anyone else without your permission.)

Does this sound workable? Do let me know if you have a better idea of how to do this. In the meantime, I'll be happy to forward emails as described above, if you wish.