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 teachings....by 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?

7 Comments:

Anonymous KitKat said...

Thanks for this blog, it's great to have a place where us 'ex-members' can chat. I left about 6 years ago, and there are still 'triggers' for me, words like gratitude are loaded, I can't use them any more!

November 20, 2005  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi kitkat,

I'm not sure exactly what you meant by "triggers". Is this the same sort of thing Steve Hassan talks about?

He talks about ordinary words having a special meaning in the jargon of a group, and that hearing these words takes former members back (at least momentarily) to the headspace of being in that group. Is that what happens to you when you hear "gratitude"?

November 20, 2005  
Anonymous KitKat said...

Yes, that's it exactly — words like gratitude, impurities and purification are really loaded, they make me feel like I'm back in the Dojo, and that feels very uncomfortable! Even after all these years I still can't 'switch off' those triggers.

November 21, 2005  
Anonymous Darcy said...

Mind control or persuasion...? That just depends on who is trying to recruite you. Like I've said before, I think the amatsu has a lot to do with it. It places you in a trance like state and enables you to absorb more information, whether it is crazy or not. That portion I do believe in mind control. As for members trying to get you to come to the dojo...I don't think anyone thinks that into it. I think that most kumite truly believe that they are doing the right thing. Their hearts are in the right place, but they are just pouring their efforts into something useless. Can you imagine the great things some of those people could do if they were focusing their energies on something other than Mahikari? I still have a lot of people in Mahikari that I love and they are all wonderful people. it makes me sad to think that they still believe that sitting at the dojo for hours on end is helping the world. Thank God the numbers are decreasing as far as members go. More and more people are leaving. That gives me hope that someday my family and friends will be free as well. We have lost too many brilliant people to the clutches of Mahikari.

December 29, 2005  
Blogger Anne said...

Darcy,

Thank you very much for all your new comments (on this and other topics).

No, I don't think any kumite, or even kanbu, deliberately use mind control. These members sincerely believe Mahikari teachings and are merely practising what they believe to be correct. I'm afraid their sincerity just makes them even more convincing!

I don't even know if Okada deliberately set out to introduce mind control elements into Mahikari. Steve Hassan makes the point that some leaders of mind controlling cults were previously members (victims) of other cults that use mind control techniques. Thus, they learnt "what worked" from their previous cult and used similar techniques in there own cult, perhaps without consciously realizing the mind control potential. Since Okada was an experienced member of SKK before starting Mahikari, perhaps this applies to him.

Still, deliberate or not, I think the mind control effect of Mahikari is the main thing we are up against. I had not considered that amatsu norigoto might play a major role in that, but you might be right. I must see if I can find again some information I read a while back about certain rhythms, tempos, etc., and their effect on how open we are to suggestion.

Thanks again for all your insights!

December 31, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had an unfortunate encounter with a member once, who when they were in a fit of rage screamed how ungrateful I was, whenI, by nature thank everyone profusely for everything and so the whole gratitude thing got me too...
Its bad when outside the dojo these words are tunred into arrows to achieve a supposed high moral ground...

April 28, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm gonna make my own journal

December 12, 2009  

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