Friday, December 30, 2005

Does okiyome "work"? (Part 4 of 4)

A few months before I finally left Mahikari, I was sitting in dojo giving okiyome and watching one of the Mahikari Tai guys struggle for breath...again. He was an asthmatic and often wasn't well. I was imagining how bad his asthma must have been before joining Mahikari...

I wonder now at the fact that I never thought to ask him about his pre-Mahikari health. Sure, the emphasis was on spiritual purification, but that was supposed to reflect in physical healing too. I started calculating in my head how much time a dedicated kumite would spend per day on okiyome. At a minimum, each person would need to exchange okiyome and give to at least one other person. Taking into account prayers and pleasantries, that would be about two and a half hours. Now, with an attendance of roughly 100 per day, that's 250 hours per dojo per day...had I really observed enough improvement in peoples' health to justify that amount of time?

Sure, there was one woman who miraculously recovered from cancer (and we all were delighted to be able to point her out to new visitors to dojo). One in 10 years? In the article Why Bogus Therapies Seem to Work (see reference in Part 1), it is stated that one experienced oncologist reported 12 cases of spontaneous remission in 6,000 cases. Does that roughly equate to one in 10 years?

There were numerous examples of alleviation of less serious aches and pains and sniffles. Okiyome did seem to result in quicker than expected recovery from such things, but these sort of things disappear in a few days even without okiyome. Did it really matter if people were a bit uncomfortable for a little longer?

Mahikari suddenly started to seem like a pretty high-maintenance thing to be involved in. To tell the truth, I was starting to feel a bit bored with it too. Despite the high level of concentration required, okiyome is essentially a rather mindless activity. I was craving a bit of mental exercise...time to read books, time to learn something new, time to exercise my brain.

Sure, I believed okiyome "works", but was it really worth spending that amount of time on it? And was it worth spending all the time required for other Mahikari activities as well? But that was all many years ago.

So far in this series of posts I've questioned what okiyome is and why it works. But to what extent does okiyome "work"? Does it really "work" as often as kumite believe it does?

We've probably all come across people who insist they don't feel anything when receiving okiyome and who claim no change in their physical problems. Despite this, kumite seem to believe that okiyome has the potential to "work" for everyone.

Lets assume for the moment that the placebo effect is responsible for the cures attributed to okiyome. According to the article The Mysterious Placebo (see reference in Part 1), something like one-third of the population respond to placebos. Do the people who do feel benefits from okiyome, and therefore go on to become kumite, all belong to this one-third? Presumably, the other two-thirds would be the ones who report no benefit and don't join Mahikari. If this is so, then okiyome would seem to be universally effective to kumite who give okiyome within the Mahikari community, simply because the other two-thirds are not there!

However, even within the Mahikari community, to what extent is okiyome really producing healthier people?

A few weeks ago, someone using the nickname KitKat recommended a very interesting article called The Belief Engine. I think the following part, in particular, is highly relevant:

"Beliefs help us to function. They guide our actions and increase or reduce our anxieties. If we operate on the basis of a belief, and if it "works" for us, even though faulty, why would we be inclined to change it? Feedback from the external world reinforces or weakens our beliefs, but since the beliefs themselves influence how that feedback is perceived, beliefs can become very resistant to contrary information and experience." [italics mine]

In this case, a key belief that influences how feedback is perceived is the belief that illnesses are cleansings that eliminate toxins from our bodies and/or erase negative karma. Every time a kumite gets sick, he or she regards it as something that promotes greater physical and/or spiritual health. Accordingly, even a kumite who gets sick quite often will probably believe that okiyome is making him or her a lot healthier. Objectively, there may have been very little change in that person's level of health.

Finally, to repeat an earlier point (because I think it's so important!), it is a fallacy to assume that A caused B just because B followed A, which we are particularly prone to assume if we do A with the intention of causing B. For example, did we feel better after receiving okiyome simply because we relaxed and rested for 50 minutes, thereby giving our bodies the opportunity to heal themselves? Did our overall health improve after joining Mahikari simply because the illusion that we had "all the answers" reduced our stress levels? Did we become healthier in some way because the time we spent at dojo was time not spent doing something that had a bad effect on our health? Did that symptom disappear after receiving okiyome simply because it was about to disappear, just then, all by itself?

So, what do you think? Does okiyome "work"? And, if so, why?

Thursday, December 29, 2005


3年ほど前に、7年使用したオミタマの、中を拝見 しましたが、中には
何も入っていません。恥ずかしながら小生は、不良 品をかった事に気づ
オミタマの中身があっても無くてもお清め出来る、 お清めにオミタマの

と言うことは、聖の文字の紙と、教え主さまのオミ タマの調整は何だっ
たのでしょうか。他の信者さんの中にもオミタマに 紙が入っていない可

The above was posted in 2004 on the now inactive 真光について site. I'm told it was written by a kumite who opened omitama, after giving okiyome for 7 years, only to discover that it was empty!

I'm waiting on a full translation of this post, and will add it here in due course.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Does okiyome "work"? (Part 3)

The next question I want to raise is, does okiyome (or some sort of healing energy) actually exist, or is this a myth?

The information in the references I mentioned in Parts 1 and 2 suggests possible reasons why receiving okiyome can lead to the cure of physical ailments. Some sort of placebo or self-hypnotic effect could make okiyome bring about real cures even if there is no actual healing energy radiated from the hands. At times, too, observed improvement in a physical condition may not have been caused by receiving okiyome even though okiyome preceded the improvement (we shouldn't assume that A caused B just because B followed A).

However, the fact that we can imagine that many or most observed cures can be "explained away" in these way does not rule out the possibility that okiyome (or some sort of healing energy) exists and can also bring about cures. There are of course two aspects to consider: is it possible to radiate some sort of healing energy from the hands and, if so, is okiyome any different to the healing energy involved in pranic healing, Reiki, Jorei and other similar movements?

I remember conversations with a few kumite, when I was still a member of Mahikari, who insisted that they did not feel anything in their hands when giving okiyome, but the vast majority seemed to experience some sort of sensation (tingling and/or warmth). Even now, just thinking about okiyome, my hands start to feel the same as they did when I used to give okiyome. I find it hard to believe that we all just imagined those sensations...although I do recall hearing a statement, at primary kenshu, that we might feel tingling or warmth, or nothing at all, when giving okiyome, so the suggestion was there.

Some former kumite I've chatted with via email are convinced that all such sensations are meaningless, and that there is no such thing as okiyome or any other healing energy. Other former members are equally convinced that there is some sort of universal healing energy, but that it is an energy that anyone can radiate from the hands (or channel in other ways), and that Mahikari does not have a monopoly on using this energy. I know of one former member who now practises Reiki, and another who has gone on to pranic healing.

Dean and Jean Logan's Mahikari Information Site also presents this type of view. There are many experience stories appearing on that site from people who appear to agree with the view that a universal healing energy does exist (and that one doe not need omitama or Mahikari to use this energy). This does seem to be quite a popular view amongst former kumite...but is it a myth?

For many years after I left Mahikari, I tended to believe in the universal healing energy notion. Occasionally I would use either my hands or my mind to channel this energy to any unwell parts of my body...and it seemed to "work" just as well as okiyome. Even so, I was very aware that I did not know what I was doing, and I was understandably wary after my years of Mahikari experience, so I never attempted to direct this energy to anyone else. Now I wonder. After all the reading I've been doing lately, I think I'm more inclined to regard this "self-healing" process as some type of self-hypnotism, but I really don't know.

I think there is ample material so far, in these three posts, to question whether okiyome is what Mahikari claims it to be. But are we any closer to knowing for sure if or why it "works" (or appears to)? I don't know if it is possible to find any hard facts.

You've probably all heard of experiments concerning the use of okiyome to stimulate plant growth or inhibit putrefaction of food. These were an attempt to prove the existence of some sort of energy and, thereby, dispel the notion that physical cures were caused by the power of suggestion. In his books concerning Mahikari, Dr. Tebecis states that positive results that prove the existence of okiyome were obtained from these types of experiments. However, in an email to me, a former member with a scientific background reported that rigorous experiments failed to produce any evidence of change as a result of giving okiyome to plants and food. Incidentally, he did these experiments when he was a new and enthusiastic kumite, and he discarded the results and remained a member of Mahikari for many more years despite the "disappointing" results!

Do any of you have results from such experiments?

Friday, December 23, 2005

Does okiyome "work"? (Part 2)

The following quote is from a short discussion of Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) and his use of "animal magnetism" to cure patients:

Hypothesizing the existence of a physical magnetic fluid interconnecting every element of the universe, including human bodies, Mesmer argued that disease resulted from a disequilibrium of this fluid within the body. Cure required the redirection of the fluid through the intervention of the physician who served as a kind of conduit by which animal magnetism could be channeled out of the universe at large and into the patient's body via "magnetic passes" of the physician's hands [see figure 23].

If we substitute something like "the light of God" instead of animal magnetism, does this sound a little familiar?

The above article is rather brief, but there is quite extensive coverage of Mesmer's methods and effects in The Story of Hypnosis, by Robin Waterfield (2002). Waterfield regards Mesmer's experiences as a forerunner of modern hypnotism, even though Mesmer developed his animal magnetism technique as a physical healing method.

Mesmer regarded himself as being able to direct magnetism into patients' bodies from his hands, thereby causing "crisis" reactions such as some sort of discharge (vomiting, diarrhea, etc.) and/or some sort of fit, convulsion, or trance state. After such a "crisis", many of his patients reported that they no longer suffered from whatever problem they originally had. Sounds a bit like "cleansings" and "spirit movement" to me.

It seems Mesmer had such spectacular success with his method that he needed to devise methods of treating more than one person at a time. He devised a contraption called a baquet, which was filled with magnetized water. It had many iron rods inserted into the water, and his patients would sit around the baquet and hold the rods to the unwell part of the body. When even that could not keep up with demand, he began "magnetizing" trees for his patients to sit under. Is it stretching things to suggest a parallel with omitama and goshintai?

Waterfield mentions a number of other people who were inspired by Mesmer and developed variations on his techniques. Some focused on the use of animal magnetism (also known as mesmerism) as an excorcism technique, and some were interested in the spirit medium aspect. Waterfield even mentions one practitioner who claimed to be receiving revelations from God.

The web article quoted at the start of this post goes on to say that, in 1843, James Braid saw a stage demonstration of mesmerism which...convinced him of the reality of the physical phenomena induced by mesmerism. After several days of private experiment, Braid came to the conclusion that these physical effects were produced by "a peculiar condition of the nervous system, induced by a fixed and abstracted attention ..." and not through the mediation of any special agency passing from the body of the operator to that of the patient. To distinguish his views sharply from those of mesmerism, he named the state of nervous sleep "hypnotism", and substituted fixation of a luminous object, a variant of Faria's old induction technique, for the mesmerists' "magnetic passes".

Waterfield continues on to trace developments in the theory and practise of hypnosis up to the present day. I won't go into details, but there are some remarkable accounts of quite amazing cures which have resulted simply from suggestions made when in a receptive state.

So, can we draw any conclusions about the nature or worth of okiyome from the above?

On the face of it, Mesmer's successes tend to support the notion (to be discussed in a future post) that there is some sort of universal healing energy that anyone can radiate from the hands, regardless of whether they are a kumite or not. But then, the accounts of cures achieved via modern-day hypnosis tend to imply that there is no such energy, and that suggestion is sufficiently powerful to cause dramatic cures of physical problems.

I originally read Waterfield's book in an attempt to gain insights into my experiences in Mahikari. It did not provide me with any definite answers, but it certainly provided some possibilities to think about!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Does okiyome "work"?

The above title sounds like I am about to answer that question, but I'm afraid the question of whether or not okiyome "works" simply generates more questions. What is okiyome? Is it something specific to Mahikari? Does okiyome even exist? Why does it appear to "work" if it's not what Mahikari doctrines say it is?

I recently received an email from someone who has doubts about most teachings of Mahikari but, based on personal experience, still feels that okiyome is very worthwhile. For most of us, I think okiyome was the cornerstone of our belief in Mahikari, and in many, many cases would have been the thing that initially attracted us and motivated us to join Sukyo Mahikari.

In my case, my perception that okiyome "worked" was the sole reason I continued to practise Mahikari when I first realized that I could neither prove nor disprove all the teachings about the unseen world. I've already written about this in my Open Letter to Kamikumite, so I won't repeat myself here.

Let's face it. Whatever we may think now about the nature of Sukyo Mahikari and the worth of okiyome, any of us who were members of Mahikari for any length of time must have been pretty convinced at one stage that okiyome "works". I'm sure many of us had experiences where okiyome seemed to help (sometimes dramatically) with our own health problems, and there were many times when the people we gave light to reported improvements of some kind. We all probably also experienced times when okiyome seemed not to "work".

Of course, according to Mahikari doctrine, the primary purpose of okiyome is spiritual purification rather than physical healing. Since I could not see whether or not I or anyone else was becoming more spiritually purified as a result of okiyome, naturally, I based my former belief that okiyome "works" on what I observed on the physical level and on the physical effects other people reported to me. If these observed effects were not caused by okiyome, what did cause them?

I think too many people observed too many effects to simply dismiss these observations as imagination. However, admitting that the observed effects are real in no way proves that okiyome itself (if it exists) caused these effects.

I've come across various theories that perhaps partially explain why okiyome seems to work...too many for one post. In fact this whole topic of okiyome seems to become larger the more I think about it! I think I'll need a series of posts to deal with all the related questions but, just to get started, the following three articles provide interesting food for thought:

* The Mysterious Placebo :
* Why Bogus Therapies Seem to Work :
* Spontaneous Remission and the Placebo Effect :

These primarily concern the placebo effect, which I personally doubt is sufficient to explain all the observed effects of okiyome, but these articles do make some very relevant points, including the important fact that it is a fallacy to assume that A caused B just because B followed A.

I'll get back to this okiyome topic again soon but, in the meantime, feel free to share your views on any of the questions raised here!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Prominent people in Mahikari

Mahikari is not alone in tending to refer to prominent people amongst its members in order to make the group appear more acceptable to the general public. Apparently, this practise is effective, too. Just the other day, I read about a girl who was determined to join Scientology, despite her family warning her against it, because her movie star idol is a prominent member.

I sometimes wondered if Mahikari makes special efforts to recruit prominent people, or treats them differently once they become members. I didn't actually meet any kumite who were particulalrly "prominent" when I was a member, so I did not have a chance to draw any conclusions on this matter.

Yesterday, I just happened to be looking at the website of Mahikari Hawaii, and came across their listing of leaders and team members for various dojo tasks. There, amongst all the more expected tasks, such as Ceremonies, Expansion, and the Yoko farm, was an entry showing the person in charge of "Guiding Prominent People"!

There is nothing there to indicate whether this task focuses on recruiting such people, or on taking extra special care of them once they join, or both. However, I assume this is regarded as a rather important task, since the person listed for "Project Coordintation" takes care of the "prominent people" personally...or so it would seem, since no team members are shown.

If you want to take a look for yourself, the listing is at this site. If you want to see it, do look soon, because I imagine this listing will be removed or made private as soon as someone realizes what a faux pas they have made in making it public!

Of course, having a private or secret policy of special treatment for prominent people would be no better, but it'd be nice if someone at the Hawaii dojo had enough sensitivity to realize that different treatment for prominent people must be highly offensive to both the prominent and the less-than-prominent kamikumite.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sukyo Mahikari's omitama

I've come across two people recently who have left Mahikari, but still have omitama kept in a cupboard and are trying to decide what to do with it. What did you do with yours?

Come on. Don't be shy. Please post a comment, anonymously if you wish, and tell us what you did with omitama after you left Mahikari. There are no right or wrong answers. Are you still wearing it? Is it in a cupboard? Did you return it to dojo? Did you get someone else to return it for you? Is it floating around somewhere in the back of your socks drawer? Did you open it? What happened next? Did you then experience worse luck, better luck, or no noticeable change?

I'm just trying to collect some facts and figures here. I think most kumite are burdened with strong fears about what will become of them if they don't wear omitama, so it'd be nice to have some statistics (and I think they would be reassuring ones) to give them. Something like, out of 160 ex-kumite who no longer wear omitama, only one has had a car accident, three have broken a limb or had a serious health problem, and none have been hit by lightning or a bus...

In my case, I sort-of side-stepped the issue by continuing to wear omitama for several years after leaving Mahikari. It then sat on a shelf in a cupboard for another year or two. It's so long ago, I really don't remember clearly, but I suspect I then wanted the cupboard space for something else, and my life was progressing just fine without wearing it. At that stage, I still hadn't worked out exactly what I thought about Mahikari, so I just "played it safe" and returned omitama to dojo.

I really don't think it matters what one does with omitama. (Doing nothing at all with it is fine too.) Returning it to dojo suited me at the time, and these days I rather like the idea that it is one of probably hundreds of thousands of unwanted omitama at HQ somewhere. What on earth do they do with them all?

Returning it also, as it happens, worked out very well for me. The doshi I returned it to just happened to mention Garry Greenwood's book, All the Emperor's Men, which I didn't know existed at that time. Reading that was my first step towards starting to realize how deceptive Mahikari is. If I didn't know better now, I'd call that a "divine arrangement"!?!

Actually, over the years since I left Mahikari, I've experienced many lucky coincidences and examples of general good fortune...the sort of things that, when I was a kumite, I would have regarded as clear evidence of "divine arrangement" or the "protection of omitama". I've not been counting, but my subjective impression is that the number of such occurrences of good fortune have been just as higher, if not higher, than when I was a kumite.

My personal view is that omitama itself is just an object, and that it is one of the things used by the Mahikari organization to entrap us. Firstly, we are told that omitama is wonderful and will protect us. Then we are told about all sorts of possible spiritual calamities (purely fictional) and taught to fear them, so I think we all ended up with phobias about the dreadful things that might happen if we did not wear omitama and obey the rules surrounding its care.

People like Hassan write about how, if a cult controls our actions, it can then easily control our thoughts and feelings. I wonder if that is the sole reason that we had such detailed rules about how to handle omitama? The daily ritual of washing hands with special soap, etc., and also the extreme care with which we rewrapped it, inevitably made us feel like it was a precious and sacred object. Our own repeated actions imbued it with a sacredness that it does not have!

Psychologically, too, its hard to let go of the idea that omitama is important, simply because we have spent so much time taking care of it in the past. To decide, now, that we have been duped about this makes us feel very foolish indeed. Besides, it was nice, wasn't it, to feel that we had something special protecting us?

I've not heard of anyone whose life has taken a turn for the worse after getting rid of omitama. We do know that omitama doesn't necessarily protect may have read the account in Garry Greenwood's book about the five dedicated Mahikari Tai people who were killed in a horrific accident? I've heard of other accidents, too, where omitama has not provided protection.

I really think this whole omitama thing was just designed to make kumite feel that they couldn't get along, or lead a happy life, without Mahikari. Mahikari mind control certainly makes heavy use of our fears (false fears which were generated by Mahikari doctrine in the first place) as a means of controlling do many other cults.

The good thing about Hassan's Combatting Cult Mind Control is that it gives many, many examples of this sort of thing in other cults. It's easy to see these mechanisms at work in other cults, because our residual mind control thoughts and feeling do not kick in from our subconscious in the way they tend to if we are thinking about Mahikari itself.

Hassan's second book, Releasing the Bonds, gives practical self-help tips on getting rid of fears that have been embedded in our subconscious. Sometimes, though, I think simply reading about other people's experiences in other cults is sufficient to unlock a lot of the mind control effects.

Certainly, it would help reassure people who are wondering what to do with omitama right now if they see LOTS of comments here from former members who got rid of omitama years ago. (Actually, the vast majority of former members are probably busy getting on with their lives and are not even reading, those of you who are, please comment!)


御み霊,どうしましたか。まだつけていますか。押し入れや引き出しの中にしまってありますか。自分で道場に返しましたか。誰かに頼んで返してもらい ましたか。開けてみましたか。御み霊をはずした後、何か(いいこと、わるいこと)変化がありましたか。

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Karma and guilt in Sukyo Mahikari

You know, I'd never thought much about karma, and the associated notion of reincarnation, till a few months ago.

At the point when I joined Mahikari, the New Age notions of the 70's had already made the concepts of karma and reincarnation pretty familiar and popular. Even before then, quite mainstream people who had Christian rather than Eastern religion backgrounds would often joke about "coming back as a man next time", for example, or attribute a spate of bad luck to their karma. I don't know that any of those people would actually have claimed to believe in either reincarnation or karma if anyone pressed the point. Still, I guess these concepts did have a certain psychological appeal.

So, when I heard the teachings about karma and reincarnation at primary kenshu, I didn't even blink. If anything, I think I might have been happy to have these concepts, which I'd never known whether to believe or not, confirmed as "fact".

I first started thinking analytically about the Mahikari teachings concerning karma (and guilt) when I was trying to make sense of a debate between former and current kumite on the question of whether or not Mahikari is anti-Semitic. This debate arose out of a bit of a kerfuffle at the Hebrew University in Israel, which was caused by some people there accepting financial sponsorship from Mahikari without due consultation. I don't want to go into details here, but you can read about all this at the Mahikari Project blog site if you like.

It suddenly became startlingly obvious to me that the concept of karma is a handy mechanism for "blaming the victim". I must be slow. It seems so obvious now that I've thought of it! Remember those teachings about the Jews being persecuted throughout the ages, and suffering through the Holocaust, due to the negative karma of not having enshrined God in Solomon's temple? So the Holocaust was the Jews' fault, rather than the Nazis'? I don't think so.

I then proceeded to think about the concept of karma and guilt in Mahikari in more general terms. Okada was pretty big on teaching that we all have enormous amounts of negative karma...from ancestors, from our own previous lives, and from this life...and that we therefore really needed to put all our efforts into serving God (in other words, be diligent in our Mahikari activities) in order to save our own skins. But what evidence do we have, other than Okada's supposed revelations from God, that we and/or our ancestors were so bad?

The main "evidence" that I can see again comes from Mahikari doctrine...from Okada's "holy" words and from the pat statements kumite say to each other to explain their experiences. If we experienced any sort of problems in our health, finances, relationships or whatever, despite the fact that we were busily serving God, then this was taken as evidence that we had severe negative karma and needed to make even more effort. We also needed to apologise for our past sins (admit guilt)...for what?... and be grateful for the "purification". Perhaps, really, we were all good, kind, upstanding citizens in our previous lives (if previous lives exist)!

We could have been using simple commonsense strategies to deal with any problems that arose, rather than living with our problems AND trying to be grateful for them AND feeling guilty.

Supplementary "evidence" also came from spirit investigations. I've just been reading an experience story on the Mahikari Exposed site. Part of it says:

"She [Maria] claims that when she received Light for the first time that she was taken over by a disturbed spirit, which proceeded to speak with the Socho who was giving her okiyome. Maria has no recollection of this, but the Socho told her about it in explicit detail. He also told her that her karma was so bad that she needed to receive Light at least once a day. Heeding his advice, she began making daily trips to the dojo and after spending most of her time there, she decided to become a member herself."

Huh? Weren't we cautioned to not pay much attention to spirit disturbance? Perhaps that doesn't apply when the so-called spirit disturbance can be used to make someone feel that they can't get along without Mahikari. Certainly, I remember kumite talking in hushed tones about the dreadful things they had learnt about their karma during a "spirit investigation".

There's a very thorough analysis of how guilt is used in Mahikari to manipulate kumite's emotions on the Exposed site. I'll leave it to you to read that, rather than repeating that sort of information here.

For weeks, I kept on thinking, if Okada's teachings are nonsense (which I think they are), what on earth made us accept all those unprovable notions about how much bad karma we have?

Then.....[drum-roll].....the penny finally dropped. What evidence do we have that reincarnation and karma even exist?!?

Of course, they might exist. I really don't know. But after being led a merry dance by believing, once upon a time, that Okada knew truths about the unseen world, I'm not about to believe anyone who insists that they know whether or not karma and reincarnation are true. I'd rather be left wondering.