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?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

お浄めは、受光者の想念が大事、と教えられていたし、施光者を励ましたいという思いで、「気持ちよかったです、ありがとう」 と言うようにしていました。
この、「あなたの想念が大切」 というのは、期待する結果が得られない場合は、「あなたが悪い」 のであって、教団やその教えが間違っているのではないことになり、どちらになっても教団に都合がいいことになります。
突然 「お浄め中に横になってはいけない」 と「お達し」があったとかで、受光中横になれず、座ったままだったことが一時期ありました。体が休まらず,効果が半減しました。もっともそんなことを口に出せば 「想念が足らない」 と非難されそうだったので、「有り難く」 受光しました。話せる相手がいると、座ったままの施光者が 「縦」 、横になった受光者が 「横」 を表し、十字に組む、という教えだったのにね、とこぼしあいました。

December 31, 2005  
Anonymous Joe said...

Well, I can tell you that it did not produce any miracles! My father had dementia, was a devout Catholic, and a generous loving soul. I gave him okiyome for quite a while,despite a nagging voice that said don't impose this on your parents. Well, of course, nothing good happened because it IS ALL A LIE.

You know all of the excuses...some negative karma is so bad that you must just keep on giving, or older people need more okiyome because of their age etc. but let's face is all B.S. because a miracle is by it's very definiton a gift in the face of utter desperation. Every act of okiyome is supposed to erase negative karma of some sort. AM I raising my hand to get out of traffic tickets???? No! So this is just a wonderful excuse to keep people under control and coming back for more.

February 23, 2006  

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