Thursday, February 16, 2006

Myths used to substantiate Sukyo Mahikari

Since the Meiji era, many "new" religions have appeared in Japan. Many of these began when the founder received some sort of revelation and, subsequently, developed some sort of healing powers. In the pre-war years, not all such people went on to establish a new religious group, partly because of restrictions that applied to establishing new religions. Generally, a new religion had to be approved by one of the established Shinto or Buddhist sects before it could establish itself. When these restrictions were waived after the war, it became considerably easier to establish a new religion.

In Healing in the New Religions: Charisma and 'Holy Water', Masako Watanabe and Midori Igeta report that, "In The Rush Hour of the Gods, H. Neill McFarland notes that all of the new religions in Japan have been established with a core of healing activity, and that such faith healing forms one of the most effective means of maintaining the groups' membership."

Watanabe and Igeta go on to say, "Whatever the case, it is no doubt true that the practical activity of helping and giving comfort to human beings through faith healing plays an important role within process whereby the founders of Japan's new religions progress from the status of ordinary human being to charismatic mediator between human and divine, or even to the status of a living deity itself. [Italics mine] A religious founder's charismatic authority is confirmed as he or she cures ills which cannot be healed by the normally available cultural remedies, thus resulting in the establishment of a charismatic linkage between founder and believer." I think this more or less sums up the origins of the Sukyo Mahikari and SMBK organizations.

In Okada's case, the originating incident was the dog story discussed in my previous post, Which version of the Mahikari dog story is correct?. After that incident, Okada, like the leaders of others of the new religions, proceeded to observe, cogitate, record further revelations, research various matters, etc., and thereby developed doctrines and explanations concerning a wide variety of spiritual and historical matters...or so he claimed. He also claimed, again like other leaders, to have been given a special mission by God.

For Westerners like myself, with little or no prior exposure to any spiritual healing techniques, the fact that okiyome appeared to be effective as a healing method was sufficient "proof" that Okada knew what he was talking about. (My Open Letter to Kamikumite includes discussion of this fallacy.)

Okiyome and the dog story may have been sufficient "proof" in the West but, in Japan, it seems that revelations and the ability to heal were not particularly novel. Even the apparent ability to pass on the power to heal to other members of the organization, and the concept of spiritual purification (with physical healing as a nice secondary effect), were not new.

In addition, since Okada had spent a number of years as a member and kanbu of SKK, and since there are a number of similarities between SKK and Mahikari, I imagine that he felt he needed to bolster his credentials as a genuine founder of a new and different religion. Okada's emphasis on spirit disturbance...firstly, that it occurs, and secondly, that he could solve it...does provide a major point of difference between the two groups. Even so, primary kenshu includes a number of claims which seem to be designed simply to bolster Okada's spiritual reputation and make it believable that he was the one true messenger for this age.

The claims I see as substantiating myths are: the dog story, the Biblical and Buddhist predictions that are interpreted to refer to Okada, the Shinto tenjo (heavenly stick) automatic writing concerning Okada's divine missions, meeting the Pope and being friends with Swami Rama, receiving the order of St. Dennis of Zante, the claim that Okada completed bosatsu no gyo in just five years, the archeological "findings" that support Okada's version of history...have I forgotten any?...oh yes, and Okada's mother's dream that a white mouse from the Ise shrine bit her on her left big toe. Can you think of any others?

I've not included okiyome in this list of substantiating myths since it is a core aspect of Mahikari. (There is discussion of why okiyome works and/or appears to work under Does okiyome "work"? [Parts 1 to 4] in the December 2005 archives of this blog.)

At the time I first received kenshu, it would not have been easy to check the validity of most of these claims, but I must confess that I didn't pay too much attention to them. For me, okiyome was sufficient "evidence", so it never occurred to me to analyze or try to check any of these claims. (Even now I'm going to ignore the one about the white mouse!)

What about you? Have any of you checked the validity of any of this other substantiating evidence? If so, I'd love to hear your findings.

Fortunately, some of the substantiating claims have now been checked and discredited by other former members, as you will know if you have read All the Emperor's Men or the material on the Mahikari Exposed site. This post is already getting rather long, so I'll save a summary of those findings for my next post. I plan on getting to the other items in this list also in subsequent posts (soon, I hope).

In the meantime, are any of you familiar with Buddhism as practiced in Japan? I've been looking round the internet for information concerning bosatsu no gyo (relates to becoming a Bodhisattva). What does Okada actually mean when he claims to have "completed" bosatsu no gyo? I'll continue to look for information, but would love to hear from anyone who can explain this to me.


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