Friday, March 17, 2006

Delirium, delusion, dreams, damn lies...or the truth?

In my last post, I suggested that neither okiyome nor the substantiating myths told by Mahikari provide convincing evidence to support the notion that Okada was a special holy man who knew "all the truth". As far as I can see, that just leaves Okada's revelations as the sole basis for kamikumites' devotion to Sūkyō Mahikari.

To spell this out in simple terms, Okada claimed that he received revelations from God, and that, according to these revelations, Okada himself was a special soul. He claimed God had given him the mission of saving the world, and that he alone knew all the truth.

So...Okada said he received revelations that, by implication, made everything else he said unquestionably true, and we believed him! On the basis of this belief, kumite have built an enormous religious organization that spans 80 countries and uses up all the spare time and energy of thousands upon thousands of followers who devote themselves heart and soul to trying to live according to Okada's teachings.

I think this basic claim of revelations from God needs a bit of scrutiny.

There are several possible approaches to a discussion of Okada's revelations.

One approach would be to question whether Okada actually received revelations from God, or whether he himself just made up all the revelations and teachings of .

Various researchers, such as Davis, and various former kumite have compared Okada's teachings with those of Ōmoto and SKK and found large chunks of surprisingly similar material. A short-lived pre-war group, Shinsei Ryūjinkai, drew heavily on the Takeuchi document for its doctrine, as did Okada. The small segment of teachings from Makoto-no-michi (a minor "new" Japanese religion that slightly predates Mahikari) that I've seen also look a lot like Okada's teachings.

One has to wonder if Okada simply "borrowed" doctrine from these other groups, and glued it together using his own imagination. (This would put a new slant on Okada's claim that other religions contain only part of the truth...perhaps he was thinking primarily of these Japanese new religions rather than the major world religions when he said that.)

The above line of thought raises further questions. Much of the doctrine of these other groups was also derived from revelations. So, if revelations are a valid form of obtaining information, perhaps we should expect to see similarities between the various doctrines. If revelations reveal "the truth", perhaps we should even expect the doctrines to be identical.

Since the various doctrines are not identical, do we then compare revelations and try to decide which revelations are more accurate? Do we compare the source of the revelations....were they from a high-level deity or just from a minor deity or spirit?

Alternatively, we could look at the actual content of Okada's revelations. We could examine Goseigen, Norigotoshū, kenshū teachings, Sunkyō, and anything else written by Okada, and pick out contradictions. We could check if his various predictions have proved correct or not.

We could also check how well the current public face of Mahikari conforms to "all the truth" in Okada's teachings. There are some glaring discrepancies. Are these false advertising? Or, is the current Sūkyō Mahikari organization teaching that, on one hand, Okada's revelations and teachings are absolutely true, and on the other hand, that some parts of them are not so true? Logically, they can't have it both ways.

Any of the above topics would be interesting to explore further but, ultimately, I think that all of the above miss the main point.

The fundamental question is, are revelations a reliable means of receiving valid information? Well, are they?

Somehow I imagine that, if the first piece of information I learnt about Mahikari was that it is based on revelations from God that someone claimed to have received when he woke up after 5 days of high fever, I would have run as fast as possible in the opposite direction. I actually can't remember when I first heard about the revelations. I think it must have been after I was already excited at the prospect of being able to give okiyome, because somehow that titbit seemed to slip past without me consciously evaluating it or even raising an eyebrow.

Did you see the God on the Brain link in the comment Jejune sent on the Tenjō post? This article says that a physiological condition known as temporal lobe epilepsy can cause religious hallucinations, and suggests that the religious visions experienced by some religious leaders may have been caused by this condition. It states that the nature of our temporal lobes may determine whether or not we have the capacity for religious experiences.

The implication of the neurophysiological approach to revelations is that Okada may well have genuinely believed that he had received revelations from God. I'm not sure if this is better or worse than thinking he lied. My experience of life in general has led me to think that good but misguided intentions can create even more havoc than bad intentions. Still, at this point, the relevant thing is not so much whether or not Okada believed the revelations, but whether or not kumite should believe them.

2 Comments:

Blogger Lara said...

Looking back on it I find myself wondering, "How can anyone believe in revelations coming from someone who was supposedly suffering from high fever and delerium?" I feel so duped.

April 10, 2006  
Blogger Joe said...

Here is another crucial and fundamental problem with Mahikari.
If you combine the suspicious origins and all the false statements, the claim that Mahikari is a DIVINE SCIENCE is doomed.

One of the really troubling aspects of my SM experience is that I have an extensive education, and the so-called "SCIENCE" aspect never ever materialized. Where is the research? Where is the academic world? Where is the proof other than the same tired anecdotes ???

The "teachings" were all repetitive, simplistic, and not at all connected to the vast store of medical, religious, or historical knowledge that we have today.

Why are there 3 levels of kenshu??? It reeks of Amway! I am more than capable of learning post graduate level information, yet none of the advance teachings are shared until you give more money! And I can bet there isn't any REAL scientific material in those teachings either. I seriously doubt if they touch on anything regarding virus mutation, world food distribution or exactly how much okiyome it takes to purify a spirit or "erase" a certain amount of negative karma. Give me answers!...not some simpleton babble that does not fit the requirements of scientific explanation and quantification.

April 16, 2006  

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