Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Mahikari book endorsements

It worries me that Sūkyō Mahikari members and people who want to find information about Mahikari are starting to refer to and quote from Is the Future in Our Hands, by Dr. Tebecis.

Is this book a reliable source of information concerning Sūkyō Mahikari?

Some people would assume that this book is a reliable source, simply because Tebecis has a scientific background and has over 30 years of experience of Mahikari. In some ways, the latter is indeed a good basis for discussing Mahikari, but is it an unbiased basis?

Tebecis has had a leadership role of some sort or other for almost all those years, and is currently the head of Sūkyō Mahikari in his region. It is his job to promote Mahikari. He also earns revenue from the sale of his books. I assume it is also his sincere belief that he should promote I can't fault him on that...but I do think that misguided sincerity is rather dangerous. People recognize sincerity and find it persuasive, apparently, even if the subject matter flies in the face of commonsense.

Speaking from my own experience, years of sincere belief in something, and dedicated effort to promote something, can blind one to really basic considerations. For example, I wonder if Dr. Tebecis has yet noticed that Buddha died roughly 2,500 years ago, rather than 3,000 years ago? I wonder if he's noticed that the dog story does not make sense, or that Okada could not have been a construction supervisor at the same time that he was a full-time SKK kanbu? I wonder if he has ever clearly and consciously considered the implications of devoting his life to a religious organization that is based entirely on one man's claim that he had received a special divine mission from God? Hasn't he noticed that Mahikari teachings are so cleverly constructed, and so full of circular arguments, that there is logically no way of proving or disproving them, whatever happens?

Oops! Now I think my bias is showing [grin]. Perhaps I'd better move on to the other point I wanted to make.

On the website advertizing Dr. Tebecis' book, endorsements are shown alongside or below the content information shown for the chapters. For these endorsements to be convincing, I think they would need to be from impartial outsiders. I expect that most viewers would speculate (as I do) that many of these people are members of Sūkyō Mahikari, and therefore demonstrating bias.

Well, let's not speculate...let's see if we can find out!

One of the endorsement authors says he is a Mahikari member, and one says he isn't. The rest don't say either way, but I already know from other former members that at least two of the others are long-term Mahikari members.

The other people are from a number of different countries, but, according to the comments and emails I've received, the readers of this blog are also from far and wide. Maybe between us we can deal with the rest of the list!

Ch.1: Mary Clarke, businesswoman, Adelaide, South Australia.
Ch. 2.: Tan Kok Tim, accountant, Singapore (it is not clear from the endorsement whether or not he is a member, but he sent a comment to the blog saying he is a member of SM)
Ch. 3: Jay Srirekam, musician, singer and songwriter, Vancouver, Canada (says he is a member)
Ch. 4: Dr Masayo Goto, political scientist, Tokyo, Japan
Ch. 5: None. This page just quotes the section in which Dr. Tebecis tries to debunk academic studies of SM.
Ch. 6: Dr John Broderick, medical practitioner, Canberra, Australia (member of SM)
Ch.7: Dr Ellen Tabak, social and behavioral scientist, Washington D.C., U.S.A.
Ch. 8: Marguerite Gloster, school teacher, Canberra, Australia (member of SM)
Ch. 9: Prashant Talwalkar, businessman, Mumbai, India (member of SM)
and Laura Ward, retired art gallery director, Auckland, New Zealand
Ch.10 Dr Sawang Kasetkeaw, agricultural scientist, Bangkok, Thailand
Ch. 11: Grant Chilcott, vocalist/bandleader, Auckland, New Zealand (member of SM)

[List updated August 21 2006 to reflect additional information received in the comments below]

Please submit a comment (or send me an email) if you know whether or not the other people on this list are members of Sūkyō Mahikari. I hope I haven't embarrassed any of the above people by listing them here. If you are on the above list but have since left Mahikari, I do apologize.

In the process of collecting this list, I happened to read the section quoted from Chapter 5 of Dr. Tebecis' book, and noted the following excerpt from Academic studies of Sukyo Mahikari, in chapter 5, Uniting Religions:

Certain things, particularly involving human consciousness, beliefs, behaviour and so on, cannot be understood deeply without personal experience. The usual academic approach using the '‘scientific method'’ has emphasised being objective by studying the subject as an outside observer. This has certain merits, but I believe that a combination of both the subjective, experiential approach and the outside observer approach is necessary when it comes to studying humans. Alone, either extreme is limiting and can lead to incorrect conclusions.

Finally, I've found something written by Dr. Tebecis that I can heartily agree with! That last sentence says it all. The main problem here, though, is that it is not logically possible for anyone to simultaneously use the subjective, experiential approach and the outside observer approach. One cannot be "in" Mahikari and living that mindset at the same time as being "outside" Mahikari and being objective. The only possible way to combine both approaches would be to do that consecutively.

Just to repeat the main point, he says that both the "subjective, experiential approach" and the "outside observer approach" are needed to avoid incorrect conclusions. Academic investigators excel at the latter, but typically have little of the former. Dr. Tebecis has plenty of the former, but none of the latter. I'm not aware of any academic investigators who have had long-term experience of Mahikari themselves before taking the outside observer approach....but we have!

By "we", of course I mean the numerous vocal former members who publish material, anonymously and otherwise, on websites and blogs. I don't know all of these people of course, but the ones I do communicate with average well-over 10 years experience each of the Sūkyō Mahikari culture, including regular okiyome and the study and practice of teachings.

For me personally, it has taken many years and an awful lot of effort to regain the objectivity of an outside observer, but I think I'm finally getting there. And I can assure you that there is no way any of us are going to forget our experience of being "in" Sūkyō Mahikari!


Blogger Jejune said...

Great post, Anne!

Marguerite Gloster (Chapter 8 - teacher) was a kumite when I was, and I presume still is.

Tebecis' obvious disdain for the scientific method shows that he was never a good scientist, and certainly isn't one now. He can hardly try to gain 'credibility points' by playing on his (long-neglected) doctorate - a deeply hypocritical attitude to take!

I certainly agree that former members, who have generally long-term experience of deep immersion in Mahikari culture, have very valuable insights to offer. We've really been there and lived it - and seriously, for the most part. We tried our best, were devoted kumite, did what we were told, revered and studied the words of Sukuinishisama and Oshienushisama, held roles within the organisation, attended Dojo regularly, brought new members in, travelled to Japan...

Now that we've left - after some time to heal the immediate trauma and wounds - I think we are in a collectively unique position to comment on what life was like both "in" and "out". The experiences have marked all of us - and our families - for life.

March 22, 2006  
Anonymous Steve said...

Hi Anne,
One of the interesting side effects of leaving SM is coming to grips with the question of why we joined. Some of us spent a good part of our early years tending numerous studies, the different levels of kenshu many times, countless hours on our knees giving the so called 'light'. I knew people, myself included, who had calluses or hard skin on the top of their feet and knees..... an outward sign of the effort to get 'purified' and to be of service.
The questions you are asking are pertinent, how can a person 100% involved in SM have the frame of mind to look at what they are doing in an objective/ balanced sense.

The whole issue boils down to the acceptance of the belief that Yoshikazu Okada was on the level, he was who he claimed to be. If a current SM member was honest to themselves, they would demand that the missing links in the Okada story be honestly disclosed by the powers that be in the SM hierarchy.

We former members have asked the questions and made efforts to fill in the gaps for our own peace of mind. In a way we former members probably know much more about SM and their teachings than those who still belong. The 'need to know' is a very human condition and quite stimulating when the pieces to a puzzle fall into place.

According to the Tebecis new book, although comparing all three, he has only written one - the original in 1982 - the last two are essentially rewrites. Swami Rama asked Okada, what he would do to teach small children. Okada replied 'It is very easy. First of all, do not tell any lies..."

The word 'Lies' means - To present false information with the intention of deceiving-.

So there it is -> black and white<- the founder of Mahikari states quite categorically 'don't lie to children'. So if a child in SM asked the hierarchy to tell them if Okada was a full time minister of SKK and for how long, or, on what date Sachiko/Keishu was adopted by him, also for how long was she a member of SKK.

I could go get the drift.

One would expect that they would have to tell the truth..........

Maybe we could all put together a list of questions so a child could ask.......hang on..... SM members are called Children of God and in Intermediate Kenshu it states that - Okada - 'Spiritually he had become a god'. - after he died.

So would that mean......all SM members are his Children............

Gee, have to start sharpening those pencils, maybe we all could put together a list of questions SM members should ask.

March 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prashant talwalkar is a Mahikari member in India

August 20, 2006  
Blogger Anne said...

Thank you to Anonymous for the additional information.

The list of "don't knows" is getting shorter!

August 20, 2006  
Blogger Anne said...

Dear "Anonymous" (a second "Anonymous" who has just sent in a comment concerning one of the people endorsing the above book),
Thank you very much for your comment.

I can't quite decide whether I should publish your comment or not, since it does not directly concern whether or not that person is a member of SM. I appreciate the attempt to help, but feel hesitant to publish much about other people beyond whether they are members. (I know some of the above comments do contain additional information, along with the information I asked for, but...)

In any case, I hope you don't mind if I don't publish this particular comment, and please feel free to make comments in future!

Or, maybe you do have a reason for thinking that the information you sent is important and should be published? If so, please contact me again.


August 31, 2006  
Blogger Anne said...

To be consistent (and to not invade people's privacy unreasonably), I've just now deleted another earlier comment that included information about people other than just whether or not they are SM members. Since the people endorsing the above book did so publicly, it seems fair and relevant to publicly state which of those people are members of the organization (or were at the time).

The pertinent information in the deleted comment was that Tan Kok Tim is a very active member of SM in Singapore, and that Jay Srirekam was involved in the distribution of the above book.

August 31, 2006  
Anonymous Tan Kok Tim said...

I am Tan Kok Tim.

Anne, please read and re-read my endorsement carefully word by word.
It does not say I am a non member.
It is my friend I mentioned in my endorsement who is a non member.

Please remove the wrong impression in your original posting where you mentioned me as a non member. It is still there. It is incorrect.

I am a member of Sukyo Mahikari and will be a practitioner of the Divine Light no what others may say or whatever their grievances.

I practice the Divine Light on my own volition. No one can influence me to do so or not to do so.

March 18, 2009  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi Tan Kok Tim,

I sincerely apologize for my mistake. I did not intentionally misrepresent you, and have now removed the wrong statement from the post.

You are right - I didn't read it carefully enough and didn't notice that the part about not being a member was still part of what you were quoting rather than your own words.

Thank you for the correction.


March 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I whole heatedly agree on the way Mahikari has kept hidden many issues that people would like to know about and discuss. The concept of just accept has never gone down well with me. People like Gary Greenwood and others, have actually done wonders for the organisation as it has been forced to become more transparent. However it still has a long way to go, and I think issues of staff with big egos and mis interpretations of teachings as the main issues. The effects of the light are a different story and if any past member where to really think about how good they felt after a session of light, that they actually concentrated on,lol, well the might be some soul searching going on.
While mahikari is far from a perfect organisation, compared to many other organisations in the world, it is actually trying fairly hard to help the planet.

August 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Between us speaking, I so did not do.

March 14, 2010  

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