Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sukyo Mahikari membership figures

We bloggers often seem to want know Mahikari membership figures, for one reason or another, but reliable figures are really hard to come by. I've already consulted with a handful of former members, and have pieced together the following article based on the anecdotal and other evidence they provided. If you have any official figures, or personal observations concerning the turnover rate in Sūkyō Mahikari membership, please post a comment and add to the pool of information available.

The professional appearance of the official Sūkyō Mahikari websites and the promotional book by Dr. Tebecis perhaps give the impression of a large and flourishing organization. However, Sūkyō Mahikari numbers are actually quite small.

In the 90s, the total worldwide membership of Sūkyō Mahikari was estimated at 500,000 with the majority of these members being in Japan. According to discussions amongst former members on Japanese discussion sites, membership numbers are dropping within Japan, and some dōjōs are closing. More recent estimates suggest that the total membership may now be closer to 200,000.

The figure reported by Sūkyō Mahikari in 2004 was 530,000 members worldwide, but this figure is perhaps double the actual figure. The organization regards members as "sleeping", and includes them in the membership count, for up to 5 years after they leave the organization.

According to research published in 1991 by Catherine Cornille, the total membership figure for all of Europe at that time was about 10,000 (although the organization itself claimed double that number), but the number may be considerably lower now. The Sūkyō Mahikari organization itself admitted to a drop-out rate of 70% in Europe. I have no figures for centers in Africa, Asia, and South America, but I believe some of these are quite large compared with western countries.

Anecdotal evidence from US and Australian members who have left Sūkyō Mahikari fairly recently suggests that membership numbers have dropped in both these countries over the last 20 years. That of course means that the number of people leaving has exceeded the number of new recruits. I have no evidence at all of membership patterns in other countries, so everything below applies only to the US and Australia.

One former member told me that, 14 years after she received primary kenshū, she was the only one left of the people who attended kenshū with her. Then she left, giving a drop-out rate of 100% for that particular kenshū. When I left Sūkyō Mahikari, 10 years after my kenshū, about 8% of people from that group were still members.

I remember one particular kenshū during the time I was a member, and remember looking around a year later to see how many of those people were still active members. Only about 5% were still there. In those days, the majority of new recruits would last less than a year. A small percentage would still be members 5 years later, and an extremely small percentage would make it to 20 years of membership. Most of these would now be kanbu (center leaders and dōshis). A surprising number of kanbu, after years of full-time dedicated service, have eventually come to the conclusion that Sūkyō Mahikari is false and have left.

I've heard that, these days, new recruits are asked to prepare very thoroughly for kenshū, and typically receive okiyome many times before kenshū. From what I hear, this appears to have reduced the drop-out rate, but also greatly reduced the recruitment rate.

From even just the above, I think we can assume that, for every member you see now, at least 10 members have joined at some stage and already left Sūkyō Mahikari. Piecing together the little information I do have suggests that, these days, the total membership for the US and Australia, put together, is no more than two (or perhaps three) thousand. These figures include children and young adults who were born into the organization.

If any Sūkyō Mahikari staff wish to supply more accurate figures, I will be delighted to update the estimates I've presented here.

Despite the unfortunate lack of firm data, I think that we can safely assume that an awful lot of people have left Sūkyō Mahikari over the years...despite the kenshū promise that practicing Mahikari would bring health, peace, and material prosperity...despite the teachings that say that any criticism of Mahikari is the work of disturbing spirits, and should be dealt with by increasing our divine service...and despite the Goseigen (p. 161) warning that God will surely manifest the phenomenon of Judgment clearly upon them [people who reject Okada's teachings] at an unexpected moment and carry out the Art of beating them to a pulp.

Incidentally, I've not heard of any of the many thousands of former members being beaten to a pulp.


Blogger Asher Kennedy said...

I haven’t heard of anyone who has been ‘beaten to a pulp’ either. Quite the opposite, more than anything I hear of people whose lives have been enriched by leaving Mahikari.

Of course the initial exit is hard, but once you’re past that and have removed the implimented mind control, you can see things so much more clearly.

The difference between a life within Mahikari and a life outside of Mahikari is that outside of Mahikari you actually have a life! A life on your knees waiting for the world to end is not the way to live.

Before you know it life has passed you by and you have been so busy anticipating the demise of mankind that the end has already come; your life is over, or at least your younger years have passed, and you are left to regret all the years spent in the organization.

You miss out on so much when your primary concern is okiyome, the dojo, and caring for ‘holy objetcs’. One of the things I have promised myself after leaving Mahikari is that my kids will never have a negligent parent.

I will never allow a religion, a job, or anything else prevent me from doing my job; parenting. This is something I think a lot of Mahikari parents stop doing. They become so involved in Mahikari that they forget what their priorities are.

If you’re not going to give the kids all the love, support, and time that they need…do us all a favor and get your tubes tied or a use protection, but do not bring a child into this world and then neglect them because you would rather be doing divine service.

It’s not the dojo’s job to raise YOUR child in the dojo nursery, it’s YOUR job.

Getting back on topic, I am guessing that the US membership is somewhere between 1000-1500.

I know that the San Francisco dojo has about 50-100 members…same with the Lomita, Los Angeles, and Pasadena dojos.

Houston has 50ish, according to my sources…and considering that Texas is the second largest state in the US next to Alaska (which doesn’t even have a Mahikari centre) that is a pretty sad number…not to mention Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma members have to drive to Houston to make ceremony…so technically that is 50 members divided between 5 states…sad indeed.

Los Angeles and New York are going to be the places where Mahikari is the most prominent because they are the most liberal states, but other than that…it’s safe to guess that all the other dojos in those other states have about as much as Houston, if not less.

Mahikari would like you to believe that because they have so many locations that they are this huge, universal organization. Don’t be fooled.

I know when I visted Japan in the Summer there seemed to be a lot of members at Suza for ceremony, but no more than 100,000…and of course Mahikari is going to have the most members in Japan…

For one Japanese people are more absorbent of mystical teachings and practices…as Japan tends to run on the supersticious side…and also Mahikari origniated in Japan so it has had extra time to garner members in that area.

If Anne’s guesstimates are correct…that means amongst those other 79 countries there is only about 100,000 more members…which means about 1265 people per country. Pretty sad.

May 10, 2006  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi Ash,

Thanks for those figures. The estimate I was given for Australian centers was roughly 600 members spread over about 8 centers, but with about 200 of those being at the Sydney center. There may be more "on the books", but that was for active members.

I believe New Zealand has a couple of centers too. Does anyone have any figures for those?

May 10, 2006  
Blogger CZ said...

Hi Anne,

I dont seem to be able to find the Goseigen verse you quoted in my version of Goseigen. I believe SM published a new version of Goseigen in 2002 and alot of the content has been changed. The tone of the new publication has been clearly marked down to appease critics of SM. It is supposedly also more reader-friendly. As usual, SM would claim that it is not the content which has been altererd as the changes are a result of higher quality of tranlation. The so called "real meaning" of the Holy Words has been finally brought to light, so they claimed.

May 11, 2006  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi ZT,

Very interesting! Thank you for that.

I'm curious now to know how this part reads in your edition.

The part I quoted is in "Warning to the Modern Age", 4th to last paragraph (or 5th to last if you count the postscript added by Okada). The relevant paragraph starts off Even with all these warnings, if they still regard these as "words uttered in delirium," make light of and laugh at the Teachings conveyed by thee... In my edition, the part I quoted is the second sentence in that paragraph.

Can I ask you to have another look and tell us the current wording?

Thanks again.

May 11, 2006  
Blogger Steve said...

Hi Anne,
I think Tebecis unwittingly give the membership away in New Zealand. In his latest incarnation of his first book now called 'Is the future in our Hands' he states on p84 Ms Okada travelled to New Zealand and visited the Auckland Mahikari Center " much to the delight of about 100 people". Considering Ms Okada is said to be the source of a members ability to radiate the so called true light, after all she is the goddess of Mahikari culture. I's not hard to to believe that every mahikari member in New Zealand would do anything in their power to be in her presence and have the chance of meeting her.

I think it would be reasonable to estimate the membership of New Zealand to about 100.

I was recently speaking with a former member from Europe, he mentioned that centres are closing and being incorporated, also from all the chatter going on in discussion groups it seems the same thing is happening in Japan.
In Australia, it seems centres have closed and people are using their own homes as meeting places. So unless SM breaks its code of silence and opens it books for public scrutiny to prove other wise, it is safe to say the membership has stalled and has been declining for some time.

In varius publications they claim to be represented in 70 to 80 countries throughout the world. Yet on their official website based in Europe they only list 29 countries represented.
The varius Scholars who have studied SM over the years, have a constant theme that SM does exaggerate its membership, so at least this premise seems to correct.
I am confident to say, SM will never release their true membership figures, if they did, they could no longer manipulate the spin.

May 11, 2006  
Blogger CZ said...

Hi Anne,

after checking through, the paragraph is now phrased slightly differently....

" Even though I explain to this extent, if they still regard these as God's words uttered in delirium, make light of and laugh at the things conveyed by you, the holy herald of God,....., you shall leave them as they are. God will surely manifest even the phenomenon of judgement clearly upon them at an unexpected moment and manifest the art of making them completely deadlocked."

Instead of beating the non-believers into a pulp, now it's just making them completely deadlocked. Seems to me that SM is trying to sound less extreme. The God in SM which is all set to punish and destroy has now softend his stance to just creating a human deadlock, whatever that means.

May 11, 2006  
Blogger Anne said...

Thanks ZT,

Yeah, that is rather different, isn't it!

Now I'm really curious to know what the Japanese text really says. I must email pheonix3000 and see what she has to say.

May 11, 2006  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi ZT,

I've just heard back from pheonix3000 concerning 'beating to a pulp' vs 'deadlocked'.

The Japanese text here is: 神は必ず思いがけぬ時、ハッキリと裁きの形さえそのものの頭上にヒラメかせ、アフンといたさせる業示現せしめ行くべきを。(p.273)

pheonix3000 said that there is no really direct translation, but that the nuance is much closer to 'beating to a pulp' rather than 'deadlocked', and that this text gives an image of 'A big bully crashing a tiny being'.

May 15, 2006  
Blogger CZ said...

Hi Anne,

interestingly, I've heard that there a new version of prayer book will be coming out soon. According to inside sources, the new versions of the prayer book in french, german and english contain modified contents which vary quite significantly from the original one.

Because of that, they are encouraging members to get the new one to keep themselves updated.

May 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is an extremely strong movement to get new members here in South Africa. Extremely strong! It sickened me to the point of leaving but I estimate hundreds of "active" members.

May 05, 2009  

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