Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Two Mahikaris

The other I day I heard something really, really astonishing. I was talking with a former member of Sukyo Mahikari. He had been a member for well over 10 years, and he had never ever heard of the Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan (SMBK) group (i.e., the "other" Mahikari) until after he left Sukyo Mahikari and started reading the former-member material available online. I thought all members and ex-members knew there are two Mahikari groups!!, there are more than two, but SMBK and Sukyo Mahikari (SM) are the largest and best known of the groups that trace their lineage to Yoshikazu Okada. Others include Shin Yu Gen Kyusei Mahikari Kyodan (which split off from SMBK in 1974, the year Yoshikazu Okada died), Subikari Koha Sekai Shindan, Mahikari Seiho no Kai, and Yokoshi Tomo no Kai.

Is there anyone else out there who did not hear of SMBK until after they left SM?

In case anyone else does not already know, here is a quick outline.

1959: Yoshikazu Okada founded his spiritual organization which he called, at that time, L. H. Yokoshi Tomo no Kai.
1963: Y. Okada registered his organization as a religious corporation under the name Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan (SMBK) (Literal meaning: world true light civilization religion)
1974: Y. Okada died, and a succession dispute erupted between Keishu Okada and Sakae Sekiguchi
1978: Keishu Okada registered Sukyo Mahikari (SM) as a new religious body
1982: Settlement of the succession dispute in the Tokyo High Court

Thus, between 1974 and 1978, there were effectively two separate groups or factions, both known as Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan, or "Mahikari" for short, and both claiming to be the "true" Mahikari. According to an older former member who joined SMBK during that time, kumite were quite unaware that any dispute was going on. If they happened to belong to a dojo that sided with Sekiguchi, they remained in SMBK. If they happened to belong to a dojo that sided with Keishu Okada, they ended up in SM. Kumite were not told that Keishu Okada had, in legal terms at least, founded a new religion. They had joined SMBK, had an SMBK omitama, had an SMBK Goshintai at their dojo....but suddenly, in 1978, they "left" SMBK and "joined" SM without doing (or knowing) a single thing!

The above former member told me that, suddenly, all the pamphlets promoting SMBK had to be replaced because the name of the organization was now Sukyo Mahikari. She asked why Keishu had changed the name....the new name was presented as being a simple name change (rather than the name of a new organization)...and was told briefly, in hushed whispers, that there was a renegade kanbu called Sekuguchi who headed an illegitimate faction of SMBK. Since Keishu did not want the "true" Mahikari to be asscoiated with that group, she was renaming the organization as Sukyo Mahikari.

The former member commented that everyone was quite relieved to have a shorter and more easily remembered name. Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan was a bit of a mouthful. Everyone used to just call the religion "Mahikari" anyway, and they continued to do so for a number of years after the "name change" to Sukyo Mahikari. The emphasis on using the full name of Sukyo Mahikari is a later trend.

Incidentally, she also told me that, at that time, everyone thought that Keishu was Y. Okada's biological daughter, since she was always referred to simply as his daughter in SM publications, kenshu, study periods, and so on. So, the few people (in Western countries at least) who knew anything about there being any sort of succession dispute within SMBK assumed that, as his daughter, it was only natural that she should be the second leader of SMBK. Most kumite did not find out that Keishu was adopted as an adult by Okada until sometime in the 80s. SM did not start referring to her as his "adopted daughter" until kumite found out about this from other sources (perhaps from Winston Davis's book, Dojo).

Starting with the replacement of the promotional pamphlets mentioned above, SM systematically began removing all traces of the SMBK name from SM literture. Kenshu textbooks now have the Sukyo Mahikari name on the cover. Other publications which contain Y. Okada's SMBK teachings avoid the issue simply by saying "edited by" or "translated by" Sukyo Mahikari, and by saying that the copyright belongs to Keishu.

The official North American SM site avoids any mention of SMBK by saying, Sukyo Mahikari has its roots in an organization that Mr. Kotama Okada founded on August 28,1959, to promote Mahikari practice. A bit further on, without once mentioing SMBK, it says On June 23, 1978, Ms Okada announced that she had formally registered Sukyo Mahikari as a religious organization, with herself as its spiritual leader.. Both statements are technically correct, although a careful reader might wonder why it took 19 years for Y. Okada's group to become registered as a religion. (As seen above, Y. Okada in fact registered his group as the SMBK religion in 1963.)

Other writers say things like "the Mahikari organization was founded by Yoshikazu Okada", or "the founder of our spiritual organization", or "our founder". Of course, there is no organization called simply "Mahikari", and as stated above, the term "Mahikari" is used loosely to refer to both SM and SMBK. Sneaky! Without actually saying so, such wordings give the impression that Y. Okada founded Sukyo Mahikari. This is not true. He founded SMBK, and Keishu founded SM. She, however, also downplays that fact, and promotes the myth that Y. Okada founded SM. In her teachings on June 1, 2002, for example, she said, When our founder, Sukuinushisama, established this spiritual organization...

So, how did Keishu manage to found a new religion, and sort-of slide existing SMBK members into it as SM members, without anyone noticing?

Pages 228-229 of Daiseishu contain the text of Keishu's announcement concerning the establishment of SM, on June 23 1978. It contains 8 paragraphs. The first concerns the Holy Founder's Day (on which day the announcement was made). The next 5 paragraphs are the dramatic announcement that prepaprations had been made for the construction of Suza, and that Suza would be built in Takayama. Paragraph 6 is full of those long names of ancient Japanese gods that make most Western listeners stop concentrating properly on what is being said. Paragraph 7 begins, In order to fulfill this holy mission, and based on divine revelation, I hereby announce the establishment of Sukyo Mahikari. We are now taking a fresh step toward the construciton of Suza.....etc., etc. That was it! The establishment of Keishu's new religious group rated only a single sentence, snuck in amongst all the news about Suza. Personally, I think she was hoping nobody would notice.

I remember reading that sentence when I was a kumite, and trying to work out what logical connection there was between establishing SM and building Suza. Even now, the only logical connection I can think of is a legal consideration. If Keishu's faction proceeded with building Suza while her faction and Sekiguchi's faction were both called SMBK, would Suza legally belong to Sekiguchi's SMBK if Keishu lost the court case over the succession? Of course, Suza was supposed to be a shrine for Y. Okada's "Su God", for the purpose of saving the world from annihilation, so worrying about which faction it belonged to seems a bit illogical.

It also seems somewhat inconsistent of Keishu to spend emormous amounts of Kumite's donation money on 8 years-worth of court cases, at a time when many kumite were scrimping and saving whatever they could to contribute to the urgent (or so she said!) construction of Suza

By the way, just in case any of you don't already know this, SMBK has also built its own shrine for "Su God", but they call theirs Su-za. There's is a picture of it here. If you follow that link, you can also see Y. Okada's original goshinmon (divine emblem) at the top left corner of the page.

I presume you did know that the SM goshinmon is not Y. Okada's original symbol, didn't you? SM continued to use the original SMBK symbol up to 1982, when one of the conditions of the court settlement was that SM was no longer allowed to use that symbol. At that time, Keishu added the yellow star around the original symbol to form the current SM symbol. Kumite were simply told that SM now had a new symbol, and that they could have a new badge, free of charge, on the condition that they gave back the SMBK badge first.

With that occurrence, pretty well all traces of SMBK disappeared from SM. I do have a prayer book here, though, that has the SMBK symbol on the cover and a copyright statement in the name of the North American branch of SMBK. The original edition was published in 1976, but this is the Sixth Edition, and is dated 1984. Surely, the revenue from the sale of all editions after 1978 legally blonged to the SMBK copyright holder. I wonder if they got that money?

SM has really gone to incredible lengths to erase SMBK from its "official" history. Quite recently, SM published a new official Japanese website. Even if you can't read Japanese, do take a look at the very familiar photo of Y. Okada in his purple kimono on this page. Please compare it with the original version of this picture below.

Guess what! Someone has air-brushed out Okada's SMBK goshinmon! Not only that, SM has attempted to claim copyright, in a rather strange way. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you'll see "Copyright©1959 - 2009 Sukyo Mahikari , All Right Reserved.", but SM did not exist in 1959! (When this site was originally published, the copyright statement just said "Mahikari" rather than "Sukyo Mahikari", but there is no group called simply "Mahikari".)

This site also has a timeline of SM history (in Japanese) here. This is what the "official" history of SM includes:
Feb 1959 Sukuiushisama received divine revelation concerning establishment of the organization
Aug 1959: Opening ceremony of Yokoshi Tomo no Kai
Aug 1960: First anniversary ceremony of establishment of the organization
Aug 1964: Fifth anniversary ceremony of establishment of the organization
Sept 1964: Beginings of Mahikari Tai (youth group)
April 1966: Formation of Mahikari Tai
Aug 1969: Tenth anniversary ceremony of establishment of the organization
1970: The light of God spreads overseas!
(First to Paris, then to other European and African countires)
April 1971: Formation of national unified Mahikari Tai
Sept 1971: First Paris primary kenshu
Sept 1973: Sukuinushisama's trip to Europe
June 1974: Sukuinushisama appointed Keishu Okada as the second oshienushisama
June 1974: Sukuinushisama died
July 1979: Ground breaking ceremony for Sekai So Honzan
Etc., etc.

Anything missing? Where is the 1963 entry concerning Okada registering SMBK as his religious organization? Where is the 1978 entry concerning Keishu registering SM as a religious organization? There's nothing in the official timeline to indicate how Okada's Yokoshi Tomo no Kai ended up as Sukyo Mahikari.

Given all the lying by omission and deliberate creation of false impressions outlined above, perhaps I should not have been so surprised that an ex-member had not heard of SMBK. I simply did not expect that SM could be that successful at whitewashing its history!


Anonymous Sarah said...

Good post, Anne! LOL - it's certainly a tangled web they weave!

In the late 1990s there were rumours going around the Australian Dojos about this *other* group - the story about the court case, and so on came out, and many kumite were very upset about it, feeling betrayed by the powers that be (as we had been). I'm trying to remember what happened - I think the kanbu at Canberra HQ issued a letter explaining the situation to everyone. Their version of history, anyway. They said they weren't trying to deceive kumite... ha!

May 05, 2007  
Blogger Anne said...

Thanks for that, Sarah. I wonder, do any Australian former members still have a copy of that letter? I'd be curious to see what was said.

I can see that those SM members who unconditionally believe that Keishu was the legitimate successor could view the establishment of SM as, in essence, a simple name change, rather than the creation of a new group. But why all the deception? It seems to me that, if SM had nothing to hide, they would present their full history, rather than trying to cover up 15 years of it.


May 05, 2007  
Anonymous Butterfly said...


Its interesting that out of the 2 major "Mahikari" groups Sukyo Mahikari gets the main backlash from former members. It must be doing something very wrong otherwise why has the internet spawned so many anti-Sukyo Mahikari blogs and links? I guess its a case of "you can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time”.

Fancy SM airbrushing the SMBK goshinmon from the original photo of Y. Okada on SM”s Japanese website. Goodness gracious me what else are they capable of stooping to. All I can say is that Upstream is polluted and it has flowed Downstream. Very dirty and stagnant.


May 05, 2007  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi Butterfly,

Right! If the SM teaching of "upstream - downstream" is true, they're certainly in trouble.

Seriously though, the deceptions practiced by the leaders of SM are no reflection on the integrity of SM members. Surely the upstream-downstream teaching is as open to question as all the other SM teachings that Okada supposedly received from his "Su God".


May 06, 2007  
Anonymous butterfly said...

Hi Anne

How fruitful is this pyramid organisation? Its not expanding, just stagnant. So the
vibrations emanating from upstream are being reflected downstream with recruitment numbers being dismal.

Perhaps SM regrets espousing this upstream-downstream teaching now, as well as the other (F)Law of Attraction!


May 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a mamber form 78 to about 90 and i was well aware of two mahikari orgs it was never a secret as far as I knew and was openly discussed and "spirit investigations" done on spirts sent by the smbk mob to interfer. I also knew she was "adopted as an adult" these things were never kept secret or covered up in my view. However discussion was minimised to prevent disturbance.

May 09, 2007  
Anonymous butterfly said...

In Tebecis's book Thank God for the Answers, no mention is made about the fact that the Japanese Court ruled against her in being the successor to Okada in SMBK and that she started up her OWN organisation Sukyo Mahikari. Many kumite believed that Okada started SM and that he was the Holy Founder of SM. That book shows photos of Okada and as he was dead at the time publication the assumption is made he had started SM. Everything in that book is about SM. I wonder how many kumite in SM know there are 2 Suzas? So which one does their Su God consider the "real World Shrine" to save mankind? Surely this is a comedy of errors here! Whose teachings are the best recycled one?

Unfortunately independent thinking is definitely discouraged in SM. That is why they have the rules, regulations, boundaries - make it easy for me - tell me what to do, tell me how to do it, I'll just do it! Yes siree..salute!


May 09, 2007  
Anonymous butterfly said...

Now here is an outright lie. In the SM MAAJ's journal they state clearly that Sukuinishama is the founder of Sukyo Mahikari! How can that be when it was only formed after his death!

When you tell lies you have to have a good memory!


May 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Anne,
This is so interesting. Do you know that if you do not offer your RHO for five years you cannot give light and that you have to apply for a new omitama. I wonder what the Johrei organisation follows?

May 29, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haiyo you people really very free huh...
Why you all so busy judging with your small peanut brains..
You know, people with small peanut brains like these were the ones to crucify Jesus Christ too.
Instead of busy writing what you think may be the truth, or right or wrong, wy don't you spend the time making a difference at a orphanage or old folk home near your home. God is something you experience. So you know, taking care of abandoned people or feeding the hungry will be more useful to this world than spending your time thinking all this garbage. You hear this person and that person talk and write crap. As a hindu they teach me to respect all, but in the western culture, I don't think they teach you much values huh...

March 21, 2010  
Anonymous Former California SMBK said...

The current is SMBK is just as screwy and scary as Sukyo.
Pay to join, pay to be saved, even if you're happy and healthy - you're really not because your astral body which you cannot sense has issues, outside education is false, any negative thoughts about SMBK are the result of bad spirits, nevermind the historical mistakes in the holy master's speeches (he is only the voice of god afterall), we are living in the worst time to be alive, money-money-money-fear-fear-fear, and don't worry because we keep records what ministers hear kumites say and do. All this happens in SMBK. Just spend time in one of their dojos long enough, and it's easy to see this.

The only differences is SMBK is a little more subtle at first. Also, SMBK is much smaller than Sukyo, and aside from a very small handful of overseas groups, SMBK is pretty much only in Japan. Although, they advertise the 3 people they have in Canada to make it look like half the country are kumites.

May 27, 2010  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi - good to hear from someone with experience of SMBK!

You are right of course. Being the "original" group does not make SMBK any better than Sukyo. Since both are based on the same revelations, they should really be identical.

BTW, I'd be really interested to know what SMBK says about what Y.Okada was doing before he started Mahikari, and what led to him starting a religion. Do they tell the story about the "first" revelation, and Okada supposedly testing out okiyome on a sick dog before he believed it "works"?

I'd like to ask you about that. Could you email me perhaps? (


May 27, 2010  
Anonymous Former California SMBK said...

I became involved with SMBK in California, and also visited their headquarters a couple of times in Japan. There is a big difference in information provided to Japanese speaking kumites in Japan, and the non-Japanese speaking members overseas. All of the texts the organization publishes are not translated into English. Only monthly commencement speeches and a few small flyers on Okiyome are available in English.

Overseas members are told Okada was a simple businessman who suddenly found himself called upon in revelation to start a new religion. If you ask directly, you will be told the stories of him being in Kyusei Kyo are all lies, that he never served in the military in China, and he basically had no interest in religion at all until one early dawn morning when God came to him. I never heard any story of a dog or first revelation.

They also do their best to not mention the fact that the current holy master is the son of the previous one, and the executive director (the next one in line) is his son.
But, time and time again in seminars and ceremonies everyone is reminded of the need for having the holy master. "Without him, the divine light wouldn't be as pure", etc. Members are taught rather than coming directly from God, divine light given during Okiyome comes from God through the holy master and then to the wearer's omitama.

But, the big difference really with SMBK is the organization is a lot less active outside the walls of its dojo (the largest in the US being a small office unit in an industrial complex) and they are VERY cautious about information.
I belive there also is much less of a "community" than Sukyo has. By this, I mean to say even though there are not many members and kumites attend ceremonies together many do not know each other's names, and a feeling of belonging doesn't really appear so readily.
Events usually focus on ceremonies, and there are comparatively much less social gatherings (although there is a "Christmas" party once a year).
Also, there is a policy to constantly transfer ministers between locations, which doesn't build much comradery either. The organization looks very negatively upon kumites developing connections with particular ministers, and they are not allowed to meet with anyone outside of their duties unless they have explicit permission from the regional director. Lastly, I am sorry to add this, but as a result of the transfers, many of the ministers who arrive in the US are beginning English speakers, and communication is a problem at times.

Officially, in SMBK, Sukyo doesn't exist. And, every chance is taken to distance itself from the other. It is interesting to note also a portion of the members (at least in the US) in SMBK are former Sukyo members. Many of whom were apparently "chased out" of Sukyo, not because of free thinking but rather their own personal issues. Such as a married woman who had an affair and child by a Sukyo minister, and a man who married a female minister in Sukyo (and she resigned her position, and they joined SMBK as kumites).

May 28, 2010  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi again,

Thank you very much for the extra SMBK information. Much of what you said sounds just like Sukyo!

You said you've not heard the dog story, but the other things you said about how Mahikari originated match the story told to Sukyo kumite - the claim that Okada was a businessman and not involved in other religions before he received that early morning revelation in 1959, that is, the first revelation printed in Goseigen (the book of revelations). Do American SMBK kumite have access to an English translation of Goseigen?

In one variation of this story about Mahikari origins, Okada supposedly did not originally believe that revelation was genuine. Part of that revelation supposedly was "Raise your hand" (te o kazase), so we were told Okada tested out okiyome (raising his hand) on a sick dog, the dog almost immediately became well again, and so Okada realized the revelation was genuine. In other variations of the story, Okada supposedly tested out okiyome on a blind person and a cripple, and both people were immediately cured...have you heard that version?

Anyway, neither version can be true because, according to the first 4 editions of Goseigen, "Raise your hand" was not in that first revelation at all. Someone added in those words sometime in 1974, the year Okada died...possibly Okada did that, or someone else, but the addition is there in the current editions for both SMBK and Sukyo.)

Also of course, we know that Okada was heavily involved in at least 2 other religions before 1959, so this story of the way Mahikari originated simply is not true. A few years ago I spent a lot of time and effort on trying to find out true facts about how and why Mahikari originated. I've written about a lot of that research on this blog, and I also had an article published in the Nanzan Journal of Religious Studies ( which I attempt to trace the real origins of Okada's group. Have you seen that article by any chance? If you have, I'd be particularly interested to hear if you can clarify anything discussed in that article on the basis of what SMBK kumite are told.

For example, were you told where the tenjo investigation into Okada's role of Yo took place? Japanese SMBK people say that Sekiguchi accompanited Okada to that investigation (the Sukyo stories of course don't mention Sekiguchi!).

Is there any mention of Dr. Nobuo Shioya in SMBK literature? In kenshu?

Thanks again,

May 28, 2010  
Anonymous Former California SMBK said...

Thank you for mentioning the article and providing the link!
I must confess, although I had seen your blog I had not noticed the article, otherwise I probably would have already had a look at it.

I was actually pleased to read and see your article, and the information it contains certainly coincides with what fact finding I did on my own a couple of years ago when I began to look “outside of the dojo” for information on Mahikari and SMBK. However, this was done before your article came out (in 2008, I guess?) so I didn't come across it. At that time, I was a little disappointed (but not necessarily surprised) that there wasn't a lot of scholarly articles in English on the subject. All the ones I found were the same as you referenced, from the 1980s, etc. There wasn't very many “current” texts, aside from the dialogues from ex-members on different websites/forums.

There were a number of points I'd like to comment on regarding your article, and I'll try to keep my writing as less confusing as possible!

To comment on the origin story in present SMBK...
From the experience of non-Japanese speaking members going through the seminar and other membership activities AT PRESENT, as mentioned, Okada is described as a businessman who had no connections (and I should also stress 'interest') to/in religions. Unbeknownst to him, he had been chosen by Su-God to fufill a great mission, and was unaware of this until he suddenly received a revelation in the early morning one day. He then went forward and started SMBK. According to the SMBK seminars/literature in English, the name of Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan is the name the organization has always been called, i.e. it was what Okada began using after his revelation.

The story of the Shinto priests confirming him as being chosen is told, but it is inter-mixed with several other different stories of people/groups realizing how “special” he was, and the specific Tenjo story isn't presented on its own or isn't emphasized perhaps as much as it is in Sukyo. It is also said in the early days of SMBK Okada visited a Catholic church in Japan where people there saw a halo over his head. However, no mention of what/when/where this happened is given, aside from it being in Japan, and SMBK ministers will answer that they don't know exactly, and such details are not important. I know this, because I asked this question. This is actually the standard way material is presented; precise details of testimonies are not given and are vague. Basic level members asking detailed questions when they first start visiting a dojo and take the basic seminar are almost always told if they want to know more they should take the steps necessary to participate in the intermediate and later advanced seminars to get more answers, or simply attend monthly ceremonies or other meetings. These seminars, of course, cost money and require a number of tests and volunteer hours at the dojo before being granted permission.
This is the usual response people will receive, but another common response is to be told to essentially not get bogged down in the details, and just concentrate on your own experience right now, today. “What happened in the past is not as important as what is happening right now. Do you feel divine light? Do you like receiving Okiyome? Do you feel comfortable in the dojo?”, etc, etc.

May 29, 2010  
Anonymous Former California SMBK said...

Ethnocentrism is a big thing in SMBK, pervasive in speeches, teachings, etc. The Oshienushisama's monthly speeches regularly contain commentary on political issues. Muslims are pretty much all condemned as evil terrorists, and anything related to China is bad. The US is held in higher esteem, but at the same time is criticized for many faults. Japan is continually referred to as the land of God, and the Armageddon type doctrine dictates Japan, the Japanese people, and SMBK's Suza are/will be important for saving the World from its ills.

Sexism is also there. But (speaking from the experience of the US dojo) it is subtle at first and veiled. Being exposed to more of the doctrine in the intermediate and advanced seminars reveals it more directly. The first Oshienushisama's teaching of women as inferior beings susceptible more easily to negative spirits, thoughts, sin, and trying to pull men into this through their “seduction” is something that is told directly at the advanced seminar and mentioned at the intermediate level.
There is also a recurrent theme in SMBK of vengeful spirits as women.
Every teaching I ever heard regarding a member (male or female) who experienced “spiritual hardship” was due to the vengeful spirit of a spurned women. The worst testimony I ever heard was the story of a man who had raped a women years previously, but was never caught. Years later, he began to receive pains in his stomach. But, when he went to the dojo and received Okiyome, the pain went away.
Aside from it being a terrible story, I was shocked that the organization would actually promote it as one of their testimonies.

I know I've commented a lot here, so I will wind this down with a couple of final things.
As mentioned, the flow of information is different overseas than in the Japan SMBK.
There is no English translation of the Goseigen. I only saw it when I managed to find a Sukyo copy. SMBK directly does not allow the Goseigen to be translated. The reason given is, “Concern over whether or not the meaning would be correctly understood”.
It is my understanding also, although many Japanese members have them, many others don't, and it certainly isn't employed as much as something like the Bible in Christian churches.
A prayer book with translations of the Amatsu Norigoto and other songs/prayers is provided in English, though.

Lastly, I think the point you mentioned about “evolution” over time is very true in SMBK. In SMBK, the Oshienushisama is God's voice on Earth, and therefore anything he says is automatically considered just as profound as the Goseigen.
To be speculative, I would also think this is another reason why the Goseigen is not translated or used a great deal. Certainly, more attention seems to be paid to the translated and recital of the leader's speeches each month than on reviewing something from decades prior.
In his speeches, the leader is also routinely presenting “new” revelations. Most of these are related to events in the “Mahikari end of the World / Water-Fire Era”, etc, future/ “near present”.
As a result, there is a strong emphasis on “the now” in SMBK.
The US dojo has several photos displayed of the present Oshienushisama/ leader, but not one of his father (the previous leader) or Okada.
I would even say, as a personal reflection, Okada is downplayed. Most members know much more about the present leader than the founder, and to take the seminar, Okada is almost presented as the “ignition” of the Mahikari cause, but that the current leader is the real engine.

May 29, 2010  
Anonymous Former California SMBK said...

Also, from what I know about Sukyo, I have never seen any mention to the Catholic church story, and I wondered if it was something only told in SMBK with peculiar reason, perhaps. The wife of the present Oshienushisama who is virtually never mentioned (if at all) in SMBK literature/events is supposed to be a devote Roman Catholic who apparently is not a 'full' member of SMBK. This is not something that is mentioned at all in the literature, etc. I know it to be true though, because several different ministers have all mentioned this to me in confidence. I don't think this is supposed to be a big secret from members (longtime members usually know), but at least it is something most people don't know, and it isn't exactly advertised.

To comment on other points...
It is correct to say in SMBK's present case that the vast majority of its overseas dojos/groups are comprised of members of Japanese descent, i.e. they were members in Japan first before moving overseas for work, study, personal reasons, etc.
The definition of “membership” in SMBK is also something to be discussed. In SMBK, every person who takes the basic seminar (which is held monthly) is called and counted thereafter as a member, even if the person never walks into a dojo again or stops going after a few months and never comes bac (which almost always happens). There is a big push to get people to take the seminar each month, which in the US is usually only 1-3 people, but in most cases the people simply never come back. A lot of them didn't really have a lot of exposure to SMBK before it either. Many only received Okiyome once or twice, and are told the seminar is a “spiritual education seminar”, and in a way it can be construed some people attending the seminar may not even fully realize they are “joining” a religion.
To give an example of membership quotes, when I was involved, I was told there were in the range of 200-300 members in California, but event at the dojo's largest events, I only saw 25-30 members (not ministers), and these were usually the same people who attended regularly, and the majority were Japanese. However, based on their count of anyone taking the seminar as a full member, SMBK would rightfully say the majority are non-Japanese. But, in practice, there are only a handful of “real” non-Japanese members.
The SMBK dojo in Mexico and the SMBK dojo in Africa are exceptions to this. There are no Japanese members at these locations, but SMBK literature usually says membership numbers in these places are in the hundreds.
SMBK is small overseas. They are active in Taiwan with centers and dojos, but outside of Japan and Taiwan, there are only 4 actual dojos. One in the US, one in Mexico, one in France, and one in Africa. There used to be a dojo in England, but it closed sometime ago.
Like the US, the French dojo is also largely made up of Japanese in France.
The rest of the locations are called “contact branches”. These are individual members' homes who live in other areas and once or twice a year allow a traveling SMBK minister to come and stay for a week or two and distribute literature and give Okiyome using the member's home as a base. In the US, there are four of these, and each of the residences is owned by a Japanese member.

Also...on other topics.
At least in the US dojo, spirit manifestations are not prominent. Monthly ceremony speeches from the Oshienushisama often recount testimonies of members in Japan who experienced this, and it is discussed in the seminars, but other than that, no reference to it is given, and from my experience there I never knew of anyone who actually was involved or saw this apart from the stories from the Japanese ministers talking about their experiences in Japan.

May 29, 2010  
Anonymous KitKat said...

In reply to Sarah - yes, I was at the Canberra Dojo at the time all this became known, it upset a great many members (myself included). We did indeed get a letter from our local kanbu 'explaining' everything. From memory, it basically blamed SMBK for the court case, and said that Keishu was defending the one 'true religion'.

I don't think I've got a copy of it any more, sadly, I threw all my Mahikari stuff out when I left!

The big 'upset' in the late 1990s was the first I'd ever heard of SMBK. It's fascinating to read all about your experiences, too, Former California SMBK.

May 30, 2010  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi Former California SMBK,

Thank you so much for all that information!

You say "According to the SMBK seminars/literature in English, the name of Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan is the name the organization has always been called, i.e. it was what Okada began using after his revelation." I guess Sukyo pays more attention to the original name of Okada's group (Yokoshi Tomo no Kai) because it allows them to completely ignore the SMBK name. Their timelines seem to suggest that a simple name change occurred, from YTK directly to Sukyo Mahikari, when in fact the YTK name was changed to SMBK in 1962, according to the Encyclopedia of Shinto (, and then the Sukyo faction split off from SMBK in 1974 and adopted its new name in 1977.

You'll notice that the Encyclopedia of Shinto gives a different reading, L.H. Yōkō Kodomokai, for the kanji in the original name. Most sources read it is L.H Yokoshi Tomo no Kai, or simply Yokoshi Tomo no Kai. Before now I've not really wondered why there are several variants of the name, but now I wonder to what extent this group really existed? Bearing in mind that Y. Okada was still some sort of group leader within the Makoto no Michi Kyokai organization between 1959 and 1962, and that there was some sort of dispute with the MMK people in 1962, I wonder if the YTK group was merely an informal group of friends within MMK? Did they simply sever ties with MMK and form their own separate group, named SMBK, in 1962? What I wouldn't give for a chance to talk to someone who was associated with Okada during those few years!!

BTW, does SMBK provide a kenshu textbook in English? Do you have one? The Sukyo one is supposedly based on Y. Okada's original kenshu lecture materials, although there are some obvious additions and changes these days. Do you have 2nd and 3rd level kenshu textbooks/handbooks also? I'd be particularly interested in seeing scans of the primary kenshu printed material (if any), or at least in asking you specific questions about some details in it.


May 30, 2010  
Blogger Anne said...

To Former California SMBK again (since the comment function apparently has a limit on the number of words per comment - I didn't kow that!),

Re your Catholic Church story, did Sekiguchi happen to be part of that story in some way? That would be sufficient reason for the story not to be part of Sukyo history!

I've heard that Sukyo also continues to include people who no longer are active in any way in their membership counts. The latest US Sukyo website claims a million-plus membership, but the Encyclopedia of Shinto article written in 2006 says, "Nominal membership: approximately 490,000". I suspect even that is an exaggeration of the number of truly active members. Certainly, according to all feedback I receive from Sukyo people who have recently left the organization, numbers have been declining sharply for some time now (although the claim of a million members may have been true in the 1980's).

Sukyo teachings are also sexist, the husband must be the dominant one in any marriage, etc. Amongst kanbu, a "higher" spiritual role places anyone, female or male, above anyone with a "lower" spiritual role, but amongst females and males with the equivalent roles, the men must be deferred to, served tea, etc. It sounds from your comments that there is even more sexism in SMBK though. I wonder if having a woman as leader until recently has perhaps toned down some of it in Sukyo? For example, I don't ever recall hearing the rape story you mentioned.

The thing in your comments that struck me as the biggest diversion in evolution between SMBK and Sukyo was the part about the current SMBK leader regularly receiving new revelations, and that Y.Okada's importance is downplayed. Are SMBK people told HOW these new revelations are received, and who they are from? Within Sukyo, there is occasional mention of current leaders receiving guidance from the world of spirit, although people seem hesitant to claim these are "revelations". One gets the impression that Y. Okada is still guiding the whole shebang from the spirit world, even though teachings seem to be moving further and further away from the original ones (despite the official injunction about never, ever changing his "golden words"!).

Thanks again. I really appreciate you taking the time to provide so much information.


May 30, 2010  
Anonymous Former California SMBK said...

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to write a bit about my experience and having it posted. I know I've written a lot, but honestly this has pretty much been the only venue where I am able to converse about this subject with people who are at least familiar/interested in the topic. Most people I talk to just brush it all off as a typical cult, and don't really have any interest in elaborating on details. Also, I always have to tread carefully with those friends of mine who are still involved to some degree with the organization. I like them as friends, and they know my concerns, but suffice to say I learned a long time ago some people need to come to terms with some things on their own, and having a friend constantly bashing a belief may do more bad than good.

To reply to your other questions, though, as mentioned there are no English texts in SMBK. No Goseigen, No Kenshu books, etc. The only texts in English are a prayer book/song book (the songs and prayers are actually conducted in Japanese, but an English translation is presented for reference), and there are a number of pamphlet type handouts dealing with how to handle the omitama, how to give a divine offering (pay money), and some basic notes given at each seminar, and a reference for purfication points, etc.
There is nothing really in-depth, however.

Last year, a small handbook was made, but it is basically just a collection of the above mentioned material. It's mostly an instructional manual for how to behave at the dojo and give Mahikari No Waza.

I would assume in Japan, in Japanese, there are more texts. However, having attended the yearly anniversary ceremony at the SMBK Suza in August twice, I never saw members carrying any literature/books, nor did I see any being sold or offered anywhere, like you would at a typical Christian church conference.

Also, I double checked with one of my friends, and there is no mentioned that I (we) know of relating to Sekiguchi being involved in the Catholic Church story.

On sexism in SMBK, I really wouldn't be surprised if it is a lot more pervasive than in Sukyo. In SMBK all of the leaders are men. There are many female ministers, but they are always subordinate to men, and receive less of (what I guess I could call a salary) than their male counterparts, although they don't make very much either. Also, women have to quit as ministers when they marry, men don't.

The rape story I mentioned is one of the principal testimonies given at the Intermediate seminar. Anyone in SMBK who has gone to this level has heard this. What is disturbing is that no admonishment of what the man did was made. He did the crime, got away with it, was later punished through "Misogi-Harai"/Karma, but came to SMBK and got cured.
It should also be said this is just ONE example of such a testimony. There are others, appearing in monthly speeches from the holy master, and in each seminar which also reflect similar tales.

Lastly, yes, continual revelation is a central theme. The focal point is the speech given at the monthly ceremony each month by the holy master. All of the divine revelation is said to come from Su-God. There is no mention of Okada's spirit, etc. And, all of the revelation comes through the Holy Master. I have never heard of a senior minister or anyone else receiving revelations.

June 01, 2010  
Blogger Anne said...

No...Thank YOU for writing about your experiences of SMBK and sharing them with us all.

Many ex-kumite find they have nobody who has any understanding of their dilemmas when they leave Mahikari. Current members certainly don't understand, and people who have never been involved cannot begin to imagine what it is like to be a kumite, or to stop being one. It is an extremely isolating experience (unless one is lucky enough to leave Mahikari more-or-less at the same time as a partner or close friend). I personally found it very helpful when I, eventually(!), found some other former members who were happy to discuss things with me. That was at least half my motivation in establishing this blog.

As it turns out, the blog post authors and most people who send comments have been involved in Sukyo Mahikari rather than SMBK, but the blog was never intended to be just for ex-Sukyo people. From what you tell us, there are more similarities than differences between the two anyway! Besides, most of the stuff I and others have written about dates back to the pre-Sukyo days when Y. Okada was still alive.

In other words, you are welcome to write as much as you like here!

I'm intrigued by these revelations that you say the current SMBK routinely has. As you know, a good deal of myth-making and deception went into making people believe that Y. Okada used to receive revelations, but how does the current leader convince people to believe his revelation claims? (And what are so-called revelations anyway?)

Does he claim to hear a voice talking to him? Does he practice automatic writing? See visions in dreams? I'm thinking that kumite would need to have some idea about how the revelations come about if they are to believe they are really from a divine source, rather than just being the imagination of the leader.


June 02, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

member of Sukyo Mahikari.

hi everyone. i am a current member of SM and had my doubts about this organization before. however i now have a renewed faith and is actively participating in this organization.

You may now not be a member of these organization now. but ask yourselves.. which organization or religions has had definite answers for you ? if we had the definite answers, many of us would have attained the stage of nirvana.

whether which is the original 'mahikari' should not be a matter. religion is just a guiding path for you to help you along in your life. if you feel that the teachings in your particular organization or religion helps you to become a better person, feel free to follow that particular organization or religion.

im sure during your time in SM or SMBK, you had received some spiritual experience or miracles one way or another. im also sure that SM or SMBK felt different than other religions. we had or have something special. the Omitama. we have seen the wonderful nature and miracles of this Omitama. the teachings itself is different than many other religions. like for example giving gratitude and stuff.

the main point im trying to drive at is, whether you are/were a member of SM/SMBK or any other religion or organization, if you feel that the teachings helped you in to becoming a better person personally and spiritually, what is so bad about putting your faith in these organization ?! also the creator of this blog saying about the amount of money we offer, is it really alot ? at my centre, i just offer 2 dollars for okiyome everytime i visit the centre (sing). (im from singapore. for RHO, its less than 20 dollars. and its monthly. i mean come on, its not very hard right ? even if it was, if you had the courage to tell your kanbu or the person in charge that you are struggling with payment. im sure they would come up with a plan to help you through.

also, i feel the teachings of SM is wonderful as it teaches you life values being humble and all. not many organization and religion practices that. and one thing to add, if Okada mentioned about the formation about 'Mahikari Tai' i see that only SM is having it. not saying SMBK is fake. but many of their stories just do not add up compared to SM. SM may have airbrushed the original goshimon. but as they said. Keishu was asked to during the legal settlements.

November 09, 2010  
Blogger becoming buddha mama said...

Thanks for all you do.:-)))

November 22, 2010  
Blogger becoming buddha mama said...

Response to the Tai Member:
Hello, I had my doubts too 7 years ago of which I ignored and truly gave my heart. The doubts however were stronger than the teaching and the service I offered or the experiences I had. I agree with you that maybe wether it's the 'original' SM is not important but I would have liked to known and not simply given a extremely brief explanation and told to forget about it cause it's not as important as my salvation. I believe that religion should be something to create union w/ God and the Mahikari organizations appear to help people create this.
The fact of the matter still remains and I quote Steve Hassan author of Combatting Cult Mind Control "people should be protected from the processes that 'make' them believe".
So much information is witheld that it really dosen't give the potential member an opp to make and informed decision.
If you were able to step out of your 'new identity' and maybe even forget about SM but research mind control, cult tactics and psychology, cult criteria and compare it to what SM does,you have to be honest and admit to some similarities. Not to mention the 'revelations' given to your master compared to the teachings of Johrei founder where he trained and would have been exposed to these teachings, you would see that much was not revealed but re-worded and some added. In reading the Johrei teachings if I had come upon them in conjunction w/ SM I know I would have chosen Johrei. Amazing to me.
If you also took the time to study pranic healing and teachings from authors like Barbra Brennan I think you'd be amazed at how the light works no 'Omitama' necessary.
The Bible teaches much about giving, gratitude,compassion and more yet SM has chosen to pick and choose scripture to use for it's benefit rather that teaching the power of the whole book.
What's so bad about putting one's faith in an org that you feel helps? In the case of SM I'll say it again, not being given all the info to make an informed decision. If 'the light' and 'the teachings' are so powerful and true telling me everything would'nt matter right?.
Using tactics of information and behavior control (of which would behoove you to research) unethically, why if it's so true?
Your in SM Tai so I may be wrong in presuming that your younger than my 40+yrs, sorry if I am wrong. You are actually very ripe for the picking at a young age, the perfect candidate for easy mind control.This is all from the research I've done. I'd encourage you to do your research outside of what SM teaches also look at phobia indoctrination, cognitive dissonance,read All The Empreror's Men.
I was lead astray for 7yrs, bewitched, made to be dependant on the omitama and the light because I was willing to put on a blindfold and pay attention to the 'good stuff' and what felt good.
The Lord gave you thoes doubts before for a reason.I wish I'd paid attention to mine. Renew your mind in thoes doubts and take that 'feel good, accept everything, blindfold' off. For the sake of your true relationship with God

November 23, 2010  

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