Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mahikari and Swami Rama < 7 > ; Was Rama a 'saint'?

Sukyo Mahikari has concealed and falsely stated the backgrounds of Okada, that is, Kohtama (real name was Yoshikazu) Okada, the founder of Mahikari and Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan. It has even concealed the personal history of its own founder, Keishu, so-called "daughter" of Kohtama Okada. Naturally you cannot expect it to give its own followers decent information of the man called Swami Rama. It only says that he is a yogi and '(great) saint'. Mahikari followers automatically add the images of a saint to this yogi in their minds. They, impressed by the title without knowing who he really is, are led to think that a great saint from somewhere has acknowledged Mahikari and that Mahikari is that great, as the cult expects them to think. Some of them even naively reveal their ignorance about the wider world, by boasting that a man with a big title delivered a congratulatory speech, or sent a congratulatory telegram, interpreting that as acknowledgment of the greatness of Mahikari by the wider world. This is simply an example of people, caught by and shaped by Mahikari, unwittingly believing what the cult wants them to believe.

Okada himself declared that God had bestowed on him a divine role of "yo", which sounds as if it was a very grave role, but actually it has nothing to do with the real world. He mentioned Ohmine Rosen and Dr Nobuo Shioya, along with Tenjo, a kind of divination, in order to make his claims sound as if they had been backed up. Yet, there is no proper explanation about who they were. Those names appear in Mahikari Kenshu courses and Kenshu textbooks. But nobody ever asked who they were. (The people were not allowed to ask questions during the courses, though.) Mahikari followers, typically thinking that two 'great' men from somewhere foresaw about 'the soul of Yo', take the story as a backup to support Okada's claims. Feeling that it was significant enough, they think or question no further.

The name Ohmine Rosen sounds like somebody important, but he is rather a fictional figure. Some Mahikari followers may say, "He's not fictional at all. Divine spirits definitely exist!" That indicates they live in the world of occult without knowing it. Shioya is an existing real person, but he didn't acknowledge that the divine revelation he had received pointed towards Okada. He didn't join Mahikari. He had a life of his own. [Note 1] With those facts in reality put together, it is safe to consider that Okada used those two names for his own purposes.

A yogi called Swami Rama existed. Okada talks about him in "Go-taidan-shuu" (published in 1985). However, it is Okada's exaggeration to call him 'top of the world yogi', 'the number one master in the world of yoga', or 'the number one yoga boss in the world'. Those are not reality. [Note 2 ] Moreover, he tells, with certainty, but without checking the reality, very dubious things about Rama, such as being able to cure any diseases, being able to make himself disappear in front of other people, and being able to lift himself up about one meter high while remaining sitting still. [Note 3] Perhaps it didn't matter to Okada whether Rama's abilities were real or not. It was sufficient enough for him to boast to his followers that 'the world top yoga saint' was impressed with him and his Mahikari and that therefore Mahikari must be tremendously wonderful. Ultimately it can be viewed as Okada using this yogi for the advertisement of himself and his Mahikari.

Well, then, what about Rama? He dropped into Japan on the way to America and became acquainted with a founder of a Japanese new religious sect. This religious founder talked as if he was going to take over the world. Rama must have heard him mentioning such colorful phrases as 'divine (true) light', 'saving the entire mankind', 'heaven on earth', 'spiritual purification', 'diseases being cured', 'lots of miracles happening' and so on. The followers around Okada seemed to completely believe in him. The praises given by Okada may have tickled Rama's ego, too. Okada may have called out for Rama, "Oi! Old yogi! The number one in the world!"

This yogi, who happened to meet a founder of a new religious sect, probably didn't have any knowledge that this was a "new religious sect", nor did he have any knowledge of SKK (Sekai Kyusei Kyo) from which Mahikari had come, or Johrei which SKK had been practicing. Nor did he know that Okada had been a SKK member, even a chief of a SKK branch with wages paid, and used to raise a hand to perform Johrei. Okada seems to have omitted that part of his career in the conversation with Rama. [Note 4] Perhaps his story of God having suddenly given him a revelation and told him to do this and that, in 1959, sounded genuine enough to Rama.

Rama, when he went to America, probably found it useful to be acquainted with a Japanese religious "leader" and have some experiences of teaching yoga in Japan, which added extra shine to his career.

His connection with Okada seems to have been private, rather than with Okada's organization, SMBK (Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan). In 1969 Rama stayed with Okada and became acquainted with his "daughter" Keishu, as well. He was invited as her guest to Mahikari ceremonies after Okada's death. The attendance of this Indian yogi, tall and imposing, in a special robe, added a 'flower' to the ceremonies and produced an effect on the followers' phychology, which I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Rama probably enjoyed being a VIP at the ceremonies. He probably didn't mind occasional 'lip-service'. Or, on the contrary, he might have taken it as an opportunity to satisfy his self-indulgence by being in the spotlight.

By the way, this yogi earned positive points for his name, having hospital facilities built in India in 1993. However, he had a very dark secret underneath.

In 1993, Pennsylvania jurors decided the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale should pay $1.875 million in damages to a woman who was sexually assaulted by the center's spiritual leader, Swami Rama. [Note 5] This yogi had died in the previous year, but the Himalayan Institute he had founded has ignored complaints from women about sexual abuse by the guru for more than a decade, doing nothing about it.

There seems to have been rumors about sexual abuse and sexual exploitation by this guru since the early 1970's. He was a figure of absolute authority to the disciples and worshippers who came to the Institute and those in other areas. It was extremely difficult to break the code of silence and expose his abusive behaviour. The psychological burden was too much and most of the women victims probably felt compelled to suffer in silence.

A journalist picked up this case and researched it for two years. Her report appeared in a yoga magazine in 1990. [Note 6] The interviews with several women reveal how this guru approached women and fulfilled his own desire, taking advantage of his position of absolute authority, and how his behaviour was hidden. The victims themselves found it hard to recognize that his behavior was sexual exploitation using his position. They were unable to question this guru and tended to give twisted interpretations such as 'this may be a (spiritual) test' or 'he does these kind of things so that I can learn something from them' and so on. Not only the victims, but even the surrounding people including the members within the Institute and their own family members had a fixed idea that the guru wouldn't do anything out of selfish love and that everything he did was for the benefits of the members. They couldn't examine the guru's behaviour objectively and they didn't intend to do so, either. The people at the Institute had made up their minds; the guru can never do lewd deeds . . . therefore, those women are telling lies, or they have fantasized the events. They blamed the victims, rejecting their experiences, thus protecting the guru. The guru had the environment where he could do anything he wanted. It is implied that the Institute is a kind of cult.

Regarding the scandals of this guru's lewd behaviour, a person reportedly said, "This is a big test for us all. It is a cleansing for the Institute." Mahikari way of saying is; it's a divine sieve. The people who cannot follow the main stream of the organization will leave and the organization will be cleansed. It didn't seem unusual that a threat letter came to the people who had questioned the guru who was supposed to be perfect, or questioned the Institute he had founded.

The one who is called "swami' is supposed to have mastered the control of mind and body and supposed to be an example of right living. On top of that, he is supposed to be an Indian monk who vows celibacy. It is said that Rama took a vow of celibacy, too. However, this swami had a wife and kids in India. There is another person in America who declares that he is a son of this yogi. [Note 7] His mother was a victim of Rama's sexual exploitation in his early years in America. The son talks about his father, Swami Rama, who lived the double life of a worshipped guru and a con artist. His mother also talks about her own experiences. He himself is a living proof of this yogi's dirty secret and backs up the 1990's report of the journalist.

Katharine Webster's report tells Rama's dark aspects other than sexual exploitation, too. I write down some below, but please check those websites introduced in this post for more information.

Tyrannical; cruel; has strong partiality; exercises sadistic manipulation especially towards women. [Note 8]
Arranges marriages among members and separates couples on his whim. [Note 9]
Smokes cigarette; watches TV for hours everyday; gossips.
Is very manipulative; seems very good at threatening and winning over; has a fluent tongue but not loyal to his words. [Note 10]
A former member tells that he bought a pearl necklace from Swami Rama for a price about three times dearer than the actual value, which he found out later.
There is a record of a former disciple testifying that he obtained illegal drugs such as mescaline and LSD for the swami in 1971.
His official biography has some elements which cannot be verified. It probably is partially fabricated.

I'd like to pay respect to this journalist, the people who told their horrible experiences in the interviews, and the woman who bravely took the Institute founded by this yogi to court. I'd also like to pay respect to Robert Walter for telling his own experiences and providing the materials to help in searching for the truth.

It seems that the person called Swami Rama built a power structure in which he was the absolute ruler at the top as an advanced yogi. In there he was feared by those who went under his power and was even worshipped by some of them as a kind of god. In spite of his official flowery images projected by himself and his followers, what he really was is far from "being a saint", not to mention "being a great saint".

Probably it wasn't mere coincidence that this yogi and Okada got along well with each other.

[Note1] "About the story of Okada repaying debt <2>; " (Japanese~ 07/2008)
[Note2] "Mahikari and Swami Rama <3>; " (Japanese~ 07/2009, English~ August 2009)
[Note3] "Mahikari and Swami Rama <2>; " (Japanese~ 06/2009, English~ July 2009)
[Note4] "Mahikari and Swami Rama <3>; " (Japanese~ 07/2009, English~ August 2009)

[Note8] In the report a woman (she was studying in the Institute, then Rama came along and said to her that they had been together in a past life and that he had wanted to meet her again . . . . It was the beginning of his sexual harassment toward her) tells; Rama, on a daily basis, yelled at his disciples, ridiculed them, ordered them around, and occasionally kicked a woman in the buttocks when she was on her hands and knees weeding. She witnessed him humiliating a quiet woman resident - - he put his dog's collar and leash around her neck and walked her back and forth in front of a crowd of disciples. Furthermore, he ordered his female disciples to weed out some roots, but he intentionally didn't tell that the roots were actually poison ivy roots. Many of the women later suffered from head-to-toe swelling and rashes.

Why didn't the people around question his behaviour? They saw him as being "perfect" and an "absolute authority". They sought opportunities to serve the guru's every whim, she says. They thought that he had a greater purpose they couldn't understand and that he was beyond morality and judgement. That kind of fixed idea prevented them from recognizing him as he really was.

[Note9] It seems that Rama arranged marriages for the women he had sexually abused.
[Note10] It seems that he made empty promises such as "I'll take you on a trip to India," "I'll take you to Europe," and "I'll write your name down in my will," to the women he sexually exploited.

- - - - Phoenix3000