Friday, May 26, 2006

Plea to Sukyo Mahikari Parents

Silhouettes above the cradle hold me down
They won't let me go the wrong way
My mother taught me all the fables, told me how in the end all the sinners have to pay
But I don't wanna live like my mother

I don't wanna let fear rule my life
And I don't wanna live like my father
I don't wanna give up before I die

When I have kidsI won't put any chains on their wrists, I won't
I'll tell them this; there's nothing in this world that you can't be if you want it enough

I don't wanna live like my mother

I don't wanna let fear rule my life
And I don't wanna live like my father
I don't wanna give up before I die

Alright, I know some of you who have been reading my previous posts are going to say “someone kick the damn record player”, but I cannot stress this enough. This issue pisses me off to no end. I chose the above song (Silhouettes by Smile Empty Soul) because this is what parents do to their kids; predestine their religious beliefs and political thinking.

For those of you who do not typically read my blog, my penname is Asher Kennedy. I will not reveal my real name in order to protect the identities of my family members. I was a member of Sukyo Mahikari, like yourselves. I joined when I was ten, but my parents have been involved in Mahikari for as long as I can remember. I am not going to bore you with the details of how I came to leave Mahikari or try to persuade you to leave the organization; instead I am going to plea with you about a different subject.

Your religious preference is your choice, while I might not agree with it you are entitled to it; just as I am entitled to my opinion. Now, clearly we do not agree on Sukyo Mahikari because if we did this blog would not be necessary. Whether we agree or not is irrelevant because what it boils down to is this…

Religions are hereditary beliefs and opinions. To quote the headline of an article in the Guardian by Reverend Don Cupitt: 'We need to make a clean break with heritage religion and create something better suited to our own time.' We vary in our opinions and our tastes, and it is one of our glories. Some of us are left-wing, others right. Some are pro-abortion, others pro-life. Some listen to Beethoven, others Mozart. Some watch birds, others collect stamps. It is only to be expected that our elders should influence us in all such matters. All this is normal and praiseworthy.

In particular, it is normal and pleasing that parental impact should be strong. I'm not talking particularly about genes, but about all the influences that parents inevitably bring. It is to be expected that football fathers will teach the sport to their sons or daughters on the back lawn, take them to NFL games, and pass on their love of the game. There will be some tendency for ornithologists to have bird-watching children, bibliophiles book-loving children. Beliefs and tastes, political biases and hobbies, these will tend, at least statistically, to pass longitudinally down generations, and nobody would wish it otherwise.

But now we come to religion, and an extremely odd thing happens. Where we might have said, 'knowing his father, I expect young Matthew will take up football,' we emphatically do not say, 'With her devout Catholic parents; I expect young Bernadette will take up Catholicism.' Instead we say, without a moment's hesitation or a qualm of misgiving, 'Bernadette is a Catholic'. We state it as simple fact even when she is far too young to have developed a theological opinion of her own. In all other spheres, a good school will encourage her to develop her own tastes and opinions, her own skills, penchants and values. But when it comes to religion, society meekly makes a clanging exception. We inexplicably accept that, the day she is born, Bernadette has a label tied around her neck. This is a Catholic baby.

That is a protestant baby. This is a Hindu baby. That is a Muslim baby. That is a Kumite baby. This baby thinks there are many gods. That baby is adamant that there is only one. But it is preposterous that we do this to children. They are too young to know what they think. To slap a label on a child at birth - to announce, in advance, as a matter of hereditary presumption if not determinate certainty, an infant's opinions on the cosmos and creation, on life and afterlives, on sexual ethics, abortion and euthanasia - is a form of mental child abuse.

I do not believe it is possible to mount a decent defense against my charge. Yet infant belief-labels are almost universally accepted. We don't even think about it. Just in case any lingering doubt remains, consider the following: This child is a Gramscian Marxist. That child is a Trotskyite Syndicalist. This third child is a Wet Conservative. This baby is a Keynesian. That baby is a Monetarist. This baby is an ornithologist. Not, 'This baby is likely to become an ornithologist if his father has anything to do with it.' That would be fine. But, 'this baby is an ornithologist'? Unthinkable, isn't it? Yet, where religion is concerned, you don't give it a second glance. Oh, and by the way, nobody, least of all an atheist, ever talks about an 'atheist child'. Rightly so. But why the double standard?

I presume you need no more convincing. For parents to influence their children's opinions and beliefs is inevitable and proper. But to tie labels to young children, which in effect presume and presuppose the success of that parental influence, is wicked and indefensible. But, you may soothingly say, don't worry, wait till they go to school, it'll be fine. The children will be educated in a variety of opinions and beliefs, they'll be taught to think for themselves, they'll make up their own minds. Well, it would have been nice to think so.

But what do we do? We deliberately set up, and massively subsidize, segregated faith schools. As if it were not enough that we fasten belief-labels on babies at birth, those badges of mental apartheid are now reinforced and refreshed. In their separate schools, children are separately taught mutually incompatible beliefs. Sukyo Mahikari has been tossing the idea around about creating Sukyo Mahikari schools, where children will be taught Sukyo Mahikari doctrine in correlation with their lessons. Subsidized Christian schools were bad enough, but what will Sukyo Mahikari teach children when it is time to study history? That the Holocaust was punishment from God because the Jews did not construct a proper shrine? Or that Japan is God’s pre-chosen holy country? These teachings could not hold up most countries.

‘Kumite children' go to the state-subsidized Sukyo Mahikari school. If they are lucky, they won't actually be taught to hate Jews, but I wouldn't bank on it, especially in Republican States. The best we can hope for is that they will come out thinking only that there is something a bit alien or odd about Jews. ‘Protestant children' go to the Protestant school. Even if they are not taught to hate Catholics (again, don't bank on it), and even if they don't get passed the gauntlet of hate, we can be sure they won't be taught the same US history as the ‘Catholic children' down the street.

Opening new faith schools is downright insane; churches need to offer a consciousness-raising exercise for parents. Just as feminists succeeded in making us wince when we hear 'he' where no sex is intended, or 'man' for humanity, we need to raise our consciousness about the faith-labeling of children.

In case you haven’t come to this conclusion, I strongly discourage the use, in all households, churches, and school the use of phrases that presume theological opinions in children too young to have any. I hope that we can some day foster a climate in which it becomes impossible to use a phrase like 'Catholic children', 'Protestant children', 'Jewish children', 'Muslim children', or ‘Kumite Children” without wincing. It only costs two words more to say, for instance, 'children of Muslim parents' or 'children of Jewish parents'.

One of the more frightening aspects of human nature is a tendency to gravitate towards 'Us' and against 'Them'. Worse, Us versus Them disputes have a natural tendency to reach down the generations, leading to vendettas of frightening historical tenacity. Where labels are not provided to feed our natural divisiveness, we manufacture them.

Children separate out into gangs, often with distinguishing labels. In certain districts of Los Angeles, a young person innocently sporting the wrong brand of trainers is in danger of being shot. Experiments have been done in which children, with no particular reason to sort themselves into gangs, are provided with, say, green or blue shirts. In short order, enmities spring up between the greens and the blues: fierce loyalties to one's own color, vendettas against the other. These can become surprisingly vicious.

That's what happens when you don't even try to segregate children. Now, imagine that you deliberately stamp a green or a blue label on a child at birth. Send this child to a blue school and that child to a green school. Encourage green boys to assume that they will grow up to marry green girls, while blue girls will marry blue boys. Take for granted that, the moment they have a baby of their own, it too must have the same colored label tied around its neck. Passed on down the generations, what is all that a recipe for? Do I need to spell it out?
Hereditary peers, though undemocratic and often mildly eccentric, are not dangerous. Faith schools almost certainly are.

From the moment I was born, my parents had decided that I was a Kumite (a member of Sukyo Mahikari)…I was going to attend dojo, become an official member at the age of 10, join Sukyo Mahikari youth group (Tai), marry a Kumite, and have Kumite children. That was always my parent’s plan for me. For a long time it seemed that was the road I was taking…I went to dojo when I was young, joined when I was 10, became a Tai-Cho in the youth group….and I never questioned anything. I accepted everything I was taught as fact without examining other religions or checking the facts.

Well, I met a girl and this girl saw things in a way that I didn’t. My whole life I had heard about Christianity because my friends were Christians, but I never really gave it much thought…I knew enough about Christianity to know that it was very different from Mahikari and because I feared the reactions of my friends, I tended to remain quiet about faith. This girl however, got me talking about faith. We did not agree and she was constantly butting heads with me…until one day she asked me, “Why do you believe these things, Asher? Because it was your choice; a decision you made because it is what feels right in your heart? Or was it because your parents taught you it was right?”

I could not answer that question truthfully by saying that Sukyo Mahikari was my choice. It wasn’t my choice it was just what had always been taught to me, what was there…I had no choice; my parents took my ability to choose from me, not because they wanted to hurt me or deny me anything, but because it was what they thought was right. My parents believe whole-heartedly that Sukyo Mahikari is the true path, but does that make it right for them to choose the right path for me? Sure, as parents you want to make sure your child is going to be saved, but their salvation is not up to you, it is between your child and God.

Now I know that this was just put on the official Sukyo Mahikari site to try and entice new members to join, but it says that Sukyo Mahikari is not the only path to God, but one of many paths leading to the same universal truth…if you Kumite parents truly believe what your religion is promoting on its official site, then let these children make their own choice. If Sukyo Mahikari is right for them they can join when they are old enough and can make a decision that will make them happy. If Sukyo Mahikari is what will make them happy, fine, I am happy for them. I really do wish them all the luck in the world and I hope their lives are fulfilled.

But if they are going to feel pressured to join by parents or by other kumite (because we all know as soon as a child hits ten years of age, everyone and their dog is asking these kids when they will take Kenshu), that is not right. It is my personal opinion that the age to become a member should be raised to 16 years of age, but Mahikari would never consider that because they are too afraid of losing kids along the way (kids who choose not to join are lost revenue)…they think it is better to gather them at this young, vulnerable age so that when they are teens and young adults, their free-will to choose is already corrupted.

Some Kumite have emailed me saying that “the child is choosing, it is their choice whether they take Kenshu or not” but that is wrong. Some parents, the fanatics like my mom, basically twisted my arm about joining. Not to mention the youth group is not open to all children, only to the children who have omitama…so it’s either join or miss out on the “fun”. Plus, you have all other Kumite asking the child constantly whether they will join, telling them they will have so much fun, telling them it is what God wants, etc…peer pressure is not just from children, but from anyone the child interacts with.

I beg you parents to let your child choose. I understand when they’re young you have to help them make some choices (Ex: if they have the option of eating nothing but sweets or vegetables…most of them will eat the junk unless a parent is there to guide them) however, a child gets to choose their spouse, their profession, and their religion…those are all sacred things that should not be chosen for anyone. I hope you will think about that…because if your child wakes up on day, like me, and finds that they have been conditioned by faith and teachings to believe what you believe and not have their own choices, opinions and aspirations, they will resent you and rebel. If they have a choice there is no need to rebel because it is their option.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sukyo Mahikari & Johrei (SKK)

I wanted to use this post as an opportunity to show Sukyo Mahikari members who are reading this the similarities between Kotama Okada’s organization: Mahikari, in comparison to the SKK or Johrei, the organization he was once a minister of. I have gathered the official stances and practices of Sukyo Mahikari and Johrei from their official sites and I will compare them in categories.

Yoshikazu "Kotama" Okada (founder of SMBK/Mahikari)

Mokichi Okada (founder of SKK/Johrei)

Symbol of Sukyo Mahikari

Symbol of SKK/Johrei

Sukyo Mahikari members receiving okiyome

SKK/Johrei members receiving Johrei

Sukyo Mahikari on Kotama Okada:

“When Mr. Kotama Okada founded the Mahikari organization, his intention was to help people throughout the world create a more peaceful and harmonious civilization based on the tenet that "The origin of the world is one, the origin of all human beings is one, and the origin of all religions is one." The one is Creator God, whatever He may be called in various religions and elevated philosophies of the world.”

“Our aim is to help make possible a world filled with love and harmony where people will overcome the many barriers facing them today. In such a world, people will naturally love, care for and respect one another as co-habitants of this one planet – Earth.”

SKK on Mokichi Okada:

Mokichi Okada (1882-1955) also known as Meishu-sama, founded the worldwide movement of Johrei. He was a poet, artist, businessman, visionary and spiritual teacher. Meishu-sama's vision was to create a world of health, peace, and prosperity: a paradise on earth.

Sukyo Mahikari on the Aim of the Organization:

“Our organization aspires to cooperate with others in society who share the same vision of a world where a spiritual outlook will naturally be integrated with humankind's material development and progress.”

“Sukyo Mahikari aims to provide opportunities for people to further their spiritual growth, by helping people to awaken to the existence of God and the principles that govern the universe.”

“Sukyo Mahikari is not the only path to God nor is it the only way to come closer to God. It is one of many paths leading to the same Universal Truth.”

SKK on the Aims of the Organization:

“We are a non-profit organization, a fellowship, with membership open to all. Our members come from a diverse background. All are joined by a common desire to work together and create a better world by eliminating the three major causes of humanity's suffering: disease, poverty, and conflict. For some it is a religion, for others, a spiritual practice, for most, it is simply a way of life.”

Sukyo Mahikari on the purpose of Okiyome:

“The purpose of the practice of the Art of True Light is to purify and revitalize our spirit, mind and body. Through this spiritual practice, people can accumulate experiences that help them grow spiritually and become more in tune with God's will.”

“The Light of God is the spiritual energy or vibration of God's love, wisdom and will. Transmitting and receiving True Light is the basic practice of Sukyo Mahikari.”

“The Art of True Light is generally practiced between two people, with one receiving True Light and the other transmitting it. True Light is transmitted from the palm of the hand, which is held at a certain distance from the body.”

“Through the practice of giving and receiving True Light, it is possible to experience the existence of and the power of God. One can also become aware of the great influence that the unseen spiritual world has on the physical world.”

“Through their practice of the Art of True Light and their efforts to cultivate an innermost attitude attuned to the divine principles, people can grow spiritually and revive their true nature as children of God. As a result, in a natural way, people will be able to manifest their love for themselves, others and all of creation and so make possible a harmonious civilization on Earth.”

SKK on the purpose of Johrei:

“Johrei (joh-ray) is Japanese, means " to purify spirit." Johrei purifies the spirit of the recipient by intensifying or focusing divine light or universal energy through the instrument of the human body.”

“Spiritual clouds are formed by negative thoughts, words and deeds, the accumulation of toxins in our bodies, and also they can be inherited. These toxins include certain medicine or drugs, impure food and environmental toxins. Most people have spiritual clouds that they have accumulated consciously or unconsciously. Johrei enables one to eliminate these clouds more quickly.”

“Johrei manifests through the focusing of Divine Light. Johrei initiates a natural purifying process which promotes inner spiritual balance, and eases physical, mental and emotional distress. Repeated over a period of time, Johrei purifies the spiritual body, allowing it to become more radiant and encouraging our Divine Nature to unfold.”

“An Underling principle of Johrei is that suffering, as well as health, is a reflection of our spiritual condition. A Clouded spiritual condition will manifest in some form of disease, conflict or poverty. A bright spiritual condition will manifest as health, peace and prosperity.”

“As our spiritual awareness and understanding begins to unfold, our consciousness expands, positively affecting all aspects of our being. Gradually, we become self-realized as to our mission in life: to help others become happy. Our spiritual condition becomes brighter and we return to our natural state of true health.”

“Johrei is not merely another technique to be applied for the health of physical ailments. Its main purpose is to awaken the soul to the self-centered lives into God-centered ones"

“A Johrei session takes about 20 minutes and does not require physical contact. Johrei sessions are offered by Fellowship members.”

“Johrei, originated in Japan, purifies the spirit of the recipient by intensifying or focusing divine light or universal energy through the prayer, love and intent of the person transmitting the Light. Universal energy, or the divine light, when focused on the spiritual body of an individual dispels “clouds” or negativity, from the spiritual body and raises the spiritual vibration, thereby causing reactions in the spiritual, mental and physical bodies.”

“Through Johrei the spirit is uplifted and the divine nature unfolds itself more and more, causing the finest spiritual qualities of the individual to come to the fore. The mind is properly focused, relieving it from confusion. When clouds are dispelled from the spiritual body, toxins in the physical body dissolve and are eliminated to a large extent. Pain or discomfort felt by the individual is part of the purifying process and Johrei accelerates this process, bringing it to an end more quickly than it would terminate otherwise.”

Sukyo Mahikari on Yoko Gardening:

“As we enter the twenty-first century, the pollution of the Earth's environment and the human body are becoming serious threats to the future of humankind.”

“Sukyo Mahikari promotes yoko gardening, a spiritual approach to organic gardening, farming and agriculture. One aim of yoko gardening is to remove poisonous toxins from the land and to revive the soil to a healthy condition so that crops filled with the vitality and spiritual energy of nature can be produced.”

“The yoko farming method involves:

-Revitalization of the land with True Light.

-Directing positive vibrations (gratitude) to nature, especially the plants, soil and the micro-organisms living in it.

-The use of compost and organic methods that avoid the use of artificial agricultural chemicals.”

SKK on Nature Farming:

“Meishu-sama began developing the Nature Farming philosophy and methods in 1935, as an alternative to chemical farming, which was becoming very popular in Japan at the time. Meishu-sama recognized that survival of human is also depending on agriculture must meet five basic requirements. These are goals and guidelines of Nature Farming:”

-Through Johrei produce foods which are beneficial to maintain and advance our health.

-To be advantageous economically and spiritually both farmers and consumers.

-To be sustainable and easily applied.

-To conform to nature and protect the environment.

-Finally, to provide sufficient foods to feed the whole world.”

“Nature Farming uses no synthetic chemicals. Nature Farming does use biologically sound methods such as Effective Micro-organisms (EM) and other natural practices to enhance fertility and to manage pests and diseases. Nature Farming produces safe, good tasting foods that promote health and vitality.”

Sukyo Mahikari on membership:

“Sukyo Mahikari holds three-day courses at its centers (dojos) throughout the world for people wishing to practice the Art of True Light. These courses are open to anyone over the age of ten (minors need parental consent).”

“In the three-day course, one learns about the universal principles that govern the divine world, the world of divine spirits, the astral world, and the physical world. In addition, one learns about the influence that the unseen spiritual realms have on life in the physical world and vice versa.”

“Upon completion of the course, a person becomes a member of Sukyo Mahikari, and receives a sacred pendant (Omitama) that enables one to practice the Art of True Light. In the spiritual practice of the Art of True Light, the Light of God is transmitted from the palm of the hand to purify and revitalize the spirit, mind and body. As people practice the Art of True Light and accumulate spiritual experiences, they can progress to the intermediate and advanced courses where they study more about universal principles, the unseen spiritual worlds and God's plan for humankind.”

SKK on membership:

“A series of highly interactive classes is offered on an on-going basis. To receive Johrei, visit the Johrei Center. Introductory classes are offered on demand basis, and membership is open to all. To become a member of Johrei Fellowship requires taking six membership classes. The class costs $150.00 and upon completion the student will receive an amulet as a gift for finishing the course. Additional information can be learned by contacting the center.”

Sukyo Mahikari on Donations:

“For all its activities, the organization relies on a recommended membership fee, which varies from country to country, and voluntary donations from members and non-members. It is entirely at the discretion of each person to decide whether or not to make a donation, and how much.”

SKK on Donations:

“There is no charge for Johrei. We express our gratitude through offerings that are of value to us: our time, our labor or our materials. If you would like to offer service in gratitude, please feel free to do so. Your monetary offering of appreciation is gratefully accepted. Johrei Fellowship is supported solely through the expression of gratitude from individuals.”

I can’t find anything on the Sukyo Mahikari page about flower arranging, but I know this is an activity they participate in as my mother used to attend classes (if anyone can find any information about it please email me or leave the link in a comment…here is what the SKK says about flower arranging.

SKK on flower arranging:

“The art of flower arrangement is called "Ikebana" in Japanese. Ikebana literally means to make flowers live, or to give life to them. It represents our desire to bring out the hidden beauty of the flowers themselves.”

Sangetsu, meaning "mountain moon", is a school of flower arranging inspired by visionary and master artist, Mokichi Okada, who promoted a spiritual approach to life through beauty. He taught that beauty has the power to transform-to purify the spirit and evoke the highest qualities of character from within. He also taught that nature is the greatest teacher of truth and beauty. An artist in many regards, Okada arranged flowers in a simple yet beautiful way, resulting in works of art that uplifted and inspired all who saw them.”

“In the Sangetsu technique, we strive to present this hidden beauty in a simple way, rather than imposing our own will on the flowers and the arrangement.”

I’ll leave you all to ponder this without saying anything further. Please leave your comments and opinions. Quickly so I do not get sued since Mahikari has decided to put a copyright on God’s teachings: I did not create the ideas or practices mentioned above; not that Sukyo Mahikari is going to want these teachings back now that I am done with them.

There are a few small differences between Sukyo Mahikari and the group called the SKK or Johrei, but one of the differences that I found the most diverse is that the leader of the SKK, Mokichi Okada, was quoted as saying that a pendant is not necessary to offer Johrei (true light/okiyome) only the desire and intent to help others must be present and God will supply His healing light.

Associates of the Johrei organization wear their pendants as more of a symbol of membership, rather than as a holy object. Their position is that God’s light is for all and you cannot patent it. They charge a fee to teach the technique (they have to keep the center open somehow), but people are free to practice Johrei at their homes or anywhere else as well as teach the art to their families and friends without the hassle of a divine pendant.

Quite a contrast from Sukyo Mahikari’s stance on pendants and okiyome which states that people have to join Sukyo Mahikari in order to radiate the light of God. Non-members can only receive okiyome and are thus being a hindrance rather than a key player in the spiritual growth of others. This is why more pressure is put on new people to join the organization.

Sukyo Mahikari thinks that it is possible to put a copyright on God’s light. That is what a pendant is; a copyright which makes members feel as though they are special and can exclusively radiate the light of God. It is also a wise marketing decision on SM’s part because everyone the member introduces to the teachings has to take Kenshu ($150) in order to receive the pendant, which they teach is essential to offering okiyome. Whereas the SKK teach that members can show others how to practice Johrei and no pendant is necessary…

So lets say my mother joins the SKK, she can learn how to offer Johrei and then come home and teach my father, sister, and myself. In Mahikari she has to take Kenshu, and then if the rest of my family is interested they have to individually take Kenshu…its more money for Sukyo Mahikari once again proving that it is all about money.

Keep in mind that the Johrei (1935) was founded 24 years prior to Sukyo Mahikari (1959), which means that the Johrei perfected this art long before Sukyo Mahikari was even born; Okada would have been in his early 30’s. My question is where did this belief in pendants suddenly come from? I could be wrong, but in early revelations in the Goseigen I cannot remember God telling Okada that pendants were necessary to offer okiyome.

Think about it, the first time Okada offered okiyome he did not have a pendant (unless he still wore the one he received after joining the SKK, which only further proves his membership); he was strolling down the street and came upon a sick dog, he would not have had a pendant, and he heard the voice of God say ‘raise the hand’. The dog’s condition was improved or the dog got well (depending on which version of the Goseigen you have) so obviously according to Okada this healing technique worked…and if my assumptions about the pendant are true, then it worked without the use of an omitama. Of course, this is me speculating that Okada was actually telling the truth.

However, Okada did have a pendant after he founded the organization because Keishu and Sekiguchi were arguing over who had received the omitama after Okada’s death, which is strange because members are supposed to be buried with their omitamas on. I remember being told that if a family member were to die, it was crucial to get their pendants on them as soon as possible so that they could take it with them in the spirit realm.

How was it possible for Okada to radiate the light of God without a pendant? Of course, SM members will say because he was the messiah and therefore did not need a pendant, but that is not good enough folks, if he didn’t need a pendant why did he wear one? My best guess is that the teachings were too similar to the SKK and therefore Okada had to make small changes in order to be able to claim, if it ever came out that the teachings were plagiarized, that his teachings were the new and improved version of God’s word.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Christianity: Cultish Undertones

Throughout my readings I have been finding more and more that even standard religions that everyone accepts could be considered cults if thoroughly examined. Like Sukyo Mahikari, Christianity could also fit the cult mold if its practices and teachings were held up to scrutiny. Below are some of the standard cult characteristics. I have described the practices of Christianity that could be considered cultish.

1. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

-This is true in Christianity as well as in Mahikari. Christians are discouraged from doubting the Bible. They are told by Priests, Pastors, Bishops, etc…that the Bible is the unaltered word of God and that nothing within it is inaccurate so why bother to doubt? The only questions that are welcomed are questions concerning the deciphering of difficult scripture. Otherwise they are simply told to pray about the issues/doubts and ask that God show them the right path.

2. Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

-There are many Christian churches that practice speaking in tongues and receiving the Holy Spirit. This practice could be compared to SM’s okiyome. The Pentecostal Christian churches as well as some non-denominational churches invite their members to come to the platform and receive the Holy Spirit after mass. Many people who participate in this have similar reactions to those who have spirit disturbances; much like the ones displayed in Mahikari…they call out, lash out, speak in foreign languages they do not know, or speak in what sounds like gibberish to most, but is supposedly their secret language that only they and God understand.

3. The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).

Leadership and the Bible dictate what the members of Christian churches think, feel, and do.

Some Christian families do not allow their children to date until a certain age. Other families do not allow their children to date at all; only have friends until one decides to propose.

Christian women are allowed to work, but it is frowned upon in the church. When God punished Adam and Eve at the fall He told Adam that his punishment would be to work for all of his days, while he told Eve that she would suffer great pain during childbirth…many Christians believe that it is the man’s job to work and the female’s job to tend to the children. Many mothers who work because their family cannot make ends meat are frowned upon.

Christians are discouraged from marrying anyone who is not Christian. They are told that if they marry a non-believer, but then have issues concerning faith after the marriage is performed that they are not allowed to divorce due to these problems. There is even scripture that reiterates that sentiment.

Women are discouraged from wearing anything revealing as they are told that this provokes the men’s high sexual drive and could even cause a married man to lust after a women so strongly that he might stray from his wife. (I think the men just need to control themselves).

Christians are encouraged to raise their children within the faith. From the time the children are born they are brought to church, when they are four or five they start attending the children services, when they’re teens they join the youth group, and then they grow up to be Christians. There is a reason religions try to program children…children believe everything their parents tell them and they are more absorbent, thus by the time they are adults they are full indoctrinated.

4. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).

-Christians have a name for themselves within the organization. Member who they consider to be saved are called the ‘elect’. Christians teach their followers that the only way to be saved is to become a Christian and devout your life to Christ. If a person does this successfully they will go on to heaven when they die. Everyone else, including all followers of alternate religions go to hell. For this reason Christians must spend most of their time evangelizing AKA saving humanity, by spreading their teachings around the world.

5. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

-Christians will go door to door if necessary in order to bring new members into their organization in order to ensure that they too will be saved. They are also encouraged to bring their families into Christianity and sometimes other members of the church will go with new members to help them talk to their families about the importance of joining the church.

6. The group is preoccupied with making money

-Like Mahikari, Christian churches ask that their members pay a monthly 10% tithe to God. The Bible has scripture that talks about how money belongs to God and therefore it should not be difficult to part with. Some texts say things like, “God will provide”, leaving no room for argument even when it comes to people with little money. My personal opinion is that when the Bible was edited in the Council of Nicaea in 545AD...maybe Emperor Justinian added that bit into the Bible.

I suppose the point I am trying to make is love God with all your heart and soul, but be yourself and don't conform to any sort of religion that is going to dictate every aspect of your life; Mahikari or any other. In the end you rearrange your whole life to live according to the religion's teachings and you sacrifice yourself in the process.

1892 - Oomoto Kyo sect
1934 -
Sekai Kyusei Kyo sect - It has given birth to 21 factions
1959 -
Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan sect - It has given birth to 5 factions.
1974 -
Shin Yu Gen Kyu Sei Mahikari Kyodan
1978 - Sukyo Mahikari
1980 - Subikari Koha Sekai Shindan
? - Mahikari Seiho No Kai -
? - Yokoshi Tomo No Kai -

All of these factions of Mahikari still exist today...that means that the 'one true religion' is now at least 33 religions. Christianity has at least 50 denominations, but most people who study Christianity agree that it is probably a much higher number. With so many faiths claiming to be the 'right one' how can anyone hope to find salvation? Every religion in the world thinks they are the right path, that they are doing what God the end to trust in God, believe in Him, hold your breath and pray for the best.
The DaVinci Code and Christianity

Before I begin I will apologize if this offends anyone because I know there are a lot of Christians in the world. I myself am Gnostic Christian (note I said Gnostic, not Agnostic. Gnostic means to ‘seek truth’, Agnostic means to ‘ignore truth’) so while I believe in the basic principles of the Bible I am also open to the possibility that in the years since the Bible was written that it could have been tampered with.

The DaVinci code is coming out this Friday May 19th, 2006 and I know that is going to start up a lot of controversy, but what most people don’t know is that The DaVinci Code has some truth in it. The book sits in the fiction section of the library and book store, but that is only because some of the claims cannot be proven as 100% accurate.

I rented a movie with my girlfriend recently called Exposing the DaVinci Code…the movie was of a very bias standpoint as all of the people who were speaking out against the DaVinci Code were Christians…there was one woman who was in support of the book (she spoke maybe twice in the whole documentary), but everyone else was pretty much Christian and Right-Winged…the point I am making is that without diversity of belief you have nothing to argue with. If that movie had Atheists of Gnostic Christians who were in agreement that everything in the DaVinci Code is false…then I might have been a little more apt to reconsider my beliefs.

The point of the movie was that everything in the DaVinci Code is lies and that the Bible has been unaltered in the thousands of years since its publication. The movie seemed to cover every angle except for one…the movie quoted the Council of Nicaea of 345AD…saying that Constantine had nothing to do with getting the priests to vote that Christ was divine…this is probably true…

However, the movie failed to address the Council of Nicaea of 545AD…where Justinian wanted all illusions to reincarnation taken out of the Bible. He threatened to throw any pope in jail that supported reincarnation. The council was established to vote in favor of reincarnation of against reincarnation. In the end with only one pope brave enough to test Justian’s word and vote in favor of reincarnation…many texts were taken out of the Bible in order to stop the belief of life after death. All Bible’s were taken up, burned, rewritten, and redistributed.

Most people say you have to have faith that the Bible in the unaltered word of God, but here is my take on it…perhaps at one time the Bible could have been the unaltered word of God. Maybe God guided the hands of the men who wrote the Bible, however the Bible has come in contact with many Emperors and Kings since its publication who wanted their people to submit to their demands and beliefs. Many Christians dispute that God has protected the Bible throughout history, that He would not allow it to be altered…however, there is Biblical support to the contrary…

22:18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if anyone adds to them, may God add to him the plagues which are written in this book. 22:19 If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, may God take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book.

This shows that God will punish anyone who alters the Bible, but it does not say that the Bible CANNOT be altered. If God controlled man and made sure that they did not change the Bible then that would mean there is no such things as free will. If there is no free will then there is a lot about the Bible that needs to be discussed.

In the end the Bible states that the only thing one need to believe in order to have treasure in Heaven is that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save humanity from their sins...nothing more. It is not necessary to believe in every single solitary thing written in the Bible, merely in the son of God.

This will serve as an introduction to my next post…I will be writing a post that will be discussing how all religion, even Christianity can be perceived as a cult.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The War on the Internet

I have heard many members of Sukyo Mahikari claim that the internet is an unreliable source of information about their organization. Many say that the reason Sukyo Mahikari has gotten a bad reputation is because of Okada's original organization SBMK. The "War on the Internet" is the war between Sukyo Mahikari and Internet-users/former members who write their experiences and opinions about the sect and post them on the Internet. Though Sukyo Mahikari strives to remain silent about these issues, behind the dojo walls they are "arming" Kumite with the "correct" information to ensure that they do not read what we have to say. Many members are told that these individuals are spiritually disturbed or that they have an 'axe to grind' due to past grivances with the organization. I have a few things to say on belhaf of myself and these people:

These people who are writing what they know, quoting SM material, and webbing it are using the huge accessibility of the world-wide web to get information out to people to warn them of the insanity and danger of this cult. They are doing it for the public good. The hope is that if they can get this information out to the public and make it broadly known then people will be forewarned and will not join the cult. If they can starve the cult of new members in this way then the whole organization may collapse and then the existing members can be helped to return to society. But of course the people within the cult believe only their own founders interpretation of things so they use every means they can to stop this. Usually the method they use is harassment or threats of expensive lengthy legal process.

The people who post and host information about Sukyo Mahikari are risking themselves to help warn the public about the dangers of Sukyo Mahikari. They have a strong sense of public duty and care for their fellow men. Australian former members are being especially courageous because Mahikari has gone so far as to threaten newspapers who have said undesirable things about the sect, as you can sue for just about anything nowadays it is best for them to remain cautious. However, the accusations that they have an 'axe to grind' is completely without merritt, they are acting out of conscience and out of high human ideals. Some have gotten broken down by legal or physical harassment from friends and family members, but more rise to take their place.

I myself was threatened with legal action from Sukyo Mahikari (though I am not sure if it was from a lawyer representing the sect or a member who practices as a lawyer), being told I had better be able to back up my accusations with evidence; because I have the proper evidence my blog was re-put up, but only after thorough re-reading to ensure that everything I said was either factual or had a disclaimer insinuating that it was my own speculation.

I hope this short piece of mine is a befitting and deserving introduction to these people, the "Warriors of the Internet".
Answers for Kumite Children

1. I hear the word "cult" all the time. What is a cult?

Here is a simple test to tell if a group is a cult or not. Ask yourself these questions about the group:

1. Does the group use tricks, lies or excuses to get members and to keep them?

2. Does the group say that it is "better than all other groups", and is it organized so that people can't complain, discuss, vote, criticize, or change the group?

3. Does the group claim that the founder knows all the answers, and tolerates no discussion or questioning of his or her teachings?

4. Does the group say that nothing is more important than to get more money, people or anything else into the group, and that this is more important than honesty or friendship or families, maybe because it is such an emergency that the world must be saved right away?

5. Is the money collected used only a few "special people instead of for the members or the general population?

If you answered "yes" to all these questions, then the group is definitely a cult.

People who study groups have looked at Sukyo Mahikari and answered "yes" everytime. See why:

6. It pretends to be a self-help group, and doesn't tell the true beliefs of the organization until one has paid over $1000 and donated a lot of money to the ‘cause’; the suggestions that one can "still participate in their original religion while practicing SM and not have to sacrifice their beliefs" is a trick because the result is always that SM is the one true path and eventually you will see that your previous faith is a pseudo-truth - and of course, "SM can help you find the true path". An honest group would tell their beliefs prior to you joining.

7. Kumite say they are superior to the rest of the world, and calls the rest of the population "spiritually disturbed" instead of simply "anti-SM ".

8. Everything must be done exactly as Kotama Okada said/wrote. Discussion or disagreement is considered "a spirit disturbance" and gets you reported to Kanbu, which means you are in trouble.

9. Members are taught that the only way to repent of their sins/bad karma is to donate money, offer okiyome, and bring in new members. Kumite are constantly pressured to find new members because they are told that God is getting impatient with the state of the world and will bring on the Baptism of Fire (the end of the world) if more money and effort is not dedicated towards SM.

10. The money that SM receives that does not go towards maintaining the centre gets sent directly back to Keishu Okada (the adopted-daughter of Kotama Okada) and is used to ensure that she lives in the best possible conditions (nice home, cars, first-class flights, five star hotels) while she preaches against materialism and asks members to take out second mortgages on their homes in order to donate and make membership fees. Some staff members live in terrible conditions or are forced to live in the Dojos because they are underpaid.
As you see, that makes Sukyo Mahikari a "cult".

2. Do people hate Sukyo Mahikari?

Most people in the world have never heard of Sukyo Mahikari. Most people who have heard of it don't hate anything or anyone. And some of the people who are angry about things SM has done were in SM themselves, and are angry at themselves for helping to hurt people when they were in SM. Some people have had their lives destroyed by SM and have never recovered. Some have recovered, but have lost their families. Many are still suffering. These people don't like Mahikari, as you might guess. Generally the feelings of ordinary people who have heard of SM is that:

o "they are weird"or

o "they are scary"or

o "they are the meanest, greediest lying cheating cult in the country"

These feelings are a direct result of kumite following Kotama Okada's advice about what are good skills to "handle" an anti-Mahikari individual. Sooner or later, most people will notice when they are being or have been lied to. That is why most people are not kumite. Guess what: people do not like to be lied to (do you?). Everyone is a free person, just like you.

3. My parents almost never have time for me. Why?

Your parents may be fooling themselves about what is important. Many Kumite believe that unless they devote their time to SM they will lose all their friends/families, that God will stop loving them and cut them off, that God will end the world, or that they will become spiritually disturbed. SM does not have a concept that children are special in the way that they need love and care, only that if the parents attend dojo enough and become spiritually purified enough that their children will naturally follow in their path (if the upstream is clean the downstream will become clean as well). Most Kumite think children are just kumite in small bodies who will eventually follow SM teachings and help purify others to save them from the Baptism of Fire.

4. I want to get help. What should I do?

If you know people in your family that are not in Sukyo Mahikari (aunt, uncle, grand-parents, or possibly your mom/dad's ex), try to contact them. They will understand you - they probably know about the mess you're in.
If your whole family is in SM, many other people outside SM can help you. You should look for an adult you feel good about, who you can talk to easily.
If your school is not part of SM, that would be a good place to start. Your teacher, your school's principal or nurse or psychologist (counselor) -- you can turn to any of them for help.

o a social worker

o the children advocacy center (call 800-4ACHILD or 800-422-4453)

o the state children/family department (in Florida: Department of Children and Families DCF)

o American Family Foundation (AFF)P.O. Box 2265Bonita Springs, FL 33959(212) 533-5420(212) 249-7693 Message Center

And of course, there is the internet where you can get a lot of helpful information.

5. But Sukyo Mahikari is the most ethical group on the planet!

Says who? SM itself. If you look in the dictionary for "ethics", you will see that the word ‘ethics’ means: a set of principles of right (good) conduct.

Here is an example: In the early years of Mahikari a few members of the Mahikari Tai youth group were tragically killed in a car accident. These youth members had promising futures in SM and were respected by everyone, but when the car crashed despite the youth members wearing their omitamas (meant to protect them) the Kanbu told everyone that it was because these youth members were sexually active outside of marriage that God chose to punish them. There is no proof that these kids were doing anything immoral, but SM Kanbu still lied because they had no way of explaining how these children had died despite wearing their omitamas. Lying is not very ethical. A truly ethical behavior would be to stay honest, even if it means admitting that omitamas do not protect the wearers from anything.

6. How are other churches different from Mahikari dojos?

You do a lot of different things like sing, play games at youth group, and learn new lessons once a week. You do not have to listen to experience stories all the time or offer/receive okiyome every day. Good pastors and clergy answer your questions, instead of telling you ‘don’t think just give okiyome and you will eventually understand’. You don’t report to Kanbu whenever someone in the youth group doesn’t believe in the teachings. This is called rating and is not cool.
Youth Group is done so that you have to respond to questions or solve problems. If you have difficulties understanding, you can get help from your parents, other kids, the youth minister or additional hired or volunteer "helpers”. There are many different churches but almost all will tell you to think for yourself and to peacefully react with different kinds of people; not just Mahikari members.

7. How is life outside of Mahikari?

Life is full of surprises. You have challenges all the time. You have to make your own decisions. You can do a lot, as long as you don't harm anyone else - because other people are also free. And yes, you make mistakes.

8. But Okiyome WORKS!

So you have noticed that some aspects of Mahikari work. For example, you felt better after okiyome. It is true, sometimes you believe in it and it works. The name for this is the "placebo effect" - methods that do nothing, but cure anyway. It works because strong belief releases a drug that your own body produces ("endorphins"). No obscure "light". But have you noticed how often it has not worked? Then the excuse is "you have a lot of toxin build-up and need to receive more okiyome". A rather cheap excuse, if you ask me. Sadly, people die because they try such methods instead of going to the doctor. The doctor cures you, without the need of believing that something works. Why is this so? Because medicine is tested in a way that the first people who take it are separated in two groups: the one who gets the real stuff, and the one who gets a fake one. The experiment is designed so that even the nurse who gives the medicine and the doctors who check if it works don't know if the patient gets the real or the fake medicine!

That is the difference:
Sukyo Mahikari: "It works because it works"
Medicine: "It works because independent experts have observed it works"

9. A Kanbu member touches me in a way I don't like. What can I do?

If he touches your genital parts or tells you to touch his, then it is a crime, even if the Kanbu member is a Doshi or Socho. Please do not report it to Sukyo Mahikari because they won't do anything! Go right to the police and tell all. If you think you could trust your parents in the past, and then discuss the matter with them. You do not have to feel guilty. It is the fault of the other person.

10. Has anyone ever died because of Sukyo Mahikari?

Yes, there are experience stories on the Mahikari Exposed site that mention people who have died because them believed in the teachings of SM and did not seek medical care. Also check out Lara’s blog, her younger sister passed away from cancer because SM Kanbu told her parents that chemotherapy was poisonous.

11. Can I trust my fellow Kumite?

No, usually not. They will put Sukyo Mahikari over friendship - you have certainly observed this before. They will tell all you told them to Kanbu and then to your family.

12. Will Sukyo Mahikari use my past personal experiences against me?

Yes, possibly. They have done so in the past, and will do it in the future. They will do everything they can to ensure that you feel guilty and do not leave the organization. But remember also that their threats of God not loving you or of God destroying the world are pure lies, e.g. "You will be cut off from God is you stop wearing omitama and don’t receive okiyome". This is called "blackmail", and they should go to jail for it! So assume from the beginning that they will do it, and prepare your mind for it.

13. I was born and educated in Sukyo Mahikari. What will happen?

You might have some trouble to adjust to the real world. Recommendation: start reading newspapers (The St Petersburg Times), magazines (TIME), easy "books" (The Reader's Digest). The three I mentioned are what Sukyo Mahikari fear the most, although these are pretty ordinary writings! Try also meeting ordinary people and learn to see how they communicate.

14. Is there anything that I am not told by Sukyo Mahikari?

Yes, quite a lot! Here it is:

1. Kotama did not have revelations from God as he claimed nor did he create an original religion, he was a pathological liar, although Sukyo Mahikari has spent lots of money trying to hide his past and prove his teachings. Kotama was not a hero or a savior - he was a fake, a coward and a cheat.

2. Kotama and Keishu Okada were once members of the SKK; a religion almost identical to Mahikari in practice and belief. Keishu’s family were all members of this organization and Kotama was a minister. However, Kotama was kicked out due to accusations of using black magic and sexual misconduct; reportedly with Keishu who would become his adoptive daughter.

3. Okada was a soldier in WWII and helped organize the Rape of Nanking where Japanese Soldiers raped and killed hundreds of Chinese women.

4. Okada was married with children prior to forming Mahikari, but got divorced (hypothetically when his wife found out about he and Keishu’s relationship), yet in Mahikari divorce is unacceptable. He had no further association with his ex-wife or children after the divorce.

5. In the SKK there is not a problem with evil spirits manifesting in people who are receiving okiyome, or as they call it Johrei. Only in Mahikari do spirits manifest, primarily because Okada dabbled in black magic and incorporated that in his technique of giving okiyome. He was reportedly warned by Kanbu in the SKK to cease offering okiyome in that manner because it was dangerous to the individual receiving.

6. Okada was a heavy smoker, yet he preached about putting toxins into the body.

7. A member of Aum Supreme Truth was once a member of Mahikari; the psychological damage kept her dependant on the support of a cult for the rest of her life.

8. There aren't 8 million Kumite. There aren't even 1 million according to former members. More like 500,000 at most.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Continuation II of Previous Post: What Makes Mahikari a Cult?

10. Members are encouraged to make frequent financial contributions or "offerings" to the organization under the auspices that the offerings are actually for God. There may be many categories of offerings encouraged, such as for receiving spiritual power, for reparation of sins or "negative karma," in gratitude for favors received, for the building of monuments, museums, temples, etc. The offerings disappear into real estate purchases, construction of buildings, and luxurious lifestyles for the top leadership. Offerings are rarely, if ever, used to support charitable activities such as the homeless, disadvantaged, disaster relief activities, etc.

-When you take Primary Kenshu you are given a membership number along with your omitama and a Goseigen. The Goseigen is a copy of Okada’s revelations from God. The omitama is the holy pendant that connects you to God via the human satelite, Keishu Okada, which can and will be cut off if you do not make your monthly membership fee and donate enough money to materially compensate. The number is a membership number used whenever you sign in at the dojo or make a donation.

What is the purpose of the number?

Most Kumite would say merely to keep count of the number of members, however, it is also written on the envelopes Kumite use to donate.


To keep track of the amount of money a Kumite is donating daily, weekly, monthly, annually, and throughout their entire stay as a Mahikari member. Kumite, you might not have any idea how much money you have donated throughout your life, but Kanbu does and when you don’t donate enough they make you aware of the situation.

On these envelopes there are several categories under which one can donate. You can choose to donate to Japan (ie: Keishu), to the dojo for repairs, to Gohoshi items (new pillow cases, flowers, food, cleaning products, etc), to apologize for negative karma/sins, to thank God for your blessings, and so on and so fourth.

Once you have selected why you want to donate you enter the main shrine area and drop the envelope in a wooden mailbox style container as you bow before the main altar. Donations are cash only, new bills, and always spiritually purified with okiyome prior to being placed into the drop-box. Cash only? Yes, no paper trail that way; no way of knowing how much money is getting sent back to Japan and being put into Keishu’s pocket.

The donations are never used for charity projects, as members are told that those who suffer from misfortune, are homeless, sick, or injured are suffering physically to compensate for their sins. Aiding them would be interferring with their cleansing process, spiritually and physically.

11. The organization does not practice full disclosure. Information is withheld from members, especially unflattering or embarrassing information about the founder and key leaders. Unflattering or embarrassing information is categorically denied as rumors and lies, despite all evidence to the contrary.

-True as well. Mahikari is not beyond hiding information or downright lying about it in order to make sure that their doctrine is not contradicted.

Case 1: Okada’s involvement in the SKK. The SKK is a organization that Okada was a minister of prior to forming Mahikari. The SKK also practices the Art of True Light, which they call Johrei. The organization was founded years prior to Mahikari by a man who coincindentally has the same last name as Kotama. However, Kotama was removed from his position when evidence that he was using black magic as well as participating in sexual misconduct surfaced. He then created Mahikari, which he told his followers was a unique religion that was the only religion who practiced okiyome.

His involvement in the SKK was denied by Kanbu for 30+ years, until recently when Mahikari could no longer deny it with all the proof that had surfaced (publications, paperwork, photos, etc). Keishu’s representative released a statement saying that prior to forming Mahikari, Kotama had participated in several different religions, the SKK included. Normally when Mahikari comes clean about these sorts of things they have a disclaimer saying that this is the only time they are going to admit to this and that they will not discuss it further once the information is revealed. Many Kumite still do not know about this as many dojos choose not to disclose that sort of information. I know I didn’t find out about it until I started talking to some of the other former members on these blogs and I went to monthly ceremony every month. Nothing was ever mentioned to us.

Case 2: Keishu’s court battle with Sekiguchi over the leadership of Mahikari. This information came out I am guessing about 1996 or 1997…if I am incorrect please let me know. Basically, members found out that Sukyo Mahikari was not the original organization founded by Kotama, but rather a sister organization called SMBK. Keishu released a statement and once again it was on a one and only time basis. She admitted that there was a court battle between herself and Mr. Sekiguchi, dividing the original organization. However, Keishu remained firm that God had chosen her as the leader and therefore Sukyo Mahikari was now the true religion.

These are two instances where information was embarassing and could discredit the organization if revealed. However, when there was no choice but to admit the truth, Sukyo Mahikari reluctantly came clean.

12. Members are encouraged to seek "guidance" from and to report everything to the leadership. Members are not encouraged to think for themselves nor to conduct their own independent research.

-Members of Mahikari are encouraged to speak with Kanbu when in doubt. Kanbu generally tell members that their doubts and discomfort with the organization is the result of an evil spirit/presence that is trying to pull them away from Mahikari. Normally the suggested cure for the doubts is to ‘ignore it, not think about it, and just give okiyome’. The possiblity of a mind controlling presence makes most members reluctant to trust their instincts about Mahikari as they do not know whether to trust their feelings as their own or as the feelings and thoughts of evil spirits. The Kanbu will also encourage the member to read only the available literature in the dojo to reinforce the members beliefs in Mahikari. All information on the internet that is not official material is considered written by evil spirits which have taken over the authors of all other literary works. Essentially, if the thoughts a person is thinking are not that Mahikari is the only way to God, the perfect religion, the word of the Lord…all other independent thought or speculation is of the devil or of evil spirits. If members see another Kumite swaying away from Mahikari, they are encouraged to speak with the person, discover what is wrong, and then tell Kanbu so they can step in.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Continuation of Previous Post: What Makes Mahikari a Cult?

7. Members are encouraged to recruit their families, friends and coworkers in order that they too can be "saved." Members are allowed to "advance" to the next "spiritual level" based on the number of people they recruit to the organization.

-In Mahikari members are told that in order to save others, they must first save their families, as they cannot save anyone if they do not first clean upstream. If upstream is clean then downstream will naturally become clean as well. Members are told that having a family that is completely dedicated to Mahikari is a way to set a good example for new and potential members. Members are encouraged to entroduce their children to the Mahikari doctrine from birth through offering the child okiyome and taking them to the dojo, where there is always a nursery. If a member fails to bring a their family into Mahikari, or a loved one refuses to join, members are told that it is because of the Kumite’s negative karma, not the negative karma of the reluctant individual. This causes incredible guilt because the member then feels that they have to receive and offer more okiyome, offer more Gohoshi, and donate more money in order to spiritually purify themselves so that their reluctant friend or family member will join. Members are told to go to whatever length to try and initiate their family and friends to Mahikari, even if that means offering them okiyome in their sleep without their knowledge.

8. Members are specifically instructed how to treat visitors and to limit the information which they are told about the organization. Guests may be treated differently than members.

-This is true as well. Guests were always taken immediately for an okiyome session, not forced to wait for hours like some people when the center was busy. I remember also being told to direct guests to the library and offer them reading material about the organization. Usually I gave them Dr. Tebecis’ book Thank God for the Answers at Lasr, as well as the official Mahikari Tai literature. Experience stories were often printed out and secured in a plastic cover for the reading pleasure of guests and we were often instructed to speak of our own experiences about the healing properties of okiyome. We were encourgaed to show them pictures of Suza and of the Mahikari festivals and ceremonies as well, to try and make Mahikari seem like a fun venture to persue.

9. Members are warned that great calamities will take place in the world and that they may be one of the people saved if they diligently follow the teachings of the organization. It may be stated or implied that they may personally receive great misfortune if they do not follow the teachings and practices of the organization. Frequently members are told that great natural disasters have been averted due to "divine intercession" by the spiritual head.

-This is true. The woman from Houston I have been speaking with, Deborah, told me that when Hurricane Rita was headed for Texas and Houstonians were asked to evacuate, the Mahikari members refused, going to the dojo instead. They could not leave behind the Goshintais and other holy objects. I have never been to Houston so I cannot verify this, but from what I have been told, the entire center is surrounded in glass. All three walls of the main shrine area are covered in glass. They all offered okiyome to one another and chanted the Amatasu Prayer all night saying that if God decided to take them it was His will. Well…there is a little story that goes like this:

There was a man who lived in the country in a small house. His home had a porch and was two stories high. One day he sat on that porch and a storm hit. Through the static on his TV he could make out that a hurricane was coming and that his county had been asked to evacuate. The man did not leave, the water rose to his porch as he sat in his rocking chair.

A man in a truck rode by. The man said, “Sir, come with me. I’ll drive you to safety.”

But the man in the house said, “No, I believe my Lord and Savior is going to save me.” So the truck left him.

The water then rose to his neck, but he still remained on his porch.

A man in a row boat happened by and said, “Sir, come with me. I’ll row us to safety.”

But the man in the house said, “No, I believe my Lord and Savior is going to save me.” So the boat left him.

Finally, the water rose to the roof of the house. The man was sitting on the top of his home when a man in a helicopter happened by.

The man said, “I’ll throw you a rope and fly us to safety.”

But again the man in the house said, “No, I believe my Lord and Savior is going to save me.” So the helicopter flew away.

Not long after that the man drowned and as he stood outside the gates of heaven he said to God, “Lord, I just don’t understand. I believed so strongly in your power and I truly believed that you were going to save me.”

God said, “Son, I sent you a truck. I sent you a boat. And I sent you a helicopter. If you can’t read the signs then there’s nothing I can do for you.”

This was how these Mahikari members sat, inside the dojo, surrounded by glass, and yet they refused to cut their losses and leave. When the hurricane hit Louisiana instead of Texas, the monthly ceremony the following weekend was completely centered on how “because we prayed with such sincerity God spared us and the dojo”. I don’t want to say that Kumite are egotistical, but it makes me laugh to think that they believe that their little get together averted the wrath of God. However, this is what the dojo would have its members believe. To try and make their beliefs even more plausible, Kumite were told that these “out of season” hurricanes were proof that God was growing impatient with them and that they needed to offer more okiyome, divine service, and money in order to postpone the Baptism of Fire (which had obviously already started) a little longer.

There was another incident in Australia where a fire that destroyed the Christian church next door to the dojo was considered God's judgment that Mahikari was the truth. The fire destroyed much of the surrounding area, but didn't scathe that dojo. Members were told in the ceremony that God was showing them the truth through this presentation, clearly because the dojo was purified with okiyome daily the fire had not burned the center, as if there was an invisible force field around the dojo. I remember being told the same thing when experience stories were used to reinforce the doctrine. Whenever something good happens to Mahikari and its member, kumite are quick to attribute the positive outcome to okiyome. However, when bad things happen to Mahikari and its members, then nothing is said. Usually the incident is simply ignored.

(More to come)
Letter from a Kumite

I recently spoke with a member of SM who attends ceremony at the Houston, Texas Center. She and I have been having friendly conversation and debate over Mahikari and its teachings, discussing why she chooses to remain within the organization and why I chose to leave the organization. She has been a member for 10+ years and recently wrote a letter to the California dojo (there are more centers in California than in any other state) to ask honest questions about the new North American site. She, like most of us former members, noticed the discrepancies in the site and decided to write to get some answers concerning the blatant omission of certain aspects of Mahikari from the site. She agreed to let me post her letter, provided that I change her name. She wrote:

To whom it may concern,

I have a few questions. My name is Deborah and I live in Texas. I joined Mahikari in…I would rather not say at the risk of showing my age. I recently learned at monthly ceremony that the North American site had finally been put on the internet and I began reading the information. There were a couple of discrepancies on the site and I was told by Metadoshi that the Los Angeles Center would be able to handle them. I just want to point out those errors so that we might be able to rectify them.

The first was the part that states that Sukyo Mahikari does not consider itself to be the only path to God. I have always been taught that Mahikari is the only path to God and that all other religions will eventually fade out. The Goseigen states that those of us who do not receive Primary Kenshu will not survive the Baptism of Fire, therefore I was under the impression that Mahikari is the only path to God. I feel that we are projecting a false message if we state that we do not consider ourselves the only path to God and in the process undermining the importance of bringing in as many Kumite as possible. Why has the fact that Mahikari is the only true path to God been omitted from the site? Also, why is there no mention of the Baptism of Fire on the new site? That is a crucial part of our teachings and I think if people knew the gravity of the situation, perhaps membership would increase. We are talking about the end of the world as we know it, it is our mission to ensure that as many people are saved as possible and I don’t feel that the gravity of the situation is strongly expressed on the site.

The next thing I noticed was in the financial obligations section. It states: For all its activities, the organization relies on a recommended membership fee, which varies from country to country, and voluntary donations from members and non-members. It is entirely at the discretion of each person to decide whether or not to make a donation, and how much.

At the Houston Center we pay a ten percent membership fee each month, I assume it is the same for most dojos. Shouldn’t information about the amount of the fee be included in the website information? The fee is strictly enforced at the Houston Center, not simply “recommended”. Our Kanbu will ask for our donations if we fail to make them on time. It’s an important donation we make each month with a sincere sonen. If we did not make our ten percent tithe, the Houston Center would probably be shut down by now, as we have had to change locations several times, not to mention our omitamas cannot remain connected to God without material compensation. I think the importance of the donations and fees should be expressed on the site. The site seems to be laidback about this issue.

Also in the section called ‘leaving the organization’ it states: Members are free to stop practicing the Art of True Light and to leave Sukyo Mahikari at any time. This is true however; maybe something about spirit disturbance should be mentioned here. The Goseigen is clear that those who choose to leave Mahikari are throwing God’s gift in His face, are spiritually disturbed, or not spiritually purified enough. People who chose to leave are spiritually disturbed and very rarely do we, at least in the Houston Center, continue communication with these people. Spirit disturbance is a very serious issue and yet there was absolutely no mention of it in the site. Could you shed some light on this?

Lastly, in the True Light section there is text that states that The Art of True Light is not a healing practice. This is inaccurate, as we were told in Primary Kenshu and as well as in the Goseigen that Okada was told by God to lift his hand and heal people of diseases and purify the soul. They keyword is ‘heal’…not simply spiritually purify. Okiyome is a healing method, as has been proven over and over again through the people who have been healed by the light of God. Why then is the fact that this practice heals people being undermined?

I hope to hear from you soon. Sorry if these questions seem harsh, I just hate the reputation our organization has received from the media and through the internet. I think if we approach this new venture with an honest sonen and lay the truth out for everyone to see, maybe there would be less prattle about how terrible Sukyo Mahikari is, as well as eliminate the accusations that the organization is a cult and psychologically damaging. This organization has changed my life and I hate seeing people slander its name. The former members are going to have a field day tearing this site apart if it is left as is.

Your Sister in Light,

Well…she was right about that; as I started tearing the site apart the day after I read that hooey. I can answer her questions one by one…
1. Why does Sukyo Mahikari state on their official site that they do not consider themselves the only path to God? Well, because most people don’t respond well to being told, “do what we say or you will not be saved” or “the end of the world is coming, you must offer okiyome every day until you are purified enough to go on to the next civilization” Mahikari can bring in more members if they say, “It’s alright, you can continue to practice your religion along side Mahikari.” This makes them appeal to people who practice other religions, they try Mahikari out and if they like it they continue to attend dojo, eventually trading all their old beliefs in for Mahikari doctrine. I don’t think I remember anyone who has successfully attended both dojo and church without having to abandon some, or all, of their previous beliefs.

2. As for financial obligations…no one wants to hear you have to pay up or God is going to cut you off. Instead Mahikari would have you believe that donations are optional in all forms, then after you have taken Primary Kenshu they tell you about all the money needed to maintain a relationship with God, at least then if you don’t want to pay up they have the $150 you paid for omitama.

3. As for spirit disturbance and its lack of publicity on the official site…no one wants to hear that there are evil spirits that will attack you unless you adhere to Mahikari’s very strict spiritual practices. Most people would flee from the religion right then and there, thinking it somewhat of a pagan/wiccan practice. The only time you will hear about spirit disturbance is when people A) leave the organization (all former members are under the influence of disturbed spirits), B) when you are having doubts (the thoughts are not your own, but the spirit telling you to turn away from Mahikari), or C) when you are reluctant to join the sect (you have a severe spirit disturbance, okiyome is the only way to get rid of the negative karma that has latched itself onto you).

4. Same with the departure of former members, newcomers do not want to hear “if you ever leave this organization you are taking the road to hell by yourself, you are spiritually disturbed, you are a quitter, you have thrown God’s gift in His face, etc”. Might just be me, but if an organization told me that I think I would be extremely reluctant to join. Not being able to leave when I wanted to would set off my red flag cult alarm.

5. As for the healing practice…Mahikari is just trying to cover its ass. In order to avoid legal action that could be taken against SM in the event of the death or injury of members, they have to say that they do not heal. I wonder what God thinks of them changing the divine word….I mean the Goseigen does say Okada heard, “raise your hand and heal people of diseases”, correct? Even if it means facing legal action the supposed word of God should not be altered.

Anyway, I just found it interesting that a current member of Mahikari was having the same issues with the new site that we were. Might I add that Deborah received no response to her letter, not even a refusal to comment, just nothing. Guess that's the way Mahikari chooses to handle their issues, ignore it and it will go away.