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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When my children were 8 and 10 yrs old and not kumites, they agreed to go along to one of those Tai camps to see what SM youth were all about. They both came back absolutely disgusted with the youths' alienating behaviour towards them because they couldnt give light. Based on that experience they both were completely turned off SM. I never questioned their choices and am so glad I didnt force them into joining. If those SM youth are the beacons for the future then I really think standing under an unlit lamppost might be a better option. So how many kumites do we need to change a light bulb?

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Rosie said...

How many kumites do they need to change a light bulb.

Answer: NONE

By the time they have reported the matter Upstream to the kaicho>kanbu>CST>local HQ>Japan HQ>Seishu>Odairi and replied Downstream, the decision is made


6:45 PM  
Anonymous Kara said...

If anyone knows about what these kids are going through, it's you, Ash. Even after all this time, I can still tell you have been influenced by this sect. Sometimes when we have religious conversation you use loaded words like "impurities, divine, gratitude"... words like that which can set off the mind control. It amazes me to see how despite your convictions to leave and put Mahikari behind you, the impcat it has still had on you and the way you think.

6:14 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

You make some very interesting points in regard to a rather universal "problem", raising Morality, cultural mores, and religion are so tied together sometimes, it presents a real dilemma for parents, because I think most realize that yes, a child's inability to think abstractly until later in life requires some form of parental input for the child to not be raised as an animal.

I feel great pain for you, mostly because the information you received about an institution so ingrained into you by your parents was devastating, and I can sense the anger eating at you badly. To find out the truth about something that was pushed so hard is truly traumatic.

I don't know if this will help, but there are probably millions of children who have questioned, become disillusioned with, or left the religion in which they were raised, simply because the development of the adolescent brain and it's ability to see the world's contradictions, the plurality of cultures, and understanding the abstract. I hope you can find some peace in that as you make your way. Perhaps you can take a sense of whatever small things mahikari had in common with the worlds religions and remind yourself that you are a caring individual with a very beautiful attitude toward all of the peoples of the world. If anything good came out of this, it is that you are open-minded and able to accept a much bigger world than the pathological fanatics and concrete-bound, small minded people who create so much suffering in the world.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ono said...

Kumite Children are not being emotionally abused just because their parents are guiding them to the correct spiritual path. Until a child reaches the age of 18, it is a parents job to teach them right from wrong. Kumite parents must tell their children the importance of True Light and the consequences of not stepping up and taking their place as a True Child of God. It is their destiny, which is why God chose to bring them into the world through Mahikari parents. These children are the future, they alone are the ones who will determine the fate of mankind, whether the end of the world comes sometime soon or whether life continues on as is. You need to allow us how to decide to raise our children. Until they are an adult they need guidance; they do not know what is best for them.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi Mary,

Your stance on raising children in accordance with Sukyo Mahikari teachings sounds quite reasonable if...and this is a very big "if" are 100% sure that Sukyo Mahikari in fact is "the correct spiritual path".

Are you 100% sure? Can any kumite be 100% sure when the teachings are based on one man's claim that he received revelations from God? Many religious leaders have made similar claims. Are their paths also "the correct spiritual path"?

The statistical odds are that the majority of the current kumite children will grow up to reject Mahikari teachings eventually. At that time they will need to make the transition from the Mahikari perception of reality to their own new perception of reality. Let's hope these are tough kids, because that process is probably the most painful thing they will ever go through.

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Mary Ono said...

I am 100% sure that Sukyo Mahikari is the correct path. Our leader told us that other religions would pop up, but their knowledge of the divine is only psuedo-knowledge. Sukyo Mahikari is to be the link between them.

As for my children...they are all grown now and some have ceased going to Mahikari and from what I can see, none of them have had to grapple with any sort of after effects. They have merely gone on with their lives.

6:17 AM  
Anonymous KitKat said...

My daughter was hassled endlessly at Dojo until she agreed to do Kenshu - there was unremitting pressure...she thought that once she'd done it, the kanbu and kumite would stop bothering her, but it continued, only now it was "Come on, you need to give Light' instead of "Come on, do Kenshu, it's fun, don't you want to be able to give Light?"

I'm ashamed to say that I participated in encouraging her to do Kenshu, mainly because I was being pressured by Kanbu to have more kumite in my family - I was being judged too - if I didn't want to have my child do kenshu, what sort of kumite was I? Still, I didn't hassle her endlessly, and when she hated everything so much, I allowed her to stop wearing Omitama without a fuss.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous butterfly said...

Over the years I have observed children of kumites who were coerced into doing kenshu by their parents and staff members drop out of SM. Obviously they would have enough pressure coping with their educational curriculum and then combining it with all the SM dogma and rituals and "must dos" like spending hours daily giving and receiving light otherwise you wont be purified, its little wonder they want to get out of SM'S control and brainwashing otherwise they may end up totally messed up in the head. Putting such guilt on the shoulders of those as young as 10 is shameful. I am so grateful my children elected not to join SM.

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been a kumite for almost 12 years and yes the youth in Mahikari are cleverly controlled by the kanbus etc. Mahikari youth are very opiniated, rigid. Most of them do not see a life outside Mahikari

6:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am 16 years old and i am a member of the sukyo mahikari youth group and i believe its the most important thing in my life. it had made me a better person and stopped me from making some terrible decision. i would strongly recomend letting your children expirience the pleasure of being a youth member and expirience a fantastic way of life.

10:56 PM  
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9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate Mahikari. It has consumed four family members. It is a money driven organisation, should NOT have tax benefits and preys on vulnerable people. Cunts. Tebecis should be thrown out of the country. I would poke my eyes out with a fork before exposing my children to this garbage. Disgusting and disgraceful cult.

8:07 AM  

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