Mahikari Exposed

Mahikari in context

Psychic research, Chidori-kai, Omine Rosen, and Tenjo

Reproduced with permission from - After Mahikari...真光を離れて

You may recall from earlier blog posts that Sukyo Mahikari credits Dr. Nobuo Shioya and a spirit known as Omine Rosen with providing the explanations of Yoshikazu Okada's role of Yo. The SM primary kenshu textbook says that, the explanations in the kenshu text were explanations of the role of Yo based on divine revelations which a Dr. Shioya received from Omine Rosen on Dec. 24, 1948.

On the subject of Okada's divine roles and Tenjo, the SM secondary kenshu textbook says, As Sukuinushisama [Y. Okada] himself was surprised at the Divine Revelation, some of the Shinto sects who considered themselves to be the legitimate religion were also surprised. ……..[These people asked if they could] make a prayer for an indication from God about the identity of Sukuinushisama's soul and his mission. ………we will attempt to describe some of them [these roles] through a rough outline based on some parts of the Divine Revelation using the objective method of "Tenjo" (the heavenly-stick)…..end of which is a brush used in the automatic writing of Japanese.

The above quotes are the main explicit evidence within Sukyo Mahikari publications that indicate a historical link between Y. Okada and Chidori-kai, a psychic research group established around 1947 by Nobuo Shioya (1902- ) and Makoto Ogiwara (1910-1981) (founder of Makoto no Michi). [See note at end of article.]

You may recall from earlier posts that the Makoto no Michi group, one of the new post-war Japanese religious groups, uses Tenjo as a divination means and received "revelations" from the spirit known as Omine Rosen. Various Japanese websites which discuss Japanese new religions refer to an "association" between Y. Okada and Makoto no Michi. Also, contributors to Japanese Mahikari-related discussion sites cite various evidence that it was the Makoto no Michi people who performed the Tenjo investigation of Y. Okada's soul, in June 1960.

In my on-going quest for information that might answer the question of why Y. Okada decided to establish a new religion, and what shaped his teachings, we have been searching for more information about Nobuo Shioya, Omine Rosen, and tenjo. In the process, we stumbled across quite a lot of information about the historical and social context in which the Mahikari groups arose. It will require a series of blog posts to deal with the numerous connections between the various relevant personalities and religious groups. This first post focuses on Chidori-kai and Omine Rosen.

One useful resource has been a website, maintained by a representative of a group called the Shinri Kenkyukai (divine-principles research group), which claims to promote no particular religion, but which quotes extensively from material written by the founders of various new Japanese religions. According to this website, Chidori-kai was an association established jointly by Nobuo Shioya and Makoto Ogiwara for the purpose of psychic and spiritual research. A major focus of this research seems to have been the use of psychic or spiritualist means, including the use of spirit mediums and tenjo, in order to learn about the spirit world and receive divine guidance. Chidori-kai itself was not styled as a religion, and the participants in its meetings included many members of various new religions, including members of Sekai Kyusei Kyo (SKK) and Seicho no Ie.

We've seen no direct evidence that Y. Okada attended Chidori-kai meetings, but this is certainly a possibility to be considered. Y. Okada was a member of SKK at the time Chidori-kai was established (around 1947).

The above website includes accounts of Ogiwara deliberately entering a trance state in which the "divine spirit", Omine Rosen, spoke through him and answered questions asked by Shioya. Omine Rosen is credited with having given "revelations" to various people by various methods (I plan to write more about the influence of this "spirit" in future posts). Just briefly, for now, Shioya claims that he received revelations from this spirit over an 8-year period, from 1947 until 1955. Kura Fukuda, the woman that Mr. Tomita mentions as a practitioner of tekazashi in his letter that denies Y. Okada was a member of SKK, also claims to have received revelations from Omine Rosen. In addition, apparently, Masahisa Goi established his religion, Byakko Shinkokai, on the basis of a revelation from Omine Rosen. Even Chidori-kai itself was supposedly founded in response to divine will, as revealed through Ogiwara.

We've already seen, from the SM kenshu textbook, that Omine Rosen revealed the explanations of Y. Okada's Yo-related roles: acting for the god of Yo (Yonimasu Oamatsukamisama) in the physical world; the role of yonimasuhara concerning assisting with the divine plan; the role of karamara for helping to change the world from evil to virtue; and the God of Yo for bringing about a world of true harmony on earth in accordance with God's ideal.

This is pretty important stuff! One would have to be very confident that Omine Rosen was a divine spirit and not, for example, a fox spirit.

Perhaps I should digress for a moment at this point and suggest you look at this site, which talks about how easily people are fooled into thinking there is a paranormal explanation for ideomotor actions (actions which genuinely feel like they are not produced by oneself).

To return to the original story, the kenshu text says that the explanation of Y. Okada's role of Yo was revealed to Shioya by Omine Rosen on Dec. 24, 1948. However, according to Sukyo Mahikari, Okada was engrossed in paying off his wartime debts (rather than in religious activities) and did not receive his first revelation concerning establishing his religious organization until February 1959. The revelation in which Y. Okada claimed God told him about his role of Yo was dated May 15, 1959. So, what happened? Sometime after May 15 1959, did Y. Okada contact Shioya and ask if he knew anything about the meaning of "Yo"? Had Shioya noted down and dated the details of his revelation from Omine Rosen, just in case anyone needed to know?

Until recently, I assumed that Okada's association with Shioya must have begun after Okada was dismissed as a staff member of SKK, that is, after 1953 at the earliest. That was before I knew that some SKK members attended Chidori-kai meetings. Did Okada, perhaps, attend Chidori-kai gatherings as early as 1948?

We have not seen any direct evidence that places Y. Okada at Chidori-kai activities. The influence from Shioya could well have occurred later. However, it is interesting to look at the texts of some other "revelations" from Omine Rosen.

The following is a quote of part of a revelation Shioya claimed he received from Omine Rosen around 1947:

Humans have been continuing to behave incorrectly for a long time and have made their souls and bodies impure. However, the time has come when their sins and impurities must be scrubbed away. The earth has also become impure, and must also be cleansed, purified, and repaired. Accordingly, various cataclysms of nature (tenpenchii) will occur. Many people will die, but those who have purified their souls and bodies will survive these great purifications (Omisogi). Then, a heavenly country with true peace will be created in this purified world.

Sound familiar? The wording does not sound exactly like Y. Okada's teachings (perhaps because this is our rough translation of the quote!), but the meaning is an exact match for his teachings concerning the future of the world.

In a separate passage, again from Omine Rosen, Shioya says:

After this great upheaval, a world of true peace will be born. There will be no national borders, and the world will be one. However, there can be only one center in a truly peaceful world, and a world without a center is not true peace. The one who is assumed to become that center is the current Crown Prince [now the Emperor of Japan]. Mysterious phenomena appeared in heaven when the current Crown Prince was born.

Now, I don't remember seeing that particular content in Okada's teachings, but it is consistent with his teachings that, after the world had been purified by the convulsions of nature, the world would be united under a theocracy headed by Japan and its Emperor.

Incidentally, according to one of Shioya's predictions via Omine Rosen, the great convulsions of nature should have occurred between the year 2000 and 2005, and according to another quote from Shioya, the peak can be expected between the year 2000 and 2009. If all this talk of doom and gloom is making anyone nervous about the next couple of years, please take a look at this enormously long list of all the end-of-the-world predictions that have failed between 2,800BCE and now!

The Shinri Kenkyukai site also quotes from revelations that Kura Fukuda claimed that she received from Omine Rosen, as follows:

Each of the sounds, a-i-u-e-o etc., of the 51 Japanese syllables (since three of them occur twice, there are actually 48 sounds) has a meaning, and each row, such as the "a" row, "ka" row, etc., has a meaning. Each of these 51 sounds contains an extremely profound meaning. Solving these meanings enables the history of mankind to be understood, and enables the future state of the world to be predicted. Human history has been unfolding in the sequence of the 51 sounds, and is currently entering the era of the storms of ra-ri-ru-re-ro.

In a quote from other revelations from a different spirit, Kura Fukuda says:

In the "a" row, the world began. In the "ka" row, the gods appeared. In the "sa" row, crops were made. In the "ta" row, the history of wars began. The "na" row was a time of elaborate civilization. The "ha" row was the time of the spread of knowledge leading to prosperity. The "ma" row was a time of conflict between good and evil, and between holiness and worldliness. The "ya" row is the time when God's divine plan is understood. The "ra" row is the increasing turbulence at the end time, in which violent convulsions of nature (tenpenchii) occur. After these trials, there is the "wa" row when everything is peace. A wonderful, wonderful world will come about.

I don't remember exactly where I heard those teachings, but I remember something very similar, in one of the Sukyo Mahikari kenshus I think. Incidentally, the website also includes other writings about these 51 (some say 50) sounds, and the website author notes that Nobuo Shioya also received the same teachings from Omine Rosen, in 1950.

The above quotes are just a fraction of the familiar-sounding material that is credited to people other than Y. Okada on that site, but it is enough to raise an awful lot of questions. "Where, or what, or who, exactly, was the source of Okada's supposed revelations?", and "Where do any "revelation" experiences come from?"

Note re Makoto no Michi: The information we originally had stated that Shioya and Ogiwara co-founded Chidori-kai, which then changed its name to Makoto no Michi, and that Shioya subsequently split from Makoto no Michi and formed his own religious group, called Makoto no Michi Kyokai, in 1955. Now I'm not sure what happened. The Makoto no Michi site says that it was founded by Ogiwara, not both men. Was Makoto no Michi established as a religious body alongside the pan-religious Chidori-kai, for example, rather than replacing it? Certainly, Chidori-kai and Makoto no Michi seem to have many practices and influences in common.

Mahikari in context (2): Origins of psychic research in Japan

In the previous post, I started with the information in Sukyo Mahikari printed material concerning Dr. Shioya and the Omine Rosen spirit, and worked backwards towards Makoto no Michi and the Chidori-kai psychic research group. Ironically, working backwards in this way, SM's connection with psychic mediums seemed like a new and rather startling discovery (shocking, even, given Y. Okada's strong criticism of such practices in his teachings). However, now that we are looking for information on websites that discuss the history and influence of psychic research, it seems we are simply the last to know about this connection! One site simply states that Okada's Mahikari group developed from Makoto no Michi as if this were common knowledge.

In this post, I am going to have a look at the connections between earlier pre-war Japanese psychic research groups and Chidori-kai, and see what influence these may have had on the emergence of new religions.
Incidentally, in the West, "psychic research" usually implies some sort of attempt to scientifically test claimed paranormal abilities. However, the "psychic research" practiced by Chidori-kai and earlier similar groups seems to have been the use of "psychic" methods to "research" the nature of the spirit world and "divine truths".

As many scholars have noted, there is a strong shamanistic element in the new religions of Japan. The founders of many of these religions claimed to have received revelations in some form or other; via automatic writing, dreams, or through being possessed by spirits (spirits of dead people, divine spirits, and gods) who spoke through them. Sometimes these "possessions" were spontaneous, and at other times there were deliberately induced via trance-producing ascetic practices in order to ask spirits or gods for information. Many of these founders also practiced some form of spiritual healing, such as tekazashi.

The information conveyed by psychic means was sometimes quite mundane. However, in cases where the person receiving the spirit communication believed that the source was a messenger god or a divine spirit, the information was regarded as revealing important divine truths and became part of the religious doctrine of the relevant religious group.

In Japan's long history of shamanistic, divination, and psychic practices, Omoto, founded by Nao Deguchi (1836-1918), is a relative newcomer. Deguchi had a "spirit dream"…and thereafter became possessed (kamigakari) by a spirit that began to speak through her…she began to record the deity's words in automatic writing. Due to her reputation for prophecies and faith healing her followers grew in number. Later she collaborated with Onisaburo Deguchi to establish a system based on her automatic writings and his spirit studies (a method of mediated spirit possession). After Asano Wasaburo (a teacher at Japan's Naval College), joined the group in 1916 and began proselytizing activities on its behalf, various intellectuals and high-ranking military officials began to join its ranks.

Apparently, the main thing that attracted Asano to Omoto was a practice called Chinkon Kishin: chinkon refers to the procedures for healing and directing spirits; by extension, it also refers to joining a deity's spirit [with a human subject]. Kishin means possession by the spirit of a kami [god]. One type of kishin is abrupt and spontaneous while another is humanly induced through the process of chinkon.. According to the Aikido Journal, when Onisaburo Deguchi introduced this technique to Omoto, A variety of people began practicing chinkon kishin, but as they began to experience divine inspirations, the Omoto order was thrown into somewhat of a pandemonium. You see, during such divine inspirations most spirits will appropriate the name of some other more "correct" spirit, which the inspired person will believe to be its true name and identity. The little country town of Ayabe was beset by a sort of divine rush-hour. Deguchi therefore banned this practice, but revived it again in 1916 and taught it to Asano.

Several sites mention that Asano's influence within Omoto was so great that it was debatable whether Asano belonged to Omoto, or the other way around. According to the Nihon Shinrei Kagaku Kyokai site (日本心霊科学協会 - Japanese Psychic Science Association), Asano was arrested along with other Omoto staff members in 1921 (the "first Omoto incident"), which led to him leaving Omoto and returning to Tokyo, where he established this psychic science group in 1923.

This section of the Encyclopedia of Shinto states that the introduction of Western occultism and Theosophy (about 1905 to 1910) lead to the development of psychic research, as promoted by Wasaburo Asano. These investigations of the spirit realm were carried out through the actions of spiritual mediums and clairvoyants.

Another imported influence was the Fu Ji divination technique (Tenjo). Fu Ji was practiced by the Chinese Dao Yuan group, founded in 1921, and was introduced to Omoto via the charitable arm of Dao Yuan, the World Red Swastika Society. The Shinri Kenkyukai site has this to say about Tenjo:

Tenjo is the term used for divine words produced by the action of spirits. This is called Fu Ji in China, but in Chidori-kai we call it "Tenjo", because this means "stick of heaven" (ten no jo). Using this, we can learn all things: the true principles of the universe, the real state of affairs, the past, the present, and the future.

The ends of a T-shaped stick are held by two people who sit facing each other and concentrate. A brush hanging from the center of the stick moves automatically and writes very quickly, but the direction of the writing is not obvious. One day, we were given the Tenjo "真鈴真喜", but the brush moved freely, writing from the top, then the bottom, so that at first we could not understand what was being written. We didn't know what had been written till after the writing was finished.

As you probably know, Mokichi Okada, the founder of SKK, was originally a member (and a missionary) of Omoto. According to the book Okada Mokichi Meshiasama to wa, quoted on the Shinri Kenkyukai website, Mokichi Okada attended a Fu Ji (Tenjo) session at the Omoto headquarters in March 1930. On that occasion, the word "Jo" (purification) was written in large writing, and alongside in small writing was "Okada Mokichi". This could be seen as implying his mission to purify and save the world. He started his own healing center, but did not actually leave Omoto and start his own group until 1935. Perhaps the idea to do so began with this divination.

The founder of Seicho no Ie, Masaharu Taniguchi (1893-1985), was also originally a member of Omoto. He left Omoto in 1925 and joined Asano's psychic science group. In 1929, Taniguchi received a revelation which told him to "Arise now!", which he interpreted as meaning he should start publishing his spiritual doctrines in a magazine, called Seicho no Ie, and eventually led to the establishment of his religious group. Several sources, including the Encyclopedia of Shinto, say that Taniguchi was a member of Asano's psychic research group but, perhaps not surprisingly, I've found no mention of this particular influence on Taniguchi on any of the English sites I've seen so far that promote Seicho no Ie.

Wasaburo Asano's name pops up again as an influence on Yutaro Yano, who founded the short-lived Shinsei Ryujinkai (Theocratic Dragon Deity Association) in 1934. Yano was also an instructor at the Japanese Naval Academy, and became interested in Omoto via Asano and Asano's brother, who was a Vice-Admiral. Yano visited the Omoto headquarters in 1917, where he received the Chinkon Kishin ritual from Wasaburo Asano. In 1929 Yano's wife Shin began to experience divine possessions and to produce "revelations" (shinji)……[other] conditions were also influential in his eventual organization of a shamanistic religious group.

Yano was strongly influenced by yet another factor, namely his encounter [in 1930] with the religion Amatsukyo and the so-called Takeuchi Document (Takeuchi monjo) which the group possessed. Amatsukyo was a religious movement led by Takeuchi Kiyomaro [1874-1965], priest of the Koso Kotai Jingu……the "Takeuchi Document" claimed that the Japanese emperor was ruler not merely of the nation and people of Japan, but of all the peoples of the entire world..

Yano's Shinsei Ryujinkai lasted less than 18 months, and as of May 1935 had only about 60 members, but these members included members of Japan's nobility, a retired army colonel, and navy commander Kaseda Tetsuhiko. According to information (not yet verified) on one of the Japanese Mahikari discussion sites, Nobuo Shioya was also a member. Shioya, too, was rather well-connected. He ran a flourishing medical clinic in Tokyo, and claimed that he successfully treated the Empress using some form of tekazashi.

So, what was it that led Shioya and Ogiwara to establish the Chidori-kai psychic research group after the war? Were they also perhaps influenced by Asano's psychic science group? The Encyclopedia of Shinto says this of Makoto Ogiwara (1910-1981), who eventually founded Makoto no Michi: Having experienced paranormal powers since before World War II, Ogiwara began participating as a psychic in a spiritualist research group in 1947. In time, Ogiwara and medical doctor Shioya Nobuo (1902- ) together founded a spiritual cultivation society called Chidorikai in response to the divine will revealed through Ogiwara.

This Encyclopedia of Shinto entry gives no further details of Ogiwara's pre-war experiences or of the group in which Ogiwara participated after the war and before founding the Chidori-kai group. According to information on this site, Ogiwara went to Manchuria and the Japanese colony in Korea, where he became famous for his spiritualism meetings. He returned to Japan at the request of Hideto Oda (1896-1989), who had founded a psychic research group called the Kikka-kai (chrysanthemum society), and met Asano in 1936.

Information quoted on the Shinri Kenkyukai site indicates a close association between Ogiwara and Oda. A younger psychic who participated in Oda's group, Mitsutomo Takeuchi, also participated in psychic endeavours with Ogiwara and received training from Ogiwara. (I don't know if this Takeuchi was part of the family who possessed the Takeuchi document or not.) The above site also indicates a close association between Oda and Asano, and says that Oda's Kikka-kai group was financially sponsored by Omoto.

Asano died in 1937, and his group ceased activities during the war, but this group began functioning again, as the Japanese Psychic Science Association, soon after the war ended. Nobuo Shioya's younger brother, Tsutomu Shioya (1911-1998), was an advisor to this group. Tsutomu Shioya published a number of books, including "Rei wa Ikiteiru" (spirits are "alive") in which he described a psychic research meeting he attended where Oda and Mitsutomo Takeuchi demonstrated various paranormal phenomena, transmitted "guidance" from spirits, and so on.

The exact relationships between all the people mentioned above are not all that clear but, despite the disruption of activities during the war years, there seem to be several different chains of influence stretching from Asano and Omoto in 1916, through to the post-war Chidori-kai. Ogiwara's supposed channelling of the voices of spirits appears to be a continuation of Asano's tradition of using psychic means to seek "divine guidance".

According to the website of the current Makoto no Michi group, Ogiwara established the Chidori-kai psychic research group in 1948. They held meetings for communicating with spirits, and began receiving the "revelations" from divine spirits which form the basis of Makoto no Michi teachings. Chidori-kai was registered as a religious body in 1949, with Ogiwara as its first Oshienushi. Chidori-kai was renamed as Makoto no Michi in 1952.

You'll notice that there is no mention of Nobuo Shioya. I imagine he was "written out" of Makoto no Michi history (much like Sekiguchi has been written out of Sukyo Mahikari history) after he formed a separate group, called Makoto no Michi Kyokai, in 1955.

Its not clear at what point Chidori-kai stopped being a "research group", attended by members of other religions such as SKK and Seicho no Ie, and started being a separate "religious group". Before that change, however, at least one other new religion was born, as noted in the previous post.

According to the Encyclopedia of Shinto, Masahisa Goi (1916-1980), the founder of Byakko Shinkokai, originally practiced some form of faith healing. After the war, be became an instructor in Taniguchi's Seicho no Ie and, at the same time, he also attended meetings of the Chidori-kai, a group engaging in psychic experiments, and he experienced paranormal phenomena so frequently that leading an ordinary life became impossible. In 1949, he left Chidori-kai and began week-long fasts, after which he became one with the divine. The next day he experienced union with Shakyamuni and Jesus. This led to Goi leaving Seicho no Ie, and his followers established a group of supporters in 1951. This group was later registered under its current name, in 1955.

On the Shinri Kenkyukai site, Goi himself is quoted as saying that the Chidori-kai Omine Rosen spirit encouraged him to leave Seicho no Ie and train to develop his spiritual abilities. On this occasion, too, Omine Rosen supposedly materialized his voice via the ectoplasm of the spirit medium Ogiwara.

So, what is the relevance of the above to Yoshikazu Okada and his Mahikari groups?

The first consideration should be whether or not any psychic phenomena are genuine. The quack-watch people do a pretty good job of exposing such things as mere smoke and mirrors. Next, we should ask if the apparently involuntary actions involved in automatic writing, channelling of "voices", Tenjo, etc., are produced by the practitioners subconscious via the ideomotor effect, rather than by spirits. Anyone who does consider such things to be the work of spirits should then question whether the source of such communications can be trusted. Are such communications "divine" guidance and teachings, or are they from some lesser source?

Regardless of which of these options seem believable to us, the people who attended the psychic research meetings conducted by Asano, Ogiwara, and Shioya appear to have believed that these men were sincere, and that the information they transmitted was legitimate. This information appears to have contributed, at least in part, to the decisions to form several of the new Japanese religions, and has shaped much of their doctrine. The founders of these religions, between them, have managed to convince millions of people (temporarily, at least) that the teachings of their particular founder were divinely inspired. That is a frightening amount of power! What if the spirits speaking through these men were fox spirits? What if it was all smoke and mirrors?

As stated in the previous post, we do not know if Y. Okada actually attended Chidori-kai meetings. We do know, however, that he quoted Shioya and the Omine Rosen spirit in his kenshu textbooks. We know that he claimed that the Tenjo investigation of his soul was proof that God had given him the role of Yo. Thus, regardless of whether or not Y. Okada participated personally in psychic research activities, we know that he considered communications from the Omine Rosen spirit to be reliable and legitimate. This places the Mahikari groups firmly in the context of the Japanese tradition of psychic research outlined above.

In the preface of Goseigen, Y. Okada claims: These holy words contained in this collection of holy words are revelations that have been given to me by Su God, the Creator of heaven and earth, through a messenger deity….Following God's guidance, I have started to transmit and propagate the teachings.

Who was this "messenger deity"? Shioya and Ogiwara regarded Omine Rosen as a "divine spirit", rather than a deity, but they did apparently regard him as transmitting divine truths about matters of grave importance. Would Okada have "twisted the truth" a little and used "messenger deity" to refer to Omine Rosen? Is it possible that Okada, too, was encouraged to start a new religion by Omine Rosen or some other spirit? (Or should I say, encouraged to do so by a psychic medium who appeared to transmit the voice of a spirit?)

This of course is just speculation…there could well be some other explanation for the similarities between the teachings of Y. Okada, Ogiwara, Shioya, Kura Fukuda, and the pre-war Shinsei Ryujinkai group. (More on the latter group in the next post…)

Incidentally, for me personally, it would make more sense if Okada had claimed that a divine spirit called Omine Rosen had told him, "Rise. Your name shall be Kotama. The world shall enter severe times", back in 1948, rather than that God had told him that in 1959. At least the "Kotama" part would then predate Okada's use of that name when he was an SKK staff member.

Mahikari in context (3): Imperialism and military indoctrination

Part 2 of this series of posts looked at the Japanese tradition of psychic research into "divine" matters, from Wasaburo Asano and Omoto in the early 1900s, through to the post-war Chidori-kai group. You may have noticed that several of the people mentioned in that context were high-level Japanese Navy personnel. This prompted me to consider the possibility of some sort of military influence on the course of Japanese psychic research, or vice versa, or a bit of both. This question is especially relevant since Yoshikazu Okada himself was an officer in the military.

As mentioned in the previous post, Asano (who founded his psychic science group in 1923) was an instructor at the Japanese Naval Academy, and his brother was a Vice-Admiral. Due to their joint influence, many high-ranking military officials joined Omoto. Omoto had at one stage banned the practice of Chinkon Kishin, whereby the practitioner hopes to be temporarily possessed by the spirit of a deity, but Onisaburo Deguchi revived this practice due to Asano's interest in this technique, and taught it to Asano in 1916. Yutaro Yano, who eventually founded the Shinsei Ryujinkai group, was another instructor at the Naval Academy. He became interested in Omoto when he received the Chinkon Kishin ritual from Asano in 1917. Was it just coincidence that these men were Naval Officers? Why were they so interested in psychic divination mechanisms?

Let's look at what else these men did. Remember, by this time, Japan had already had one war with China, which ended in 1895, and had colonized Taiwan and Korea. Japan already had troops stationed in mainland China, and was intent on acquiring influence, territory and resources there.

Yano resigned from his position in the Navy in 1923, and later went to China where he became am arms merchant for the Japanese military. He was also involved in planning a trip that Onisaburo Deguchi and Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) made to Manchuria in 1924. Ueshiba was an Omoto devotee and the founder of Aikido. He gave Aikido instruction to numerous high-level military people he had met through Deguchi, and also became a martial arts instructor at the Naval Academy. According to this Aikido Journal article, Ueshiba, too, was originally attracted to Omoto out of interest in the Chinkon Kishin ritual, in 1919. The details are not clear, but it seems Deguchi and Ueshiba's trip was part of some sort of a military scheme towards establishment of a Japanese state in Manchuria, and Yano was the intermediary between Omoto, the Japanese military, and regional Chinese military leaders. This attempt failed, but the military later concocted an "incident" which gave them an excuse to invade Manchuria in 1931, and led to the establishment of a puppet government there under Japanese control.

So far that is four people who were reportedly very interested in the Chinkon Kishin spirit possession technique, and who also happened to be, or have connections with, high-level military personnel.

As mentioned in Part 2, Masaharu Taniguchi, the founder of Seicho no Ie, originally was a member of Omoto, but he left Omoto and joined Asano's psychic science group soon after Asano established it. The present Seicho no Ie website makes no mention of this background. H. Neill McFarland, in The Rush Hour of the Gods (1963), p.151, on the subject of Taniguchi's motivation for establishing his group, says that the orthodox explanation is that in 1929, Taniguchi received the divine message that the material does not exist-there is only "jisso" (reality), the divine life of the mind, the original and essential character of man. McFarland makes no specific mention of Asano's psychic research group. By the time McFarland was researching Seicho no Ie, in the early 60s, perhaps Taniguchi was already downplaying his connection with Asano. McFarland says of Taniguchi, He attended a seance of a spiritualist medium, and while he knew that the whole show was faked, he was much surprised and impressed by the eloquence of the medium.

Now, this is interesting. Did Taniguchi tell McFarland personally that he knew the whole show was faked? Once Taniguchi had established a reputation as a person who channelled the words of God whenever he put pen to paper, did he perhaps wish to discredit the "revelations" other people received within psychic research circles? The content of the Shinri Kenkyukai website gives the strong impression that Taniguchi (and the founders of other new religious groups) believed that these psychic activities were genuine, and a legitimate source of "divine truth". Did Taniguchi actually know it was fake?

This raises the interesting question of whether any of the core practitioners and promoters of psychic research into spiritual matters actually believed what they were doing was genuine. Perhaps they did. After all, the involuntary speaking that occurs during so-called spirit movement and spirit investigation in Mahikari centers can appear to be proof that spirits exist and can talk through people. When one considers alternate possible explanations of such phenomena, such as the ideomotor effect, this "proof" is not so convincing, but many practitioners of Mahikari seem to believe the spirit explanation.

The other possibility is that core figures, such as Asano, Oda, and Ogiwara, did deliberately fake the whole thing. If so, why?

It occurs to me that the spokespeople for "divine spirits" and "gods", during seances or similar, had the potential to wield enormous power, provided of course that they could convince people that their "revelations" were genuine. If the spokespeople themselves were fooled by the ideomotor effect, for example, into thinking that they did channel divine words, then their own beliefs would naturally shape the content of those words. If the attitudes of these people had already been shaped by cultural factors, such as military expansionist propaganda, Emperor worship, and nationalistic Japanese Buddhist doctrines, then it would not be surprising to find nationalistic elements in their "revelations". And we do find that.

Numerous of the new pre- and post-war religious groups, including the ones discussed here, have some sort of notion of a divine plan, in which the world is due for a renewal and rebuilding process, possibly involving the advent of a messiah and apocalyptic events, after which worldwide peace will prevail under a theocracy headed by Japan and the Emperor. Sukyo Mahikari teachings give the impression that this sort of scenario was revealed only to Y. Okada, rather than that he was just one in a long line of leaders who promoted remarkably similar doctrines.

At first glance, this may seem to have little connection with military propaganda, but Japan's military expansion into Asia was promoted as being a "holy war", waged for the purpose of achieving world peace. The Imperial rescript concerning the Tripartite alliance, in 1940, began with, It has been the great instruction bequeathed by Amaterasu that our grand moral obligation be extended in all directions and the world unified under one roof…. We believe that to let all nations seek their proper places and myriad peoples enjoy the piping times of peace are enterprises of unexampled magnitude.

According to The Way of the Subjects, an official document distributed by the Education Ministry and made compulsory reading, until East Asia and the world are united as one on the basis of moral principles, Japan's indefatigable efforts are sorely needed….. Japan's mission of constructing the world on a moral basis originated in the empire-founding itself. ...[Japan] is based on this theocracy: the Emperor rules and reigns his state with a solemn mind of serving the Gods.

Part of the war policy, approved by the Emperor, Cabinet, and Chiefs of Staff around 1941 was The Imperial Government is determined to follow a policy which will result in the establishment of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere and world peace, no matter what international developments take place. (McFarland, pp. 245-249)

You'll notice that the avowed ultimate aim in all the above is world unity under a Japanese theocracy, and world peace. Is this the same sort of world peace that the post-war religious groups all talk about?

The people of Japan were encouraged to believe that they were a superior and benevolent race, and that the people of the rest of Asia would be grateful for Japan's moral and civilizing effect, and glad to be liberated from Western colonial rule. (That last part may have been correct, if it weren't for the millions of deaths and incalculable suffering caused in the process.)

The religions of Japan, including the Zen Buddhists and many of the new religions, not just Shinto, actively supported the war. Given the extent of censorship and suppression of dissent, they would not have survived as religions if they hadn't. Even so, I can't help wondering who influenced whom. Did the nationalistic environment in which Japan's new religions arose shape the "revelations" they received? Or, were military figures specifically attracted to the various psychic research groups because they recognized the potential for using "divine truths" (faked or otherwise) to achieve popular support for their expansionist aims? The world's bloodiest wars have been (and are) religious wars.

Certainly, religious teachings were used to spur on the armed forces. Any man killed in active combat was assured a place in the Yasukuni Shrine as a kami (god). Combatants were taught that karma is inescapable…if they were destined to be killed, they would be, regardless of what they did….and that the best way to die was in service to the Emperor. If they died that way, their families could rejoice in the guarantee that they would be reincarnated as humans within Japan (rather than in a lesser country). The notion of karma makes life way too cheap for my liking.

But I have digressed. I was talking about what various religious groups and leaders actually did. Seicho no Ie distributed its magazines at factories, where they apparently reduced anti-war sentiment and increased productivity of goods essential for the war effort. Taniguchi wrote and distributed slogans which stated that Japan would win the war, since he believed that words had the power to control events. In 1939, Taniguchi's group established the Seicho no Ie East Asia Mutual Harmony Society to send missionaries to spread his teachings in China and Manchuria. At the time, according to McFarland, the government was trying to make religious organizations propaganda agencies of the militarist effort, and since Taniguchi seems to have been an excessively vigorous advocate of militarism and Emperor worship, his missionary activity was allowed (or encouraged). As with other missionaries, part of their role was to promote pro-Japanese sentiment in occupied areas, and possibly also to double as military informers.

In post war years, Seicho no Ie has vigorously supported various nationalist causes, such as the movement to revise the constitution and restore the sovereignty of the Emperor. Wikipedia lists the post-war basic tenets of Seicho no Ie here. For what it's worth, some of these sound rather like Mahikari doctrine. This site also shows their pre-war logo, which has that "rotating" reverse swastika, like the one on the Mahikari Tai badge. Their logo is now a white dove with the words "International peace by faith". Let's hope they've also changed the way they think world peace should be achieved.

As mentioned above, Yutaro Yano was originally a Naval Academy instructor, and had close connections with Asano, Deguchi, and Ueshiba. According to Michihito Tsushima, in Emperor and World Renewal in the New Religions, Yano closely studied the revelations of Nao Deguchi, as well as those of other groups peripheral to Omoto, and the revelations which his own wife received. Yano thus continued to consolidate his own novel religious thought regarding rebuilding and renewal of the world, but he was also greatly influenced by Amatsukyo and the Takeuchi document.

The Takeuchi document was supposedly written in divine-age characters (kamiyo moji), and recorded the lineage of Japanese Emperors back to the beginnings of time. The significance of this, according to Tsushima, was that the Takeuchi document claimed that the Japanese emperor was ruler not merely of the nation and people of Japan, but of all the peoples of the entire world. It is thus not at all strange that this movement showed itself able to attract the attention of certain nationalists and military figures who were sensitive to the issue of a "crisis of legitimation". This was one the "ancient documents" that Y. Okada supposedly stumbled across after he started receiving "revelations" from God, and he cites it as evidence of the "true history" of the world, including his claim that all civilizations began in Japan. Serious scholars regard this document as a fake, but numerous people studied it eagerly in the 20s and 30s, so it is quite likely that Y. Okada was aware of it at that time.

Yano came across the Takeuchi document in 1930. In 1933 he established the Shinpo Hosankai (Sacred Treasures Service Association), with headquarters in his Yotsuya (Tokyo) home.....the association was dedicated to educating and eulogizing regarding the true nature of Japan's "national polity" (kokutai), thus lifting Japan from its current national crisis and contributing toward the achievement of world peace. Then, in November 1934, Yano established the Shinsei Ryujinkai. Its members included Count and Countess Uesugi Kensho, Akaike Atsushi (a member of the House of Peers), retired army colonel Takashima Misaku, viscount Tajiri Tetsutaro, and navy commander Kaseda Tetsuhiko.…and probably Nobuo Shioya.

Despite the fact that the Takeuchi document, and the resultant doctrine adopted by Yano and Takeuchi, supported the notion that the Emperor was divine and the rightful world leader, Shinsei Ryujinkai and Amatsukyo were both suppressed on grounds that they were disrespectful to the current Emperor. Yano died in jail, but Takeuchi revived his group (under the name Dainichikyo) in the post-war climate of religious freedom. Even in that climate, in which hundreds of new religious groups were allowed to form, this group was ordered to disband in 1950 because of its advocacy of ultranationalism, according to the Encyclopedia of Shinto.

In the early post-war years, Shioya and Ogiwara established the Chidori-kai research group, and its meetings were attended by many Seicho no Ie and SKK members. As noted in the previous post, it is possible that these included Y. Okada, but we don't know. Okada's association with Shioya may have begun later (or earlier). We do know that Shioya's "revelations" received from the spirit known as Omine Rosen at this time included the prospect of purification of the world via a major cataclysm, followed by world renewal, then world peace under a theocracy centering on the Emperor. The cataclysm details may have been new "information", but the concept of world renewal under the Emperor certainly wasn't.

We personally don't have a lot of information concerning Makoto no Michi, but various contributors to Japanese Internet discussion sites mention that many ex-military people were attracted to Makoto no Michi (which grew out of the Chidori-kai group), and that the membership of the split-off group, Makoto no Michi Kyokai (established by Shioya), was particularly strongly right-wing. One of its members was Kafu Nakada, at whose house the Tenjo investigation of Okada's soul reportedly took place. It seems fairly certain, as discussed earlier in this series of posts, that Y. Okada was associated in one way or another with one or both of these groups.

One discussion site contributor reports that Makoto no Michi Kyokai is mentioned often in the early editions of the The Mahikari magazine, and that a 1962 copy of the Makoto no Michi Kyokai magazine, Seiwa, refers to Y. Okada as a Yo person and leader of the "Mahikari" group of Makoto no Michi Kyokai members. Incidentally, this was two years after Okada claimed (according to the Mahikari secondary kenshu textbook) that people of the Shinto sects not specifically connected with the Yokoshi tomo-no-kai (the name of Y. Okada's original group from 1959 till 1963) had confirmed his role of Yo, and it was one year before Okada changed the name of his group to Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan. This is odd.

I've often wondered why I've not been able to find any information in the Shinto Encyclopedia for example, or elsewhere, about the Makoto no Michi Kyokai group, or any evidence of the continued existence of this group. Did Shioya simply disband this group? According to one contributor, it was public knowledge amongst early Makoto no Michi people that some of the Makoto no Michi Kyokai people, including their so-called "Mahikari" group of members, recombined as Okada's new Yokoshi Tomo no Kai group. Another contributor claims to have heard from an old member of the Yokoshi Tomo no Kai group that some of their members came from Makoto no Michi Kyokai, and that Tenjo (fu ji) was practiced in the early days of the Yokoshi Tomo no Kai group.

I certainly hope that someone with access to original resources will be able to check all the above information from Japanese discussion sites sometime soon. If all this information is correct, then this means that Y. Okada was still a member of Makoto no Michi Kyokai as late as 1962, that is, for several years after founding his Yokoshi Tomo no Kai group in 1959 (supposedly in response to the first revelation in Goseigen). In other words, it was a group that he currently belonged to, not some disinterested party, that performed the Tenjo investigation of his soul in 1960. It would also mean that Okada simply used the name of a specific group of Makoto no Michi Kyokai members, known as the "Mahikari" group, when he changed the name of the Yokoshi Tomo no Kai group to Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan (commonly abbreviated as simply "Mahikari") in 1963 when he registered it as a religion. If correct, the above information might also explain what happened to the Makoto no Michi Kyokai group. Perhaps part of it simply morphed into being Yokoshi Tomo no Kai, then SMBK.

So, who were the other right-wing members of Makoto no Michi Kyokai, apart from Shioya? If the above information is correct, perhaps these were the ones who followed Okada into Yokoshi Tomo no Kai. I wonder if these people included Okada's military academy classmates, Matsudaira and Tomomori, who later became SMBK kanbu, and ultimately became influential leaders within Sukyo Mahikari. Does anyone know when these two joined SMBK (or Yokoshi Tomo no Kai)?

Y. Okada claimed that the doctrine he taught was sourced from divine revelations that he personally received, starting in 1959 (SM secondary kenshu textbook, pp. 1-2). I've been trying to think if Okada's core concepts include anything that I've not seen in the doctrine of earlier religious groups, such as Makoto no Michi, Omoto and SKK, or in Buddhist military propaganda, or in the Chidori-kai Omine Rosen revelations, or in the various "ancient documents", such as the Takeuchi document. Perhaps the 27 okiyome points were new? Perhaps the heavy emphasis on the daily practice of okiyome was new. For a moment I thought that the instruction to build Suza was new, but then I remembered that, in 1934, Yano had begun construction of a "Temple for the Harmonizing of the Deities of Heaven and Earth". Of course I don't know every word of Y. Okada's teachings, so there might be something else of significance that was original.

In short, the content of Y. Okada's teachings, and especially his explicit citation of revelations from Omine Rosen (via Shioya) as valid explanations concerning his role of Yo, and his citation of the Tenjo "proof" that he was the person who had the role of Yo, firmly place Okada in the context of Japan's tradition of psychic research into divine matters. Where does Okada fit in terms of the threads of this current post, namely the military, the war years, world peace, world renewal, Japan, and the Emperor?

The SM organization refers with obvious pride to Okada's military career as an officer. We actually know nothing about what Okada did or did not do in terms of military combat, since he reportedly happened to develop health problems on the two occasions he was sent to combat zones, and was sent back to Japan. However, there is no hint of criticism or regret from Y. Okada concerning Japan's wartime activities. When he was retired from the army for health reasons in 1941, Okada was told he had only three years to live. His response to that news was to reflect that God had made his body, and that he should therefore discard all medical attempts at a cure and leave everything up to God. He decided he should devote what was left of his life to serving God. At this point in the story, the first time I heard it, my cultural background meant that I more-or-less expected to hear "he then devoted himself to feeding the poor", or something similar. In fact, the story ends with the statement that Okada then converted his family's textile factory into facilities for manufacturing war planes.

As recently as 2006, in his monthly teachings, Koya Okada (the current acting leader of SM) referred to when most of the countries of Asia suffered under the colonial rule of the Western powers. As an Asian country, Japan tried to liberate these countries. The English edition of these teachings (I don't know about the Japanese edition) was subsequently edited to remove "of the Western powers" and the final sentence. That he made this statement at all indicates that the leadership of SM still promotes a very distorted version of Japan's wartime activities. In addition, it is compulsory for all doshi trainees at SM's kunrenbu to learn to recite from memory the Imperial Rescript on Education. This applies equally to non-Japanese trainees, most of whom have little or no understanding of the words they are reciting.

In Yano's writings about the divine plan and world renewal, he was quite explicit that Japan's Emperor would rule the world after world renewal. Shioya stated that the world peace after the predicted cataclysm would have the Emperor as its "center". I don't recall anything quite that explicit in the SM teachings available in English. Y. Okada did teach that all civilizations emanated from Japan, that Japan was the "head" country and other countries were "branch" countries, and that the Emperor ruled the entire world in ancient times. He also taught that the Emperor was divine, that the heavenly world after the Baptism of Fire would be a theocracy, that the whole world would be united, and that there would be world peace.

The question is, what sort of "world peace" did Okada mean? Is this the sort of world peace that non-Japanese members of Sukyo Mahikari might assume he meant…some sort of war-free world where each country retains its autonomy and culture, without impinging on other countries, and where perhaps equality and individual freedoms are the norm? Or, did Okada mean the type of "world peace", under the Japanese Emperor, that Japan's military leaders were aiming at when they were attempting to seize control over Asia?

I hate to think that the enthusiasm displayed by non-Japanese members of Sukyo Mahikari, concerning striving to achieve the world peace promised by Y. Okada, might be based on a huge cultural misunderstanding about what Okada actually meant by the word "peace".

Last Modified: 16 June 2010