I joined Mahikari in 1986, when I was only 21. I got deeply involved
very quickly. I was a Hancho (group leader) for many years, and did a
lot of service for the Dojo, including producing the monthly Dojo
schedules, illustrations for the journal, posters for the Dojo, service
at Ceremonies, and of course the ever-present money donations. It wasn't
until 2000, 14 years on, that I finally got up the courage to
leave. Even then, it took a slide into severe depression and chronic ill
health to make me start changing, and months of counselling to help me
make the decision.
Like so many others, I was kept in this deceptive group by fear of
what would happen to me if I left, and guilt for just about everything.
I never felt that I was good enough, that I deserved all the difficult
things in my life, that I never did enough for God, was never
enthusiastic enough - even when I was dragging my kids to Dojo two or
three times a week, I felt that it wasn't enough. I despised myself most
of the time. Even after 9 years as a kumite I wrote in my diary that I
had no enthusiasm for giving Light or following Mahikari any more, and I
didn't know how to regain this enthusiasm. But I was determined to be
one of those who 'stuck it out' despite all the 'spiritual opposition',
so I didn't even give myself the choice of leaving.
The big mistake I made was that the Light seemed to really work, so
I assumed that the rest of the teachings must be true as well - I just
accepted the whole lot without question. I felt that the Light was
effective (something I no longer believe), but I thought I could only
achieve this by wearing Omitama around my neck, and following Divine
Teachings to the letter. I now know that Mahikari has no claim on God's
energy. I never felt any strong connection or love with God while I was
in Mahikari, but as soon as I left, all this changed! Going to therapy
for my depression, and reading "Conversations with God" helped me to
break away. I finally let myself choose whether to stay in or not, and
it was an immediate decision!
In the months after leaving, Steve Hassan's excellent book "Combatting Cult
Mind Control" has helped me to understand how this group manipulated me
so effectively and for so long. I am positive that the Kenshu courses
set up hypnotic states - confusing and strange teachings given when
people are sleepy and nodding off is supremely dangerous to their mental
health. The fear of leaving Mahikari is maintained on a daily level -
it's not just what horrible things will happen to you and your family if
you leave the group, but what will happen to you when you take off your
Omitama? Most of us had a shower every day or two - every time we took
the pendant off, God's Protection was reduced, if not gone. Quick,
quick, put it back on again and be safe once more...
I also saw quite a lot of the process involved in creating the
Mahikari Australia and Asia Journal, and how much every experience story
was edited. Many kumite, including myself, were very upset at the
changes to our accounts - the addition of events that had not happened,
conclusions that we hadn't come to, removal of facts that weren't
approved of by the MAAJ committee, and editing to make stories conform
to cult language and stock phrases. This was the standard procedure, and
still is to this day.
For anyone who is wondering what to do, whether to keep going or not,
let me just say to pay attention to the doubts in your deepest mind, pay
attention to the contradictions and confusion in teachings, pay
attention to how you're feeling deep down. This group is deceptive and
skillfully uses subtle mind control methods. You will only be happier
and healthier out of it. No, you are not being disturbed by attaching
spirits - you're just thinking for yourself.