The teachings of Sukyo Mahikari tell us that divine wisdom is
superior to human wisdom, and I'm sure you have all heard Mahikari kanbu
(leaders) say things like, "Don't think. Just give okiyome
(purification) and you will eventually understand."
Lately I've been doing an awful lot of thinking.
Think back to when you first heard about Mahikari and were deciding
whether or not you wanted to attend primary kenshu (introductory 3-day
course). Can you remember what convinced you to join Mahikari? You
probably did an awful lot of careful thinking at that time. After all,
for newcomers, okiyome (giving and receiving purification) is rather
mysterious and many of the teachings seem pretty weird... they may not
seem weird to you now, but if you're honest and think back carefully,
you probably can remember your first reactions to Mahikari.
At first you may not have believed all the teachings, but there must
have been something that you felt was really worthwhile... something
that convinced you to devote a lot of your time and energy to Mahikari
Later, you probably also did a fair bit of thinking about what was
important to you and how to be as persuasive as possible whenever you
were telling outsiders about Mahikari. In my case, I saw okiyome as
being the most important thing. I would start with something like,
"Okiyome is primarily spiritual purification, but spiritual purification
automatically also purifies on a mental and physical level...", then I'd
quickly move on to mention various examples of people who had been cured
of physical illnesses by receiving okiyome. I didn't mention much about
other teachings, even though I did believe them myself by that stage,
because I remembered how doubtful I'd been about many of them when I
first heard Mahikari teachings.
Over the years, there were other times too when I thought a fair bit.
Perhaps you too have had moments when you've taken a step back...
perhaps even tried to look at Mahikari from the perspective of your "old
self" (who you were before becoming a kumite)... and asked yourself
really basic things like, "Do I really believe the teachings about...",
"Does okiyome really work?", etc.
In my case, after joining Mahikari, I quickly became a very dedicated
and active member, and so I didn't often have this sort of doubt
session. I do remember, though, having a rather major doubt session
several years after I joined. I systematically looked at all the
teachings in turn and asked myself, "How do I know this is true?", about
all of them.
Karma is just one example. Mahikari teachings say that giving okiyome
erases negative karma, and that if we regularly practice okiyome we will
elevate spiritually and not experience as much misfortune. When we do
experience misfortune, we are told that we must have a lot of negative
karma from a previous life, and that we should apologize for those
misdeeds and be grateful for the misfortune (because experiencing
misfortune is another way of erasing negative karma). So, whatever
happens, we have no way of proving or disproving that giving okiyome
erases negative karma... especially since the only evidence we have to
indicate how much negative karma we have is the amount of misfortune we
experience. Am I missing something here, or is this a circular argument?
Similarly, if things are going well, we are taught to have gratitude
for God's protection, which we receive when we have sincere God-centered
attitudes (sonen). If things don't go so well, we are taught to reflect
on our attitudes (and we always do manage to find some reason to blame
ourselves...after all, none of us are perfect) and try to change them.
Now, this may in fact be how the spiritual world works, but since we
can't physically see the spiritual world, how do we know if this is
true? It seems that whatever happens, there is a teaching to explain it.
You can probably think of other similar examples...if X happens, then
it is explained by one teaching, and if the opposite happens, a
different teaching can explain that. Since most of the teachings concern
the unseen world, I quickly realized that I could neither prove nor
disprove them on the basis of my own experiences.
The above realization almost made me leave Mahikari, but the bottom
line for me was my belief that okiyome "works"...I'd seen many cases and
heard of others (as I'm sure you have) where health problems seemed to
miraculously disappear as a result of receiving okiyome.
This period of doubt was quite a turning-point for me. Since I felt
that okiyome itself was very worthwhile, I decided to just practice
okiyome and not think....exactly what kanbu had been saying all along!
This was quite an odd decision for someone like me to make. Before
joining Mahikari, I had always prided myself on my ability for
independent thought and objective analysis, and had always attempted to
evaluate myself and everything else as honestly as possible.
From then on, I became even more dedicated. I spent hour after hour
giving okiyome and all my free time was taken up by Mahikari activities.
I started living at a Mahikari center and eventually took on various
In addition to okiyome, I began to see sonen as being one of the most
fundamental aspects of Mahikari. I began to think that our attitudes
affect what happens to us almost as much (or maybe even more) than
okiyome does. For me personally, Items 5 and 6 of Shinga no Ware (The I
of True Self), which say how to become fearless and overcome
self-limitation, seemed like the key to freedom. It is a fairly common
notion that, in many cases, there is "nothing to fear except fear
I began to see fear as being the single thing that limits us the
most. For example, "If I don't have to fear being hungry or homeless,
then I can devote all my time and energy and money to serving God and
helping other people without ever thinking about myself." Or, "If I
don't fear the pain in my legs... or at least, I use my sonen to
overcome it... then I can happily spend all day sitting on my knees
giving okiyome." Or, "If I don't worry about being overly tired
tomorrow, I can stay up really late giving okiyome, studying teachings,
etc." (By that time, as you may have gathered, I was believing all the
Perhaps you think I focused overly much on this "becoming fearless"
aspect of sonen, and perhaps I did. Even so, over the ensuing years, I
did manage to reduce my sense of personal needs to the point where I was
reasonably comfortable with almost no personal time or space. I needed
very little money, and was fairly flexible about what I ate and when I
ate it. I didn't ever manage to become as fearless as I would have
liked. However, each time I recognised a fear and refused to let it
control me, I grew stronger.
Let me now skip over quite a number of years... during which time I
began doubting again and in fact left Mahikari... to something that
happened a few months ago.
Quite by chance, I read a short story called "The Gamblers' Club", by
Ellery Queen. There is an interesting twist to this story and some
clever detective work, but the plot revolves around a fail-safe stock
In this story, the con-man selects stock that is fluctuating wildly
in value and sends anonymous tips to 16 members of the gamblers' club.
Half the tips say the stock will rise, and half say that it will
fall....the con-man himself has no idea which will happen. The 8 members
who happened to receive the correct tip make an awful lot of money. A
week later, the con-man again selects volatile stock and sends tips to
only the 8 men who received the correct tip the week before. This time
he tips a rise in 4 of the letters, and a fall in the other 4. The 4 men
with the correct tip again make a lot of money. The pattern is repeated
in the third week, so this time there are only 2 "winners". These 2 men
have now cleaned up three weeks in a row and have come to assume that
the person supplying the tips has extremely reliable inside information.
Next, the con-man writes to these 2 men saying that something new has
come up that looks like being even better, but he says it has to be
secret and he has to handle it all personally. He tells them that, if
they want to gamble $25,000 with a hot chance of doubling that within a
week, they should deliver the cash to a specified spot that night. In
this story, the con-man gets sprung at the last minute, but he very
nearly gets away with $50,000 in cash.
When I read this story, the first thing I thought was, "That's just
what happened to me with Mahikari!". Because I had satisfied myself that
okiyome "works" (that the teachings concerning okiyome seemed to be
true), I began to assume that Sukuinushisama (the founder of Mahikari)
must have had inside information about all aspects of the spiritual
Before you get upset at me, let me stress that I'm not trying to
imply that Sukuinushisama was a con-man. Some people may think he was,
but for the purposes of this analogy, it doesn't matter much whether he
was sincere or not. The thing that matters is whether or not his
teachings are correct.
In the above story, the victims of the con were initially sceptical,
but decided to tentatively believe the anonymous tips just in case the
tipster knew something they themselves didn't know...after all, there
was a lot to gain if the tipster was correct. Once the con-man gained
his victims' trust by repeatedly coming up with the correct tip, he, in
effect, had "proved" that he had crucial inside information.
Then, when the con-man said he needed $25,000... and needed it that
night... the victims were aware that this might be a trick but, even so,
they were quite eager to participate. They only had a matter of hours to
think about it, and they were reluctant to let their slight suspicions
get in the way of this chance to make a very large sum of money.
Mahikari teachings don't offer us the chance to double $25,000. They
offer us a chance to become spiritually purified, and to help purify
others, so that as many people as possible can survive the Baptism by
Fire (Mahikari's version of Armageddon). We are told that we must be
dedicated members of Mahikari and make every effort possible, as a
matter of extreme urgency, because the teachings say that the Baptism of
Fire is already beginning. We don't have the luxury of thinking about it
later... we must act now in order to save ourselves and as much of the
world as possible. That's more important than $25,000!
But is it true? That's for you to decide. I've already admitted that
I can neither prove nor disprove any of the teachings of Mahikari.
I never donated $25,000 to Mahikari, although I might have done at
one stage if I'd had that sort of money. Probably most of you haven't
either. In our cases, it's more a question of how many years of our
lives we have wasted... if the teachings are not true.
As you've no doubt already noticed, the above analogy between the con
story and our belief in Mahikari teachings is not a perfect analogy. In
the story, the con victims would have realized they'd been conned as
soon as the perpetrator disappeared with their money. What happens in
Mahikari? Why do we keep on believing the teachings year after year?
Sure, okiyome does continue to "work"... for some of the population
at least. We've all come across people who insist, "I didn't feel a
thing!", after receiving okiyome and, as in the above analogy, we tend
to leave those people alone and just concentrate on nurturing the people
who do experience a favourable result from receiving okiyome.
Presumably, we're all in the group of people for whom okiyome does
"work", but I think we should still ask what it is and why it works. Is
it actually the Light of God, as the teachings say? After all, there are
a variety of other apparently miraculous healing techniques (yogic-type
self-healing, healing that results from hypnotic suggestion, faith
healing, etc., etc.) that achieve very real physical effects (such as
feelings of warmth, sweating, shaking, discharge, etc.) and that achieve
verifiable cures. Our minds are very powerful things. Perhaps one such
mechanism makes okiyome "work" for some people, and other mechanisms
make it "work" for others. This is a fascinating area... I would love to
know exactly what is going on here.
Also, we probably continue to experience how much our own sonen
(attitudes) affect our lives. Does anything else make us continue to
Some critics suggest that members of Mahikari are victims of mind
control. I know for a fact that I never attempted to control anyone's
mind when I was in leadership roles during my Mahikari years. I'm
equally sure that none of you - regardless of whether you are a
kamikumite, a group leader, a Doshi (teacher), or even a Dojo Cho (head
of a Mahikari center) - have ever tried to practice mind control over
anyone. Sure, we might have tried to be as persuasive as possible (in
ordinary ways) when giving advice to other members or telling outsiders
about Mahikari, but I don't think ordinary persuasion counts as mind
However, even though I believe no-one ever deliberately practiced
mind control techniques on me, I've come to think that my day-to-day
activities in Mahikari may well have produced a mind control effect.
I've started to wonder, for example, if the intense concentration
involved in giving and receiving okiyome might produce an altered mental
state (some sort of shallow trance) in which the teachings become
implanted in our subconscious. This is just speculation, but if okiyome,
chanting, attending kenshu, and so on, do have this effect, then this
may have been the most crucial factor that kept me believing Mahikari
teachings for years, despite all my logic and careful thinking. This
would also put a new perspective on the fact that we are often told that
if we don't receive okiyome regularly, or reattend kenshu, we might
"drift away" from Mahikari.
Influence at a subconscious level could explain why we fear that
something dreadful will happen to us if we ever leave Mahikari (nothing
dreadful has happened to me yet!). It could explain why we come to
believe all those teachings about world history and Japanese supremacy,
the astral world, the spiritual world, the Baptism of Fire, male and
female roles, etc. It could explain how people who used to be atheists
can fairly quickly adjust to bowing and praying in front of what
originally seemed to be a quite alien sort of altar.
Have you ever read any studies of mind control and how it works?
There's lots of information out there on how it is used in advertising
and marketing, in scams, in religious and other types of cults, in
politics, etc. Just look at your library or search the Internet. It
seems that a lot of what has been written on mind control focuses on
deliberate deception in cults such as the Moonies, Children of God, etc.
Even so, books such as Steve Hassan's "Combatting Cult Mind Control",
and "Recovery from Cults", edited by Michael D. Langone, make
If you do get a chance to read any of this material, I'd be very
interested to hear what you think. Indeed, I'd be very interested to
hear from any of you about which teachings you may have found hard to
accept, and why you have now come to believe them. (If any ex-members
are reading this, I'd of course also be interested in hearing your
In closing, I feel I must state the obvious. If all the teachings of
Mahikari are correct, then the above comments are just the result of
influence by attaching spirits, and should be ignored. However, if the
teachings are regarded as at all questionable, then the notion of spirit
disturbance must also be questioned and, if that is the case, some
careful thinking might be in order.
(To read more, visit Anne's blog)