I was in a rut but did not know why. I had been living in Canberra
for a year working as a graduate recruit with the less than dramatic
Department of Transport. I hated office work in a big Department, but was
determined to make a go of it, having graduated at 27 years of age with a
Master's degree. I took leave over Christmas 1982-3 and spent eight
weeks in the United Kingdom with my parents and relatives. What a happy
time revisiting old familiar places and friends with the dollar at 70
pence to the pound buying that bit extra.
Shortly before I returned to Australia, I spent a mind-expanding
weekend with an old school friend. We took the flight to Australia with
JAL, and had a stop over in Japan for 3 days. Little was I to realise that the
threads of coincidence and wishful thinking were setting me up.
During the stop over in Japan, we stayed in a sub-temple of Kiamisu
dera, the large wooden temple in Kyoto. We were the first-ever western
guests and I received a shiatsu massage from the grateful sub monk who I
had given a bottle of good malt whisky to. He was not what we would
think of as a stereotypical monk, as he was an albino and wore a lime shot
silk suit over a Mickey Mouse T shirt. He was in the temple as a
refugee from Japanese society that would not tolerate an albino because
of the way he looked. I was latter to think what a stuffed society to
have this type of person shut away, unable to join in normal society
because of his looks. Mahikari is a home for misfits in Japan, a
society that tolerates no deviation. However, Mahikari is an
organisation that tolerates no deviation from its own dogma. Despite a
fuzzy line to new recruits about the necessary belief in the dogma,
the line is hardened as members get in deeper. Knowing nods and
conspiratorial glances of group members silently deride those indulging
in questioning and alternative views.
In the room at the temple there was a poster of the pyramids and the
recent talks with my old school friend had me thinking about the Sphinx
and pyramids - lower nature and higher nature of the self. We had a
whirlwind tour for 3 days in Japan and left for Sydney. On arrival we
stayed with my brother Don. Don had become a kumite [member] recently with his
girl friend Sue. He gave some Light to my arm and I felt it. He also
showed me experiments with lemons irradiated and not, and the
irradiated lemon looked fresh while the control looked mouldy. He mentioned
God and some dogma. It all seemed fascinating and I determined to check
it out myself as soon as we got back to Canberra.
My family had always been a bit wary of my older brother Don,
who was at the time alcoholic - no doubt he thought Mahikari might help
solve his desperate drink problems (it never did, and perhaps delayed
his early attempts to dry out because the easy Mahikari solution of
"just give Light" stopped him making any personal effort of a practical
nature), He dropped out of Mahikari after a few years, and then by huge
personal effort got himself off the grog with the help of St John of God
On return to Canberra, I was desperately unhappy, back away from
close friends in UK and in a totally unsuitable job that I hated. I
walked out of work one day in a large office block in Dickson and passed
the Mahikari centre in Badham Street on my way to the shops. I thought -
why not I will try this I thought - up the stairs I was met by
a cheerful lady who I immediately warmed to. She gave me
Light and I noticed positive results, both physical and emotional.
I continued attending the Centre at lunchtimes, and after three
months had slipped into the Light habit. The teachings seemed right
wing and decidedly odd, but being a pragmatist I dwelt on the fact the
Light was working and decided that the administration and teachings were
an optional belief. I found their idea of intercession personally
uncomfortable but the habit was setting in and the great mission to
build Suza, the Main World Shrine, was on. Against a backdrop of the Cold
War, the Mahikari message that we must save the world before it's too
late was attractive.
Mahikari capitalised on widespread belief that
Doomsday was around the corner and that it had a monopoly on the
solution - a mass solution. Mass solutions were the answer for the post-war
reconstruction period of the 50, 60 and 70's but were becoming
outmoded as people looked for quality individualistic solutions. I hung
my hat with Mahikari's solution to the problems of the world and my own
unhappiness. Instead of looking carefully at my own situation to
develop my own customised solutions to my problems, I put self-analysis
on hold and accepted that my problems were a result of negative karma
and that Mahikari had the answer. Regrettably it did not!
I was lucky; my wife did not like what she saw in Mahikari. She took an
instant dislike to its Australian leader's manner (Tebecis). I found him a cold
person but was prepared to take a broad view that he was there on God's
work. In hindsight, one should always take heed of one's first
impressions, those gut feelings and the views of those close to you. My
wife held out against Mahikari and her being outside it was the one
life raft I had to get myself off what I now see as a dead end.
My wife put up with Light-giving meetings at our house, my absences at
Dojo [the Mahikari Centre], and endless condescending knowing looks by
me and Mahikari members [kumite] that she was not in the know about the
Mahikari view of the world and therefore on the bus to salvation. How arrogant
kumite were to those outside, and how quickly they dropped
members who no longer followed the faith or became hard to help.
I recall a roster to help a girl who became terminally ill. Her
kumite mother misguidedly, in my view, spent more time at Dojo than with
her dying daughter. Many Kumite had very fixed ideas and needed lives
without change. No change meant no growth. Despite a system of 3 levels
of Kenshus [training courses], Mahikari did not deliver any personal
development. Secret advanced customised personal prayers in the Prayer
Book were not actively taught to senior members. Teachings and study
periods took the form of monologues by senior bureaucrats in the
organisation exhorting the faithful to follow the leaders' rehashed dogma
(much of it rehashed from Omotto and other religions/theologies).
The bureaucratic nature of Mahikari management was agony for
Australians - not even a regional Dojo's sunshade and awning could be put
up without approval from the Headquarters in Japan. The Japanese
hierarchy did not sit easily on the local Australian kumite who
privately thought the endless rules (that sometimes changed without
explanation) around religious articles, prayers, and seniority was
nonsense, and without real purpose except to maintain order and
acceptance without question by the troops.
1983 rolled on. I got wound up doing 3 Primary Kenshus, Intermediate
Kenshu, visiting Japan for the opening of Suza [the Main World Shrine]
and attending Advanced Kenshu. I was hard-core Mahikari, doing
announcing at Ceremonies, and exchanging Light three times a week. In
January I visited friends in Tasmania. During the visit I stayed with my
mate Tim in Deloraine. He had a friend whose finger was seized up after a
severe burn a week or so earlier. I gave the finger Light while having a
beer. I finished giving Light and went to get another ale, and a few
minutes later the finger opened up and bled and then regained mobility.
Naturally this apparent miracle deepened my belief that this Mahikari
was the right stuff.
Perhaps the story about the renowned Sufi master who was cooking in
the kitchen is relevant here. The Sufi master was cooking and there were
no onions - hey presto, an onion appeared from nowhere - the disciples
all fawned with amazement.
The Sufi master's comment was " Is God a greengrocer?". - Do not be
confused about the meaning of apparent miracles - some things are just
plain mysterious. In hindsight I think we should all consider whether
or not a miracle cure necessarily means you have found the right stuff
or the sole channel to source this energy.
I introduced my friend Robert, who worked with me, and so opened
the door for his brother, who later became a Doshi [priest]. My friend got out of
Mahikari once he moved away from Canberra. It also took me a move from
Canberra to escape.
My wife was to observe that the folk in Mahikari were frequently
desperate cases, and in many situations Mahikari was a staff for some
people facing devastating personal circumstances. However, in some cases
Mahikari's dogma of avoiding surgery and proven pragmatic and basic
medical treatment denied these people dignified death or years of
unnecessary pain. I recall one elderly lady who put off a hip replacement
operation for several years, and suffered terrible immobility only to be
released when at last she saw sense and had the operation.
Delayed visits to doctors, due to a grin-and-bear-it mentality, may
well have also played a part in diseases not being tackled when they
might have been cured. I recall one delightful chap who had stomach
cancer going down in brave form. He lasted a long time, sliding to death.
Mahikari belief was held firm by those cured by the Light, and there is some
evidence that many were helped by Light. There was a desire for it to
work by those involved that precluded balanced assessment. The problem
was that once sucked into Mahikari as the only solution, the judgement
of those involved became slanted, and that became a risk to balanced
perspectives regarding health. I think members, in the mistaken belief
that they were getting closer to salvation, unnecessarily endured a lot of
pain. I know for sure that endless kneeling while giving Light did not
assist the long-term health of my knees!
One of my problems with Mahikari was that it was elitist while
professing not to be. Early on I attended a monthly ceremony and a
young eager Doshi [priest] stood up, encouraging us to go out and find
suitable young seed people for the cause. I was frankly appalled at this
target on youth and discussed the matter with my friend Robert; I was
ready to drop Mahikari there and then (aah what a pity I did not!). He
was conciliatory, feeling that this was the outburst of a keen person
frustrated by the lack of growth of our group, which held the obvious
solution to the world's ills. However, it said heaps about the lack of
judgement by management that this person was allowed, with no redress,
to profess what I considered were Hilter youth type recruitment views at
the major organisation meeting.
Energy in the organisation was strong on spiritual aspects, and only
the Japanese leader could permit events and activities. The reliance on
one decision maker in the organisation made Mahikari's administration
inflexible and very unfriendly. Garry Greenwood was the people manager
and while he was second-in-charge, the organisation managed to maintain
a human face. His defection, and that of others, was deemed spirit
disturbance, a very convenient tag that closed the subject to
discussion. Mahikari full time workers were always poor and kept
reliant on the organisation. Like any work where you are housed and in
limited pay, you have no choice if you doubt the company view. I found
this aspect despicable as it robbed many good people their freedom. I
could accept free people believing in Mahikari, but the tied slaves who
worked for the organisation was another matter, and I never liked it.
In fact, what (in my view) was a forced move of one Doshi to New
Zealand from Perth by the organisation, was the final straw that made me
see sense. This Doshi was the local Perth Dojo chief, and he had just
bought a house with family money, and had young kids in the local schools.
Life was looking stable and solid for his family, and he had a great
personal following from local members who liked him. So what does the
organisation do when their hold on him was threatened? They forced him to
move, sell his house at short notice - a fire sale - and tear up all his
local ties. His loyalty to the organisation is assured providing they
can move him around at the drop of a hat. I wonder if he will ever get
out of the Mahikari net? I doubt it.
My Mahikari activities were a severe disruption to my family harmony.
Weekends were eaten with Kenshus and monthly ceremonies. Altars and
cult pendant washing gear curtailed spontaneous family life. My wife
put up with it, but it soured our relationship. I made donations - I
believe in making some charitable donation in life so I do not regret
making donations regularly, but perhaps the funds might have done more
good in a charity that actually does good works in the flesh.
I still think the Light energy is a great thing. However, Mahikari
has no monopoly on Light. Several other, less rigid organisations,
offer spiritual growth with intellectual understanding and safety. I
would recommend anyone thinking of joining a spiritual organisation to
think long and hard at how open the organisation is. Mahikari had annual
general meetings put on at times when the general membership would find
it very hard to attend. Accounts were not circulated to members. It
was a closed society run by the top brass with a culture of secrecy.
Since my departure from Mahikari, I have found my self again and
notice that things are changing for the better. It is as though my life
was on hold while with Mahikari. God has allowed me to move on - God has
given us reason and intuition - we should all use it well. I believe I
just hit Mahikari at a vulnerable time in my life. It has been a long
haul getting out of the shadow of Dojo.
Love and Light to all of you out there in cyber-space - trust in your