Thursday, April 13, 2006

Mahikari Kids and Parents

This is not a part of my story, but I wanted to write this while it was fresh in my mind. I am just going to let my mind wonder and my hands flow over the keyboard and hope that something comes out of this. Since departing Mahikari I have spoken with several former members…many of them my age, or a little younger. I have found that the youth, especially the youth in America, are more easily deprogrammed from Mahikari. I have my theories about this…though there could be several conclusions. My main hypothesis is that because America is such a free and liberal country that most kids here don’t want to be suppressed by things as essential as school, let alone things as time consuming, unnecessary, and thought-stifling as Mahikari.

Children here, from a very early age acquire an opinion, and quite frankly, a strong opinion. They are shaped by everything; television, their parents, friends…mostly by friends. In a country in which Mahikari is recognized only as a cult, not a religion like in Japan, the number of members is rapidly decreasing. In a last minute desperate effort to gain more recognition and new members, Mahikari Kanbu have been encouraging members to indoctrinate celebrities, or pseudo-celebrities (such as mayors, congressmen, and politicians.) Several Dojos have had to move to smaller and smaller buildings in order to pay the rent because donations and monthly membership fees are not cutting the mustard anymore.

How is Mahikari fighting this?

Well, despite trying to initiate celebrities, several kumite in their early twenties are being pressured to get married and have children sooner. After speaking with several former kumite, ranging in the ages of 20-27, I found that the Kanbu would subtly try and coax them into beginning their families immediately after getting married, if not married; they were encouraged to find another kumite and get married. The reason? To make more seed people, of course. In the US, Mahikari members are finding that members are hard to garner. US citizens are skeptical and want little, if anything to with anything that comes off even the slightest bit cultish. People in their late thirties and older, are set in their ways and don’t want to change. People in their twenties are more concerned with themselves and with enjoying life. Joining Mahikari, wasting their hard earned money, and sitting at a dojo on their knees for hours on end is not on their to-do list.

I visited several Dojos throughout the States, all under an assumed name and my old membership number, what I found from looking at the Dojos is that most of the people that were there were all in their late thirties, early forties, and long past their child bearing years. Most of them had discovered Mahikari in the late 70’s early 80’s when the hippie philosophy of hug the trees and live in harmony, was still acceptable. The few children who were there were probably 10-13 and remained in the nursery, uninterested in what their parents were doing. I spoke with some of the children and came to find that all of them had already taken primary Kenshu…the earlier they are indoctrinated the better…but most of them said they didn’t like offering light. When I asked why, most said, “My mom/dad always brings me here. I want to hang out with my friends…or It makes my knees hurt and I hate being quiet.” It seems as though Mahikari is losing its hold on the youth in the United States, which means that decreasing numbers are soon to follow.

So what are the parents doing to prevent their children from straying?

Control, control, control.

Mahikari parents are more controlling than ever. Mothers are becoming…dare I say eccentric about getting their kids to the dojo and keeping them at the dojo, isolated from their friends and outside influences that might taint their perception of how the world works. I have seen parents who would threaten to “ground” their kids if they did not attend dojo.

I have seen parents who will only allow their children to associate with other Mahikari members. I have seen parents who have quit their jobs in order to stay home and school their children the Mahikari way. I have seen parents who send their children to Japanese Universities, which teach only the history of Japan and the Japanese way of life (and Mahikari says that they do not imply that Japan is better…?). I have seen Mahikari members who have fallen in love with people outside of the organization, whose parents threaten to inflict 9 kinds of hell if the member even fathoms committing themselves to their boyfriend/girlfriend and leaving. I have seen kids in their twenties unable to make decisions or themselves because the Mahikari, “Be like a child” philosophy had been so implemented in their minds. I have seen parents who threaten to disown their children if they ever leave Mahikari or make a decision which is not first approved by the parent.

A lot of Mahikari kids…from the ages of 20-25 still live with their parents; mainly because their parents crave the ability to control so much that they cannot stand the idea of their kids leaving. Perhaps…being sonao 24/7 while at the dojo, makes them crave the ability to control at least a small portion of their lives; as a result the kids are the ones who become the controlled. What kind of life is that for these kids; always having to confirm their choices with their parents? It seems like Mahikari parents are more interested in what makes them happy and not about what makes their children happy.

Which brings the question…are Mahikari members really happy?

I have known so many members who were the picture of perfect control, grace, and humility at the dojo, loved by all kumite, but then at home they became something else entirely; yelling and screaming at their children, completely forgetting the way a true kumite is supposed to behave. What good are the teachings if they are only applied at the dojo where there is an audience?

5 Comments:

At 8:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In aLL HONESTY I CAN SAY THAT MOST MAHIKARI MEMBERS ARE NOT HAPPY ASTHERE ARE A LOT OF INTERNAL CONFLICTS. IT IS A CATCH-22 SITUATION. I DO NOT MEAN TO PUT DOWN THE ORGANIZATION BUT THIS IS THE TRUTH.

 
At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, one of the bad things about America that you neglected to hypothesize on is that we have almost every whim catered to when we are young. We lack the heart of giving and service that is the root of Mahikari -giving light is all we do and expect nothing in return. Can you imagine a 20 year old having a choice to go out with friends or give light? Come on. Think a little bit more about what you are saying. Kids in America are the least disciplined of all countries, and are therefore the least likely to be Mother Theresa.

Whoever threatens "9 kinds of hell" deserves to go their - that is not Mahikari teaching. That is trying to control with force rather than power.

Oh, and most of the Mhikari people I have met are kind hearted, happy people, with full lives. Giving light has been just one component among may that have helped them on their spiritual path

 
At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a member of Mahikari since I can remember but when I was about 16 my parents left the organisation. I never really knew why (I always thought it was my fault because I argued with my dad, who got quite high up in the local dojo, that he was spending too much time there and not with us kids). I have always felt guilty because of this and have since never really connected 100% to my father.

I gave my omitama back a few years later. I am now 25 years old and have until this morning been ignorant of the fact that it was a cult. One of my ex-boyfriends even called it such years later and I took offence to it.

I found myself repeating one of the prayers this morning and thought, I did not know much about Mahikari. I went to the dojo countless times, prayed, gave and recieved light but never knew what it really meant. Because of this I decided to use the internet to find an old prayer online. To my shock and half-surprise (I have to say I never really agreed with it all) I found all these articles on Mahikari being a cult.

Besides the shock, when I finally thought about it, it made very good sense that it was a cult. I just did not question it until now (yes I am a slow learner, either that or I was brainwashed very very well).

That is when I started really thinking of why my family left after so many years of "service" to lgiht and god. This triggered a memory of mine when I was about 16. My father did not leave because of me (although the guilt still plagues me today), he left because he started questioning the doshi and others higher up than himself about Mahikari. I remember how when he decided to renounce his "high position" in the dojo, how other members treated him and us (his family) different. we were no longer the highly respected family that we used to be. They looked at us with disaproval as if everytime we walked into a room a foul smelling leper had come in and that being the good natured people that they are, they had to accept us into their prestegiuos community.

I finally can relate some of my self hate and doubt (I cant blame them for everything in my life) to my days in Mahikari. I felt so unworthy, lowly and like an ingrate for so long that it affected me long after we left. I just never realised this until now. It is sad that I have let something which is supposedly "good" affect me so negativly in life.

Having found this out now, I feel like I can start to grow and release the weight that has been following me around for so many years. Thank you for your stories for it has helped me realise I can be a person more than what Mahikari and their "god and his children" see in me.

I am a person who is trying her best and I think that is enough for any true god.

 
At 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well seems like this it getting to some kind of serius mental public issue so it is importat that the goverment should take any accion of the matter soon

 
At 9:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well seems like this it getting to some kind of serius mental public issue so it is importat that the goverment should take any accion of the matter soon

 

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