Seek the Light
An excerpt from - The Light from the East:
On August 15, 1945, about fifty followers had gathered in Hakone from all over the country for their regular meeting with Okada.* That morning the radio repeatedly broadcast word that there would be an important announcement at noon. Okada asked everyone to listen with him. Solemnly he took his place along with the others seated in front of the radio. Exactly at noon, for the first time in the history of Japan, the emperor spoke directly to all his subjects when he announced the end of the war. Among the group that day were some to whom Okada had said that Japan would lose the war. Yet the news of defeat in the war to which all the nation's strength and resources had been devoted left most of the people shocked and stunned. There was a long silence. Then, as his speechless, anxious followers looked toward him, Okada said, "In reality, this is good news. Japan will become a better country." Having said this, he left his seat. His words, spoken in a normal tone, made a strong impression on the leaders and followers, each full of sadness. The next day he said to those who gathered for a meeting: "I cannot say so openly, but this result actually deserves celebration. " The followers realized that with the end of the war a time might come when Japan would be a right-minded country. They felt relieved of a great burden.
*Mokichi Okada – Meishu-sama.
The dates of August 6th and 9th are especially significant in Japan and America, when the bombings of the two cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki changed the direction of the Great War in the Pacific. They also devasted the cities and the population. Today, one can hardly see the effects of the destruction on these two modern cities, except for the locations that are memorialized. There are only a handful of survivors still alive from that era and perhaps many people today also desire to move on beyond those events from over seven decades ago.
Anything related to war and conflict is not usually cause for hope. Meishu-sama’s followers realized that his comments were a reflection on the spiritual significance of this conflict. It was also a perspective that may have been difficult to accept for those who had suffered greatly and lost loved ones. The end of the conflict in Japan meant that he could now work toward fulfilling his mission, unhindered by restrictive authoritarian policies. From a “spiritual cleansing” perspective, such events remind humanity to realign priorities and change the viewpoint from a narrow and selfish perspective, to a consciousness of compassion toward suffering and for human welfare.
These two events also introduced the terrifying arrival of the atomic age. There are people who question the humanity and morality of the American leader who authorized these actions. He is remembered as a courageous leader by historians, who had to make the unenviable decision to end a long and destructive conflict, while others view him as a fervent religious politician who subscribed to divine justification. On the opposing side, the Japanese military rulers were nationalists who believed in cultural and racial superiority. Sadly, their decisions caused great suffering not only to other nations, but also for their own citizens.
The American president was also characterized as a nationalist, who was protecting American values and God-given mission. As it happens sometimes, history repeats itself. In this cyclic order of events, similar examples of nationalism and war-posturing are very much alive today. This breakdown of mutual trust was demonstrated in recent weeks, when two powerful nations canceled a long-lasting mutual pledge to restrict even more destructive weapons of mass destruction.
In the past few days, this country witnessed yet another series of senseless mass shootings, borne out of fear-mongering and divisive rhetoric, fueled by racial and political differences and intolerance. These incidents make us angry, frustrated and bring about a feeling of hopelessness.
This makes us think about our individual roles within culture, race and religion. It seems that we are more divided – all the way from an individual level and rising up to community, state and nation. These attitudes expand across borders to a global reach through the efficiency of modern technology.
Meishu-sama said that certain forms of cleansing or collective and individual soul-polishing were necessary, for lasting changes to take root. He wrote: “It would be extremely fortunate for mankind if a paradise on earth could be established without any major change. The truth is, however, that in order for an ideal world to be realized the cleansing of the present world must first be accomplished, just as an old house must be razed and the site cleared before a new house can be built. There will be a number of parts from the old structure that will still be usable, but this, of course, is for God to decide.” (What Is World Messianity? FOP. 1/25/1949)
He also set the bar high, reminding his followers that in order to be useful members of this new world and to pass God’s test, one’s faith must be true and deep. This faith was not about being fanatical and intolerant. In fact, it was quite the opposite, but one had to embark on a personal mission to overcome obstacles in spiritual, physical and material aspects, in order to become “productive instruments in the new world.” Meishu-sama was closely attuned to the general suffering of humanity and he worked tirelessly to help those who were in need. The reminiscences of his household staff and followers are a testament of his sincerity and devotion.
Acknowledging time, place and circumstances, he also had to be selective in his efforts - but not in the negative way as society has come to view the term “discrimination.” Meishu-sama believed that on a deeper level, humans must first seek to understand and accept a level of accountability for one’s circumstances. This can be controversial and difficult to accept, unless one considers this position from a spiritual and karmic perspective. He taught that the Divine Will behind each incident or action, could never be fully understood by limited human insight and he cautioned his followers not to give full legitimacy to any human action or judgment. He reminded his followers that one’s ability to make a judgment on any situation or on another person, was dependent on one’s level of “purity” of the soul.
Some things which seem good, Even right, to human sight may not be good or right, In God’s Eyes. Let us use care When exercising judgment.
~ from a waka poem by Meishu-sama
Through his intense study and personal experiences, the reality of God’s purpose was self-evident to Meishu-sama. Rather than creating a theology to prove the existence of this powerful divine force that he felt within his being, Meishu-sama demonstrated opportunities to witness the work of God through the healings and transformation by the act of Johrei. He taught that while everyone is equal before the eyes of God, each individual was also assigned a different role or mission, and that this role determined the clarity and attunement of the individual with the Creator. This connection reflected in the state of one’s being and the circumstances under which a person is born and exists in this physical world.
This spiritual viewpoint helps us understand that it is the separate God-given individual mission for each individual which determines factors like destiny and predispositions among people. Adding the concept of karma and the accumulation of spiritual clouds through several lifetimes, the idea of unconditional universal parity can become the focus of deeper contemplation.
Meishu-sama also imparted his understanding that we were not fated to exist in the level we were born in. He outlined some preconditions, which he firmly believed applied to all individuals on the pathway to “purify the soul.” One principle that he taught was that love for humanity must be our guiding light, especially as we serve others through the Teachings and the practice of Johrei. The effort to endure and overcome challenges through faith in God—not just on a physical level, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually—is another important factor. He also taught that since perception of the Divine Will is limited from a human level, we must shed ourselves of conceit and develop deeper faith in God.
These guidelines also apply to how we function as an organization and helps us to recognize and protect ourselves from religious zealotry and identity politics in spiritual work. We may never fully comprehend the Divine Plan, but we can seek to live with a sense of gratitude for the protection and blessings we receive each day, that we are all capable of harnessing this sense of humanity and that we have the opportunity to share the Divine Light with others. Many decades ago, in the aftermath of the death and destruction caused by the great purification in the two cities in Japan, there were testimonials of incredible Johrei miracles. Members shared stories about how they were saved and protected by their home Sacred Scrolls and Focal Points (Ohikari). For Johrei members, such testimonials are evidence of divine protection and the unlimited power of Johrei.
On this anniversary of those unforgettable eventas that happened many years ago, let us take a moment to pray for all the victims of war and conflict—past and ongoing—and for the Light to eliminate hatred and divisive competitiveness from the hearts of our leaders.
(Image credit - Thilipen Rave Kumar)