WATANABE Masako and IGETA Midori
It is natural to expect that the pain and anxiety of sickness should be alleviated together with advances in the ability of modern medicine and therapeutic technologies to detect and treat disease. At least, early modern society so believed, and so hoped. But that dream continues to be shattered. Technological progress and its allied profit principle, which continue to rule over various areas have, on the contrary, contributed to increased anxiety regarding disease. This is not to underestimate modern medicine's overwhelming triumph over traumatic injuries or contagions caused by bacteria and other microorganisms. But it might well be asked whether in the process of achieving such successes it did not come to treat human beings as little more than insentient "things." Namely, while modern medicine has been successful at discovering and eradicating the disease-causing organisms, it has made little attempt to treat the overall human being suffering from the disease. And voices are being raised in lament and resentment to modern medicine's inability to "heal" and to "save" the larger human being.
On the one hand, some may assert that the "health boom" and attraction to herbal medicines seen in present-day Japan and typified in such popular fads as natural foods, jogging and aerobics are the results of similar trends in the United States, a kind of group "anxiety reaction" in the face of modern life. Or again that the faith healing practiced in a variety of new and old religious contexts is nothing more than vestigal remnants of pre-modern superstitions. While such generalized labeling is possible, it is equally possible to consider such phenomena as legitimate criticisms and reactions to the failures of modern medicine and the larger civilization which has produced it. At any rate, before rushing to judgment of such phenomena, we should at very least recognize in them evidence of the kind of structural framework adopted when our societies attempt to deal with and express human mistortune - particularly the anxiety regarding illness.
It is surely true that the cultures of every age have been unsparing in their efforts to maintain life and promote human longevity. In each its own way, every human society has produced preventative measures, therapeutic remedies, and other cultural mechanisms to deal with illness. As pointed out within Buddhism, disease is one of the most dreadful of all the ails which may afflict human beings. Religion acts as a cultural mechanism to save humans from the pain of such sickness; indeed, the root of the religious leader's transcendental authority, namely, his or her charismatic power, has often been sought in the supernatural or miraculous power to heal.
In The Rush Hour of the Gods, H. Neill McFarland notes that all of the new religions in Japan have been established with a core of healing activity, and that such faith healing forms one of the most effective means of maintaining the groups' membership.1 The fact that healing is at some point made the central activity of a new religion might be said to demonstrate that the expectation or longing for the appearance of a religious founder with healing power is already latent within the society, a fact which is by no means unique to Japan alone.2
Whatever the case, it is no doubt true that the practical activity of helping and giving comfort to human beings through faith healing plays an important role within process whereby the founders of Japan's new religions progress from the status of ordinary human being to charasmatic mediator between human and divine, or even to the status of a living deity itself.3 A religious founder's charismatic authority is confirmed as he or she cures ills which cannot be healed by the normally available cultural remedies, thus resulting in the establishment of a charismatic linkage between founder and believer. And if so, then the religious founder's conferment of salvation in the act of faith healing allows us to view one facet of the process in the establishment and dynamic development of charismatic authority in the Japanese new religions.
Japanese history provides us with numerous examples of tales of miraculous healings, said to have occurred at temples and shrines both large and small, and performed by both professional clergy and folk-religious practioners and thaumaturges. Unfortunately, extremely few of those stories have been committed to writing, making it virtually impossible to produce detailed historical records of such healing activities.
On the other hand, while most of the new religions have treated their healing activities as secret rites, it is possible to understand the current form of such rituals, or to reconstruct a limited history of the rites based on the memories of persons still living. But the wide range of physical and visible media which are in fact used within the activity of faith healing makes it impossible to render a comprehensive picture. As a result, any attempt to use faith healing as a lens through which to view the establishment and development of charismatic authority requires, first of all, that the focus of research be narrowed to one of many possible perspectives on the activity of "faith healing."
One of those general perspectives involves a focus on the actual physical medium used in the healing rites; of all such possible media, we selected "holy water" as the one which tends to be viewed as possessing particularly effective healing powers. Faith in holy water has existed in a wide range of human cultures and historical epochs; indeed, it possesses a significance which must be addressed whenever tracing the history of faith healing. And while ethnologists have published numerous reports of the actual use of such water within folk religion and folk medicine,4 it remains true that there have not been many attempts to consider the process whereby water is attributed with "holiness" in the context of a religious founder's charisma.5
In was on this basis that we decided to undertake surveys of a number of new religious groups, each of which views healing by holy water as a central or relatively important element of doctrine and practice. This article presents the results of those surveys and the analysis of documentary materials, and attempts to consider the process whereby ordinary water is transformed into "holy water" within the context of the relationship between founder, group, centrally important religious leaders and other believers.
Our research does not represent exhaustive coverage of all those new religious groups which may use holy water in healing. In addition, we did not select our subjects based on fixed criteria regarding the date of the groups' establishment, their process of organization, nor their scale. We included within our survey some groups which were relatively old, as well as some of small scale which had not advanced far on the path toward systematic organization. Accordingly, while it is difficult to make quantitative generalizations regarding the groups, we feel it is possible to use the process whereby water becomes "holy" in order to make theoretical generalizations regarding the dynamic process of establishment and development of a founder's charisma.
Further, since faith in holy water has long existed as a form of traditional religious faith, narrowing our focus to that motif gives us a perspective on the similarities and differences between earlier historical and current uses of holy water, and through that perspective to gain an understanding of the significance of faith healing in modern new religious movements.
The accompanying Table 1 is a tabulation of the general results of our research bearing on this article. Bracketed numerals (, , etc.,) appearing within the body of the article refer to the corresponding groups in the table.
|Name||Location||Founded||Members||Object of worship||Founder||Status of founder||Successor and relationship to founder||Name and first recognition of holy water||Method of Transformation to holy waterto holy water||Significance given to water||Necessity of faith||How used||Efficacy||Does water spoil?||Special components||Other media of faith healing|
|||Shôroku Shintô Yamatoyama||(Aomori Pref.)||1919||60,000||Yamatoyama no Ôkami||Yamato Matsukaze (1884-1966)||Intermediary||Yamato Komatsukaze (eldest son)||"Mountain-springing water" (esp. 1968-)||Spring within sacred precincts||Gift of god (divine plan)||Yes||Drink, apply to skin||Cancer, asthma, rheumatism, other serious diseases, neuroses||No||Organic germanium||Miteshiro (hand print of founder); Divine fan (shinsen)|
|||Izumo Ôyashirokyô Iwao Daikyôkai||(Kyoto)||1955||70,000||Ame no Minakanushi no Ôkami, two other deities; Hakuungû, Oshie no oya||Gotô Tomi (1903-)||Intermediary||"Divine water" (goshinsui) (1955-)||Spring within sacred precincts||Divine blood flowing from body of deity (mountain)||No||Drink, apply to skin||Serious and rare disease, long-life tonic.||Unknown||Unknown||(Purification through breath)|
|||Shinreikyô||(Hyôgo Pref.)||1947||170,000||Shinrei no Ôkami||Ôtsuka Kan'ichi (Not publicized -1972)||Manifest deity "Great world savior united with deity"||Ôtsuka Kunie (wife)||"Divine water" (goshinsui) (1947-)||Water within sacred precincts||Permeation of divine power||No||Drink, apply to skin||All serious diseases, improvement of character; miraculous effects on animals, plants, and non-living objects.||Unknown||Unknown||Divine salt, divine grass, divine wine sacred emblems (within sacred space, all objects take on divine power)|
|||Shinjishûmeikai||(Shiga Pref.)||1970||280,000||Daikômyô Myôshu (Okada Mokichi)||Koyama Mihoko (1910-)||Legitimate successor to faith of Myôshu||"Miracle water" (kiseki no mizu) (1970-)||Water from dwelling of Myôshu's spirit (Hand-washing water)||Evidence of legitmacy of separation from Church of World Messianity||No||Drink, apply to skin||Purification of spirit; sickness, emotional troubles||Unknown||Unknown||(Spirit purification)|
|||Bentenshû||(Osaka Pref.)||1935||400,000||Dai-Benzaiten Joson||Ômori Kiyoko (1909-1967)||Avatar of Benzaiten (Chibensonjo)||Ômori Jishô (eldest son)||A) "Divine lake water" (goshinchi no mizu) (1955-); B) "Divine water" (goshinsui)||A) Water left for 1 year beneath central image; B) Water offered to central image||Permeation of divine power||No||A) Apply to skin; water plants; B) Drink, apply to skin||A) Bruises, hemorrhoids corns, insect repellent on plants. B) Health elixir.||A) No. B) Unknown.||A) Unknown. B). Unknown.||Chinese herbal medicine (divinely revealed prescription); ashes from goma fire ritual.|
|||Honmon Butsuryûshû||(Kyoto Pref.)||1857||470,000||Daimoku mandala||Nagamatsu Nissen (1817-1890)||Messenger of buddha; bodhisattva||Kajimoto Nichiei (confraternity leader)||Okôsui (esp. 1869-)||Intonation of Daimoku over water offered before mandala.||Virtue of Daimoku||Yes||Drink, apply to skin||Serious disease, cancer, health elixir, burns, wounds also effective on animals.||Yes||None||Ointment made from incense ashes; ointment made from disolved rice cakes (kagami mochi); oil ointment made from Japanese candles.|
|||Reiha no Hikari Kyôkai||(Chiba Pref.)||1954||730,000||Daiuchû no kami||Hase Hoshio (1915-1984)||Messenger and divine incarnation (Goshugoshin)||Hase Keiji (eldest son)||"Divine water" (goshinsui)||Two hours of prayer before divine emblem||Divine power, permeation of spirit waves.||Yes||Drink, apply to skin||Serious disease, skin ailments, exterior wounds.||No||Unknown||"Life plaques"; sacred rice wine; sacred rice; sacred soy beans; fire-subduing bamboo grass; fire-subduing rice balls.|
|||Tenshin Ômikamikyô||(Tokyo)||1952||40,000||Tenshin Ômikami||Shimada Haruichi (1896-1985)||Intermediator||Shimada Haruyuki (eldest son)||"Divine water" (goshinsui) (1861-)||Water dedicated before deity is boiled, medicinal ingredients are added, then water is offered before deity again.||Divinely revealed formula; permeation of divine power.||Yes||Injection||Rheumatism, neuralgia, serious diseases, neuroses.||Sulphate compound (added)||Healing amulet (gofu; divinely revealed herbal medicine); divine salt.|
|||Kômyô no Kai||(Yamagata Pref.)||1986||400||Amaterashimasu Sumera Ôkami||Ajiki Tenkei (1952-)||Intermediary||A) "Sacred water" (goseisui) (1985-); B) Pyramid power water (1984-)||A) Spring water from sunken divine stone (pyramid shape); B) Water left 3 days inside paper pyramid||A) Power residing in divine stone; B) Pyramid power results in efficacy equal to water of planet Venus.||Yes||Drink, apply to skin||A) All diseases. B) Improves health by curing emotional.||No||Unknown||Spirit healing (for serious illnesses)|
|||Akakurayama Jinja||(Aomori Pref.)||1923||400||Akakura no kami Yakujôzan Tatsuhime||Kudô Mura (1887-1965)||Intermediary; (following death, the Parent Deity)||Jin Sada||"Healing water" (yakuyu) (1977-)||Ritual patterned after bath of founding "parent deity" (divine emblem is waved over bath)||Evidence of legitimate succession||No||Drink, apply to skin||All diseases.||Unknown||Unknown|
|||Jôkanji||(Hyôgo Pref.)||1986||400||Fudô Myôô, Shô-Kannon Bosatsu, Koyasu Daishi||Konishi Shikô (1936-)||Intermediary||"Divine water" (goshinsui) (1982-)||Water infused with Kamuro Taishi's mental energy is offered on altar with prayers.||Evidence as true successor to Kamuro Taishi||Yes||Spray on skin, drink||Serious disease, burns, wounds.||No||None||Offerings|
Two elements are indispensable to the process whereby ordinary water is transformed into "holy water." Those elements are (1) the belief that one has been healed by the water, in other words, the believer's experience of healing, and (2) the teaching (or endorsement) issued by the group leadership with regard to "holy water."
The process of transformation from ordinary water to "holy water" begins only when one of the aforementioned two elements is present, and which of the two elements appears first can also be assumed to partially determine the subsequent course of development. While the new religions use a variety of terms to designate "holy water," including "divine water" (shinsui), "offering water" (kôsui), and "perfume [water]" (kôzui), the general ways in which ordinary water in transformed into "holy water" can be categorized as follows:
Cases proceeding from the believer's experience of healing by "holy water" will be called Type "A." In turn, the experience or phenomenon of healing by holy water may prompt a variety of responses from the religious founder or group, including endorsement, tacit assent, disregard, or denial. The kind of reaction will determine whether the water becomes officially (or unofficially) endorsed as "holy water," or whether it is denied such status.
In contrast, we will call Type "B" those cases in which the teaching of the religious founder or group regarding holy water appears first. In turn, whether such teaching leads to the experience of healing among believers or fails to induce such experience will determine whether the water remains ordinary water or achieves the status of a highly special "holy water."
In this context, the motif of the "sacralization" of water can be used to classify the groups we selected as shown in Table 2.
|Type||Name of Group|
|A|| Shôroku Shintô Yamatoyama
 Izumo Ôyashirokyô Iwao Daikyôkai
 Bentenshû Myôôji
 Honmon Butsuryûshû
 Reiha no Hikari Kyôkai
 Tenshin Ômikamikyô
 Kômyô no Kai
 Akakurayama Jinja
In the following section, we will consider the ways in which water first appears and is transformed into "holy water," based on actual examples from Types A and B.
When one considers the overall process of transformation from ordinary water to "holy water," it is especially important to take note of the following questions: in Type A, what is the motivation for the religious founder's response to the believer's experiential healing with holy water? In Type B, what lies in the background to the religious founder's decisive teaching regarding the efficacious nature of "holy water"? Finally, the believer's experience of healing acts as the impetus behind a string of developments in Type A, and it plays the role of final determinative authority in Type B. In any case, that experience carries crucial significance in the transformation from water into "holy water." The obvious question is, why does this experience occur? By giving attention to these elements, we believe it should be possible to approach a better structural understanding of the transformation from water to "holy water," the mutual relationship between founder and believer, and the establishment and development of a founder's charismatic authority.
As part of our attempt to clarify the process whereby water is sacralized within the groups  to  (classified as "Type A" in Table 1), we considered the status of the founder's charismatic authority at the time the "holy water" appeared, as well as differences in the ways the respective groups contributed to the process. In examples  to , the holy water first appeared under conditions in which the founder's charismatic authority was not yet fully assured, but on the whole generally established and relatively gaining in stature.
The headquarters for this group are located at Sotodôjiyama, Hirauchi-chô, Tsugaru-gun, Aomori Prefecture. In 1918 the group's founder Yamato Shôfû (original name Tazawa Seishirô) entered the mountain Sotodôjiyama in order to oversee the workers hired as charcoal burners by his father, who operated a firewood and charcoal business in Aomori City. After spending several months in a mountain hut, Yamato visited the offices of his father's business, where he found a group of people talking. When Yamato inquired of the reason for their talk, they replied that during the previous winter a young charcoal burner had been cutting down a bead treeII when two divine images appeared from inside the stump; the people were wondering what should be done with the images. Yamato told them that "people who work in the mountains revere the deities (kami). If a divine image has appeared, a shrine should be built for it so that it can be worshiped as a `god of the mountain' (yama no kami)."
This suggestion was accepted and Yamato himself agreed to act as sponsor for the shrine, which was installed on the twelfth day of the fourth month (according to the lunar calendar), a date considered the memorial day for the mountain god. On the appointed day, Yamato arrived at the location of the large bead tree stump where the images had appeared, when two charcoal workers came up and began asking Yamato a variety of questions, including his age. According to these two workers, the previous year one of them had received an oracle from a deity, and they wanted to confirm the oracle. The oracle had stated, "Many people have come to this mountain, and none have found favor with the deity. But now a man thirty-five or thirty-six years of age is coming to build a shrine at the place where the deity has appeared, and it is this man who will find favor with the deity. He will build a shrine on the twelfth day of the fourth month next year."
Following erection of the shrine, Yamato lost his enthusiasm for work and began practicing ablutions in the river behind his mountain hut, praying for the mountain god to reveal its will to him personally. On the night of the twenty-third day of the eighth month, he finally heard the voice of "Yamato no Ôkami,"III informing him that he should become the deity's own minister. Based on this decisive experience, Yamato was possessed by the deity and not only began treating the pains and ills of the people around him, but found that he had an unusual power which allowed him to effect unfailing cures. Following the deity's command, Yamato began a three-year period of training in the "religious practice of healing" (byôki naoshi no gyô). Taking no reward for his work, he cured numerous people of their illnesses.
But many of the people who came to him for healing quickly returned to dissipate lives of heavy drinking and gambling. Seeing this, Yamato realized that healing people of illnesses was not necessarily linked to their larger salvation, and he concluded that the revitalization of one's spirit and the holding of a proper mental state were more important than the curing of physical ills. He began praying for the deity to reveal the way to man's true salvation. Confident of the great power of this deity - which had given him so many miraculous experiences to that time - Yamato urgently prayed for the revelation of divine words and scripture. Between the years 1926 and 1944 Yamato finally received divine revelation through his second daughter Shôchô.
In 1922 Yamato finished his training in the "practice of healing," and during that same year his father died, lending resolve to his decision to devote himself to the way of the deity. He thus abandoned his family's firewood and charcoal business, cutting himself off from all concourse with the secular world. Within his poverty, Yamato devoted himself to fasting, ablutions, and interpreting the words revealed through his daughter. As an increasing number of people came to Yamato for salvation, he established the Shôroku Shintô Yamatokai, and responded to followers' requests by launching out on a seven-year period of proselytization in 1929.
The small mountain shrine which Yamato built is now covered by an exterior roof for protection from the elements, but it still serves as a "remote shrine (oku no miya) and center of veneration by members of the group. At the time the founder built the shrine, he discovered a stream of clear water springing from the nearby mountain slope; the founder took this water as the shrine's "purification font," and named it the "mountain-springing water" (yamabuki no mizu)IV).
Even among early believers, this spring water quickly gained the reputation for remaining clear and unclouded, having a pure taste, and for its ability to remain unspoiled for long periods when stored in clean containers. Moreover, some belivers tried drinking the water, applying it to wounds, and using it to wash their eyes, thus experiencing a variety of healing effects. Tales of healing produced by this "mountain-springing water" were spread by word of mouth among believers, who made the long trip to the remote shrine, offering the water before the deity at the shrine and then bringing the water back with them.
The founder recognized that the healing produced by yamabuki no mizu was an expression of the protection and benevolence of the deity. But he also received a divine message in the form of a revealed poem which stated
True water of blessing
Wells up from the deity;
But without true sincerity,
- Mere mountain water
In this way, the founder expressed his undestanding that the efficacy of the water was dependent on a mind of faith, and he criticized those who drank large quantities of the water as though it were a mere tonic. Instead, he insisted that the water must be taken and used in conjunction with the giving of thanks to the divine, and he thus restricted the amount of water which each believer could take at one time from the spring to about 600 cc.
During the lifetime of the founder, the yamabuki no mizu remained a curiosity among believers, as merely a most unusual kind of water. In time, however, it gradually came to the attention of the outside world. The founder died in 1966, and in 1968 the founder's eldest son and current head of the group (Yamato Komatsukaze, original name Tazawa Yasusaburô) attended a conference on natural foods and diet, a topic which was enjoying intense popularity at that time. At the conference he happened to sit beside an engineering scientist who claimed to have succeeded at formulating an "organic germanium" compound capable of stopping the reproduction of, and killing, various putrefying bacteria. Tazawa expressed interest in the operation of the compound and told the scientist that he knew of water which would not spoil, upon which the scientist in turn expressed an interest in the yamabuki no mizu, and agreed to perform an analysis of the water.
The spring at Lourdes in France is known both for the apparition of St. Mary which appeared to a young sheep-herding girl there in the mid-nineteenth century, and for the miraculous healing properties of the water which flowed from the nearby spring, itself said to contain a higher-than-normal concentration of germanium. But an analysis of the yamabuki no mizu revealed that it contained an even higher concentration of germanium than the water at Lourdes.
The group's leader Yamato and his followers trusted the modern science which had singled out the component ostensibly responsible for the healing efficacy of the yamabuki no mizu. And they gave thanks to god for the appearance of the healing "holy water" and for the scientific establishment of the water's components. But they insisted that such things were to be taken, as expressed within the teachings of the founder, as parts of a divine plan, or as revelations of a divine design.
At the same time, the scientist's publication of the results of his analysis of the water led to numerous repurcussions on the group. Many people trespassed on the group's sacred space, and there were attempts by some to use the current popularity of bottled "natural water" in order to remove and sell large quantities of the yamabuki no mizu. Some restaurants in Aomori City went so far as to begin selling water which they called "Yamabuki Water," even though it was taken from other locations. And when some customers of the restaurants complained that the water had an unusual taste, the government health authorities began making investigations of the religious group.
In order to prevent desecration of their sacred space and to avoid misunderstanding by the outside world, the group decided to enclose the mountain spring in concrete and install a system of plumbing to carry the water inside the grounds of their headquarters. This measure preserved the water source, while also allowing convenient access to the water without the necessity for making the long walk to the remote shrine.6
While giving thanks to the divine for the fact that the special components of the yamabuki no mizu had been scientifically established, the group instructed its membership to refrain from making excessive claims regarding the water until its therapeutic properties had been confirmed. And based on the founder's teachings, the group consolidated its position that any miraculous healing effect demonstrated by the water should be taken first and foremost as a testimony to faith.7
In the case of group  (Izumo Ôyashirokyô Iwao Daikyôkai), the water designated by the group's founder as a purification font was likewise found to have miraculous curative power, and that power was interpreted in relation to the establishment of the founder's charisma. While the water thus became "holy water" in much the same way as for group  recounted above, the significance of the "holy water" within the context of the founder's overall activity differed from the earlier case, as did the conditions required of believers in order for them to receive the miraculous benefits of that water.
Gotô Tomi is a spiritual healer who breathes on her followers (a practice she calls "purification through the blowing of breath"), thus healing them of illness and suffering. Based on a perceived association with the way the sound of her breath is heard ("fuu"), the group which she founded is also called the "futto religion" (Futtokyô). Her first experience at healing occurred following World War II in 1946, as she was on a ship returning from Taiwan to her husband's home town and the present headquarters of the religion (Nodagawa-chô, Yosa-gun, Kyoto Prefecture). While on the ship, Gotô placed her hands on people suffering from sickness and healed them. Some seven or eight years previously, when her son had suffered from a disease of the pulmonary lymph nodes, Gotô had taken the son to a spiritual healer who foretold that "you are destined to save others, so I would like you to accept my power of healing." At that time, however, Gotô was not yet prepared to make that kind of momentous decision.
In 1947, Gotô met Furuyama Shinsei, a spiritualist who had come from Kyoto to the Tango region to spread the religion of Izumo Ôyashirokyô. Furuyama had the amazing ability to divine episodes from Gotô's past life, and Gotô decided to enter the religious life when she heard Furuyama's teaching to the effect that all humans were children of god, and that all things in the universe were the blessings of god for which thanks should be offered. It was also at that time that Gotô received the gift of "purification through the blowing of breath."
Persons who found healing through Gotô's spiritual power formed a local chapter of the Izumo Ôyashirokyô, becoming the Iwao Daikyôkai in 1960. Believers' donations during this period allowed the completion of a church building in 1958, together with a shrine dedicated to the spirit of Furuyama (posthumously called Hakuungû, or "White Cloud Temple"), who had died in 1951. During the construction of this shrine, water gushed from the sacred mountain which was considered the shrine's object of worship or "divine body" (goshintai). Gotô considered the water to be the precious life-blood of god, springing from the divine body of Hakuungû, who represented the origin and parent for Gotô's own teachings. Thereafter, Gotô designated the water as "divine water" (goshinsui) for use in purification. In time, believers appeared claiming that the water had healed them from a variety of serious illnesses and diseases, and it was recognized that the miraculous power of this water sprang from the source as Gotô's own spiritual power.
Since the deity was overflowing with blessings, believers were not required to perform ascetic practices or to take a strict position of faith, but merely to express their gratitude. Further, use of the water was not limited to believers, and from 1979 the spring was included on a listing of "famous sites" at the nearby Tango Yamada train station (now defunct). As a result it was said that some travel agencies even organized bus tours to the site, with people arriving from throughout the Kansai region in search of miraculous water. Miracle testimonials were publicized in pamphlets and magazines, and it is clear that the group used the "holy water" in their proselytization efforts. But the focus of the founder's own activities has remained the direct exhibition of her spiritual power in the practice of purification through the blowing of breath.8.
In the case of group  (Shinreikyô), the group involved played an active role in the initial process of transformation from ordinary water to "holy water," and in its subsequent development. This fact is closely related to the group's view of divinity and its valuation of miracles, a fact that makes it resemble group  (Shinjishûmeikai) as well.
Shinreikyô was founded on February 11 1947 by Ôtsuka Kan'ichi, with the group's headquarters located in Ôtsuka's own home in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. Ôtsuka founded the group in order to respond to requests for supernatural aid from a growing number of people who had learned of his demonstrations of prophetic and other spiritualist powers. Ôtsuka had possessed such powers since his early childhood, and for ten years of his youth he followed a program of ascetic pilgrimage during which he visited Mounts Kôya and Ômine in Japan, as well as a series of holy mountains in Korea and China. Returning to Japan in 1914, Ôtsuka entered the business of manufacturing and marketing electrical heating appliances, and was successful enough to establish branches in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Kobe in addition to his headquarters in Osaka. His interest in faith healing arose during World War II while engaged in these businesses. From around the time of the alliance of the Axis Powers (Japan, Germany and Italy) in 1939, Ôtsuka predicted the trend toward a world war, and foresaw the danger that Japan would suffer a great defeat that if events were allowed to progress unchanged. As a result, he sent repeated memorials to the government and military leaders of Japan, urging them to take a strictly neutral non-beligerent policy in international relations.9
The religious group Shinreikyô has not made public the year in which its founder died, or his age at that time.10 According to the group, this is because the founder was neither a mere human about whom one should speak of physical age, nor a messenger of god or intermediary between god and man who, like Christ, Muhammad and Shakyamuni, merely discovered god through his own spiritual sensitivity. On the contrary, the founder was said to be variously the one and only god, a living god, or a god revealed in the form of a human (arahitogami). The founder's power to foresee world conditions and to heal people without so much as lifting a finger was the result of the spiritual waves, the divine light (mihikari) and the innate divine power (michikara) which emanated constantly from his body; it was not a kind of power which could be acquired from some other source through religious training. He is viewed as the first savior to appear in this world with the divine power forming the origin of all things. The group further teaches that it is only through the experience of miracles that human beings can come to know the greatness of this god. Science's own lack of sufficient development causes miracles to be viewed as superstition, but in fact, only miracles can testify to the existence of a god which returns all existence to its original natural form, namely the state of a high level of rational order and purity.
The object of worship in Shinreikyô is Shinrei no Ôkami, a deity whose power can be neither seen or felt, but which is present invisibly in the same way as radiation, working in and through all things. It can be found operating in the paranormal consciousness of human beings, in animals, plants and even in inanimate matter. The group emphasizes that this deity is omnipresent in space and time, possessing an ability to freely cause miraculous happenings of unmatched quality and scope. And those miracles can be experienced through the medium of the "divine salt" (goshin'en) which is distributed to believers. When the religion was first established, believers offered various fruits to the deity, and then divided the fruits among themselves. When the members then ate those fruits, however, they experienced healings and other miracles. The group interpreted these miracles as the result of spiritual power which had permeated the offerings; in time, salt came to be substituted for fruits, since the latter were difficult to preserve, and thus subject to spoilage.
In addition to salt, believers are also provided with "divine water" (goshinsui). The group believes that its holy grounds are particularly imbued with divine power, and that power goes out to permeate objects within the grounds as well. Water flowing within the sacred precincts - even tap water - was thus believed filled with divine power, and thus thought responsible for producing numerous miracles. Members of the group thus named the water goshinsui, accepting it as something which both mediated, and testified to the existence of, divine power.11
In addition to its emphasis on miracles themselves, the group also emphasizes that individual belief and faith are not essential prerequisites for receiving benefits of holy water. In short, the fact that miracles occur in things which cannot be said to have faith (including not only plants and animals but even inanimate machines and tools), is repeatedly used as evidence for the greatness of a divine power far transcending the human realm. The group asserts that members experienced absolutely no wavering of faith following the death of the founder, since while still alive he had already entrusted all things to the "holy mother" (kyôbo), namely, his wife Kunie. Even more importantly, the appearance of miracles did not cease, thus proving that his "divine power" as a living god continued to fill all sacred space and demonstrate its efficacy even after the death of his body.
In constrast to the three examples described above, "holy water" was discovered by group  in the context of a situation of crisis, namely, a wavering of the founder's charismatic authority.
The founder of Shinji Shûmeikai was Koyama Mihoko, director of proselytization for the Shûmei Kyôkai in Kyoto, the largest single congregation of the Sekai Kyûseikyô (Church of World Messianity). Following the 1955 death of the Church's founder, Okada Mokichi, however, the Shûmei Kyôkai dissolved its bonds with the Sekai Kyûseikyô in 1970, becoming independent as the Shinji Shûmeikai.
Within the Sekai Kyûseikyô, the Church's founder Okada Mokichi is known as Meishu ("bright master"). The Church teaches that a ball of fire or "Kannon Power" (Kannonriki) resided in the belly of Meishu, who was said to be an incarnation or avatar of the bodhisattva Kannon (Sk. Avalokitesvara). Emanating from the palms of Meishu's hands, that ball of light was said to be capable of healing and "spirit-purifying" (jôrei) all manners of diseases, and scraps of paper containing the "characters of light" which he wrote were frequently sought by believers as talismans since they were said to issue powerful "spiritual waves" capable of curing disease. Following Okada's death, leadership of the group passed to his wife, but she also died in 1962. After her death, the group was troubled by unrest and discord, resulting in schismatic conflicts and the subsequent formation of numerous splinter groups. Shinji Shûmeikai was one of those groups.
Okada continued to be called Meishu within the Shinji Shûmeikai. His miraculous power was said to be a result of his control over the cosmos and nature, and it was asserted that that power had been transferred to the new group Shûmeikai; the constant stream of miraculous healings was called evidence of this fact.12
On April 25 1975 Shûmeikai issued a special edition of its official publication Rakuen which was called "Kiseki no mizu" ("Miracle water"). One article in the issue noted that "although we have had a purification font ever since the completion of the church's hall of worship, miracles occurred there only after we divested ourselves [from the Sekai Kyûseikyô] and became independent... and we must recognize that one answer to the riddle of the miracle of the water in the purification font is to be found in that divestment." The purification or "hand-washing font" (mitarashi) spoken of here was constructed in the shape of the five-petaled plum blossom favored by the founder, and located in front of the main hall of the headquarters Kyoto Higashi Shitennôji.13 In 1983, however, the group built a sacred garden and temple in Shigaraki-chô (Kôga-gun, Shiga Prefecture), and transferred its headquarters there, where they currently remain.
Miracles were demonstrated at the purification font shortly following the group's separation from Sekai Kyûseikyô, when a diabetic believer suffering from severe thirst tried drinking the water and found that his diabetes was cured. Other believers who emulated the action found that the water healed their stomach ulcers, burns, eye diseases and other ailments. The group considered such miracles a form of "salvation by water" complementing the rite of spirit-purification which was called "salvation by fire." The water of the purification font was thus recognized as "miracle water," and the effects of that water were interpreted as legitimating the group's separation from Sekai Kyûseikyô, thus proving that the founder's power was clearly equivalent to that of Meishu, leader of the Kyûseikyô.
Other stories also exist regarding the way in which the purification-font water was transformed into "holy water." One version states that at the time of her trip to Europe in 1974, the group's leader visited the Vatican and attended a mass. While sitting in the front row of the congregation, the leader was approached by the Pope, who shook hands with her, in spite of the fact she was not a Christian believer. According to the group, the leader is united with Meishu, and her handshake was meant as a "spirit-purifying" of the Pope; the group states that the water of the purification font became "miracle water" after this time. This event is likewise said to signify the transferal of the divine power to the new leader, simultaneously proving the legitimacy of the group's separation from the Sekai Kyûseikyô.
According to this version, the miraculous nature of the "holy water" dates only from 1974, a difference of some four years relative to the previous story. In either case, however, the "holy water" is given significance as a miraculous evidence of the legitimacy of the group's separation from Kyûseikyô and transferal of divine power from Meishu, a miracle resulting from the leader's pure faith in Meishu. And that significance is likewise actively emphasized to believers in both versions.
With the removal of the headquarters to Shigaraki, the "miracle water" was also transferred to the "cloud dragon" (Kumogatatsu) spring within the headquarter's sacred precincts. The group states that since Meishu's spirit has taken up residence within the main hall of the headquarters, his divine power has also moved there, with the result that only the water in this purification font can now be considered genuine "miracle water." In spite of this clear statement of the part of the group leadership, however, many believers still use water from the earlier Kyoto location to experience the miracle of healing.
In section 2 we classified group  as Type "A" due to the fact that the believers' experiential healing by "holy water" occurred first within the process of the transformation of water to "holy water" which preceeded the move of the group's headquarters. But subsequent to the move, it was the group leadership which officially declared that the water of the newly constructed headquarter's purification font was "holy water," and believers' experiential healing by that water was produced after the fact, in the form of a verification of the leader's declaration that the water of the purification font was indeed "holy." In short, the development from ordinary water to "holy water" in group  proceeded not only in accordance with Type "A," but thereafter also by a process in which meaning was attributed by the group leadership in the same way as for the more typical type [B] groups described below.14
In the same way as for the first three groups (Type A) noted above, we can likewise classify groups  to  (Type B) with regard to the status of the leader's charismatic authority at the time of the initial appearance of the "holy water." A further subclassification can be achieved by considering the concrete means or rationale involved in the transformation. Namely, in examples  to  of Type A, the water was declared to be "holy water" merely because of its existence within space considered sacred by the group - in most cases, a spring or purification font. In Type B groups, however, the transformation to "holy water" is effected through the medium of specific rituals or religious ceremonies.
In considering this latter class of religious groups, let us start once again by looking at those cases ( to ) in which "holy water" appeared within conditions of generally stable, or relatively rising charismatic authority.
The founder of this group was Ômori Kiyoko, who died in 1967 venerated as the incarnation of the goddess Benzaiten (also known as Benten, the Indian deity Sarasvati). At the time of her death, Ômori left the vow that "for countless ages into the endless future, my body shall dwell without change in this holy ground, and I shall extend my aid so long as suffering beings remain in this world."
In 1929 Kiyoko married Ômori Chishô, a member of the Shingon sect of Buddhism who served as intendant priest of the branch temple Jûrinji in Gojô City, Nara Prefecture. From about the time that she bore her second child, Kiyoko began experiencing occasional physical ills of unknown etiology, particularly pain in her arms. She consulted a spiritualist medium (kitôshi), who told her that "an old Benten image has been abandoned somewhere within the temple, and it is the cause of your ills. If you do not find it and enshrine it quickly, your ills will become worse."
In time, a Benzaiten image with damaged arms was indeed discovered at the temple. After its broken arms were repaired and the image was enshrined, the pain in Kiyoko's arms also went away. At first, Kiyoko's husband expressed little devotion for worshiping the image, but each time his enthusiasm waned, Kiyoko's physical condition would worsen, and he finally began worshipping the image fervently.
On April 17 1934, Kiyoko saw an apparition that said, "I am Benzaiten, and I shall now bequeath to you the virtue of Benzaiten. Benzaiten is the mind of water. Make your mind the mind of water and save all sentient beings." Subsequently, Kiyoko received other divine revelations and began delivering prophecies, as well as healing a variety of illnesses while urging people to have faith in Benzaiten.
From this beginning, Kiyoko eventually came to be accepted as the incarnation of Benzaiten, and was called the "Divine Proxy" (goshindai), or even the "Running Benten" (Hashiri Benten), based on the fact that great crowds of believers would beginning running as soon as they arrived at the Gojô station, so anxious were they to arrive at her feet and receive her blessing. In 1948 a believers' association, the Benten Confraternity (Bentenkô) was formed. The establishment of the Benten sect or Bentenshû occurred four years later, and in 1954 the temple Nyoiji was established as the Benten Sect headquarters in the Yamato area, followed in 1964 by the Osaka headquarters in Ibaragi City.
The main sanctuary (honden) of the Yamato headquarters, enshrining the central image of Benzaiten, was built in the center of a lake; in 1956, the year after construction was completed, an annual ritual replacement of the lake's water was initiated in conjunction with the summer festival of Tanabata. This ceremony was called "changing the water of the divine lake" (Shinchi mizugae no gyôji). The founder instructed her disciples that "this precious water has lain beneath the central image for an entire year and must not be allowed to go to waste. Use it to water your fields..."15 Among the believers who followed these instructions, some found that luxuriant crops were produced without blight, while others found that applying a poultice of the water to their bodies would heal burns, bruises, corns, and other local ailments. Some believers sprinkled the water from the lake in fish-breeding pools and found that it prevented death of the fish from "red tide."
Although it remains exposed outdoors throughout the year, the water of the divine lake at the Yamato headquarters is said to remain remarkably clear and fresh. That water is apparently not injested, but the "sacred water" (goshinsui) offered before the central images at the group's two headquarters, and the water offered before representations of the founder, is taken internally. As a child, the founder Kiyoko had learned about Chinese folk medicines from her grandmother, and following her divine vision she began distributing medicines in accordance with her revelations, instructing her disciples to take the prescriptions after infusing them with the sacred water. Some members claim that patients near to death and unable to swallow normally are nonetheless able to drink the sacred water, and they report that many given the water in this way have experienced miraculous cures from mortal illnesses. Some believers bring pots with them to receive the water, and to respond to these desires, the sacred water offered before the images is replaced numerous times each day as necessary. As the sacred water is taken down from its place of offering, it is placed inside a kettle near the sanctuary's entrance for the convenience of worshipers.
The founder of group  Honmon Butsurhûshû was Nagamatsu Nissen, called within the group the "first leader" (Kaidô). A self-professed "minister of the Tathagata" (Nyoraishi), Nagamatsu was revered by his converts as a great bodhisattva and "great teacher of the last age of the dharma" (Mappô uen no daisonshi). Nagamatsu was a fervent student of the Lotus Sutra and a superb religious leader, but he did not claim to be a "psychic" (reinôsha) with the power to communicate directly with supernatural beings. Based on the traditions of earlier Lotus sects, however, he used "holy water" as a medium of propagation, and was successful at attracting large numbers of believers, in that way also enhancing his religious authority. Based on these characteristics, we decided to study Nagamatsu's sect (case ) as an example of a Type B group. Further, since this sect was established at the relatively early date of 1857, a study of its use of holy water should shed light on the nature and basis of older, more traditional beliefs in "holy water."
In cases  to , ordinary water became "holy water" as the mere result of its existence within sacred space. In case , ordinary water became "holy water" due to its being positively moved to a sacred location; in particular, by being placed (offered) before the objects of the group's worship. It might be noted that within some groups of the B type (in which the founder's teachings regarding "holy water" precedes use of the water itself), certain religious or ritual acts are specified by the founder (or by other individuals or groups associated with the founder). When those acts are performed by the founder or other believers, it is believed that the effect may be sufficient to transform ordinary water into "holy water."
Within the headquarters of Honmon Butsurhûshû, and even within the various local temples of the sect and the homes of its believers, "first morning water"16 is offered before the mandala of the Daimoku - the written formula "Namu Myôhô Rengekyô"V that forms the central object of veneration. It is said that if the believer performs silent sutra reading during the time a single stick of incense is left burning before the Daimoku, the holy Daimoku will act to convert the "water of offering" (okôsui) into holy water. It is further believed that this "holy water" will not lose its power to heal illness and preserve health, even if it is thereafter mixed with ordinary water. When believers remove the offering water from their altars, they store it in pure containers and drink it in place of raw tap or well water. Finally, they are instructed that "one must not drink [the water] in a standing position. One must show respect by drinking only when seated. And any water remaining must not be wasted." As a result, the water is handled with great reverence, and followers even take left-over water and rub it on their heads in hope that it will improve their intelligence.
Honmon Butsuryûshû began as a Buddhist lay confraternity17 (kô) founded in Kyoto by Nagamatsu Nissen (lay name Seifû). The group was originally associated with the Honmon Hokkeshû, a sect which claimed the Lotus devotees NichirenVI and NichiryûVII as its founders, but it became independent in 1947. The founder Nissen was originally from the merchant class, and he was vehement in his criticism of the decadent and stagnant situation within the established Buddhist sects. Moreover, he was opposed to the established sects due to their inability to respond to the people's genuine desires for salvation from poverty, disease, and conflict. In their place, he proclaimed that intonation of the Daimoku would produce the manifest evidence of healings and other "this-worldly benefits" (genze riyaku), and that it was those benefits which formed the way to lead the people to true faith.
Legends regarding the "water of offering" (okôsui) state that it originated when Nichiren's mother died of a serious illness. At that time Nichiren intoned the Daimoku over some water and placed the water in her mouth. His mother thus revived and lived an additional four years. Nissen gave this water to believers, calling it the "water of Daimoku virtue," and saying that "although it looks like water, it is not water. It is the Daimoku itself. It is the foremost essence of the formula Namu Myôhô Rengekyô. For this reason it is not water, but the Daimoku."18
As noted in the Table 1 column "Does Water Spoil?," groups , , ,  and  claim that their holy water does not spoil or become stale even when stored for extended periods. This property of preservation is thus emphasized as one of the outstanding proofs which convicts believers that the water is indeed "holy water." And it is not coincidental that such cases appear here, for the property of non-spoilage is in fact a prototypical feature frequently found in traditional folk faith and legend with respect to "holy water." In the present group, however, it is believed that even the "water of offering" will spoil if left exposed, and it is thus removed from its place of offering after one day. Nissen instructed his followers that "a spoiled or unripe fruit shouldn't be eaten, even if it has been made a sacred offering. [In the same way] The water of offering should always be boiled water." Believers have followed Nissen's teachings since they believe them to be scientific and rational.
Although Nissen's "rational" thought is considered enlightened and progressive, his instructions regarding the handling of holy water were based on other considerations as well. Under the prevailing social circumstances, it was necessary to demonstrate to the surrounding society that the group and its believers were being sufficiently prudent as they handled the "water of offering." If not, it was entirely possible that the group might be investigated as the transmitter of an agent of cholera or other epidemic disease, and the suspicion alone might be sufficient to lead to government suppression of the group. The Meiji government was adamant in its attempts to systematically orchestrate Japan's national thought and ethos, and while it did not prohibit magic and intercessory rituals per se, it would not permit any interference in medical practice or therapy that might result from such beliefs, and it did frequently suppress new religious groups under the pretext that the groups were engaged in faith healing. In point of fact, Butsuryûkô also came under investigation as the result of complaints from offended medical doctors, and Nissen was told that that he would be held responsible if members of the confraternity rejected modern physicians and medicines, even though he did not encourage them to such acts himself.
Nissen did not reject modern medicine as such. But he severely berated believers who relied so on medicines that they neglected their faith. The "water of offering" was not mere water, but the Daimoku itself, and Nissen was firmly convinced that if the offering water failed to reveal its manifest witness, it was the result of the lack of faith in the Daimoku by the person using the water. According to extant records, he thus continued using the water to heal disorders of eyes and skin, gonorrhea and palsy. In addition to offering water, he also initially distributed "cracker Daimoku" (rice crackers impressed with the image of the Daimoku) as a means of proselytization, but from 1869, the year that the Honmon Butsuryûkô made its headquarters at the Kyoto temple Yûjôji, he relied on water alone.19
The group claims that offering water infused with the Daimoku can heal not only humans, but diseases in goldfish and cats as well, and it has sometimes said that the simple, guileless nature of animals and children makes it easier for them to be healed by the water. While this illustrates a belief that it is the Daimoku itself which possesses the healing power, it also reflects the conviction that human doubt, ego, and arrogance can inhibit demonstration of the water's efficacy.
But what is most important in leading to a revelation of the water's manifest witness is the deep faith of the person invoking the Daimoku, namely, the practitioner using the water. As a result, it is said that in emergency cases, any water can become the "water of offering" - even if it has not been formally dedicated - so long as the individual intones the Daimoku with an undivided heart and mind. The group, for example, transmits the story of the member who was sent to China and the South Seas during World War II, where the only water available was muddy, leading to mass outbreaks of dysentery and other communicable diseases. The believer, however, filtered the water with a handkerchief and fervently intoned the Daimoku over it, with the result that his platoon survived without a single case of sickness.
The group also claims that
in event of a burn, even if you have no water of offering immediately available, say the Daimoku and stir your finger in water which has been placed in a basin. If your faith is firm, that alone will be sufficient. Other groups also have their holy water, but those waters are unavailable without going to special places. Our believers, though, have access to the water of offering anywhere they may be.
This kind of miraculous occurrence is thus given significance as a virtuous benefit stemming from loyalty to the group and deep faith in the Lotus Sutra and Daimoku.
Virtually all the groups studied in this article, including , use "holy water" for drinking and for direct application to the bodies of sick people. And those methods are no doubt the most typical means used to effect healing by "holy water." But it might be noted that the August 1974 issue of the Butsuryûshû Jiin publication Jôsenji tsûshin carried a story which pointed out a use of "holy water" different from these others.
According to the story, a newborn baby fell ill due to internal bleeding that resulted from insufficient development of its digestive organs. Since the infant was placed for care inside a hospital incubator, it was impossible to give it offering water in the way normally done for sick people. Frantic with concern, the parents of the baby consulted one of the group's clerics (called a kôshi). The priest instructed the parents to write the infant's name on a large sheet of paper, cover the paper with plastic, and pour offering water over the plastic. The parents did this, while other believers gathered and intoned the Daimoku (called a "helping practice" or jogyô), upon which the infant's critical status improved. The mother prepared herself for breast feeding by personally drinking the offering water each day, and at last the baby recovered totally and was able to leave the hospital.
The priest who responded to the parents' initial inquiry said he had searched through Nissen's teachings for something of relevance to this case and had found a story about how Nissen had helped a sick person in a distant location by writing the patient's name on a piece of paper and pouring offering water on the paper while intoning the Daimoku. The priest had used this story as his model in advising the infant's parents.
Even though a certain "holy water" may attract widespread faith for a time, it may later cease to demonstrate the marvelous efficacy of healing disease. In that case, the water may continue to be called by names like "spirit water" or "sacred water," but it is no longer true "holy water" in the sense we have given it here; lingering names like "spirit water" or "sacred water" indicate only that it was efficacious "holy water" at sometime in the past. In the present group, however, experiences of healing by "holy water" continue to be produced by using Nissen's experience and instruction as a model for eliciting the experiences of later believers, and by group efforts to transmit and share these experiences among believers. In short, offering water is "holy water" even today.
In group  believers offer water before their object of worship, a scroll of the "Daimoku", namely, the characters "Namu Myôhô Rengekyô". They also intone the Daimoku orally over the water, and through these means the Daimoku permeates the water, transforming it into "holy water." In the same way, any member of group  can transform ordinary water into "holy water" by exploiting the means taught by the group's founder, thus invoking the divine power called "spirit waves" (reiha).
A sickly individual since childhood, Hase Yoshio contracted tuberculosis after being drafted and sent as a soldier to Manchuria in 1936. He was sent home by ship and hospitalized the next year, but while in the hospital he developed pleurisy, intestinal tuberculosis, an anal fistula, and in 1938 an intestinal obstruction. The latter condition required surgery, and although the surgery itself was generally successful, his doctor reported that he would not likely survive more than a month. Having received a virtual sentence of death, Hase decided to verify for himself the existence of the supernatural, and so left the hospital on a religious quest.
Saying his last farewells to his family, Hase donned the traditional white garments of a religious ascetic and set out. From the city of Takamatsu on Shikoku Island, Hase climbed the mountain Gokenzan (also known as Reihôzan by the current group) and went into seclusion in a small hut near the summit. Placing twenty-one rocks in a row to count the days, Hase sat in constant meditation (zazen), removing the rocks one by one. On the day that only a single rock remained, he received a spiritual vision in which the voice of god told him, "Be the messenger of god and walk the path of god." While hearing this voice, he felt immobile, as though chained down, but the pain which had wracked his entire body mysteriously left him.
Recovering his health, Hase married in 1943 and opened a photography studio in his native Kanamachi district of Tokyo. But Hase eventually left the studio in the care of his wife and continued his journey of ascetic practice to the various holy mountains and sacred sites throughout Japan. In March 1954, Hase began a period of water practiceVIII at Reihôzan. On the day after starting the practice, he heard the voice of god saying, "In accord with the Dharma, we grant you the divine teachings. Those who abide by that law will be saved, and under my constant protection." At that moment Hase knew that he was a part and embodiment of the great cosmic god who ruled and protected everything in the universe, from the planets to the grasses and trees, a messiah born into this world to save all humanity through the divine power of "spirit waves" (reiha) generated from his body.
By 1957 Hase had gathered some forty people who believed they had been saved by his spirit waves, and he thus founded the Hase Sensei Sankôkai (Master Hase Adoration Association) in Matsudo City, Chiba Prefecture. Three years later the group received recognition as a religious juridical person, and on March 7 1969 the headquarters was moved to the city of Noda. March 7 was the day on which the founder had been born as a child of the great cosmic god, and that day was thus made the date of the group's founding; a large religious festival is now held each year on this date. Although Hase (known within the group as the "protector god" (goshugoshin) died in 1984, he is believed to have become eternal, undying waves of spiritual energy. Those waves are now united with the group's current leader, Hase's eldest son (called Nidaisama or "The Second Generation").
According to the group, the power of god governs the entire universe, and makes all things possible; this power is transmitted by the "spirit waves" of the founder, thereby resulting in salvation. While followers are not required to understand abstruse doctrines or to undergo difficult ascetic practices, those wishing to be saved must first have the will to seek god and come to the church. It is impossible for ordinary human beings to receive the spirit waves of the great cosmic god directly; the spirit waves protect the soul that in turn maintains human life, and those spirit waves can be received only through the "protector god." Accordingly, one must establish a "divine link" (mitsunagari) with this church in order to be saved. In concrete, to establish this "link" means that believers receive a "Divine Emblem Plaque" (Go-Shintai Ofuda) and enshrine it in their homes, placing their faith in the great cosmic deity, which in turn is the "protector god," namely the second-generation leader "Nidaisama."
According to the group, persons who have established a "link" to the church - even though the initial rationale for that link might be nothing more than a feeling of obligation to an acquaintance or friend - will be saved. The link with the church purifies the individual's mind, and can even transform the minds of those nearby, for example, children who otherwise exhibit violent behavior toward family members, or a husband who goes on drunken rampages.
And when the Go-Shintai Ofuda is enshrined, the divine spirit waves constantly safeguard the individual and produce countless miracles in his or her life. The group recounts stories, for example, regarding miraculous healings in cases where even doctors had given up hope, miraculous escapes from automobile or industrial accidents, cases in which cooking pans caught fire but were miraculously extinguished as though blown out, or cases of failing businesses which suddenly experienced a favorable recovery. The group goes on to say that the very existence of such miracles is proof both of the legitimacy of the religion, and of the fact that miracles will continue to occur so long as the individual maintains his "link" with the church.
When believers desire even greater, more sure salvation, they may apply for "special prayers" (tokubetsu kigan). The "special prayers" are performed for the individual over a period of fourteen days in the headquarter's main sanctuary, and the individual is given a "life plaque" (seimei fuda; also called a "scapegoat plaque" or migawari fuda) that is imbued with supernatural power (jintsûriki), together with "divine rice wine" (goshinshu). The individual's name is written on the "life plaque" and set afloat in a lake located within the headquarter's precincts. This act is believed to cut off bad karma and elminate "inferior spirits," all of which are said to be the cause of terrible misfortunes.
The "divine wine" is said to have the same efficacy as the life plaque, and to be capable of healing disease. A priestess wearing scarlet formal kimono uses her finger to anoint the top of the supplicant's head and the nape of his neck with the wine (if the individual is sick and cannot receive the ritual in person, the priestess anoints the hand of a representative instead). Since the divine wine must not touch any impure object, it is annointed on the left hand, which is not ordinarily used. The representative wraps the annointed hand in a pure white hankerchief and goes to the sick supplicant, then uses the hand to anoint the top of the patient's head, the nape of the neck, and any afflicted parts of the body. In addition to being used in anointings in this way, the divine wine is also drunk. By applying one week in advance, a believer may receive a bottle of the substance, enough to drink one-third cup each day for three weeks. Believers are strongly warned not to treat the divine wine in a careless or neglectful manner, since it is permeated with "spirit waves."20
The origin of the "life plaque" is related to the founder's revelatory experiences in 1954, the year that his mission as messiah was made clear. After recovering from his serious illnesses, Hase was filled with thanks and awakened to his role as messenger and child of the great cosmic deity. He wished to express his gratitude, but found that he had nothing but the bamboo water flask with which he had asuaged his thirst during his ascetic practice. He thus poured out his last drops of water in offering. His shadow was cast on a nearby rock at that instant, and strangely, the shadow did not disappear, but remained imprinted on the rock. Then, while descending from the summit of the mountain, he heard the sound of water sloshing in his flask; surprised, he removed the stopper and peered inside, whereupon he found that the flask had become miraculously filled with rice wine.
Thereafter, the shape - namely the "human image" (hitogata) - which had been impressed as a shadow on the rock was copied and used as the model for the "life plaque" distributed within the group. The "first water" (hatsumizu, also called "divine water" or shinsui) which we discuss below, originated in the water which Hase offered following his healing, while the "divine wine" noted earlier is similarly modeled on the wine which god provided in response to Hase's offering.
As used within this group, the term "first water" refers to water drawn by the founder during the new year's ritual of omizutori, the first ceremony21 performed each year. Beginning at precisely 12:00 midnight on the last night of the year, the founder, who has previously undergone purification through cold-water ablutions, draws water and offers it to the deity. Following the ritual of dedication, the water is presented to believers.
This "divine water" cannot be received without visiting the church's headquarters, but believers can transform ordinary water into "divine water" within their own homes, by performing the following ritual stipulated by the church: the first individual of the family who arises on the first day of the year cleanses his or her hands and mouth, and uses a special cup to draw the "first water" of the year. The water is then offered to the god-shelf where the Go-Shintai Ofuda is enshrined. After two hours, the water is transformed into "divine water" by the effect of spirit waves. Some people take water down from their god-shelf every two hours and store it in their refrigerators for use by invalids who cannot eat or even swallow normal medicines; others use it as a means of proselytization to attract new believers. Still others use it in cooking, since it is believed to have the power of prolonging life, even for those not sick, and some say it has the capacity to raise the taste of inferior second-grade rice wines to that of first-grade wines.
The next group  is similar in the sense that the group's founder first conceived the method and procedures used for transforming ordinary water into "holy water." In contrast to cases  and , however, in which believers could reproduce the effects themselves, here the founder alone has the power to perform the transformative ritual.
Shimada Haruichi founded Tenshin Ômikamikyô after being told in a revelation that he would be entrusted with the mission of saving humanity. Before revealing itself to Haruichi, however, the deity is said to have first appeared to Shimada's older brother Hirakichi. Hirakichi stated that when he was ten years old he had conversed with an old man who appeared in the top of a large zelkova tree, and had subsequently been taken to the "other world." Hirakichi dropped out of school, and people began saying he was possessed by a fox spirit, but he confounded those around him by healing the eye diseases of old people.
In 1895 at the age of thirteen, Hirakichi disappeared and his whereabouts were unknown for about a month, but he returned to his home at New Year and prophesied that a male child would be born to his parents during the coming year. True to the prophecy, a boy was born the next year. Responding to his parents' inquiry, Hirakichi said that he had been told by god that the new child should be called Haruichi. Some time later, Hirakichi transmitted a revelation that said, "I must leave this earth for a while, but I wish for mother to continue her faith in the neighborhood Myôjin deity." From that day on Hirakichi completely changed his appearance and behavior, never transmitting prophecies or leaving home again. Instead, he devoted himself to serving on the family farm with the others in his family.
In 1909 Haruichi was thirteen and in the second year of high school. A relative from his village of Ôgoe (present-day Kazo City, Saitama Prefecture), however, asked Haruichi to work in the relative's Tokyo grain store, so Haruichi moved to Tokyo. The store owner quickly recognized Haruichi's innate intelligence, and at the age of seventeen Haruichi was entrusted with responsibility for visiting regular customers. He also gained knowledge of the grain commodities market, thus helping the store's owner to prosper and increasing his own income as well. In this way, Haruichi came to be an increasingly important employee of the store. Haruichi lived a rather profligate life with the money he earned, but while some of his coworkers occasionally complained out of jealousy, his master's faith in him grew all the greater.
At the age of twenty Haruichi passed his pre-induction physical examination and entered compulsory military service. After his discharge, his former employer wanted him to return and work for him again, but Haruichi decided instead to enter business for himself. Since he wished to avoid becoming a rival of his former employer, however, Haruichi went into business as a broker in imported rice and wheat bran.
Haruichi's business progressed well for three years, allowing him to open a shop in the Saga-chô area of Tokyo's Fukagawa district. In addition to being blessed with innate business sense, Haruichi had the fortune to be designated official broker for the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce, with the result that his business expanded even more.
It appeared for a while that Haruichi's success would know no bounds. But a recession occurred in early 1920; in March commodity prices dropped precipitously, and Haruichi's speculation on the rice market ended in great losses. Haruichi married in 1923, but his financial situation became progressively worse. As though adding insult to injury, the great Kanto earthquake which struck in September of the year caused fires which destroyed his home and warehouses. Haruichi attempted to eke out a bare existence by pulling a cart through the burned-out ruins of Tokyo with his wife, selling foods door-to-door or from an open-air market. While perservering in this way, Haruichi was able to raise a small amount of capital by dealing in soybeans, and was thus able to restart his business of brokering in the various grains which were beginning to enter Tokyo. Although he was at last able to rebuild a warehouse in his previous location, his business did not do particularly well this time, and in 1932 he sold his home and even fell behind in rent payments, occasionally having to go without meals.
While at this low ebb, Harukichi had a dream one night in which he heard the voice of god say, "Why do you not awaken to me? You must allow your physical body to drop away decisively." With will thus reinvigorated, Haruichi resolved to become an intermediary broker for miscellaneous grains, an occupation having the lowest status within his profession. But no matter how hard he worked he was unable to escape from his predicament. In January 1935 Haruichi had reached a point of such desperation that he decided to end his life by jumping from Tokyo's Eitai Bridge. But when he stood on the bridge to cast himself off, he realized that he could not die and leave his wife behind alone.
Since childhood Haruichi had heard his family talk of the strange events surrounding his birth and the origin of his name, and he believed in the existence of the god who had revealed itself through his brother. But his school friends and neighbors had made fun of him, and he had had several painful experiences as the result of the stories, with the result that he decided to hide his special relationship to the god. At the same time, he did not fail to pray in times of extremity or crisis, and when resolute action was required. On the night when he attempted and failed to commit suicide, he pleaded with the god, "During this next week, you must show me the way to go. If you don't reveal it to me, I can bear it no longer, and surely must die. Afterwards, I won't complain to you no matter what happens. I entrust everything to you, including my wife and children." The tenor of his voice was so stark that his wife shook with fear, wondering "I didn't know whether his prayer was an entreaty or a threat."
Three days later, on the evening of January 18 Haruichi's business schedule took him to visit a regular customer. On the way, he felt chilled by a strong north wind; he knew that his condition would worsen if he caught a cold, so he returned home to get his coat. When he arrived home, he found another dealer, Satô Yasutaka waiting there, but Satô's face lacked its normal cheer and his expression was distorted in its intensity. He exclaimed, "I am your protector deity. Why did you sell short on soy beans? ... If you keep this up you will be unable to continue living in Saka-chô. I will tell you my market price, and you must turn around and buy soy beans." Haruichi was astounded at this sudden turn of events, and called another dealer named Kametaya. Still under the influence of divine possession, Satô asked for paper and pencil, and wrote, "the price of soy beans will rise, reaching 8 yen 3 sen in February. I will make you all rich, so you must hold a festival of thanks on February 11, Haruichi's birthday."
Haruichi and Kamataya were skeptical of this revelation, but a third dealer named Kikuike Unosuke, who had been deeply interested in spiritualism, heard of the story and told them, "This deity is different from Inari or Jizô,IX and seems to be a `living kami' (ikigami). I'll buy as many soybeans as I can, and Shimada (Haruichi) should obey the revelation and do the same." Kikuike was old, and thought to be well versed in religious matters, so he and Kametaya bought all the soybean futures they could. They became worried when the price continued to drop, and they nervously watched the market conditions. Then in March the market rose sharply and reached the price predicted by the revelation. There were signs that the price would continue to rise, but the two men obeyed the divine order and sold their futures, making substantial profits in the process.
During the period since the first revelation about the market, Haruichi dedicated himself to observing divine rites. In accordance with Kikuike's suggestion, Haruichi had renovated the alcove in his home and installed an altar there. After Haruichi's luck on the market, his friends gathered at his house with increasing frequency and listened enthusiastically to talk of the deity which had possessed Satô. Haruichi's fervor at entreating his deity began to abate, however, once he had achieved prosperity. Just at that time, Satô was once again possessed by the deity and experienced violent seizures, promoting Haruichi to return to his religious concerns. One night in November he was doing as he always did when he worshiped, with the electric room lights dimmed and the room illuminated by a single candle offered before the deity; everyone in the room was concentrating on raising a prayer to the deity when Satô was suddenly possessed. Within the darkened room the deity's voice indicated that it would grant Haruichi some characters to read. Although nothing was visible to anyone else in the room, Haruichi was able to clearly see characters appear. All of these miraculous events were interpreted as gifts from the deity to lead vulgar humans - including the group's doubting founder himself - to religious faith.
Although the small group made attempts to prevent knowledge of these happenings from leaking to the outside world, their number soon grew to eight as a result of normal business contacts. In 1937, Kikuike and the others decided to express their thanks for blessings received by building a new temple to their living deity, and to openly propagate it to the world in hopes of even greater divine blessing. After discussing the matter among themselves, the group were able to collect a sum of money amounting to several tens of thousands of yen. Thinking they would ask Haruichi to manage the money, the group appealed to the deity for divine instructions. But to their surprise, the deity responded that Haruichi was not to have anything to do with money, but deal with spiritual matters only. The group was unanimous in their desire to have Haruichi act as minister to the deity, but Haruichi himself thought that it would be sufficient to request the services of a religious specialist; he expressed no desire to serve as permanent minister.
In sum, the plan to construct a new temple came to nought. But the group continued to be involved with the volatile grain market, where fortunes could be made or lost in a day, and they thus expressed a continuing desire to meet and consult the deity for advice whenever any doubt arose. At these meetings they would also discuss any miracles they had experienced, together with other remarkable events in their lives.22
As the group of religious friends obeyed the investment instructions revealed by the deity, they became so successful that other business friends grew wary. In the confused situation of global depression and domestic unrest following World War I, Japan attempted to solve its domestic problems through foreign expansionism, and thus advanced toward war on the Chinese continent. Goods became increasingly scarce, and a price-control ordinance was put into effect in September 1939. Haruichi was selected as board chairman of the union of grain dealers which was subsequently established by government order.
As part of his job, Haruichi was required to handle any dealer's infraction of government ordinances; night and day he had to accompany the police on rounds in the attempt to settle various problems. After this situation grew a bit more stable, Haruichi resigned his position as chairman; eighteen months later (1942) he learned of an investment opportunity in textiles, and while he had no previous experience in the textiles industry, he dedicated himself to the new line of work from that time until his official establishment of a religious group in 1952.
Haruichi's house in Saga-chô was totally destroyed by the massive fire bombings of Tokyo which occurred in March 1945. But long before the war and the start of American bombing of mainland Japan, Haruichi had already received a divine warning in 1935 to move his family to a house built on his parents' property. In 1948 Haruichi built a new home in Kago-chô (present-day Komagome) within Tokyo's Bunkyô district, and he there constructed a small shrine about two meters wide, thus continuing the exercise of his faith within his home.
Haruichi had lost contact with his religious friends as a result of the increasing chaos of war from 1944 on, but he maintained faith in his deity. After his house was rebuilt, however, Haruichi's old friends began returning one by one to worship with him again, and he once again started the religious services he had previously sponsored. Since this small coterie of believers brought with them friends and relatives who were also desirous of salvation, the number of participants soon grew to fifty. Further, Haruichi healed an insane person at the request of an old acquaintance, and as news of this miraculous cure spread, the number of believers grew to over one-hundred.
The frequent meetings led to official suspicion; a detective who came to investigate advised Haruichi that he could now receive official recognition for the religion and should register the group so as to prevent unwarranted social concern. Haruichi thus decided to quit the textiles business; in June 1952 his group received official recognition as a religious corporation, and he thus gained the status of founder of a new religious sect.
Around the year 1950 Haruichi was hospitalized with acute appendicitis that subsequently developed into a case of peritonitis requiring surgery. Following the operation he experienced cyclic bouts of pain, which he interpreted as punishment for his refusal to accept his mission as god's minister. His doctors thought he would require a second operation, but as he lay on the operating table the pain vanished, never to return. Haruichi's decision to forsake the world of business and devote his life to religion was the result of this experience, together with the deity's charge that he "hazard life and limb to effect a spiritual reformation." In reponse, Haruichi prayed that if he were indeed the one meant to fulfill a mission from god, then he wanted the deity to grant him some power which would demonstrate the mind of god, a power which could be used to convince anyone of the truth of his mission.
At 2:00 A.M. on the morning of January 11 1951 Haruichi witnessed a divine apparition. An "old man with white hair" appeared, telling Haruichi that he needn't worry. This vision convinced Haruichi that he would be sure of divine protection if he would but set out on the unwavering road of faith. Haruichi revealed his vision to a long-time religious friend Mitsube Heisaburô, whose wife Haruichi had once healed of a disease, and on January 13 the two men went to visit Kikuike. At this meeting Mitsube made the decision to quit his business, and he promised Haruichi his full cooperation.
Two days later a visitor came to Haruichi's home, desiring to hear about his religion. This visitor was Mochizuki Fujikichirô, a Christian believer who said he had heard from friends of the miracles occurring around Haruichi. He was astounded, he said, since these miracles so closely resembled those that occurred during the life of Jesus. Haruichi also expressed interest in this topic, and engaged in repeated discussions with Mochizuki regarding Christian faith, concepts of god and his own views on religion.
Mochizuki told Haruichi that he had been a believer in Christianity for thirty years, but his family had gone bankrupt, he himself had failed in business and was in debt, and his son's tuberculosis couldn't be cured. Haruichi responded by asking what faith was for if it was incapable of helping in such misfortunes; Mochizuki replied that he should not be unhappy even though sick and in poverty. To merely pray for physical healing would be calculating and selfish; instead, one should give thanks to god even when in privation, since Christianity's main purpose was to provide for salvation of the soul. Haruichi, however, would not accept this reply, saying
the Bible tells us that during Christ's lifetime people came to him for healing and salvation from hunger. They were saved on the spot through miraculous gifts of food and healing. If this is nothing more than a foolish parable, then it shouldn't be capable of convicting anyone with intelligence. The miracles which occurred during Christ's lifetime must have actually happened. It is certainly important to train one's mind and spirit, but the real god, the real religion is the one in which divine salvation is found genuinely in this world, the one in which god gives wealth and heals diseases and makes people happy.
Mochizuki was moved by Haruichi's claim that one should be able to pray to god for happiness in the present life, and he asked Haruichi to pray to God for the healing of his son. Within a month, the son was well, in spite of the fact that a doctor had previously reported that the boy would have to remain out of school for eighteen months. Mochizuki was struck by the great power of the god revealed by Haruichi and he resolved to devote himself to the religious life under Haruichi's guidance. Moreover, Mochizuki quit his job to dedicate himself to Haruichi's religious group, and his wife supported the family by beginning a small clothing business; in short time it became a great financial success. The demonstration of such miracles was accompanied by a divine revelation in March 1952. According to that revelation,
The present religions of Christianity, Buddhism and so forth are profitable for spiritual cultivation and training, but they are devoid of miracles. In spite of all their struggles, Confucious, Shakyamuni, and Nichiren managed to transmit only one part of the religious truth of miracles. There is only one means whereby humans can communicate with the divine and spirit realms, and that is through the person chosen by God.
As a result of these miracles and revelations, Haruichi and the people around him came to the conviction that the god which was using him to demonstrate its power was one and the same god that spoke through Jesus.23 At the time they initiated their religious activities, the group had called their deity the "god of the market" (sôba no kamisama). While they had believed it to be a god of high stature, it was viewed as a personal "tutelary deity" with a particularly close relationship to Haruichi; since an altar had been constructed in Haruichi's home, his family had called it their "private god" (uchi no kamisama). The deity was said to be "the god which appeared in human history through Moses and Jesus." At the time of the group's official establishment, Haruichi gave the deity the name Tenshin Ômikami (Heaven-Mind-Great-Deity). Haruichi said that while the deity did not originally have a name, a nameless deity was inconvenient for believers to call upon, with the result that he had prayed that he be permitted to affix the name.
When beginning the new religious group, the founder Haruichi wished to avoid the stigma of being labelled a fraudulent religion, so he taught that physical healing was the province of medical doctors. Domestic conflicts and the economic miseries produced by them, on the other hand, were things from which he could save people through divine intervention, for example, by divine power to make a business successful. But he also realized that serious illnesses incurable by modern bio-medicine produced a vicious cycle of poverty and illness, thus representing one of the greatest sources of human misery. Further, and most importantly, believers themselves expressed strong desires for healing. In sum, Haruichi eventually became actively involved in faith healing.
In 1961 a believer who was also a medical doctor came to Haruichi with the request for "a method of instantly healing a disease currently incurable by modern medicine." The doctor was initially attracted to the group when he learned that Haruichi had cured one of his patients of an incurable disease. In the process of talking with Haruichi, the physician came to trust the founder's mystical power and he asked the founder to heal his wife of a chronic illness, upon which he became a member of the group himself.
When the founder asked the physician to tell him what the most difficult illness to cure was, the physician replied that while many people suffered from nervous pain and rheumatic diseases, there were no medicines yet developed to cure such ills. The physician then accompanied the founder in a session of private prayer before the deity, and the deity revealed a message, saying that "since this is a request from a doctor of scientific medicine, I will give you a scientific method of cure..."
The oracle then continued, "Take a small amount of the water offered before me, and mix it with a large quantity of normal water, which you shall then boil so as to sterilize it. Then mix in a minute amount of medicine (chondroitin sulfate) together with some of the salt which has been offered before the deity (`offering salt' or goshin'en), and inject the resulting mixture into the patient..." The doctor quickly did as he was instructed and tried it on two women believers who had for long years been immobile due to severe pain in legs and hips. The two women were reportedly cured on the spot.24
News of this intravenously administered fluid (called "divine water" or goshinsui) spread quickly, and as many as one-hundred patients would arrive each day to receive the injections. When the government heard of the treatment, the Department of Health issued a warning to the group, whereupon the founder asked the deity for a revelation regarding how treatment could be legitimately offered to people who were not members of the group. Upon receipt of the oracle, the group established the Tenshin Shinryôjo ("Tenshin clinic") in 1964.
Originally, goshinsui was considered something provided by the deity in response to prayers for the healing of a limited number of incurable diseases. But the founder felt sorry that people suffering from diseases other than nerve pain and rheumatism should have to suffer from their illnesses. Even though he realized he was making an unreasonable request, the founder prayed in 1963 that the deity make goshinsui capable of curing all manners of difficult diseases. And he received an oracle expressing the deity's positive response to the request. From this time, it was said that the founder could cure various other illnesses for which physicians had abandoned hope, including Behcet's disease, herniated intervetebral disks, facial nerve pain and depression.25
The group teaches that it is the deity's purpose to grant any legitimate human request; it is only necessary that humans ask the deity, almost in the way a child coaxes something from its mother. This deity, which entered the founder's elder brother and descended again into the founder, "is not the kind of deity (kami) which people become and are enshrined as after they die - in fact, that is a buddha, not a deity - but rather a `living kami,' the great spirit of the cosmos, the absolute kami." And the miracles resulting from the use of goshinsui were interpreted as the miraculous doings of this absolute cosmic deity, miracles equivalent to those seen at the spring of Lourdes.
The founder Haruichi died in 1985, but he had already passed on the mantle of leadership to his eldest son Haruyuki in 1978. According to Haruyuki, the founder felt for a long time that there was no one with the ability to take over his work and serve as intermediary between god and man. Haruyuki himself did not value his own worth as a religious leader. But the founder received a divine revelation that Haruyuki should serve as successor to group leadership, and the deity's insistent demand brooked no refusal on Haruyuki's part.
It was only after his father died that Haruyuki came to hold a personal sense of purpose and the will to carry on his father's work. At the same time, first generation followers and church ministers told Haruyuki, "We are your father's disciples, not yours," thus leaving open the real possibility of schism. Haruyuki thought deeply about his proper role as second-generation leader, and concluded he had no choice but to continue proclaiming the religious spirit passed on by his father.
Three months after Haruichi's death, his son Haruyuki announced at a memorial service in Kyoto that he intended to faithfully transmit the teachings of his father, the original founder. Following that memorial service, Haruyuki launched out on a nationwide series of proselytization meetings, and he was himself surprized at the number of miracles that attended his work.
Believers who shook hands with the new leader found their hernias and skin rashes healed, and a lame man found he was able to walk. When a person who had shaken hands with Haruyuki then touched another person's contusions, the pain and swelling went away. And the day after hearing Haruyuki's talk, a man who's company had fallen into hopeless debt found a new source of capital to rescue his business. Miracle stories such as these were taken by the new leader Haruyuki as testimony that god was pleased with his succession to the position of leader within the group. Since such remarkable miracles had not appeared even in the time of the original founder, they were viewed as overt proof of god's pleasure, and evidence that the deity would provide the strength necessary to establish the next age of salvation. Miracle stories are frequently reported in the group's official organ Yorokobi no jinsei (The happy life), and believers attending Haruyuki's lectures form lengthy lines just to shake his hand.
In the next example , not only did the foundress experience visitations by traditional Japanese buddhas and deities like Shakyamuni, Amida Nyorai, heavenly maiden angels, and Amaterasu Ômikami, but she also claimed to have seen UFOs and communicated via automatic writing with Jesus and aliens from the planet Venus, and with the ultimate deity of the Universe whom she called "A Lah" (not the same as Allah, she noted).
In this context, "holy water" appeared as part of the process whereby the founder was becoming aware of the heightening of her spiritual powers through the encounters she had with the supernatural beings noted above. Further, the holy water evidently appeared against the background of a pervading sense of crisis regarding the water pollution which the foundress believed would inevitably bring about the destruction of all beings on earth. The concept or image of kami which defined the founder's divine power and the appearance of "holy water" thus signaled a new synthesis, a joining of traditional religio-cultural elements to the unique cultural conditions found in modern society.
The foundress of Kômyô no Kai was Ajiki Tenkei (1952-). Ajiki's beloved grandmother died of a stroke when the foundress was in the first grade of elementary school, but the deceased grandmother continued to appear beside her granddaughter's bed for more than a month thereafter. Ajiki thus had firm confidence in the existence of the supernatural world from a very young age. More intimate contact with the spirit world, however, began with the birth of her first child in 1977. The child's birth by Caesarian section required the use of a general anesthetic, and as Ajiki was given the injection she became unconscious; after awakening she reported that while unconscious she had traveled to the spirit world. There she met Shakyamuni Buddha, who commissioned her to save the lives of human beings. Thereafter Shakyamuni reappeared to Ajiki numerous times in her sleep, teaching her important Buddhist doctrines including the eightfold path,X the world after death, the structure of the spirit world, the importance of memorial masses for ancestors and other rituals which she should perform.
Ajiki continued her training in accordance with the instructions of Shakyamuni, and one day in 1981, one year before the birth of her second child, she suddenly heard a great clap of thunder and lost consciousness. While unconscious she heard the deity Amaterashimasu Sumera Ôkami reveal to her a new mission, saying, "Make Yamato [Japan] once again a home to the emperors, and restore veneration for the deities."
Ajiki's second and third children were also delivered by Caesarian section, and Ajiki said of her experiences that "god allowed me to continue my training through the experience of childbirth." With the birth of each child her paranormal telepathic powers (jintsûriki26) increased in potency, so that she now believes she can communicate with messengers of the universe.
In 1984 Ajiki received a visit from the Venusian messenger "Telebeyt" sent at the order of A Lah, the "great god of the universe." An alien who had achieved the status of a deity, Telebeyt told Ajiki that humanity would be destroyed if it failed to change its present course. Ajiki had seen UFOs on several previous occasions, and the Venusian messenger told her that he had shown her the UFOs as a sign of his communication. Telebeyt transmitted a divine message to the effect that "Human minds are polluted because they drink polluted water. To save the world you must first purify the water." Together with this message, Telebeyt gave Ajiki directions on how to make and drink "Pyramid-Power Water," said to be equivalent in purity to Venusian water, and instructed her to give the water to as many people as possible.
To produce Pyramid-Power Water, Ajiki was instructed to use white paper to make a bottomless pyramid (any size acceptable). Next, she was to place a clear glass half-filled with water inside the pyramid and allow it to sit for three days. According to the instructions of the Venusian messenger Telebeyt, the water was then to be placed in a small, clear container, and drunk in six swallows, while breathing after each swallow. Ajiki reports that round, shining silver particles produced in the pyramid water prevent it from spoiling even in summer, and give it a sweet taste while providing relief from fatigue and depression.
Entrusted by god with the role of spiritual intercessor, the foundress Ajiki gradually set to work to achieve the salvation of larger numbers of people. In March 1985 she went to Shizuoka Prefecture for a session of teaching and practice in divine healing, and at Miho no Matsubara she received a message: "The well of heaven has been opened. When you return to Yamagata, you will find to the east a place where water flows when you place your hands in about 30 cm. It is there that sacred water will appear." This revelation suggested that the time was near for fulfillment of another divine prophecy she had received in 1984, namely, "There is good water in the east. Henceforth, water will be very important."
Four months after returning to her home, the foundress discovered "sacred water" (goseisui) in the mountains east of Yamagata City. A waterfall was in the vicinity and the site had long been known as a place where a FudôXI deity had been worshiped as a tutelary of eyes and eyesight. Relying on her spiritual instinct, the foundress hiked into the mountain area in the company of several believers, seeking for the source of the promised water. At last, she arrived near the pond where the Fudô was enshrined, and was raising a prayer to the deities of heaven and earth, when she discovered a large triangular rock from beneath which water was rushing out. Ajiki placed her hands in the water and felt around; in the deepest area of the water she discovered a pyramid-shaped stone.
The foundress believed that it was the power indwelling in the stone that transformed the water into goseisui; since the stone was a divine object, she replaced it in the water. The next day the foundress received a divine message to the effect that she "use this water to save two-million people." She received another message in May, in accordance with which she made a pilgrimage to the famous pilgrimage center, the Buddhist temple Zenkôji in Nagano Prefecture. At Zenkôji, Ajiki went through the "womb passage"XII and in the dark she heard the voice of the Buddha Amida. The voice made the foundress aware of the importance of meditation, and ten days after returning to Yamagata City she established a meditation center there. Her prime purpose in establishing the center was to cultivate true paranormal spiritualists (reinôsha) to save modern society from its current crisis.
Three hours are required to draw a single 1.8 liter bottle of the "sacred water" from the small spring; it is said that the deity does not want to grant a large volume of something so precious to human beings all at once. The group also teaches that if people are greedy and try to draw a great deal of the water at once, the flow will stop. Ajiki states that "sacred water" has healed the diseases of people without faith, but she also feels that no one would bother making Pyramid-Power Water if it were only a matter of simple curiosity; as a result, she considers the fact that someone uses the water to be de facto evidence of a basic level of faith.
Ikegami Yoshimasa has made a detailed study27 of group , the Akakurayama Jinja. In his study, Ikegami observes that the Akakura religion "is based on a fluid combination of two elements: one is the traditional Japanese religious faith in mountains, while the other is the faith in shamanistic kamisamaXIII or thaumaturges found around the northern slope of Mt. Iwaki (commonly known as Akakurayama), and which originate in the tradition of spiritualists called gomiso [a kind of shamanistic medium common to northeast Japan]." According to Ikegami, the Akakura faith is incapable of maintaining the solidarity of a fixed body of believers, and he views it as an example of the problem of maintenance and change which confronts a highly fluid shamanistic religion within modern Japanese society. Overall, his study attempts to describe the relationship between those elements which work to promote and those which inhibit the process of group formation.
In relation to Ikegami's theoretical concerns, we view the Akakurayama faith as an example in which a situation of crisis follows the establishment of charismatic ties; within that context, a ritual is created by the group leadership to transform ordinary water into "holy water." However, while that ritual has a degree of effect in temporarily maintaining the charismatic tie between shamanistic founder and group, it also works on the contrary to highlight those factors inhibiting the maintenance and strengthening of charismatic ties.
The current leader of this group and manager of the group's religious facilities is Jin Sada, the second-generation leader. The foundress and first-generation matriarch was Sada's mother, Kudô Mura.
Mura's religious experience grew out of a childless marriage. After ten years of marriage Mura had still not yet borne a child, with the result that she was separated from her husband and returned to her natal home. She then married another man who already had two children, and in 1914 she gave birth to Sada. Sada, however, was a frail infant and had thin hair which fell out as soon as it began growing. Mura grew worried about her child's health and in 1916 began a series of prayers to the the local tutelary deity Hachiman. Every day for three years and three months she underwent cold-water ablutions and made prayer visits to the local Hachiman shrine. On the final day of her vow, she was possessed by a divine spirit and was granted the ability to render supernatural help to others.
In 1919 Mura had a dream vision in which the deity of Akakura revealed itself to her as a dragon and said it would change into human form; it ordered Mura to "climb Mt. Akakura and serve the deity." Mura saw this dream numerous times and was bewildered, pleading that she "could endure the physical hardship of any ascetic practice," but she "could not leave her child to go into the mountains." The deity's words, however, continued to come to her without cease; she finally relented and entered the mountain Akakurayama the next year. Mura undertook ascetic practice just as ordered by the deity, thus enhancing her spiritual power and gaining the ability to tell fortunes and heal the sick, and increasing the number of her followers as a result. In 1922 she received a revelation instructing her to build a shrine for the descent of the deity of Akakura, and with the aid of the followers she built a small hall about 6 by 8 meters in size.
With the exception of periods of deep winter snow, Mura stayed constantly in the small hall, acting as counselor and intercessor to visitors with their requests for help. Some came with illnesses and stayed overnight in the hall, and Mura would lead them in ascetic practice, trekking through the mountains or standing under cold waterfalls. Under Mura's tutelage, some of the practitioners developed spiritual powers and became "kamisama" in their own right. Mura was strict regarding her own ascetic practice, but she was highly sympathetic with the tribulations of others, and that kindness, together with her tremendous spiritual power, attracted the deep trust of followers, who gradually began to form believers' associations based on the geographical locations of their homes. In 1935 the Akakura Isshinkô ["Akakura single-mind association"] was established, and a reorganization in 1964 changed that organization from one of regional confraternities to a "service association" (Hôsankai) of believers, predicated on private individual membership and possessing president, director, and branch heads.
While secluding herself within the mountains, Mura entrusted her daughter Sada to the home of a wealthy supporter who revered Mura as a "kamisama," and Sada continued her education from that home. With the financial support of the adoptive family, Sada received training as a midwife and practical nurse, and eventually married one of her mother's followers. She continued her work, however, even after giving birth to two children. In 1942 Sada went with her husband and children as settlers to Japanese-occupied Manchuria, but they returned in 1946, and from 1947 to 1954 she lived in her mother's mountain shrine, helping prepare meals and performing other menial chores. Finally, Sada and her husband decided to leave the mountain in order to raise money for their children's education, and the couple thus sought work in the mining town of Hanawa in Akita Prefecture. At the request of her mother, however, Sada returned to Akakura in 1962.
The couple's children had been entrusted to relatives, and they grew into young adults. Sada and her husband found economic security in Hanawa, but they decided to return to Asakura in order to look after the aging Mura, and also due to a series of unhappy incidents.
In 1960, the wife of Sada's son gave birth to her first child, thus giving Sada her first grandchild. Sada's happiness at the birth, however, soon turned to sorrow as the infant died after only a few months. Then on October 14 of 1961 Sada's husband underwent emergency hospitalization with a gastric ulcer, and on October 21 Sada's younger brother died suddenly of cancer. On November 8 tragedy followed tragedy as Sada's son died in a traffic accident on the way to visit his father, who was still hospitalized for his stomach ulcer. These continuing tragedies were sharp reminders to Sada of a great vow she had made long before.
In fact, when Sada decided to go to Hanawa in 1954, she knew that she would have to serve the deity some day, and she asked for divine counsel without informing her mother. The deity's response was that she would be granted just enough time to raise her children to adulthood. During the confraternity's annual mountain ascent the next year, Mura became possessed. Although she was unaware of the agreement concluded between Sada and the deity, she suddenly turned and interrogated Sada's husband harshly, demanding, "How long of a postponement have you asked for?" For whatever mysterious reason, Sada's husband responded absentmindedly, "Seven years." And the year 1961, when the aforementioned string of tragedies occurred, just happened to fall on the seventh year after Sada made her vow.
Sada realized that she was obligated to serve the deity, but submerged in her happy and mundane life, she almost succeeded in forgetting about the postponement she had requested. After that, however, she interpreted the death of her son as a message from the deity she had neglected.
Awake to the knowledge that she was to serve the deity, Sada returned to Akakura in 1962, and three years later her mother Mura died. Sada thus became the second matriarch of the group. Believers recognized Sada's own paranormal powers, and since her husband had undergone practice as one of the first-generation followers, it was widely accepted that they had a close affinity to the mountain shrine. But Sada's decision to carry on as second matriarch of the group and to manage the shrine together with her husband was by no means accepted without question by the other followers. The followers had numerous opinions about the custodial care and control of the shrine building, and as a candidate for second-generation leader, some supported Mura's younger brother, who had followed Mura and attained spiritual power at advanced age, and already held a considerable degree of de facto leadership within the group.
Even though the group continued to hold divergent opinions regarding succession to the position of second-generation leader, the group's annual "mountain opening" ceremony was held three months after Mura's death, in May 1965. On that day, a visitor attended the group's ceremony for the first time asked for healing from a sickness. After nightfall, the man stayed alone in the darkened sanctuary of the shrine, when suddenly a loud sound echoed and the doors of the shrine were blown open by a great wind. Awestruck, the man bowed with his head against the floor, and when the sound and wind subsided he discovered a scroll had appeared on the altar. The other people staying at the shrine gathered around and found that the scroll was one which had been initially revealed to the first-generation leader Mura, but which had subsequently disappeared without trace. In addition, the paper in which the scroll was wrapped held a divine revelation regarding succession to the shrine's leadership. The deity indicated that Sada was to receive the scroll, and reprimanded Mura's brother by saying that if he was so impertinent as to claim to be Mura's successor, it would lead to death. The document continued by listing the names of the followers and invoking their support for Sada as second matriarch of the group.28
What surprised the assembled followers even more was the fact that the man who had discovered the scroll had experienced a miraculous healing. The miracles which thus occurred that night not only served to convince the believers to accept Sada as new leader, but were also highly significant to Sada herself. One month after the mountain opening, Sada heard the voice of the deity. At that moment she awoke to the realization that all her unhappinesses, and all the sufferings she had experienced were in fact trials sent by god. She accepted, then and there, that she had indeed been born to serve the deity.
Thereafter Sada continued her austere practice as a "kamisama," performing intercessory prayers and rituals for supplicants. Her husband's excellent organizing abilities also helped gain them the support and cooperation of believers, allowing them to carry on the management of the shrine and make relatively successful efforts at expansion.
But the greatest quality sought of "kamisama" in that region is the ability to communicate directly with the spirit world, and since Sada was viewed as having inferior spiritual powers compared to the earlier leader Mura, her position was not entirely secure. Sada recognized her own deficiencies in the area of spiritual power, and attempted to make up for them with her rich human experiences of tribulation as a housewife and her warm human personality. Those qualities were admittedly recognized and drew new believers, but some among the first-generation of followers nonetheless felt dissatisfied with Sada's style of response.
In 1968 Sada was possessed and received a divine message. The deity spoke through her mouth, saying, "I will protect the generations of you and your mother, so build a hall for the deceasedXIV and worship Mura as the Parent Deity (oyagami). Since the Parent Deity is the savior of the sick, I want you to enshrine a YakushiXV triad." Sada convinced the followers to donate funds and constructed an ancestral spirit hall (soreiden).
Then, at the time of the annual "first mountain ascent" in 1974, the deity of Akakura descended into a certain male follower, Mr. A and said,
The Parent Deity died and became Akakura no Kami no Mikoto and went to Mt. Kôya, then crossed over to the island of Shikoku where she visited thirty-three holy places and did ascetic practice; but after ten years, she has appeared as the deity Yakujôzan Tatsuhime no Mikoto. As a result, you must celebrate February 16, the memorial of Mura's death, as the `day of the Parent Deity,' and perform the `rite of healing bath waters (yakutô gyôji).'
In accordance with the detailed instructions of Mr. A, the "rite of healing bath waters" was performed beginning from February of the next year. Water was poured into the shrine's bathtub and heated, and the believers chanted the Heart Sutra while Sada held a ritual wand (gohei) which served as the "divine body" (goshintai) symbolic of the Parent Deity. In simulation of the Parent Deity's act of bathing, Sada made a dipping motion with the gohei above the water. With this motion, the water was said to become "healing water" (yakutô) capable of curing any disease; subsequent to the rite, the water was distributed to believers as a sacred emblem.29
The person most closely associated with the introduction of the yakutô gyôji was Mr. A, who had first been introduced to the shrine by Mura in 1964 after being told by a doctor that he required a major operation. According to Sada, Mr. A. visited the shrine again after leaving the hospital, and the deity spoke through Sada at that time, telling Mr. A that he would be granted divine power allowing him to recover fully, and that he should thus enter the way of faith. And Mr. A himself said that he knew he had been provided with spiritual powers while he had been hospitalized. Sada recognized the high level of his spiritual aptitude, and asked him to assist in performing rituals for the growing number of clients which she could not handle alone. Sada was thus grateful to the deity for sending Mr. A as an aid to her work.
On the other hand, some believers have not been pleased with the central role given Mr. A by Sada, and while Mr. A's own lack of selfish aims has made him a bit reluctant to play this role, he has continued to cooperate with Sada in serving the Akakura deity.
Initially, the yakutô gyôji ceremony was performed only in February, but growing requests from believers led Sada to introduce the rite as a monthly ritual beginning in 1977. In 1983 a special bath area and yakutô tub was installed in the Memorial Chapel (Mieidô) which had been erected to enshrine the image of the foundress Mura. The "healing water" itself is stored in a plastic tank and dedicated before Mura's image, then distributed to those believers who desire it. But critical voices have been raised by some members, who feel the water has become less efficacious since being made so readily available. In addition, while the first-generation matriarch Mura was worshiped as a deity, her powers are thought by some believers to have been inferior to Mr. A's, and Sada has used his popularity to stabilize and enhance her own status as second-generation leader of the group. Those members who disapprove of Sada's attitude continue to attend the traditional observances throughout the year, but no longer make any effort to attend the ceremonies of yakutô gyôji.
Most of the major annual observances practiced by the group today were begun in Sada's time, namely, within the decade following her succession from Mura. The yakutô gyôji and other new rituals were almost all begun on the basis of revelations given to Mr. A, but their contents and procedures have become increasingly formalized and no longer aim at a realization of direct concourse with the divine spirit. In fact, some are performed by Sada's son-in-law, who is not recognized as having any paranormal spiritual power whatsoever.
Sada's husband died in 1981 of a stroke. He had been a driving force in the management of the shrine, and his sudden death caused Sada great distress. In addition, Sada was also hospitalized and diagnosed as having some sort of brain lesion, and she was otherwise bedridden with recurring complaints, making it virtually impossible for her to carry out her role as group leader. Afflicted with increasing spiritual and physical infirmity, Sada has had her daughter's husband receive training as a priest, and proclaimed her wish that he succeed her as leader of the group. And this son-in-law's knowledge of Shinto has contributed to the formal routinization of the group's rituals and observances.
So long as believers and supplicants in this geographical area continue to long for salvation through a human being who has the spiritual power to intercede directly with the spirit realm, they will be dissatisfied with the formalization of ritual observances seen in this group. Sada was recognized as having a certain degree of paranormal spiritual power, and she was enabled to succeed to the status of second-generation leader due to the continuing expectations placed in her power by believers, together with the authority of divine revelations.
In short, the members of the shrine, and other people who come there with supplications have sought a leader who is not a mere human being but a superior kamisama. And so long as that demand continues, there appears very little chance that such followers will put their trust in Sada's son-in-law, who is thought to lack the capability and aptitude for direct communication with the divine realm, and who thusfar has shown no signs of manifesting paranormal powers. Sada's husband, on the other hand, demonstrated great abilities as an organizer and administrator, and since his death the group's membership has fallen sharply, while Sada's core of supporters in the group have also aged. Finally, the group has manifested a continuing trend toward confrontation and conflict over the managment of the shrine. Factors such as Sada's advanced age and the disaffection of members do not contribute to a particularly optimistic outlook for the group.
The ritual which transformed water into "holy water" in this group was generated under conditions in which the charismatic links between the first-generation founder (Mura) and her followers were endangered by the founder's death. That "holy water" served to lessen followers' doubts regarding the legitimacy of the next generation Sada's charismatic authority, and strengthened Sada's conviction that she had a personal mission to demonstrate her own spiritual power.
Excluding those cases in which deliberate deceit is involved, an individual must have a self-awareness and conviction of his or her own paranormal or spiritual power in order to receive the approval of others and be accepted as a religious founder. In the case of the  Jôkanji, the founder gained self-confidence regarding his own spiritual power by succeeding in using "holy water" to perform faith-healings, just as his own revered teacher had done. This development allowed him to simultaneously escape from a condition of individual crisis and thus become a religious founder in his own right.
Affiliated with the Mt. Kôya branch of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, the headquarters of Jôkanji30 are found in Amagasaki City, Hyôgo Prefecture. The group was founded by Konishi Shikô (1936-), and uses what it calls "sacred water" (okôzui) as a medium for faith-healing.
In addition to his role as founder of a new religion, Konishi also manages the Shikô Private Preparatory School (Shikô Gakushûjuku) and uses his school's large classroom to hold daily religious meetings for about ninety minutes beginning from 9:00 A.M. on weekdays (Tuesday to Saturday), and from 4:00 P.M. on Sunday. The room is provided with an altar dedicated to the deities Fudô Myôô, Koyasu Daishi, and Shô-Kannon,XVI and posters are displayed throughout the room, featuring quotations from the works of Sonkai Shônin (1892-1981), also known as the "Kamuro Daishi" or the "Great Master of Kamuro."XVII
For about thirty minutes prior to the meetings, those attending listen to tapes of the sermons of Sonkai, followed by group recitations of the sutras Rishukyô,XVIII Hannya shingyô (the "Heart Sutra"), and Kannonkyô (the "Kannon Sutra"). After these recitations, the group concentrate their energy and intone "Namu daishi henjô kongô,"XIX while Konishi begins a faith-healing ritual using "holy water." Konishi sprays the holy water from an atomizer onto the affected part of the sufferer, then strikes the part strongly with his hand, which is enclosed in a white glove. Following the faith-healing ceremony, Konishi offers a brief sermon, followed by distribution of the offerings. The holy-water ritual of faith healing is said to be modeled after the same ritual originally observed by Sonkai.
Sonkai was born in Hashimoto City, Wakayama Prefecture in 1892. While his original lay name was Morishita Sonpei, he received the religious name Sonkai from the temple Fumon'in at Mt. Kôya, after which he changed the first character of his name to the homophonic character "Son" some ten years before his death.XX
Sonkai discovered paranormal "dharma power" and the use of water as a medium of healing at the age of seventeen; the ox raised by his uncle developed an infirm back, and the uncle told Sonkai that if he enjoyed prayer so much, he should use prayer to heal the ox. After long thought, Sonkai drew water in a bucket, intoned "Namu Daishi henjô kongô" over the water, then gave it to the ox to drink, whereupon the ox was healed. At that point, however, Sonkai viewed the water as mere well water, and not as a special "holy water." He subsequently entered the religious life, leaving to his younger brother the family industry business of making bean-jam sweets. Although he married, Sonkai later separated from his wife, and his only son died in war.
It was said that Sonkai lacked any selfish desires, and that he had the uncanny ability to not only read people's thoughts, but also divine their former lives and the ancestral karma that determined their current fates. His "dharma power" was also said to be effective in curing rare and serious illnesses. While still living in Hashimoto he began using his powers to help others, collecting mountain spring water in a round concrete cistern about three meters in diameter, and entering the tank himself to concentrate his mental energy (nen) on the water. Sonkai used this "divine water" (okôzui) actively in his healing; at first, he would hold the water in his mouth, but he later adopted an aerosol sprayer of the kind used for gardening, and finally he came to use an even larger aerosol sprayer for his religious healing rites. He also struck the affected areas of patients with his hands, hard enough, it was said, that loud slapping sounds were produced. In his later years he stopped the practice of physically striking the bodies of the sick, since it was said that his power had grown to such a degree that praying alone was sufficient to effect the cure.
Sonkai left the following poems regarding holy water:
Divine water -
To the one who receives it in reverence,
Safety, health and the fount of life
Divine water -
A single word of thanks,
The fount of longevity.
Divine water -
If you receive it
With pure and sincere mind,
Immediate is the cure
For the incurable ill.
By the virtue of the miraculous water,
How precious the mercy of an
While still alive, Sonkai built his own tomb and said that "I will go to the mountain [i.e., die] when I have reached ninety-five and saved ten million souls." In fact, however, Sonkai claimed that he achieved his objective five years early at the age of ninety, and so he fasted to death in the year 1981, achieving the status of what in Japan is called a "buddha in this body" (sokushin butsu). During his life Sonkai had drawn large numbers of people to his services, enough to fill a 400 seat auditorium four times each Sunday.
Konishi's first meeting with this influential personality occurred in 1957 when Konishi was 21. Konishi enjoyed teaching, and he had already opened his first preparatory school (juku) when he was only a senior in high school. Following his graduation from high school, he began working for a foreign trading company in Kobe, but he also continued with his work at the preparatory school. He rented a barn in the neighborhood, renovated it and used it as a classroom; since the barn was very hot in the summer, Konishi asked the parents of his students to donate toward the purchase an air conditioner. In the year 1956 air conditioners were still extremely expensive, and several parents refused to donate since they said they could not be sure how long Konishi's part-time school would remain in business. At that, Konishi decided to quit his other job and dedicate himself to the school full time.
It was also around that time that Konishi experienced a reoccurrence of an injury to his lower back, a fractured backbone originally incurred when high-jumping in high school.31 He feared that pushing himself too hard would aggravate his back problems, and thus decided to devote himself to his favorite activity of teaching alone.
Having made up his mind to devote himself to teaching, Konishi wanted to enlarge his school, and made plans to purchase land when he reached the age of thirty. To raise the funds for the land purchase, he held classes in early morning, afternoon, and night, and also took students in private lessons. At peak periods, he was teaching as many as 300 students.
When he was still a child, Konishi's family had given room and board to a medicine peddler from Toyama who told Konishi about the practice of "name divination" or onomancy (seimeigaku). Konishi developed a strong interest in the practice and embarked on a program of self-study from around the age of twenty. He continued his study after opening his preparatory school, and he responded without charge to occasional requests from his students' parents for advice regarding the selection of names for newborn infants.
But by the age of twenty-one, Konishi's demanding work schedule had already led to the development of a duodenal ulcer, and conventional medicines failed to assuage the pain, which afflicted him even when eating bland rice gruel. Konishi was told, however, that the grasses eaten by chickens were efficacious as a form of herbal medicine, and he began drinking soups made from mugwort and other herbs. His aunt and mother-in-law (his wife was simultaneously his cousin) suggested that they visit Sonkai in Kamuro, but Konishi initially resisted, saying that the visit to a faith healer would do no good if medical doctors could not help his ailment. Even though he felt his aunt was being deceived, he finally acquiesced to her suggestion and accompanied her to Kamuro, where he met Sonkai for the first time.
During the first and second days of practice under Sonkai, Konishi felt no benefit from the visit, since he did not understand the correct way of worshiping and the importance of inward reflection. But on the next day, perhaps because he had continued coming for three days in a row, Konishi was singled out by Sonkai, who asked him about his occupation. When Konishi replied that he was a teacher at a preparatory school, Sonkai berated him sharply before all the others there, saying,
I hate schoolteachers, academics, and officials. They think they can understand things by reason alone, and simply because they are "specialists." They're skeptics and don't know how to receive blessings.
When Konishi replied that he was in pain and could not eat, Sonkai replied that he should
Go home and eat anything you feel like. Anything that's made to eat is edible. You say you can't eat only because of your own selfishiness. That's evidence that you're not relying on the Buddha. If you cling to the Buddha, Kôbô Daishi will let you eat. And if you eat and die, that's alright, too, isn't it? You have the desire for life. Death is a second beginning. When you die you have no pain, so why are you afraid of death? In the undying spirit world you can fly anywhere without need of a car or plane. There's nothing as fine as death.
Sonkai then performed the healing ritual of "holy water" and slapped the affected areas of Konishi's body. At that moment Konishi made the decision to give himself totally, to discard his entire life. If he had to die anyway, he thought, he might as well die after eating his favorite food, so he grilled some hard, dried herring and ate them with soy sauce. From the normal biomedical perspective, it was one of the worst choices he could have made for an ulcer, but he states that ate the grilled fish and "was cured, just like that."
Konishi considered this occurrence to be a miraculous intervention, and Sonkai invited him to attend his meetings and talks once a month. Konishi contined to visit Sonkai at intervals of one to two months, receiving "holy water" each time. But after his healing, Konishi returned to his former concerns with money-making, and the initial mind of total reliance gradually grew weak.
And in his study of onomancy, Konishi discovered that even among those people who had what, according to onomantic principles should have been "lucky" names, there were nonetheless some who experienced severe misfortune. Konishi was unable to understand this contradiction and felt he had reached a dead-end in his self-study; at the introduction of the parent of one of his preparatory students, he began studying under the tutelage of a well-known onomantist Mr. T who lived in Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture. He commuted once a week to study with Mr. T for the period of one year.
Mr. T told Konishi that
You can learn the general principles from reading books, but the subtleties are impossible to teach. So take anything from me that you can get. If you don't accept a fee for telling people's fortunes, their [bad] karma won't be transferred to you, so use this power to help people.
It was said that Mr. T could even read the fortunes of dead people by looking at their posthumous Buddhist names (kaimyô), even though the practice of divining kaimyô is not covered in books on onomancy. Mr. T, however, introduced Konishi to a book on gravesite divination issued by an association called Tokufûkai,32 and Konishi now feels that the deadlock he experienced in onomancy was broken by his study of gravesite divination.
It was also through Mr. T that Konishi came to know of the In no Miya (Shrine of the Seal) in Mikawa, Aichi Prefecture. Also popularly known as the "god of the signet" (hanko no daimyôjin), this shrine was a center for the divination of personal name seals, and Konishi commenced a study of that specialty as well, eventually having a full set of signets made for his own use.XXI Finally, Mr. T was conversant with the practice of shinkigaku or the "divination of auras," a practice combining geomancy with the divination of spiritual essences and ambiences, taboo directions, and the spatial orientation of buildings, and Mr. T. taught Konishi the rudiments of the art. Konishi began a full course of study in shinkigaku in 1963, and in 1965 the Association of Shinkigaku conferred on him a certificate of completion for a two-year course of study.
Konishi married in 1963 at the age of 27, and took that opportunity to change his name from Yoshio to Shikô, a name given him by Mr. T. In 1968 Konishi laid the foundation for a house on a piece of property he had purchased two years earlier at the age of 30. But at that time, a friend of T's told Konishi that "the order is wrong. You should always begin by building the ancestor's house (i.e., tomb) first."
Konishi's family had given up their affiliation with the local Sôtô Zen ancestral temple some four generations before in a dispute over temple donations. They had thus changed from parishioners of Zen Buddhism to Shinto, but Konishi had learned through his study of grave divination that changing one's traditional family temple affiliation would lead to an exermination of the family line itself. In point of fact, his own mother and father had both been adopted by their family.
As a result of this new revelation, Konishi decided to restore the former relations with his ancestral parish temple. He erected a family tomb in the parish graveyard and had the temple perform ancestral masses. Shortly after building the tomb, Konishi experienced a case of detached retina in his left eye, and his vision became progressively weaker. Apprehensive about an operation, Konishi visited Kamuro and asked Sonkai's advice. Sonkai replied, "Isn't it better to leave it as it is now? Don't let them cut it." Konishi decided that even if he lost the vision in one eye, he would use the other as best he could, and so took a lodging in a nearby inn and asked Sonkai to perform intercessory rites of holy water for him.
Although the date of his operation had already been scheduled, Konishi refused to enter the hospital. He later related that while a detached retina was not supposed to cause pain, his eye had hurt him until he decided to refuse the operation. He believed that was because his mind was disturbed and he had not placed his full trust in the Buddha. He also claimed that while a retina normally would not last two months after it began detaching, the condition in his eye had stopped deteriorating, a fact that he claimed was a miracle by normal medical standards.
This and other experiences led Konishi to believe that his life had been miraculously spared on numerous times,33 and he decided to discipline himself, making a religious vow to Kôbô Daishi that he would commute to Kamuro on the Monday of each week. The commute from his home to Kamuro required two and one-half hours by train, and Konishi set out even in hurricane weather, intending to ride the trains as far as possible and walk the rest of the distance if need be. And Konishi thus continued his vow without missing a single Monday. When his "Monday pilgrimage" had continued for about three years, Sonkai told him, "You're really something, coming here the way you do. From now on, don't go out to a restaurant, but eat lunch together with me. I consider you one of us, now, so take the food that we give you here."34 Konishi understood Sonkai's appraisal to be based on his recognition that coming with such regularity was the result of an unusually high degree of resolve, since the weekday visits must have caused repercusions on his normal work. The Monday visits have continued since Sonkai's death even up to the present time.
After Sonkai died and attained "buddhahood in the body" in 1981, Konishi felt he had lost his chief spiritual pillar and his duodenal ulcer reappeared. He experienced moderate internal bleeding on a regular basis, and became troubled by anxiety. Around that time, a friend of his wife's told him about a shamanXXII who worshiped a red Fudô,XXIII and Konishi decided to pay the shaman a visit. The next year the spirit of Sonkai possessed the shaman and through him said, "Accept the Koyasu Daishi; on the dawn of the day you worship Koyasu Daishi, your brothers and preparatory school students will be saved." At that time, Konishi had some 250 students in his school, so Konishi took the message as a concern for the students, which Konishi viewed as his own "children." And he understood the word "brothers" to refer not to blood relatives, but rather to those with whom he had a "karmic rapport" (butsuen).
Although Konishi did not understand the meaning of the words at the time, the possessed shaman also related that "Fudô will appear, and he will bear wine or rice cakes from the other side..." Shortly afterwards, the shaman visited Konishi's home, and performed a religious service in front of the Konishi family ancestral altar. While performing the service, the bodhisattva Kannon spoke through the shaman, saying, "This is good. This is the seat of Shakyamuni. I will help people, so let me descend." The voice of Kannon also spoke to Konishi's wife, saying, "I will protect you from this day forward."
At that time, the Konishi family altar enshrined a standing image of Kannon in accordance with the instructions of the Tokufûkai for the Zen sect of Buddhism. But the shaman said that Konishi should ask his funerary temple regarding the proper image to be enshrined, and when he did so, he learned that the tutelary image of the Sôtô sect of Zen was the Shaka Nyorai.XXIV The temple also told him that his family had enshrined a Shaka image until changing their sectarian affiliation four generations earlier. In short, Konishi took all this to mean that the voice of Kannon was speaking through the mouth of the shaman, first to warn his family they were making a mistake in worshiping a Kannon image in an family altar originally meant as a "seat of Shakyamuni," and second to simultaneously promise Konishi's wife to henceforth act as her personal tutelary buddha.
The main branch of Konishi's natal family had converted to the new religion of Reiyûkai, and Konishi's criticism of their conversion resulted in some degree of family discord. On the occasion of a visit to Konishi's home, however, one of his uncles in the main family brought him a gift of some fifty rice cakes. Konishi immediately visited the shaman, and a Fudô spoke through the ascetic to say, "I have been in pain until now. It has been like a mat of needles." The Fudô was a deity that had been worshiped by Konishi's and his wife's grandfather, who had believed strongly that anyone given life in this world must work for the aid of others. Konishi remembered that the grandfather would gather villagers in his house, spreading a woven grass mat on top of the thicker floor mats, and spreading a large sheet of paper on top of that. On the paper he would perform the gomaXXV fire ritual, and it was said his spiritual power was so great that the fire would not burn the paper underneath; the grandfather would also perform fire walks on the embers.
Konishi understood this series of events to mean that the Fudô had been searching for a place to be enshrined; although it was normally thought that enshrining a divinity outside your own family sect would result in sickness or accidents (and thus demand some kind of ascetic pennance), both Konishi and his wife were the grandchildren of the man who had originally worshiped the Fudô, and moreover, Konishi had already begun ascetic practices as the result of his prior illness. As a result, the Fudô had decided to ask Konishi to enshrine him, and had thus arrived with the uncle who came to visit bearing the rice cakes.
Until that time, Konishi had worshiped Kannon and Koyasu Daishi, but he immediately commissioned the carving of a Fudô Myôô image as well. When it was completed a month later, he discovered that the image was the same blue Fudô depicted in the hanging scroll that had been enshrined by his grandfather.
At the point that Sonkai had spoken through the shaman to deliver the message that Konishi was to accept Koyasu Daishi, the bleeding and pain from Konishi's duodenal ulcer remained unchanged, but both symptoms immediately disappeared with the visit from the Fudô. Konishi's interpretation of this train of events was as follows: when he became sick, he accepted Kôbô Daishi in the form of the Koyasu Daishi and should thus have gotten well. But each of the various buddhas and other spiritual beings has its own respective realm of efficacy, and it is impossible for a single one of them to take charge of all ills. The fact that his internal bleeding stopped after the arrival of the Fudô meant that his problem had not been a mere physical illness, but the effect of bad karma. Until that time, Konishi had followed Mr. T's advice to the effect that others' karma would not be transferred to him if he did not accept payment for his fortune-telling. Here, however, the bad karma had been transferred to him despite his refusal to accept payment, and it was the Fudô that had eliminated that evil karma.
Konishi completed his altar enshrining the three divinities Kannon, Koyasu Daishi, and Fudô Myôô in 1982.35 After installing the altar, Konishi reduced the size of his preparatory school and began performing rituals of "holy water" after the pattern he had observed from Sonkai. Part of his ambition was to confirm whether his receipt of Koyasu Daishi from Sonkai meant that Sonkai's power to heal serious and incurable diseases had been transferred to him as well. Even prior to this time, some people's sicknesses had been healed just by listening to Konishi's talks, but he failed to understand why that kind of healing occurred. With time, however, the shaman to whom he had been indebted began to crave money, and Konishi became confused as to whether he should continue to patronize the shaman.
But the world of Buddhism makes strong claims about the importance of repaying one's moral obligations (on), and while Konishi's obligation to the shaman made it difficult to separate himself from him, he also realized that things would go bad if he continued with him. Unable to escape from this predicament of anxiety and indecision, Konishi was riding listlessly on his bicycle one day when he heard the voice of Sonkai calling to him from on high, saying, "Be alone, be by yourself." The message was sufficient to convince Konishi to dissolve his relationship with the shaman, and from that time his healing powers increased greatly.
After beginning the intercessory "holy water" rituals, people began to come to Konishi36 and he gradually decided that if he was going to perform rituals in this way, it should be on an open, official basis, and not merely as the private practice of a single individual. He continued his "Monday pilgrimage" to Kamuro even after Sonkai's death, and during one of his commutes he met a Buddhist priest from Mt. Kôya on the train. When Konishi related his experiences, the priest responded, "That's really fine; to have the miraculous power to heal rare and incurable diseases is a one-in-million occurrence; treat that power well." When Konishi told the priest that he healed people by performing a holy-water ritual and then striking the afflicted part, the priest told him that he might have problems with the police if he did not receive an official license to practice faith healing. Indeed, Konishi had problems with the police at a later date, and while that incident was a case of mistaken identity, these experiences convinced him of the need to possess the proper legal credentials for his activities.
Sonkai died without proclaiming a successor, but the title of "Kamuro Daishi" is currently carried on by Sonkai's nephew. As a result, Konishi applied to Kamuro for a religious credential in the summer of 1984, but the Daishi's religious association responded that he should become the leader of a branch in Amagasaki. He was told that he could bring his followers to Kamuro, but that the sect would not approve if the Daishi's followers started going to Konishi instead. Konishi failed to reach a settlement by going to the sect offices of Mt. Kôya, either, and so he asked advice of the matron of a Buddhist temple that had benefitted from his faith healing ritual. She told him of another branch of the Shingon sect that might receive him, so Konishi traveled to Mt. Kôya to deliver a notification of his intent to change his group's affiliation to the Kôya-san branch. While at Mt. Kôya, Konishi learned that Sonkai had also received his religious credentials at Fumon'in, the same temple on Mt. Kôya that he was currently visiting, so Konishi likewise applied for, and was granted, a religious permit there. In December of the same year, he was given the rank of assistant minister (hogon kyôshi) and began the Jôkanji branch of the Kôya-san Daishi Kyôkai (Mt. Koya Daishi Church).
In April of 1985 Konishi was promoted to associate minister (hogan kyôshi), and received a license to perform "intercessory rites" (kaji kitô) from the Daishi Church. From the summer of that year several volunteers who had received blessings from Konishi's ministrations began a movement to form a religious service organization (hôsankai). The organization is raising funds in hopes of building a temple, since current meeting facilities are too small, and large crowds make it impossible to perform the rituals properly.
Legally, Konishi's license to perform "intercessions" allowed him to carry on his religious activities, but he also realized that registering as an official religious corporation would facilitate numerous aspects of his religious activities. As a result, a consultant in religion and law who had benefited from Konishi's healing gave him advice regarding the legal registration process, and in the summer of 1986 his group achieved incorporation as the religious juridical person Jôkanji. In the same year, his wife underwent a period of training on Mt. Kôya and also received the precepts of a Buddhist cleric.
Konishi had suffered from a serious illness, and Sonkai's death had meant the loss of an important spiritual support. In addition, his dissatisfaction with Sonkai's successor in Kamuro37 had culminated in a personal crisis, leading to the acceptance of Koyasu Daishi from Sonkai through the mediation of a shaman. He later came to worship Kannon and was further entrusted with his grandfather's miraculuous powers in accordance with the prophecy of Sonkai. Sonkai's voice telling him to "become alone" enabled Konishi to sever his relationship with the shaman and follow his own spiritual path.38 And from Konishi's perspective, the fact that he was able to heal the sick by observing the same "holy water" rituals performed by Sonkai meant that Sonkai's spiritual power had been transmitted to him, making him Sonkai's true successor and enabling him to escape from his predicament of personal crisis.
One reason Konishi believed that Sonkai's dharma power could be transmitted to him was his understanding of the mystical Shingon concept of "buddhahood in this body." Sonkai's own faith was based on the belief that
the spirit equipped with supernatural dharma power is immortal, so to "enter nirvana" (nyûjô) means to attain eternal life. Such spirit is undying, and even if the flesh dies once, it is "reborn." ... this kind of spirit is free to leave the tomb, at times becoming the companion of pilgrims on the road, at times possessing the earnest practitioner and enlarging his miracuous power.39
As a result, Sonkai's words to the effect that he would "fly anywhere, so people who have been granted dharma power should work to help others" was a factor in Konishi's belief that the transmission of dharma power was a natural event. Konishi believed that Sonkai's dharma power had been passed on to him, first, because he (Konishi) had attracted Sonkai's attention by the unusual activity of his lengthy pilgrimage to Kamuro each Monday. Second, Konishi explained that dharma power was not something achieved in a single generation, but a gift that depended on whether one's ancestors had also performed religious austerities, and he further believed that the inheritance of dharma power was an atavistic trait, emerging only after the interval of more than one generation.
Among the various potential dharma powers, Konishi believes that those of "hearing" and "seeing" can be achieved by any spiritually sensitive person on the basis of a modicum of ascetic practice. The ability to heal rare and serious diseases, however, requires that one's ancestors include two or three persons of high virtue (in Konishi's case, his grandfather and grandfather's younger brother), and also the lack of any suspicious or accidental deaths in the family line going back for seven generations.
The "holy water" Konishi uses in his faith-healing rituals is water that he has brought each week from the Kamuro Daishi and offered on the Jôkanji altar. The holy water in Kamuro is stored in a tank infused with Sonkai's mental power (nenriki),XXVI so while it is said that the water may gradually change, the mental power does not deteriorate or disappear, and the holy water itself is believed to remain unspoiled, unlike ordinary water. Konishi states that the water has miraculous efficacy because it was blessed by Sonkai, a selfless individual who possessed dharma power, but he adds that "if someone drinks it like ordinary water, it will remain only ordinary water; it becomes of miraculous benefit only when received with thanks." In point of fact, believers report that the water has been tested by Osaka University and found to contain nothing in the way of unusual components.
In Konishi's healing rites, an atomizer is used to spray the holy water directly on the affected part, or in the case of internal ills, the water is sprayed in the mouth and drunk. In the former case, it is said that the mental power contained in the holy water reaches the ailing part by entering the patient through the hair follicles on the skin, while in the latter case the power reaches the internal organ through the mouth. Further, it is said that drinking medicine with the holy water will result in no efficacy, since such an act would indicate the individual is placing his faith in the medicine and not in the water. Holy water is not only taken as a means of healing by the sick; it is also used as a mental purgative by those in good health. It is this latter sense in which the water is taken by persons experiencing interpersonal problems or other emotional troubles.
While the holy water is claimed to be infused with "mental energy," its efficacy depends on the attitude of the person receiving it. This element reflects Sonkai and Konishi's view of the causes of illness, since they both believed that diseases - particularly rare or difficult-to-cure illnesses - resulted, first of all, from sins committed by the sick person or his ancestors. While ordinary sicknesses may be cured by a visit to a medical doctor, serious and rare diseases arise from karmic "hindrance." An individual may not know where his sin lies, and he must also bear the sins of his ancestors. Humans eat animals that have been killed, and may unconsciously trample on insects, so it becomes impossible to live without sinning. Human resentmentXXVII is likewise a fearsome thing, and one may be hated even when performing an act meant for the benefit of another. Serious diseases are particularly believed to result from sins that would bring about social shame if known openly. In short, the essence of healing lies in the ability of the individual to repent for his own and his ancestors's sins, and to cling to the Buddha for salvation.40
A second cause of illness is said to be laxity in the performance of memorial services to ancestors (senzo kuyô). Ancestors are said to be the "roots" of the present individual, and memorial services are like "fertilizer." As a result, ancestors have a direct influence on the status of descendants. It is said that one should particularly avoid changing his or her sectarian parish affiliation.
As a result of these factors, "holy water" is powerless to produce miraculous benefits in persons who make no effort to change internally, persons who do not repent their sins, persons of short temper and persons unable to control their selfish desires. And since requests to heal an ailing body result from selfish desire, a person should not make such requests, but wish for others' happiness instead, and that mental energy will become a store of virtue resulting in an efficacious cure. The stored virtue will also act in case of future misfortunes so as to transform major troubles into minor troubles, and to eliminate minor troubles entirely.
During his holy water healing ritual, Konishi strikes the affected bodily part strongly with his hands, and this action he explains in a similar way. Konishi says that when he strikes the body of a person suffering from a "dull aching pain," the "dull ache" changes to a "sharp sting," and at that instant it is impossible for the sufferer to think of anything else, thus permitting a concentrated unity of mind. Even though a sick person may be commanded to rely on the Buddha, cast away concern for his own life and wish for the good of others, it is impossible for him to lack some feeling that he wants to be cured of his own illness. But according to Konishi, that selfish feeling is eliminated the instant he strikes the afflicted part. Konishi also believes that the striking energy does not not come from his own human power; by the act of striking, his own ego is being forced to temper his body, a fact indicating that he is still a beginner in need of discipline.
In principle, Konishi does not perform his faith healing and purifications outside the confines of the temple Jôkanji, since he considers visits to the temple as constituting an important part of practice. It is also important for the individual to come in order to avail himself of the opportunity for joint worship. Humans cannot live without sinning, but depending on the weight of their own and their ancestors' sins, it may be possible for some to pardon sin by intoning the formula "Namu Daishi henjô kongô" ten-thousand times, while for others it may require fifty-thousand times. But if thirty people are assembled in the temple and intone the formula once, it is equivalent to thirty repetitions, meaning the individual is having the thirty people pray for his own problem. Further, when one worships inside the temple, the Buddha also prays for the individual.
As a result, the holy water imbued with Sonkai's mental power and Konishi's dharma power combines with the Buddha's power, the sincerity of others praying for the sufferer and the individual's own single-minded reliance on the Buddha to produce a synergesic effect that leads to a miraculous healing.
Following Sonkai's death and the transferral of his dharma power to Konishi, people visiting Jôkanji in deep faith would have their pains transferred to Konishi even though he had not performed the holy water healing ritual for them yet. As a result, he knew immediately where they were hurting, and when he felt the pain, the other person's pain would disappear in a matter of seconds. When the pain disappeared, the other person would be healed, and if the person was not healed, the pain would linger in Konishi's body. The bad karma he received with the pain, however, would be severed by the power of Fudô Myôô, with the result that Konishi would suffer no permanent ill effects.
Some people would also be cured when they entered the room housing the temple's altar, while some would be healed when they got off the bus in front of the temple, and still others would find healing the moment they got off the train at the nearby station. Konishi explained all these cures by saying the Fudô had gone out to meet the people as they arrived.
Some people would be cured the moment Konishi held out his hand to the afflicted part, but this kind of cure would happen only with people who were unable to become accustomed to Konishi's manner, and thus still had some degree of hesitancy. Other people were cured merely by telling Konishi their ailment over the phone. In each case, we must note that according to Konishi's interpretation, a condition for the healing was the state of the subject's mind, namely, the lack of selfishness and possession of a pure heart.
In other cases, a sick person's friend or relative would come to the temple, and healing would be achieved as the result of Konishi's performance of the holy-water ritual for the sick person's representative. One believer, Ms. A, related that she came to Jôkanji one morning, and at 10:30 Konishi suddenly told her, "Put out your right hand." Then, "Put out your left hand." Konishi struck both hands and then performed the holy water healing ritual. Ms. A did not understand why Konishi had performed the ritual just then, but when she returned home she heard that her sister-in-law had gone to the bathroom that morning and after urinating heavily discovered a severe swelling in her hands. The swelling, however, had receded spontaneously as she watched; that had occurred at 10:30, the same time Konishi had performed the healing ritual on the hands of her sister-in-law. From that experience, Ms. A came to believe in Konishi's claim of the healing power of a "representative visit," and her previous doubts in Konishi's dharma power and the efficacy of holy water were swept away instantly.
Once a week, a disciple of Konishi takes a car to Kamuro and brings back "holy water" in plastic jugs, and some believers also go to Kamuro directly for their own water. But among these, many also ask Konishi to dedicate their water anew with his own mental power. In this case, Konishi uses a sprayer to transfer a small amount of the holy water dedicated on the Jôkanji altar into the personal water container of the believer. By this, the mental power produced by Konishi and other believers' intonation of the formula "Namu Daishi henjô kongô" is transferred to the holy water, thus enhancing its efficacy. In the event Konishi has too little holy water, he occasionally uses water composed of a half-and-half mixture of original holy water and filtered tap water. Ordinary believers who likewise find it difficult to make the lengthy trip to Kamuro may use a bit of holy water mixed with ordinary water. Some people receive holy water to take home from Jôkanji, but Konishi does not distribute the water indiscriminately, since he views the trip to Kamuro as a necessary kind of religious "exercise" in itself.
Holy water is also used by believers at times other than the group's specific faith-healing ritual. Some followers drink the water when they are tired, or as a daily morning tonic. Many others make it a practice to carry a small bottle of the water with them whenever leaving home. One believer, Ms. B, states that she has gained benefit by using the holy water in poultices and for drinking, even without the observance of the specific religious healing ritual. On one occasion, a car tire ran over her foot and Ms. B experienced severe swelling, but she applied a poultice of the holy water, and when she later visited a medical doctor the physician could find no injury to the bone at all. On another occasion she had an accident resulting in a severe cut on her heel, but spraying the cut with holy water resulted in immediate cessation of the bleeding and pain. Ms. B states that she visited a clinic but the medical doctors were left wondering at how she could have stopped the bleeding.
Believer "C" fell down while running in an athletic contest at her child's school. The fall skinned "C"'s face severely, and observers were thrown into a panic. "C", however, always carried a small bottle of holy water with her when going out; after washing away pebbles from the wound with water from a nearby fountain, she applied some holy water to a cloth and held it to the wound, causing the pain to be relieved and also stopping the bleeding. But the area around her eye swelled and turned blue. She vacillated about whether to go to Jôkanji, since she feared Konishi would tell her that the reason for the wound was an impropriety in the state of her own mind. In the midst of this indecision, she received a telephone call from Konishi, telling her that she should come to Jôkanji immediately.
When "C" arrived at the temple, Konishi placed a piece of gauze against the wound, and performed the faith healing ritual, spraying holy water on the gauze. She continued her visits to the temple for ten days, and the damaged skin peeled off naturally, and the wound healed without application of medicines and without visits to a medical doctor. "C" thus believes that Konishi's healing rituals and the holy water have efficacy only when a person assumes an honest, humble mind.
In some cases, ordinary tap water has been used as "holy water." Believer D had a heavy piece of iron fall on his finger, and the finger turned white. Mr. D immediately intoned "Namu Daishi henjô kongô" and washed the finger in ordinary tap water as though it were "holy water," and the finger regained its normal color. Afterwards, Mr. D had Konishi perform his faith healing ritual of holy water for the finger, and when Konishi struck the finger, Mr. D experienced pain. He considered the pain proof of the fact that blood was circulating in the finger. Konishi states that Mr. D was healed because he was a selfless type always willing to recognize his own faults. According to Konishi, Mr. D's condition of shock resulting from the accident allowed him to concentrate his mind fully, thus transforming the ordinary water into "holy water."
From these examples, it appears that the relationship between "holy water" and "mental energy" (nen) is one in which the mental energy infused into the water via Sonkai's dharma power is enhanced by the mental energy produced by Konishi's dharma power, and that energy is then further multiplied by the mental energy of individual believers. Cases in which ordinary water is used "as if it were" holy water are concise expressions of the belief that even though people may possess differences in strength, all persons have the mental power to change normal water into "holy water," given sufficient mental concentration. In addition, it can be said that Sonkai's spirit acts as an aid in response to the believer's concentrated mind. Even though the holy water is said to be infused with Sonkai's mental energy, it remains "mere water" when drunk normally, and becomes "holy water" only when received with thanks. From this, it appears that holy water produces its miraculous benefits only when the charismatic mental energy originally infused in the "holy water" is united with the mental energy of the individual who gives single-minded reliance on the buddha, the mind or mental energy of the person who longs for the happiness of others.
The water used at Jôkanji for healing has been transformed into "holy water" through the medium of the charismatic Sonkai's sacralizing ritual. And although Sonkai was no longer capable of performing that ritual himself after his death, the mental energy infused in the water during his life does not dissipate, but continues to make the water holy. In the sense that this belief places heavy emphasis on the state of the believer's mind, however, it is quite different from the cases  and  discussed earlier. In those cases, holy water served as a testament to the greatness of divine power by producing miracles even without the intervention of individual faith.
Konishi's original initiation of the faith healing ritual with holy water helped strengthen his conviction that his grandfather's and Sonkai's dharma power had been transferred to him. This realization helped Konishi escape from a situation of personal crisis following Sonkai's death. In addition, while no miracles of healing currently take place at Kamuro, they are a constant phenomenon under Konishi's leadership; together, these two facts have enhanced Konishi's belief that he is the successor to whom Sonkai's power to heal rare and serious disease has been transmitted. In both Kamuro and Jôkanji, the water originally infused with mental energy by Sonkai has had its original significance as "holy water" restored as the result of the charismatic power, or "dharma power," transmitted to Konishi. At the same time, the attitude of repentance on the part of the person receiving the water remains a prerequisite to the occurrence of a healing miracle.
|"X"|| Shôroku Shintô Yamatoyama
 Izumo Ôyashirokyô Iwao Daikyôkai
 Kômyô no Kai
 Honmon Butsuryûshû
 Reiha no Hikari Kyôkai
 Tenshin Ômikamikyô
| Akakurayama Jinja|
In Table 2, we attempted to classify the manner in which ordinary water is transformed into "holy water." We did that using the two categories "Type A" and "Type B," differentiated in accordance with whether the believers' experiential healing through "holy water" or the group founder's instructions regarding "holy water" occurred first. As already noted in sections 2 and 3, cases can be further classified as shown in Table 3, in accordance with the status of charismatic authority and group-leader ties at the time of the first appearance of the "holy water." Here, we will label as "Type X" those cases in which charismatic authority is relatively stable or becoming stronger, while we will call "Type Y" those cases in which such authority is relatively unstable (including cases in which it has yet to be established), or in a situation of crisis.
Based on these dual classificatory axes, the various religious groups can be generally classified into the four categories shown in Table 3 (XA, XB, YA and YB). For example, a group falling into class "XA" would be one in which the status of charismatic authority was relatively secure or rising, and in which the believers' experience of healing by holy water appeared first. In contrast, groups in class YB would be those in which holy water first appeared in the form of teachings by the group's leader, within a situation of unstable or critical danger to charismatic authority.
In the concluding section, we wish to make a comparative analysis of the process whereby ordinary water is transformed into holy water in classes YA/YB and XA/XB. We will then use that analysis to offer some theoretical generalizations regarding the establishment and development of charismatic authority.
Located in class YA, group  (Shinji Shûmeikai) was founded by a leader who led a substantial group of followers away from the Church of World Messianity to form her own religious organization. Based on that fact, it can be assumed that the founder's charismatic authority was already established to some degree, although the basis for that authority was relatively unstable. At that point, the experience of miraculous healing by water that occurred among believers was given positive significance by the group's leadership as proof of the founder's charisma and legitimacy, resulting in public recognition of the water as "holy water." In that way, the leadership was somewhat successful at stabilizing and further strengthening the founder's charismatic authority, and at increasing the number of believers.
The experience of miraculous salvation is never a mere matter of unilateral action on the part of the religious leader. Whether the leader's charismatic authority is established depends on whether the believers accept some event - in this case, the phenomenon of healing through water - as evidence that the leader is indeed the bearer of charisma. But when the phenomenon of "holy-water" healing occurs among believers first, the group leadership must be explicit in reminding the believers that the healing is a manifest revelation of the founder's charisma as mediated by the water. If not - in other words, if the water does not become "holy water" officially approved by the group leadership - it will likely be incapable of satisfactorily functioning to strengthen charismatic bonds at the group level.
The fact that the leader's charismatic authority relies on the recognition of believers is revealed more clearly through the way in which holy water appeared and functioned in group  (Akakurayama Jinja), which falls into the "YB" category. Following the death of the group's original foundress, leadership passed to the foundress's daughter, whose spiritual power was generally viewed as inferior to her mother's. As a result, the relationship of charismatic ruler to those ruled was thrown into doubt. Within this situation of crisis, the leadership proposed "holy water" as an evidence that the second-generation leader was indeed the legitimate bearer of charisma; by receiving believers' recognition of that water, the group avoided, at least temporarily, the situation of crisis.
Even if water is acclaimed to be "holy water" by the group leadership, however, if that holy water fails to produce the actual experience of healing among believers, in other words, if that water is not accepted by a majority of believers as evidence of the founder's charisma, it proves an insubstantial "holy water." In the case of group , the water gained the status of holy water through its success at inducing cases of healing among believers. The appearance of holy water thus lessened the relative weight of doubt held by believers with respect to the leader's charismatic authority, and attributed personal conviction to the leader herself as the legitimate bearer of charismatic authority.
Group  (Jôkanji) likewise falls in the "YB" category; there, the leader's personal situation of mental and physical predicament was overcome by the success of a holy-water ritual performed for another person. The appearance of holy water in group  thus had two significances: first, it presented an opportunity for the founder to escape from a situation of personal doubt as the bearer of charisma, in other words, it assisted in the reestablishment of his personal self-confidence. And second, it elicited others' simultaneous approval of the leader's spiritual power, thus functioning to stimulate the establishment of charismatic ties within the group.
Charismatic authority and charismatic ties are sensitive in their joint dependence on the charismatic leader's exhibition of evidence of his or her authority, and on a spontaneous recognition of that authority by the followers. In that sense, such relationships are inherently unstable. Accordingly, even after charismatic authority is recognized to a certain extent and interpersonal bonds begin to form between the leader and those who have recognized his or her authority, the maintenance of that authority and those bonds, and the further increase in the number of believers, require an ongoing joint confirmation of the charismatic authority among leader and followers. In those groups categorized as falling into class "XA" and class "XB," the determining factor in the process whereby water appears and is transformed into a healing "holy water," is the total interdependent relationship involved in the charismatic bonds between leader and believers. And in these examples, no matter which side was first in attributing meaning to the water, the process of transformation from ordinary water to "holy water" was successful in supporting or enhancing the relative stability of charismatic authority and ties, and of thus evading a situation of crisis.
No guarantee states that the process of transformation from water to "holy water" will take place. While we did not discuss the issue here, there are undoubtedly numerous cases in which water failed to become "holy water," or in which it became holy water for a time but subsequently lost that status. Some of such cases are simply forgotten and disappear, while in others, the appellation "holy water" continues to be found, but without any effective reality. In the latter case, the term "holy water" may be incorporated into the folk tradition or the mechanism of popular memory, thus forming a cultural field for future, new appearances of "holy water."41
If "holy water" is presented as evidence of charisma, but that water fails to demonstrate the power to heal disease, in other words, it fails to be accepted by believers, some other expression of charisma will be inevitably required. Further, such failures to demonstrate charismatic legitimacy may invite believers' mistrust of their leader, thus exposing charismatic bonds to terminal danger.
On the other hand, even if believers experience miraculous healing through use of "holy water," the "holy water" may well fail to become a legitimate medium of charisma if the group's leadership - for whatever reason - fails to recognize the legitimacy of that experience. For example, some members of the religion Risshô Kôseikai draw water from the well formerly used by the group's deceased co-founder Naganuma Myôkô, and treat that water as "holy water." Similarly, in the religions Tenrikyô and Konkôkyô, some believers take water from fountains in the graveyards and other locations closely related to group founders, offer the water before the founders' tombs and then use it as "holy water."
The current leadership of these groups, however, out of a desire to extricate the groups from a reliance on magic and miracles, or else in order to prevent the emergence of schisms or heresies, are firm in delineating the authorized ways in which the founder's charisma may be revealed. In this way, the leaders refuse to recognize, or at very least refuse to actively promote, any new media of charismatic revelation that may emerge from within the body of believers themselves. As a result, such water may be considered "holy water" by a limited number of believers, but it is not officially recognized as "holy water" by the groups' leadership.
Social factors outside the group itself may also hazard the continued existence of "holy water." The new religion of Renmonkyô was established in the early Meiji period by Shimamura Mitsu, and it promoted its doctrine with the theme of the "this-worldly benefits" of healing.42 The group expanded its membership rapidly by touting the miraculous effects of "sacred water" (shinsui), but this claim laid it open to the charge of being a "bogus religion." After a campaign of sustained persecution by newspapers and the established religions, Renmonkyô quickly faded and disappeared, and its "sacred water" shared its fate. In short, the continued existence of holy water is absolutely dependent on the people who recognize it as "holy water," and if the community that gives the water its sacred attribution disappears, the "holy water" itself will likewise disappear.
The appearance of holy water and its subsequent fate can be called the water's "life cycle" or "life history"; in turn, that life history illuminates the similar cycle of the establishment and vicissitudes of charismatic authority. The same can said for the life history of the bearer of charisma; the entire "life history" of each case of "holy water" is influenced by the overall historical conditions existing at that time. In the cases of groups  and , holy water existed from the initial founding of the groups, but that water was given renewed attention as the result of popular social trends emphasizing "health" and "natural water." Similarly, in case  it appears obvious that holy water was given significance against the background of modern unease regarding the problems of environmental destruction and the pollution of global water resources.
Whether the train of events surrounding holy water and the leader's charisma is initially set in motion by believers or leaders, the transformation of ordinary water to "holy water" is fundamentally a reflection of the fact that both leader and follower possess a common religious culture regarding the phenomenon of "holy water." In groups of type "A," believers possess an implicit or folk-religious kind of expectation that water closely related to the group's founder may be "holy water" with the mysterious power to heal disease; some believers thus make tentative experiments at drinking and otherwise using the water. And while their expectations may be variously rewarded or disappointed, it is at very least certain that such attempts have been repeated any number of times in the past by people suffering from illness. The method used by the leader to transform ordinary water into holy water is believed to have been revealed by the divine, and the group's teachings reinforce that belief, but this belief itself can likewise be considered to have sprung up from the same headwaters of traditional belief in "holy water."
Water is indispensable to life. One of the fundamental conditions for human existence has always been to provide and assure a regular supply of water for drinking, cooking and other daily needs, for irrigation and feeding of livestock. A dearth of water leads to death. Given the crucial nature of water, it is not hard to imagine that water offered when one is dying of thirst might be viewed as the very power to transform death into life, the very embodiment of salvation. And the same water that quenches thirst is believed not only to have the power to wash away the dirt affixed to bodies and things, but also to purify beings from symbolic pollutions, and to heal wounds and disease.
On the other hand, while a flood of unleashed water represents a dangerous and fearsome power that may threaten humans with destruction and extinction, new life always reappears after the destruction by water. Water is thus responsible for quenching thirst, washing away dirt and pollutions, healing wounds, and at times bringing about destruction and subsequent rebirth. Water is a symbol of the power of life itself, a symbol of that which resurrects life through the destruction (i.e., the purification) of the whole world's pollutions. And as a result, water and the springs that produce water have since long antiquity been the objects of human worship. Mircea Eliade states that the function of water within the religious framework is always the same: "it disintegrates, abolishes forms, `washes away sins' - at once purifying and giving new life."43 He adds,
Every contact with water implies regeneration: first, because dissolution is succeeded by a `new birth,' and then because immersion fertilizes, increases the potential of life and of creation. In initiation rituals, water confers a `new birth,' in magic rituals it heals, and in funeral rites it assures rebirth after death. Because it incorporates in itself all potentiality, water becomes a symbol of life (`living water'). Rich in seeds, it fertilizes earth, animals and women.44
The religious belief in "holy water" is rooted in our original, archetypical experience, our physical and internal experience with ordinary water. In that sense, the origin of holy water within the faith healing activities of Japan's new religions is itself ancient and universal. But the specific holy water that appears in any period projects the plight of the people of that period. According to data accumulated within the disciplines of ethnology and the history of medicine, before the introduction of early modern Western biomedicine the efficacy of holy water was almost entirely limited to eye ailments, warts and corns. But as shown in Table 1, modern groups may claim their holy water has the power to heal cancer and other serious diseases - namely illnesses that modern biomedicine has yet to conquer - together with emotional and other psychosomatic ailments. Beliefs have long existed to the effect that drinking water from sacred springs would cure emotional disorders,45 and the current situation in which people lay their distress and longings for salvation before the faith healing of the new religions may well be a reflection of our modern age of heightened concern for psychological ills.
Changes in the range of efficacy ascribed to holy water are related to similar changes in the scope of efficacy demonstrated by modern biomedicine. But it is not merely a problem of the conflict for supremacy between religion and scientific biomedical treatments (a competition for limited pieces of the client pie), nor an easy give-and-take involving complacent praise of their mutually complementary social functions. Rather, it is an issue that should be considered within the context of both etiology in the narrow sense, and a theory of salvation in the broad sense. And that theory of salvation should take into account the "concept of deity" (kami kannen) that includes in its compass operative concepts of suffering, why suffering occurred, and how suffering is relieved.
We were unable to touch on the issue here with reference to any case other than , but based on what we were able to determine from our surveys, interviews, and documentary research, we would predict that the concept of disease etiology forming the doctrinal basis for faith healing as practiced in the new religions easily leads to a theory of salvation premised on a consciousness of sin and which may be only a short distance removed from social stigma and prejudice. We are thinking particularly here, for example, of a folk theory of salvation like that seen in the Ketsubonkyô (The blood bowl sutraXXVIII), which points the way to salvation based on its view of women as deeply sinful and polluted creatures. In the current paper we have tried to clarify the significance of faith healing in the new religions, but the issues of etiology and theories of salvation in the broader sense will obviously require future study.
The religious worldviews studied here view water itself as the power to heal illness, or else as something which has that potential power. It is for that reason that water is eminently appropriate as a mediator for the power of the charismatic ruler, namely the bearer of charisma believed to possess the marvelous power to heal disease.
In considering the processes whereby water is sacralized or transformed into "holy water," we paid attention to the concrete means employed in the transformation because that concrete manifestation can be considered to be a representation of the people's beliefs regarding the "power" to heal disease. Attention to this point allowed us to understand a bit more about followers beliefs regarding the characteristics of the charismatic leader's power.
At a glance, the examples presented here point to a diversity of ways in which water can be sacralized, or transformed from ordinary water to "holy water." But overall, all the motifs involved can be classified within two categories: (a) the water became holy water because it merely existed in a sacred place; or (b) the water became holy water as the result of human actions exercised in special ritual procedures. In examples of type (a) the water is often found in purification fonts for ritual hand-washing, and of the groups in Table 1 this class would include  to , -a and -a.
The variety of human action seen in type (b), on the other hand, extends from offering the water before a tomb or the image of a deity or buddha, to praying, special formulaic recitations, and physical movements. This type would include groups -b,  to , -b,  and .
When human actions are required to transform ordinary water into holy water, the contents of those actions are sacred acts of prayers and other formalized physical movements. Prayer was given relatively heavy significance in all cases other than cases -b and -b. That significance becomes especially noteworthy in cases  and , as indicated by the fact that in cases of emergency, the transformation from water to holy water can be effected by prayer alone.
The principle operating in cases of type (a) is one in which the water is sacralized through its immediate spatial contiguity with the sacred presence. Similarly, the action of offering, which forms an element of type (b), represents the attempt to bring the water into the closest possible proximity to the holy.46 From these and the other element of (b), we can deduce the way in which water acts as a medium for a power that has the quality of contagion or penetration capable of transcending time and space. And that quality arouses or suggests the manipulability of this power, namely the potential for human beings to use magical formulas and operations to bring water into as close proximity as possible with original, fundamental "power." And even if the power mediated by this water moves to or is moved to another object, it in another sense remains unchanged. This unchanging quality is expressed, for example, in case , where even after the death of the founder who served as they physical bearer of charisma, the "power" continued to be manifest through holy water47 that remained fresh without spoiling; similarly, in cases  and , mixing holy water with ordinary water resulted in no attenuation of the miraculous efficacy.
In case , the efficacy of the holy water was said to be entirely divorced from the consciousness or faith of the individual using the water, thus suggesting a great "power" transcending normal human intervention and manipulation. But if it is taught that the power can be manipulated, then the qualifications of the manipulator or actor, namely his or her spiritual abilities and the strength of his or her faith, will become an issue. In cases , , , and , it was taught in principle that not just the group leader, but any believer could effect the transformation from ordinary water into holy water. In cases  and , however, the power was limited to the group leader alone.
It is particularly important to note that even in cases where it is taught that ordinary believers can transform water into holy water, it is believed that an absolute gulf lies between ordinary believer and group founder in terms of spiritual aptitude, with the result that a difference also exists between the efficacy of the holy water produced by their respective manipulations.
We must also consider the necessity of a prerequisite belief system that locates the efficacy and results of the believer's actions beneath the overarching jurisdiction of the leader's charisma. If no restriction is present to make it clear that the believer is not equal to the founder - and in some cases like case  even when such restrictions are present - the result of the believer's actions may easily be interpreted as evidence of the acquisition and possession of his or her own "power," thus resulting in the formation of a new, competing charismatic authority.
As noted above, the "power" mediated by water is considered to be unchanging, but differences in its efficacy may be recognized depending on the person manipulating the water, or the place in which the water is found. Viewed from the opposite perspective, the efficacy of the water may be modified or increased by the interventions of the human being involved. Human beings search for holy water and they find it. And desirous that the holy water demonstrate even more efficacy, they work to enhance its marvelous "power." For example, as we noted in case , the power of the holy water was amplified by the prayers of the group leader, or by the assembled prayers of the followers. The same kind of faith was observed in case  as well, where the temple was considered a purer place, with a higher degree of sanctity, than other locations. Since the "sacred water" offered before the temple's altar is subjected to the intoned Daimoku of numerous assembled believers, it is believed to be more efficacious than the "offering water" found in an ordinary home.
Charisma itself cannot be treated as a monolithic "entity" subject to objective analysis. It can be grasped only within the mutual relationship of the one who claims to possess the extraordinary power to induce miracles or the ability to mediate and administer that power on the one hand, and those who recognize and approve of that claim on the other hand. So long as people exist who depend on an invisible, transcendent power or charisma for salvation from misfortune, they will continue to discover "holy water" equipped with the attributes appropriate for a medium for charismatic "power." And as they express desires for the enhancement of that power or the expansion of the range of its efficacy, attempts to fulfill such desires will no doubt continue to be played out with varying degrees of success and failure as part of the mutual relationship between the charismatic leader and his or her followers.
1. H. Neill McFarland, The Rush Hour of the Gods (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1967).
2. For example, according to Yamagata Takao, "from the records available, it appears clear that Jesus was a god of healing active in the ancient Mediterranean world in the same way as Asklepios," and "the first victory of Christianity within the Mediterranean world was a result of the victory of Christ the healing god. Namely, Christ's amazing powers of healing were successful at overcoming and eventually expelling [the Greek deity] Asklepios." See Chiyushin Iesu no tanjô [The birth of Jesus the god of healing] (Tokyo: Shôgakukan, 1987).
3. The founders of Tenrikyô, Ômotokyô, Konkôkyô, Reiyûkai and Risshô Kôseikai all had their first religious experiences by being possessed while participating in faith-healing ceremonies which were performed for themselves or relatives. See Ono Yasuhiro, Sukui no kôzô - shinkô chiryôshi joshô [The structure of salvation - preamble to a history of faith healing] (Kôdosha, 1977).
4. Sôda Hajime, Kenkô to yamai no minzokushi [Folklore of health and illness] (Ken'yûkan, 1984), 15, 91-92.
See also Shibuya Michio, et. al., Hokkaidô, Tôkyô no minkan ryôhô [Folk remedies of Hokkaido and Tokyo] (Meigen Shobô, 1977); also available and published locally for the Kantô, Chûbu, Kinki, Chûgoku, Shikoku, Kyûshû, and Okinawa regions.
5. Yamagata Takao points out that in the primitive history of Christianity, the ritual of baptism (the "holy water" refvealed by Jesus) helped bring about the self-understanding and legitimation of the congregation, and led to he establishment of a new relationship of rule between the congregation and believer. See his "Genshi Kirisutokyô ni okeru chi to mizu no saigi" [Rituals of blood and water in primitive Christianity], Gendai shisô (November, 1978).
6. According to the founder, the group's current water shrine structure was patterned after the shrine of Lourdes. The communal bathing facilities at the headquarters has a normal sunken tank next to one modeled after the one at Lourdes (see photograph). Users purify their bodies and worship before immersing themselves in this tub.
7. One of the articles of faith in the group is to follow the founder's instructions in prohibiting the use of faith healing as a proselytizing or propaganda tool, but the July 1 1985 edition of the organization's journal Kyôyû is a special edition dedicated to the "Yamabuki no mizu" and the group has also issued a minor tract called "Tennensui - Yamabuki no goshinsui, sono yurai to kokoroe" [Natural water - the origins and guidelines of the Yamabuki sacred water].
In any case, the following statement can be called the typical attitude of this group toward its "Yamabuki no mizu": "...We strictly refuse to allow this water to be used by anyone other than believers. If someone else wishes to use the water, he or she should first indicate that wish to the headquarters, and obtain the qualifications of a member by promising to accept the group's doctrines and participate in its rituals. This measure is not taken out of a necessity to preserve the group, but only because we consider "faith first," and people who do not place faith first, and those who try and steal the water and use it only for its medicinal properties, will find no efficacy from it, even if they drink it like a fish, because their mind is not in the right place" (Ibid, 15-16).
8. See Watanabe Masako, "Aru josei kitôshi no seikatsushi - fusha toshite no jiritsu to jinsei no kôzô" [The life-history of a female shaman: the independence of a spiritualist medium and the pattern of life] Meiji Gakuin ronsô, shakaigaku, shakai fukushigaku kenkyû, [Meiji Gakuin research papers in sociology and social welfare] No. 70 (1985), 214.
9. According to Jitsuzai suru kiseki [Real miracles], compiled by Tôkyô Bungei Seisakuka Kyôkai (Sôshisha, 1968), Ôtsuka's policies were not those of a so-called "liberal pacifism," but based rather on a patriotic fervor. One of the doctrinal elements used to legitimate the activities of Shinreikyô was the group's promotion of "Japanese spirit." That attitude was also reflected in the fact that the group's founding day was selected to coincide with Japan's National Founding Day.
10. According to the Shinshûkyô jiten [A dictionary of the new religions], compiled by Matsuno Junkô (Tôkyôdô Shuppan, 1984), 164, Ôtsuka was born in 1884 and died in 1972.
11. When followers use this sacred water and salt, they intone the divine formula "bukkanseiki" (meaning obscure).
12. Myôô is also considered the supreme and creator deity of the entire cosmos, and identified with the deities Jehovah, Yahweh, and Allah.
13. According to one theory, the "holy water" resulted from a leak from a broken water pipe within the sacred precincts. The water of the hand-washing font is not from a spring, but piped in from ordinary sources.
14. As a result, group  is also included within type B on Table 2.
15. The founder is thought of as an avatar of Benzaiten, a deity closely associated with the motif of water, which in turn plays a most important role within the doctrines of the group and the teachings of its founder. For example, the group teaches that "Benzaiten is the spirit of water, the original ancestral deity of the entire universe that nurtures and makes all things on earth grow. Humans cannot live without the divine protection of Benten-sama, and this very world was made to express the mind of Benten-sama, the mind of water."
16. Referring to the very first water drawn on the morning of each day.
17. The group does not express its membership emphasis as being one of "laicism" (zaike shugi) per se, but rather as the "union of lay and clergy" (sôzoku ittai).
18. Murakami Shigeyoshi, Butsuryû kaidô Nagamatsu Nissen [Nagamatsu Nissen, founder of Butsuryû] (Kôdansha, 1976), 157.
19. The group relates that an inexperienced believer was careless and spilled the wine on the floor mats on one occasion; without realizing the marvelous power of the wine, he placed a bedding mat on the spot, whereupon the mat rose into the air.
20. The group observes as regular holidays those days of the year corresponding to dates on which important events occurred in the life of the founder. For example, March 7th, the day it is believed he was born as a deity, is observed as "festival of the divine"; the March 19 is the day he passed away and celebrates as "festival of thanksgiving for spirit waves." June 8, the day he set out on his religious journey while seriously ill, is now celebrated as "festival of the sacred journey," and July 2, his earthly birthday, is celebrated as "festival of the birth." At the "festival of the divine," believers who have made reservations are given "fire-subduing grass stalks and rice dumplings" which are believed to protect individuals from fire and diasters; on the "festival of the birth" sacks of "divine beans" are passed out. On November 2, the firstfruits of newly harvested rice is offered to the tutelary deities, in the festival of "new rice offering," and on that occasion "divine rice" (goshinmai) is distributed.
21. The rite observed at the home of the founder around that time was centered on invocations of a ritual prayer; a single candle would be used as the sole illumination for the room, and one person would be assigned to count, and the assembled group would engage in fervent recitation of the prayer 108 times, waiting for someone in the group to be possessed as a medium by the deity. When possession occurred, another person would be assigned to write a record of the medium's message. According to Tenshin Ômikamikyô yurai [History of the Tenshin Ômikamikyô] part I, (compiled by the Tenshin Ômikamikyô Honbu, 1974), 112, "a divine message never failed to come once the norito was intoned one-hundred and eight times. When the prayer is intoned 108 times, people enter a kind of selfless and totally intense trance, so when the lights were raised again and people were able to see the others' faces, they saw faces slimy with sweat and nasal mucous."
22. It is said that the members of the group at that time were full of desire for material profit and totally dedicated to making money; they awaited the divine revelation with such enthusiasm that they occasionally stayed up all night hoping for the deity to descend and possess one of their number.
23. The group teaches that god has descended to the earth three times in world history, namely through "Moses, Jesus, and in the founder and his elder brother." As this statement points out, the descend of the deity in the founder and his brother is counted as a single occurrence.
24. The group believes that a biomedical physician is a specialist in curing diseases, and there are thus many illnesses which can be cured by biomedical means. Sicknesses which originate from bad karma or influence of the spirit world, however, cannot be cured by such means. This group is not exceptional in the possession of this kind of theory of etiology, and in many cases, the groups use their conversion of medical doctors to emphasize that their religious faith transcends the treatments of conventional biomedicine.
25. At present, the method of preparing goshinsui is for water to be offered before the deity, then placed in bottles which are sealed, and then once again dedicated with prayers before the deity. Together with water, patent medicines and drugs are likewise dedicated before the deity, and it is said that if the deity is asked to breathe its breath into the medicine, the drugs will become a "divine tonic." Since goshinsui and divine tonics are different from the medicines produced by human beings, they are said to be capable of curing any disease without producing harmful side effects. At the same time, however, it is apparent from numerous experiential tales and sermons by religious leaders that the water will have no effect if the believers do not possess firm faith.
26. Her eldest son developed a fever in 1983 which rose to nearly 40 degrees C., and at that time she was granted the power of spirit healing. See Ajiki Tenkei, Shinpôkai kara no yogen no sho [The book of prophecy from the world of divine treasure] (Miki Shobô 1985), 130.
27. See Ikegami Yoshimasa, "Shûgyôdô kara jinja e: Tsugaru Akakura shinkô ni okeru `kyôdanka' no jirei" [From practice hall to shrine: an example of group formation in the religion of Tsugaru Akakura], Hirosaki Daigaku Jinbungakubu, Bunkei ronsô, 21:3 (1986). This work furnished us with numerous useful suggestions regarding group .
28. This document is called Shôwa yonjûnen no shingen (Divine words for the fortieth year of Shôwa ). According to Ikegami (ibid, 26), this miracle may have been manipulated by members who were taking part in the ceremonies on that day and wished to make the Sada couple successors to group leadership.
29. Ikegami (ibid, 27) views this development as the process whereby the second-generation leader, who was weaker in spiritual power than her predecessor, raised the first-generation founder to divine status as a means of legitimating her own authority within the group.
30. Konishi selected the name "Jôkanji" on the basis of a complex process of onomantic divination: According to principles of Onmyôdô [Yin-Yang thought], Konishi and his wife were associated with the planet Venus (Suisei, the "water star"); as a result, they decided to take the character ji (temple), which was said to have a "metal sound," since according to Yin-Yang principles, "metal" (kin) has an affinity for "water." The character jô was selected due to its meaning, to "lift up and save someone trapped in a hole in the ground."
Once the character jô was selected, onomantic principles dictated that the next character be composed of 25 strokes to assure optimum matching, and the first 25-stroke character that Konishi found in his character book was kan . Further, kan was decreed to be related to the element "wood," and ji is related to the element metal, and while those two elements are considered to be in conflict, onomantic principles also stated that it was advantageous to include two conflicting characters in a name since "conflict" means to arouse a "strong will to succeed." Finally, the character kan also possesses a natural affinity to the bodhisattva Shô-Kannon , which was one of Konishi's central objects of devotion.
31. Konishi currently interprets the original spinal fracture as resulting from an error made in an memorial rite for his ancestors.
32. This association gives guidance in how to conduct memorial rituals for ancestors, together with concrete instructions on how to arrange gravesites and tombstones in order to avoid supernatural retribution.
33. Konishi states that by drawing an individual's family tree he can divine whether or not the individual will live out his natural span of life, and he states that he himself falls into the category of one who's life will be cut short. That consciousness has been made more acute by numerous events through his life, for example, a near-drowning when he was in the fifth grade of elementary school, his chronic duodenal ulcer, and detached retina.
34. Other members of Jôkanji who also made pilgrimages to Kamuro state that Konishi engaged in a most earnest regimen of practice at Kamuro. He would be the first to arrive in the morning, but rather than taking a place at the front of the hall, he would sit in a corner at the back, concentrating his wishes, falling into sweat as he prayed the Heart Sutra. And he remained behind even after other visitors returned home, doing such menial chores as cleaning out the cabinet in which visitors placed their shoes.
35. Konishi states that the Sôtô branch of Zen is for his family's own private Buddhist altar, while the altar of the Shingon sect represents his religious organization Jôkanji. This dual worship is permissible in his case since he received a direct command from the buddha, but he states that under normal conditions, divine punishment will occur if one enshrines an object of faith from outside one's ancestral sectarian membership. He considers it permissible, however, to worship as a visitor at the temples of other sects.
36. Even before Konishi installed his altar and began performing rituals of faith healing with holy water, people who could be called virtual "followers" brought their troubles to him and asked for his guidance. The earliest of these believers began his association with Konishi in 1958. Konishi imposed a strict program of study and discipline on his preparatory school students. Before accepting a new student, he would interview the mother, and if he divined any problems with the mother, he would refuse admittance to the child. Konishi's pupils thus acted as a conduit for a growing number of new clients, to whom he initially offered services in various kinds of shinkigaku divination, including onomancy, divination of gravesites, divination of personal signets, and divination of houses and directions. Numerous persons have developed associations with Kamuro through Konishi, but the reverse is also true, and some of Konishi's followers first learned of him through their relationships with Kamuro. While Konishi's current activities center on the use of "holy water" in faith healing, he continues to give counselling in matters relating to divination as noted above. The "belly band" (haraobi) used by Konishi's wife [such bands are traditionally worn by Japanese women during their pregnancies] is viewed as having efficacy in producing safe childbirth, and it is passed around for use by believers.
37. Konishi states that while Sonkai was alive, "miracles" occurred in the presence of believers, but such occurrences have ceased since transmission of leadership to Sonkai's successor, even though "holy water" rituals are used. In addition, the current leader tells believers to "make themselves comfortable," and "stretch out your legs" or "use a fan if you're hot," indicating a loosening from the strict demands of faith made by Sonkai.
38. Konishi currently believes that he does not have the spiritualistic power of miraculous sight and hearing, and that he was made to go to the shaman in order to succeed Sonkai and stimulate the dharma power to help people through use of "holy water." Further, he states that he personally "heard" the voice of Sonkai only on the one occasion which formed his decision to sever his association with the shaman.
39. Gorai Shigeru, "Kôyasan no sangaku shinkô" [The mountain religion of Mt. Kôya], Kôyasan to Shingon mikkyô no kenkyû [Researches on Mt. Kôya and Shingon Esotericism] (Meicho shuppan, 1976), 39-41.
40. Sonkai is said to have taught, "Repend at the end of each day for the sins of that day. If you repent each day the Buddha will forgive you. But if you don't repent, your sins will mount up and flow over, leading to accidents, disasters, and sickness." Moreover, among the sayings of Sonkai which are posted in the altar room in the Konishi home, those dealing with illness go as follows: "Illnesses mount up like karmic hindrances each time you are angry, vexed, or resentful"; "Repentance and fervent prayer instantly heal even the incurable ill." "Critical ills are the karmic hindrances produced by dissatisfaction and ill will; the thankful person knows no misfortune." "People become sick because of their lazy minds." "People who revere the gods and buddhas are themselves revered by the gods. Prayer cures even the incurable disease." "Miracles are vouchsafed to those to do not spare themselves but pray for the good of others." "God's grace comes to the one who is gracious in thanks for all things. The miracle is in your own mind." "The hatred of a thousand people leads to a multitude of ills."
41. In his "Tôno monogatari" (Meiji 43), Yanagita Kunio states, "Popular deities of miraculous springs frequently appear and garner local attention," and he then introduces the following kind of stories: (paraphrased):
Some twelve or thirteen years ago in a place called Tochi no Chitanokakuchi, a spring came bubbling out overnight from the root of a giant cryptomeria tree. People said that the water was good for healing any kind of sickness, so it was visited by around a hundred people a day. Some people took the water and put it in their baths, and that practice was popular for a while, but after two or three months, the popularity died away. Some five or six years ago, a spring appeared at the foot of a mountain called Tengu ga Mori in Matsuzaki Village, and it was found by an old man named Uncle Torahachi in Tsukumoushi Village; it was spread about that this water had the miracle power of the "black snake" god, and was quite popular.
Another story says,
The pond called Gozen no Numa still exists in Aosasa Village, and the water from its spring appears a bit whitish in color. Some years ago someone put the water in a bath and had a lot of sick people bathe there. It was so effective at curing disease that unending lines of people formed to make pilgrimage there day. It became so famous that a policeman went from Tôno and chided the people [for their superstitition], going so far as to stomp down the little shrine that had been built beside the spring. But on his way home, the man began to lose the feeling in his hands and legs, and when he arrived he died just like that. His family also became sick and they say some died. This happened some time around the beginning of the Meiji period.
Such stories provide a clue to the way in which the faith in water arises and declines, and they also point out that within the folk tradition, the unusual power of holy water to heal disease is not necesarily linked to any specific individual.
42. Takeda Dôshô, "Renmonkyô no hôkai katei no kenkyû - Meiji shûkyôshi ni okeru Renmonkyô no ichi" [The fall of Renmonkyô - Renmonkyô in the history of Meiji-period religions], Nihon Bukkyô No. 59 (1983). [See the English translation of this article elsewhere in this volume.] Oku Takenori, Renmonkyô - Kindai Nihon minshû shûkyô no yukusue [Renmonkyô and the fate of popular religion in early modern Japan] (Gendai Kikakushitsu, 1988).
43. Mircea Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion, translated by Rosemary Sheed from the French Traite d'histoire des Religions (originally published by Editions Payot, Paris). London: Sheed and Ward, 1958, 212.
44. Ibid, 188-189. As one example of this type of belief, residents of the islands of Miyakojima and Yaejima, formerly held beliefs regarding the water drawn for the first bath of a newborn infant. Even after reaching adulthood, residents would draw water from the same well that had furnished the water for their first bath, and they would pour that water, called sudeimizu over themselves at the New Years. This was an expression of the belief that the water of a "well of birth" thereafter maintained the power to grant life and rejuvenation. This kind of belief in a water springing from a special place and possessing the power to bring about a "new birth" can also be found in the mainland-Japan custom of drawing the first water at the New Year, called wakamizukumi [lit., "youth-water drawing"], as well as even more widely throughout Korea, India, Polynesia, and Southeast Asia. See Tanikawa Ken'ichi et.al., Nihon minzoku bunka taikei - 2: taiyô to tsuki [Encyclopedia of Japanese folk culture, 2: sun and moon], (Shôgakukan, 1983); idem, Nihon minzoku bunka taikei - 9: koyomi to saiji [Encyclopedia of Japanese folk culture, 9: almanacs and rituals] (Shôgakukan, 1984). Futher, Ueda Shigeo notes that similar traditions having their origins in the pre-Christian cultures of Germany and Austria continue to be transmitted even today. See Seibo Maria [Saint Mary]. Iwanami Shinsho (Iwanami Shoten 1987).
With particular regard to initiation rites, water is used to attribute a "new birth" in the Christian rite of baptism, and in the Buddhist ritual of abhiseka (Jp. kanjô). Baptism, whether by sprinkling or immersion, is said to signify the death of the old personality and rebirth to a new life. Within India's Aryan civilization, abhiseka was performed as part of coming-of-age rites, coronations, and ceremonies for the designation of a crown prince. The custom was later adopted by Hindus and Buddhists. In Buddhism, anointing with water signifies the separatiohn from previous delusions and evil and rebirth as a child of the buddha.
According to Father Thomas Immhoos, a consecration of baptismal water is performed on the evening before Easter, so as to allow the water to demonstrate the potential of new life and rebirth. In that ceremony, the priest places his hand in the water and makes the sign of the cross, and repeats an invocation asking that the water be endowed with the power of rebirth. See Thomas Immhoos and Katô Kyôko, Fukai izumi no kuni Nihon - ibunka to no deai [The deep spring of Japan - encounter with a foreign culture] (Shunjûsha, 1985), 83. This Christian tradition of a belief in "holy water" may have been transmitted to Japan and fused with indigenous Japanese folk beliefs. See Kamiya Takehiro, Kirishitan no shinwateki sekai [The mythical world of Japanese Christianity] (Tôkyôdô Shuppan, 1986), and Tani Shinsuke, Kirishitan densetsu hyakuwa [One-hundred legends from Japanese Christianity] (Shinchô Sensho, 1987).
45. Tachikawa Shôji, Kinsei yamai zôshi - Edo jidai no byôki to iryô [A premodern primer of disease - illness and medicine in the Edo period] (Heibonsha, 1979), 287.
46. While not covered in our examples here, in some extreme cases the bodily fluids of the holder of charisma may be treated as "holy water," and the most direct method of using touch to transform water to "holy water" is for the water to come into direct contact with the body of the charismatic leader. The group Kômyô kyôkai (headquarters in Fukuoka Prefecture), takes for "holy water" what they claim are the diluted bodily fluids and bath water of the deceased founder, who they call Mida Hongan Goshôtai Nyorai (Amida-original-vow-living-Tathagata). The former water is called seimei no miizusama (glorious light of life), while the latter is called gojôyu (purifying bath).
47. Charismatic bonds are threatened by the death of the founder forming the physical bearer of charisma. And believers normally wish that the founder's charismatic power continue to operate after his or her death. In that case, something will be required which can mediate and motivate that power.
NOTE: This article is based on research performed with the assistance of a research grant from the Niwano Peace Foundation for fiscal 1985. We wish to express our thanks here to the Niwano Peace Foundation and all those who cooperated with our research.
I. This article was originally published in Japanese in two parts, as "Shinshûkyô ni okeru byôki chiryô (1, 2): kyôso no karisuma to `sei naru mizu,'"Meiji Gakuin ronsô, 443, 449 Shakaigaku, shakai-fukushigaku kenkyû, Nos. 81,82 (March/September, 1989), 77-95 (part 1), and 39-106 (part 2). Separate groups of endnotes in the original have been unified in this translation. The group here calle Tenshin Ômikamikyô has subsequently changed its name to Tenshin Seikyô.
II. Ouchi no ki, Melia azedarach, var. subtripinnata.
III. "Yamato" is the old name for the region of Japan around Nara, and by extension, for imperial Japan itself. The religious founder Tazawa apparently adopted the name Yamato only later, but the paper does not make it clear at what point in time that occurred; as a result, I have used the name throughout for sake of consistency.
IV. While the term yamabuki can mean literally "mountain-blowing," "mountain-gushing," or "mountain-breathing," it is also the name for the Japanese globeflower (Kerria japonica), and through association with the color of the flower, it denotes the meaning of "gold." It can further refer to the process of smelting various metals - including gold - from ore, and formerly served as a poetic "pillow word" for the Uji River (yamabuki no se). Which - if any - of these meanings was uppermost in the minds of those who named the water here is unclear.
V. The typical invocation used with Nichiren and other Lotus-oriented Buddhist sects in Japan, this formula is called the Daimoku and means "Hail to the Lotus Sutra of the Marvelous Dharma."
VI. Nichiren (1222-1282) was the founder of the sect bearing his name, and is looked to today as the ultimate founder of many Japanese Buddhist groups deriving from belief in the Lotus Sutra.
VII. Nichiryû (ca. 1385-1462) was founder of the Honmon Hokkeshû branch of the Nichiren sect.
VIII. "Water practice" (suigyô or mizugyô) generally refers to ascetic activities involving the pouring of cold-water ablutions over the body.
IX. Inari is a folk deity frequently worshiped as a god of grain and food, and represented as a fox occasionally responsible for causing spirit possessions. Jizô is the bodhisattva Ksitagarbha, in Japan considered a deity of children and all beings on the "six roads" of existence.
X. The Eightfold Path refers to the basic steps toward apprehending Buddhism as listed in the last of the Four Holy Truths, namely correct views, correct intentions, correct speech, correct conduct, correct livelihood, correct effort, correct mindfulness, and correct concentration.
XI. Fudô (Unmovable) is considered the greatest of the five great "bright kings" (Myôô), who act as Buddhist tutelaries. Fudô Myôô is known particularly for his protection of the Dharma and ascetic practitioners.
XII. The "womb passage" or tainai kuguri is a common "attraction" at many Buddhist temples in Japan; temple visitors are allowed to pass through a maze inside the hollow body of a large Buddha image.
XIII. The characters used here are normally read kitôshi and used to refer to intercessory priests.
XIV. The term hotoke is used to mean either a "buddha" or "a deceased person." Since the Buddha Yakushi is also mentioned subsequently, the reference may be to both Sada's deceased mother Mura and to Yakushi.
XV. The tathagata Bhaisajyaguru or "medicine king," worshiped as buddha of medicine and healing.
XVI. For Fudô Myôô, see above, note XI. Koyasu Daishi is a deity of children and safe childbirth in the person of Kôbô Daishi (the deified monk Kûkai, 774-835); Shô-Kannon is the bodhisattva of mercy, Avalokitesvara.
XVII. The characters making up the place name Kamuro can taken to mean "learning-road," so Sonkai's title could also be considered a word play meaning "Great Master of Learning."
XVIII. Rishukyô is the common name for the Dairaku kongô fukû shinjitsu sanmayakyô, (Sk. Prajna-paramita-naya-satapancasatika-sutra), an esoteric sutra used within Shingon Buddhism.
XIX. Namu daishi henjô kongô: a formulaic invocation pronounced by devotees of Kôbô Daishi.
XX. The first character in the name Sonkai was taken from his original given name, Sonhei , and means "descendant"; the homophone Son which he personally selected means "respect" or "reverence." The second character in both names, kai , means "ocean," and is likewise the second character in the religious name of Kûkai, founder of the Shingon sect in Japan (see above, note XVI.
XXI. Different signets are used for different purposes, for example, personal seals, bank seals, and book seals, and the principles used for divining the correct design differ in each case.
XXII. The term used here is gyôja, which means literally a "practitioner," referring to one adept in ascetic religious techniques.
XXIII. Most Fudô Myôô images are blue or black; one particularly well-known instance of a Red Fudô, however, can be found at Mt. Kôya, headquarters of the Shingon Sect founded by Kûkai.
XXIV. Tathagata Shakyamuni.
XXV. The goma (Sk. homa) ritual is performed in Japan by burning small sticks of wood over a fire; special wishes or vows are often written on the sticks, whose burning symbolizes both the destruction of evil passions and the tranmission of wishes to the sacred realm.
XXVI. See above, paragraph 184.
XXVII. Human resentment and hatred have traditionally been viewed as powerful causes of illness and disease in Japan. The "lingering resentment" of someone whose life is accidentally cut short may remain potent after death, causing harm to others unless properly propitiated.
XXVIII. The Ketsubonkyô or "Sutra of the Bowl of Blood" is generally believed to be a spurious late Mahayana text, one which teaches female inferiority and condemnation to the "lake of blood" based on the pollution said to be inherent in women's menstruation. See Takemi Momoko, "`Menstruation Sutra' Belief in Japan," Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 10:2/3 (June/September, 1983), 229-246.
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