“The birth of our religion”
To start with, let us think of why our religion came to be. But for that, we first need to understand a few things. When we consider the modern culture that has been built up by humanity over the last several thousand years, it appears so advanced and developed, at least in outward form, that its seeming splendor simply dazzles us. Of course, people of today look at it and are in awe of its brilliance. They are totally immersed in its wonder. But do you know what is peculiar? When we observe it in detail, we find that it is not what it seems. In fact, I say that it is the opposite of how it appears. What I mean by that is how there has not been any progress when it comes to the spirituality of human beings. I sometimes think that the minds of ancient people must have been superior to those of the current people. If we measure the minds of humans now, I am ashamed to say this but I have a feeling that evil outweighs good. *
And so, what humanity desires the most is happiness. Through every means possible and utilizing their intelligence to the fullest, they have sought to attain it. The desire for happiness has turned into a dream of a utopia and a longing for an ideal world. For this purpose, humanity first relied on religion. But as the prospect for establishing an ideal world through religion grew dimmer, they searched for other options. They were, as you all know, education, morality and philosophy that emerged from places like China and Europe since the medieval period. * Amidst all these developments, material science came to the forefront in the seventeenth century in the West, and this brought about reformation in every aspect of human life. Above all, the advancement of a mechanized civilization soon led to the emergence of the Industrial Revolution and, alas, the whole world finally succumbed to the power and charm of science. Humanity came to believe that there was no need for things like religion or morality anymore, as they seemed indirect and time-consuming ways to attain happiness. What they needed, they thought, was empirical scientific culture, something visible, tangible and real. They believed that this was the best candidate for improving human happiness and creating an ideal world. I cannot blame them for it. *
What can we conclude then? I say that now we are in the middle of a great global-scale transition – a belief we always hold to. Right now, we are living in a moment when a new culture is replacing the old one. Has humanity ever experienced this kind of extraordinary change in its entire history? It is truly unprecedented. But what is this “new culture” that is supposed to be taking over the old one? Let me just say that it is absolutely impossible to get even the smallest glimpse of it through human intelligence. But what exactly is it? Who on earth is entrusted with the task of creating this new culture? When we consider these questions, we, at long last and regardless of whether we believe in it or not, have to acknowledge the existence of an entity known to us as “God.”
Accordingly, now I am going to explain what God is, and it is not as simple as people might assume. In Shinto, they claim that there are eight million gods and it is true indeed. Each one of the gods belongs to one of the three different classes – upper, middle or lower – and is assigned a role from a myriad of choices. Until today, we only know either the monotheistic Christian God or the polytheistic Shinto gods, but their explanations are only one-sided. The truth is this: the one and only God creates and imparts His very own spirit into many Gods, so there is one God and many Gods both at the same time. *
What should be noted here is that when a theory slightly ahead of its time is proposed, it receives praise and admiration from intellectuals. This is because a theory of that grade is most easily accepted by those who have gone through the education of the established culture. Most Nobel laureates belong to this category. However, if, for some reason, a theory that is completely advanced and far-off from the standard of its time is put forward, it is utterly impossible for people to comprehend it, and thus they see it as a heresy, attack it and try to eliminate it. Look at what happened to pioneers such as Jesus Christ, Socrates, Copernicus, Galileo and Luther in Europe. The degree of suffering they endured is a testament to what I am saying here. But everyone, consider my theory. I tell you that it is much more far-off than those of the pioneers I just mentioned and it is at least one or two centuries ahead of the contemporary time. For people who hear my theory for the first time or who are totally immersed in and satisfied with the current established culture, it stuns them. They do not give even the slightest thought to it and cast it away as an absurd notion very quickly. But consider this. If my theory is simply absurd or bizarre, would our activity advance further and further, steadfast and unshaken, even while being subject to so much slander, condemnation and attack not to mention oppression from the authorities? There must be something to our belief, otherwise this would not make sense, would it. I cannot tell you how many times we have survived difficult ordeals and narrowly escaped from the hands of our foes. Despite all of this, our project of constructing a paradise is moving forward more than we could imagine. One must admit that this is simply inexplicable through human reasoning. * And so, the basic requirement we are proposing in order to be a part of “creating an earthly paradise” – the motto of our religion – is for each individual to be elevated and attain the right to become a resident of heaven. If these kinds of individuals increase, a paradise on earth must appear one day, as the world is made up of individuals.
Sekai Meshiya Kyo Haya-wakari (A Quick Guide to World Church of Messiah), November 20, 1950
* Portions omitted for the service.