SEKAI KYUSEI KYO (Church of World Messianity) (Religious Movement)

Founder: Okada Mokichi (b. 1882; d. 1955)

One of Japan’s many new religious movements (NRMs) Sekai Kyusei Kyo (SKK) or Church of World Messianity (referred to henceforth simply as Messianity) was founded in 1935 by Okada Mokichi (1882-1955), a former associate of Omoto (Great Origin). Messianity’s primary goal is the building of paradise on earth principally through the performance of the johrie healing ritual which consists of the transmission of divine light. Johrei is administered by a member who, wearing an amulet or ohikari, raises the palm of her/his hand over the recipient, who may nor may not be a believer, and imparts to her/him the divine light of healing.

Okada developed a theory of illness that linked it to spiritual clouds which could be dispersed not only by the practice of johrei but also by the use of herbal remedies. He was also persuaded that certain kinds of illness were beneficial. For example, the common cold served to cleanse the body which would otherwise be rendered dysfunctional by toxic substances. Shizen noho or natural farming is also a fundamental part of Messianity’s teachings and practices.

There are various views among followers as to whether Okada is divine or human. For example, some members, particularly in Brazil, equate him with Jesus, others see him as the Messiah of the present age. Initially Okada proclaimed himself to be the Boddhisatva Kannon (see Mahayana Buddhism), long venerated in Japan as the very essence of compassionate mercy, and later as the Messiah of the New Age. Regardless of whether they regard him as divine or human, all refer to Okada as Meishusama, sama being an honorific title such as Sir or Lord.

Messianity, as is the case with many other Japanese new religions (see New Religions (Japan)), is emphatically millenarian and preaches the coming of an earthly paradise by means of an ever-increasing outpouring of divine light by means of johrei and shizen noho or natural farming. This approach to agriculture is based on the belief that Nature possesses its own intrinsic resources which are sufficient in themselves to bring forth wholesome crops and plants in abundance.

The movement has an estimated 900,000 members in Japan and is present in many parts of the world. It is particularly strong in Brazil and Thailand where the membership is over 300,000 in both countries. Messianity is inclusive where belief and practice are concerned. It does not demand of new members who belong to another faith that this be abandoned on joining.

Messianity has sympathizers and practitioners among some of the Catholic clergy of, for example Brazil and Bolivia, and in recent times it has attracted some 300 Theravada Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka who now both receive and transmit johrei.

Organizationally, Messianity consists of two main institutions, the Church of World Messianity and the Mokichi Okada Foundation, the former focusing on spiritual matters and the latter on cultural activities including sangetsu or flower arranging and horticulture. Differences between the two branches are becoming increasingly blurred as the leadership attempts to present johrei not as the core practice of the Church of World Messianity as such but as a non-denominational healing ritual that can be effectively administered by any religious or secular institution that has the necessary ‘faith’ in its curative powers. ‘Faith’ here does not mean a belief in a non-empirical, supernatural order, for in the case of johrei the recipient is provided with proof of its beneficial effects before being asked to accept that it has the power to produce such effects.

While at present united, Messianity has experienced serious internal divisions and this has meant the establishment of a number of different branches each with its own headquarters. Today the main headquarters are at Atami, and the World President is the Reverend Tetsuo Watanabe who is also President of Messianity in Brazil. Among those who hold the highest positions of spiritual leadership is the grandson of Mokichi Okada, the Reverend Yoichi Okada

Next post:

Previous post: