Before I moved to Japan, nearly everyone I knew basically made the same comment: Oh! What a wonderful opportunity for you to study more Oriental medicine! It was a natural remark.
I have always been drawn to healing arts from Japan. My practice for nearly 20 years has been in Japanese acupuncture and for a decade before that I practiced Shiatsu, with some Reiki in between. No wonder people thought I was moving to Japan to study healing. But that was the last thing on my mind.
My husband had signed a two-year contract to work as a "salary man" for a Japanese company and I was going along for the ride. I was looking forward to the luxury of not working for the first time in my adult life. I wanted to simply rest, relax and enjoy as much as possible the people, culture, and scenery of Japan. If I studied anything at all in Japan, it would be art.
On our first trip to Tokyo, I set out to visit art museums. For starters, I chose a small one connected to the Okura Hotel in the Akasaka district. After leaving the museum, I crossed the street, passed by the American Embassy, and then found myself in front of dignified-looking, four-story brick building which aroused my curiosity. It was the Shinreikyo headquarters. Out front, I saw people gathering water into plastic bottles, from five granite fountains. Later, I learned that the water is considered holy and useful for healing. I also noticed a small, clear, plastic box on a pole, containing two bundles of brochures titled "Light from the East: The Fountainhead of Miracles, Shinreikyo." One group was in Japanese, one was in English. I picked up an English version and browsed it.
What is Shinreikyo?
Shinreikyo was formerly established in 1947 by Kanichi Otsuka and his wife Kuni. As founders, they are respectively referred to as Kyososama and Kyobosama. Shinreikyo's most famous and distinguishing feature is that nearly all of its practitioners have experienced phenomena that cannot be explained by modern science. These miracles fall into four main categories:
Miraculous healings from serious illnesses and injuries
Brain development and skull expansion
Sublime transmigration (phenomena that occurs after death)
Miracles surrounding natural childbirth
In addition, miracles of healing also occur through Shinreikyo to animals and plants. I wondered why I had never heard of Shinreikyo before. It sounded pretty wild to me, but also intriguing. Perhaps it was something I could use in my practice. Perhaps it could help me with a few health problems of my own. Eventually, I sent a letter of inquiry to the Shinreikyo Center in Akasaka.
My letter was answered by the manager, Mr. Kazuhiko Hosokawa. One of his many duties is to assist foreigners who want to know about Shinreikyo. He sent me literature and suggested I come to Tokyo, so he could answer my questions in person. That was the beginning of my education about Shinreikyo. Mr. Hosokawa began by telling me of his personal healing experiences through Shinreikyo.
Brain Development and Expansion of the Skill
When in high school, Mr. Hosokawa suffered an injury to his spine which resulted in bouts of fierce pain. The pains grew worse in college. He received temporary relief from shiatsu, but the pain always returned. Eventually, he was in too much agony to continue his studies. It was then that he came in contact with Shinreikyo.
Drawn by hope, he attended a lecture about Shinreikyo on June 5, 1976. While listening to the speakers and watching documentary films, he began to feel better. The next day, he became a member of Shinreikyo's spiritual practice. He began to experience signs of skull expansion and brain development. He wrote about this in the Shinreikyo brochure: "The process began with pains in the right temporal region, and a few days later I noticed that the region had visibly expanded. Next, my crown, forehead and other parts of my skull enlarged, improving the size and shape of my head overall. When I stopped to think about it, I realized that my personality had become brighter and more serene. I also noticed improvements in my powers of concentration, understanding, judgment, and other areas. In addition to this, the distortion of my overall bone structure healed, my physique grew more robust, the abnormal sagging of my stomach disappeared, my constitution improved, my physical strength picked up, and I experienced other positive changes."
Mr. Hosokawa San took my hand and placed it on top of his head. He invited me to touch an area that was currently undergoing skull expansion. I could feel a very slightly raised area. He told me that since the initial skull expansion he experienced in 1976, that he had experienced skull expansion over 50 times.
I also learned that after skull expansion, a person tends to more fully realize their natural talents and abilities. In Shinreikyo, they say "the sleeping self comes into bloom." First, mental and emotional problems, such as anxiety or depression, fade away. Then a person's natural talents and abilities begin to emerge and increase. Some of Japan's most famous actors, artists, corporate leaders, as well as top competitors in baseball and sumo, attribute their success to Shinreikyo. Some of their stories have been written about in the Japanese press.
Miracles Related to Natural Childbirth
Many women in Shinreikyo claim that, for various reasons, they were unable to bear children until joining Shinreikyo. Then their problems self-corrected and they became pregnant. When women in Shinreikyo become pregnant, they tend to be free from morning sickness or other troubles commonly associated with pregnancy. They give birth naturally with little or no labor pain. Labor is very short, usually less than 45 minutes. Their babies are born with abnormally thick umbilical cords and skulls that are more rounded than normal. I have met some women who have given birth in this way. They told me that the doctors and nurses were shocked at how quickly they delivered and that they were impressed with the vitality of their babies.
I have heard personally from people who were healed from life-threatening heart, liver, and kidney diseases. I have also read about people in Shinreikyo who experienced miraculous recoveries from asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, mental illness, paralysis and advanced stages of various kinds of cancer. Some of the most unusual healings involved the remedying of a congenital structural problem, such as an abnormally curved spine, a misshapen pelvis, or a case where one leg is shorter that the other. In these cases, the bones actually grow or change shape to correct the problem.
In Shinreikyo, the process of getting well varies from person to person. Some people experience an almost immediate healing and others take months or years to become completely well. In chronic cases, as the body reawakens to vitality, there may be a temporary aggravation of symptoms, before they fade away. Other times there is a dramatic process that precedes recovery called "salvation phenomena."
Last week, I met a man who spoke of his father's experience with liver cancer. After receiving the diagnosis from his doctor, he decided not to go into the hospital for treatment. Instead he went home and then became a Shinreikyo member in hopes of a cure. At that point he began to recover. Eventually he became totally free of cancer and went on to live many more productive years. In the process of healing he expelled a half bucket of toxins for his body.
His experience was not unusual for Shinreikyo members, especially if they have a disease like cancer. A person may vomit or expel through the bowels a dramatic amount of toxins which often resemble coffee grounds, fish entrails, or pieces of chicken liver. Pus or other substances may be discharged from an opening that forms in the skin. Sometimes there is black stool resembling coal tar. There may also be a fever, an unusual rash, or an odor in the sweat, stool, or urine. It is believed that Shinreikyo practices increase the life energy, making the body strong enough to push out poisons. In acupuncture, we usually call such events detoxifying. In Shinreikyo, it is called "salvation phenomena," because it means that soon the patient will be saved from their disease.
A Beautiful Death - Sublime Transformation
Normally after death, the body temperature drops, the body begins to harden with rigor mortis, and purple spots appear on the underside of the body where the blood has pooled and congealed. Eventually there is a putrid odor. However, often when a Shinreikyo practitioner dies, they have a different experience, called "sublime transmigration."
With sublime transmigration, the body remains warm and supple, the fingernails and skin color retain a health color. There are no purple spots on the underside of the body. The body retains a normal pleasant odor. In some cases, age spots and other flaws disappear and the whitened hair of the elderly turns black. The body stays in this stare, for many hours, sometimes for days; the longest known documented cases being nine days. After cremation, the remains are not discolored or gray as usual, but snowy white, a phenomenon which tends to astound the cremators. This sort of beautiful death is said to be proof that the person has attained spiritual salvation. This is also reflected in the face of the deceased, which is said to have a noble and peaceful expression.
This physical mystical phenomenon after death has been written about in Christian, Taoist and Buddhist scripture. Historically, such cases have been extremely rare. Usually it happens only to well-known priests or people considered saints and is witnessed by very few people. In Shinreikyo, sublime transmigration is a common occurrence that happens to ordinary people. In Shinreikyo families, sometimes even family pets, also undergo sublime transformation at the time of death.
Documentation and Testimonials
Many miracles experienced through Shinreikyo have been well documented. Shinreikyo practitioners are encouraged to keep journals of any miraculous healings they experience and to report them to the head office where they are archived. Some cases are published in Shinreikyo's own bi-weekly newspaper. Soon there will also be a book published (in English) describing cures that have occurred in recent decades.
What convinces and moves me the most, however, is when I hear individuals speak. At every Shinreikyo meeting, some people get up and read their testimonials. These speeches are, of course, in Japanese, so most of it goes over my head. It's only later, over rice and tea in the common lunchroom, as Mr. Hosokawa translates their stories for me, that I understand exactly what happened to each person. But something I can clearly understand is the sincerity of the people who testify. They have nothing to sell or promote. They humbly tell their stories, straight from the heart, to give hope to others and as a way to publicly give thanks to the founder, Kyososama.
Recently I attended a Shinreikyo Grand Festival held on Shinreikyo's most holy ground, Mt. Manju, which is located on the western edge of Tokyo. This is a beautiful wooded and flowered place, which contains gardens, a large gathering hall, several sacred buildings, and most importantly, the burial place of the founder, Kyososama. The air on Mt. Manju that day was clean, fresh and sweetly fragrant. I felt purified, refreshed and energized by being there, which is exactly how I feel every time I visit the Shinreikyo Center or attend a Shinreikyo meeting.
When I moved to Japan, I was not looking for a new form of natural healing, but unexpectedly discovered one in Shinreikyo. Since then, I have come to see that there is something indefinably unique, precious and sacred about Shinreikyo; something that invites me to explore and experience it further. I will keep you posted.