Happy Science (幸福の科学 Kōfuku-no-Kagaku ) is a new religious and spiritual movement founded in Japan on 6 October 1986 by Ryuho Okawa. Happy Science became an official religious organization in Japan 7 March 1991. In the USA, Happy Science has been a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization since 1994.
In February 2008, the official English name for the group was changed from the Romanized Japanese Kofuku-no-Kagaku (literal translation "science of happiness") to the English rendering "Happy Science". Their former English name was "IRH - The Institute for Research in Human Happiness" which is still the name for their publishing company "IRH Press".
Okawa claims to channel the spirits of Muhammad, Christ, Buddha and Confucius and claims to be the incarnation of the supreme spiritual being called El Cantare. Happy Science claims that El Cantare is the true hidden name of the Heavenly Father in the Old Testament, Elohim, known in the Middle East as the God of creation (El) and in other ancient cultures of the world as the Cosmic Tree of Life and the World Tree. Okawa also claims to have direct communication with the "Guardian Spirits" of political figures, with whom he conducts interviews published in the organization's newsletter "The Liberty" and in book form. (See, for example, Okawa's book "The Next President: Spiritual Interviews with the Guardian Spirits of Newt Gingrich vs. Mitt Romney vs. Rick Santorum”, 2012)
The basic teachings of Happy Science are "Exploration of the Right Mind" and the "Principles of Happiness". According to Okawa, in order to obtain happiness one must practice the Principles of Happiness known as "The Fourfold Path", Love, Wisdom, Self-Reflection and Progress. The only requirement to join Happy Science is that applicants must have "the aspiration and vision to seek the way and contribute to the realization of love, peace and happiness on earth". At the same time, Happy Science propounds a range of political views, including support for Japanese military expansion, support for the use of nuclear power, and denial of historical events such as the Nanjing Massacre in China - see the Japanese-language version of the organization's online news bulletin, The Liberty (http://the-liberty.com/) An April 2013 article in the English-language version of the journal transmits a message from the spirit of the recently deceased "angel of light", former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher urging Japan to attack China and North Korea. (http://eng.the-liberty.com/2013/4397/)
Although its teachings are based on the Buddhist foundations of reflection and keeping Right Mind, it also incorporates modern day prosperity and development in order to improve oneself and society. The teachings given by Ryuho Okawa are said to be universal and center on the pluralistic belief that all major religions originated from one source.
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Happy Science is one of many Japanese new religions, or shinshūkyō, which are looked upon as "controversial" by the mainstream press and public. According to The Japan Times, "for many, the Happies smell suspiciously like a cult".
In June 2012, Happy Science was blamed for a reservation mix-up at the Ugandan national stadium by the Ugandan athletes preparing for 2012 Olympics. Some athletes blamed Happy Science for their failure to qualify as they were forced to use the inferior track for time trials, as the national stadium was booked by Happy Science.
The organization has made some movies advancing its views:
- Nostradamus: The Prophecy (1994)
- The Mystical Laws (2012)
- Happiness Realization Party, the organization's political wing
- Muhumza, Rodney (July 10, 2012). Huffington Post "Happy Science, Controversial Religion From Japan, Succeeds In Uganda". Associated Press. Retrieved November 5, 2012.
- McNeill, David (4 August 2009), "Party offers a third way: happiness", The Japan Times, retrieved 6 August 2009
- Media and religion in Japan: the Aum affair as a turning point, Dr. Erica Baffelli, Lecturer in Asian Religions University of Otago Department of Theology and Religious Studies, 2008.
- "Uganda athletes anger at Happy Science Olympic mix-up" 23 June 2012. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
- Clarke, Peter B. (ed.) (1999), 'Kofuku-no-Kagaku: The Institute for Research in Human Happiness' in A Bibliography of Japanese New Religious Movements: With Annotations, Surrey, UK, Japan Library (Curzon), ISBN 1-873410-80-8, pp. 149–67
- Yamashita, Akiko (1998), 'The "Eschatology" of Japanese new and new new religions: from Tenrikyo to Kofuku-no-Kagaku' in Japanese Religions, Vol. 23, January 1998, NCC, Kyoto, Japan, pp. 125–42
- "The Transformation of a Recent Japanese New Religion: Okawa Ryuho and Kofuku no Kagaku" in Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 22, pp. 343-380