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Sukyo Mahikari is a nonprofit spiritual and community service organization with centers in more than 100 countries. Originally founded by Kotama Okada in 1959 under the name L.H. Yokoshi Tomo no Kai, Sukyo Mahikari was registered on 23 June 1978 by Keishu Okada as part of an amicable settlement following the passing of Sir. Kotama Okada (who was decorated with the Knight Commander and the decoration of The Sovereign (Greek) Order of the Knights of Saint Dennis of Zantein 1972). As of 2013, Sukyo Mahikari claims to have a membership of approximately one million practitioners, though it is not clear whether this includes ex-members or not.
Beliefs and practices
The stated purpose of the organization is to foster the ability in people to develop a world of true peace by understanding and practicing light energy and the universal principles in all aspects of life. Sukyo Mahikari has invested much effort and many resources in research on natural farming methods. The use of chemical fertilizers is strongly opposed and the organization has helped to create natural farms throughout the world.
The art of True Light
Sukyo Mahikari teaches the transmission of light energy through a practice which they refer to as "the art of True Light (Mahikari)" which is believed to issue from the palm of the hand. In this spiritual practice, practitioners believe that the Light of God is transmitted from the palm of the hand (the giver) to another person (the receiver), allowing them to purify and revitalise the spirit, mind and body, and to nurture the soul. Practitioners believe that the light energy represents the wisdom, love and will of God.
The practice of giving and receiving light typically begins with both the giver and receiver offering a prayer for God’s Light and divine guidance. After chanting a prayer that is believed to have a strong purifying power (referred to as the “Amatsu Norigoto Prayer”: not to be confused with "Amatsu Norito", a Shinto prayer), the giver then holds his or her hand approximately 12 inches (30 centimeters) from the receiver’s body and transmits the Light to various points considered vital, including, it is believed, the receiver’s soul. Sessions of Light can last anywhere from 10 to 50 minutes.
The art of True Light is the main activity of Sukyo Mahikari because, it is believed, this practice can help people to restore their original divine nature as children of God. By purifying themselves with God’s Light as frequently as possible and by living a way of life that accords with God’s principles, practitioners believe they can gradually eliminate their spiritual impurities.
Sukyo Mahikari teaches that the primary purpose of receiving Divine Light is to purify and nurture the spirit. Sukyo Mahikari does not advocate for the use of the art of True Light as a substitute for medical or psychological therapy. Sukyo Mahikari founder Kotama Okada taught that the ultimate purpose of Sukyo Mahikari and the art of True Light is not to heal disease or gain personal benefit, but instead to be of service to society.
Founder Kotama Okada taught that the art of True Light can have a deep impact on the spiritual realm and encouraged members to transmit the Light to anyone or anything at anytime. He taught that the Light can not only to be transmitted to human beings, but also to animals, food, buildings, automobiles, and the natural environment, as well as situations of unresolved conflict.
In addition to the practice of light energy, Sukyo Mahikari teaches the concept of universal principles that, when practiced together with light energy, is believed to allow one to more quickly attain spiritual and personal growth.
Sukyo Mahikari encourages people to incorporate the divine principles in their daily life by practicing three virtues: gratitude, humility and acceptance of the will of God. It also encourages the practice of other virtues such as prayer, cultivating a more positive attitude, promoting harmony in families, helping others and being of service to God.
Founder Kotama Okada believed that that if people followed the universal principles, they would naturally use science, technology and other kinds of human knowledge in a more holistic and discerning way, and would find solutions to pressing issues facing humanity.
Organization and membership
International and regional headquarters
In addition to the world headquarters in Takayama, Japan, Sukyo Mahikari has established regional headquarters in Australia-Oceania, Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and North America, with centers located in over 100 countries.
Sukyo Mahikari centers, commonly referred to as “dojos” are located in communities in more than 100 countries. Center attendance is not restricted to members.
Within the United States and Canada, Sukyo Mahikari has 21 spiritual development centers.
Sukyo Mahikari currently has approximately one-million practitioners who form its membership, though it is not clear if this includes ex members or dormant practitioners (also called as Yokoshis or Kumites). Outside of Japan, the areas with the highest growth rate of membership are in Asia and South America.
Sukyo Mahikari does not ask its members to give up any pre-existing beliefs or accept Sukyo Mahikari as the only path to happiness. Sukyo Mahikari teaches that all religions and spiritual practices have an important mission to accomplish and should work together to establish world peace. Sukyo Mahikari claims that its emphasis on the spiritual unity of humankind has resulted in a membership that reflects a diversity of religions and nationalities.
Sukyo Mahikari does not practice any form of tithe. The sole mandatory contribution for members is the monthly membership fee, which is set at $5 per month in the U.S. and a similar amount in other regions. Cornille writes, "There is the monthly membership fee (reisen hōji onrei ); the daily offering for receiving and giving the light (okiyome onrei); the expression of gratitude for protection (otamagushi), and special gifts for the local dō jōchō, the headquarters in Japan, or the project for building a mausoleum for the founder. In addition, the dojo receives a considerable income from registration fees for courses. For major projects, however, such as the building of a new dojo, funds may come from headquarters in Japan."
Sukyo Mahikari members have been involved in charity and social services around the world, such as in Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal (planting of trees and revival of national parks), in Angola (activities for children, elderly people, and beautify urban areas) and in both New York and Hawaii (for environmental cleanup activities). In August 2004, Los Angeles mayor James Hahn presented Sukyo Mahikari of North America with a proclamation commending the organization for its efforts in helping to create a peaceful and harmonious society; and in September 2009, Mayor Mufi Hannemann of Honolulu presented Sukyo Mahikari with a certificate declaring September 27 as Sukyo Mahikari Day in Honolulu in recognition of beach and park cleanup activities that the organization has conducted there over the past ten years.
In 2000, Sukyo Mahikari co-sponsored the UN Millennium Summit of World Religious Leaders.
On May 6, 2010, the New York Center of Sukyo Mahikari was presented with a High Performance Building Plaque from The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) in pursuing a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver rating from the U.S. Green Buildings Council. The plaque was given in recognition of energy-efficient measures incorporated into the new center that will help cut its energy costs by $8,400 per year and reduce its carbon footprint in New York City.
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