|Formation||6 October 1986|
|Type||Japanese new religious movement|
|Headquarters||1-2-38 Higashi Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 141-0022, Japan|
|11 million (self-claimed), 30,000 (estimated)|
|The Institute for Research in Human Happiness|
Happy Science (幸福の科学, Kōfuku-no-Kagaku), formerly known as The Institute for Research in Human Happiness, is a controversial new religious and spiritual movement, founded in Japan on 6 October 1986 by Ryuho Okawa, which has been characterized as a cult.
The Happy Science group includes a publication division called IRH Press, educational establishments such as Happy Science Academy and Happy Science University, a political party called the Happiness Realization Party, and three media entertainment divisions, which are called New Star Production, ARI Production and HS Pictures Studio.
Happy Science was founded on 6 October 1986 and was certified in Japan as a religious organization on 7 March 1991. According to Ryuho Okawa, its aim is "to bring happiness to humanity by spreading the Truth". Before its foundation, Ryuho Okawa published various books of "spiritual messages" that claim to channel the words spoken by religious and historical figures such as Jesus Christ, Confucius and Nichiren. In 1987, The Laws of the Sun, The Golden Laws, and The Laws of Eternity were published, forming the core textbooks of Happy Science, along with the fundamental sutra The Dharma of the Right Mind. In 1986, he resigned from a position at a trading corporation to found his own religion.
The basic teachings of Happy Science are "Exploration of the Right Mind" and "The Fourfold Path" and El Cantare belief. According to Okawa, in order to obtain happiness one must practice the Principles of Happiness known as "The Fourfold Path", Love that gives, Wisdom, Self-Reflection and Progress. The only requirement to join Happy Science is that applicants must have "the aspiration and discipline to seek the truth and actively contribute to the realization of love, peace and happiness on Earth". Among other teachings, they believe in the existence of reincarnation, angels, demons, heaven & hell, and aliens.
At the same time, the organization's political wing, the Happiness Realization Party, promotes political views that include support for Japanese military expansion, support for the use of nuclear deterrence, and denial of historical events such as the Nanjing Massacre in China and the comfort women issue in South Korea—see the Japanese-language version of the organization's online news bulletin, The Liberty. Some other views include infrastructure spending, natural disaster prevention, urban development, and dam construction. They also advocate fiscal conservatism, strengthening the US-Japan alliance, and a virtue-based leadership. As of the spring of 2018, the Happiness Realization Party has 21 local councilors.
Object of worship
Happy Science worships a deity named El Cantare who they believe is the "Highest God of Earth, the Lord of all gods". They believe that the being was first born on Earth 330 million years ago and that it is the same entity that has been worshipped at different times as Elohim, Odin, Thoth, Ophealis (Osiris), Hermes and Shakyamuni Buddha, with Okawa himself as the current incarnation.
General headquarters, worship facilities, and missionary sites are located in Japan and other countries. Worship facilities are called Shoja (精舎 or vihara in Sanskrit) or Shoshinkan (正心館). In 1994, the first overseas branch, "Happiness Science USA" was established in New York. The organisation has branches in several countries including South Korea, Brazil, Uganda, the UK, Australia, India and Singapore.
Happy Science is one of many Japanese new religions (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". Not only the domestic Japanese press, but also international media have applied the term "cult" to Happy Science.[a]
In February 2017, actress Fumika Shimizu abruptly retired from her former entertainment production agency while in the middle of multiple filming projects in order to pursue a full-time role in Happy Science, declaring she had been a member of the group since childhood under the influence of her parents, both of whom have been devout believers in Happy Science for a long time.
Okawa's son, Hiroshi Okawa, left the religion and is now an outspoken critic of the movement. In an article in The New York Times, he commented, "I believe what my father does is complete nonsense". Hiroshi has been denounced as "demonic" and is being sued for defamation by his father.
The group sold "spiritual vaccines" claimed to prevent and cure COVID-19, advertised virus-related blessings at rates from 100 to over US$400, and sold coronavirus-themed DVDs and CDs of Ryuho Okawa lecturing, which are claimed to boost immunity, as of April 2020[update]. After initially defying physical distancing measures, it later closed its New York temple, and administered spiritual "vaccines" remotely.
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- 『「幸福の科学」教団史2008 法輪、転ずべし』p57
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