Happy Science

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Happy Science
Kōfuku no Kagaku
OR holy symbol.png
Happy Science logo
Formation 1986
Founders Ryuho Okawa
Type Religious movement
Headquarters 1-2-38 Higashi Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 141-0022, Japan
Membership
over 12 million[1] (2011)
Ryuho Okawa
Website happy-science.org
Formerly called
The Institute for Research in Human Happiness
Tokyo Shoshinkan in Sengakuji

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, that is widely criticized as a cult.[2][3][4]

The Happy Science group includes a publication division called IRH Press, educational establishments such as The Happy Science Academy and The Happy Science University, a political party called The Happiness Realization Party, and a media entertainment division called New Star Productions.

History[edit]

Happy Science was founded on 6 October 1986. 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.[5]

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".

Teachings[edit]

Tokyo Shoshinkan in Sengakuji

Okawa claims to channel the spirits of Muhammad, Christ, Buddha, Confucius, and other individuals. He also claims to be the incarnation of the supreme spiritual being called El Cantare (エル・カンターレ). 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. In 1990 he made a statement in a sermon which his followers claim was a prediction of Brexit.[6]

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".[7]

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 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.[8] Some other views include infrastructure spending, natural disaster prevention, urban development, and dam construction.[9] They also advocate fiscal conservatism, strengthening the US-Japan alliance, and a virtue-based leadership.[10] As of the end of 2016, the Happiness Realization Party has nine local councilors.[11]

Object of worship[edit]

Happy Science worships a deity named "El Cantare" who they believe was born on Earth as Hermes and then Shakyamuni Buddha, and is said to be the core consciousness of Okawa himself. The movement rejects monotheism and claim that there is a hierarchy in the heavenly spirit world and believing in the existence of many gods, Tathagatas, Bodhisattvas, and other high spirits.[12]

Controversy[edit]

Happy Science is one of many Japanese new religions (shinshūkyō), which are looked upon as "controversial" by the mainstream press and public.[13] According to The Japan Times, "for many, the Happies smell suspiciously like a cult".[14] Not only the domestic Japanese press, but also international media in the United States, Uganda, Indonesia, and Australia have applied the term "cult" to Happy Science.[15][2][3][4]

Happy Science has released promotional videos that claim North Korea and the People's Republic of China are plotting to invade and colonize Japan after first subduing it through nuclear warfare.[14]

In June 2012, Happy Science was blamed for a reservation mix-up at the Ugandan national stadium by the Ugandan athletes preparing for the 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.[16]

In February 2017, actress Fumika Shimizu abruptly retired from acting while in the middle of multiple filming projects in order to join Happy Science. [17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Master Ryuho Okawa delivers his first lecture in KL". The Star Online. 30 September 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Musasizi, Simon (21 June 2012). "Clerics call for probe into Happy Science". The Observer. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Happy Science, a new cult offers celebrity guide to heaven". The Jakarta Post. 22 July 2012. Archived from the original on 25 August 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Donnelly, Beau (2 November 2015). "Blooming 'Happy Science' religion channels Disney, Gandhi, Jesus and Thatcher". The Age. 
  5. ^ Shimazono, Susumu (2004). From Salvation to Spirituality: Popular Religious Movements in Modern Japan (English ed.). Melbourne, Vic.: Trans Pacific. p. 267. ISBN 1876843128. 
  6. ^ "Brexit was prophesied 26 years ago". Retrieved 2016-06-29. 
  7. ^ "Happy Science - About Us". Happy Science Singapore. Retrieved 2015-12-13. 
  8. ^ "The Liberty Web" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2015-12-13. 
  9. ^ "Happiness Realization Party". Happiness Realization Party. Retrieved 2016-03-31. 
  10. ^ "Happiness Realization Party". Happiness Realization Party. Retrieved 2016-03-31. 
  11. ^ About Japanese 50 new region (Japanese ed.). Takarajima. 2017-04-19. ISBN 978-4800270443. 
  12. ^ ben griggs (2012-09-12), The end of monotheism and religious conflicts., retrieved 2016-03-31 
  13. ^ Muhumuza, Rodney (10 July 2012). "Happy Science, Controversial Religion From Japan, Succeeds In Uganda". The Huffington Post. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012. 
  14. ^ a b McNeill, David (4 August 2009), "Party offers a third way: happiness", The Japan Times, retrieved 6 August 2009 
  15. ^ Sylla Saint-Guily, "Happy Science Is the Laziest Cult Ever," Vice (magazine), 3 October 2012.
  16. ^ "Uganda athletes anger at Happy Science Olympic mix-up". BBC News. 23 June 2012. Retrieved 2015-12-13. 
  17. ^ "Fumika Shimizu to retire from entertainment to devote herself to cult". Arama! Japan. February 2017. Retrieved 2017-06-06. 

Further reading[edit]

  • 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
  • Pokorny, Lukas; Winter, Franz (2012). Creating Utopia': The History of Kofuku no Kagaku in Austria, 1989-2012, with an Introduction to Its General History and Doctrine. In: Hödl, Hans Gerald and Lukas Pokorny, ed. Studies on Religion in Austria. Volume 1, Vienna: Praesens, pp. 31–79
  • 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

External links[edit]