Wednesday, April 12, 2006


We moved from Vancouver, Canada that same year and I joined Mahikari Tai when we moved to California. Shortly after, I met Asher Jiro Kennedy, a Japanese boy who was to become my best friend forever. From the time we were 11 years old we were inseparable; like two peas in a pod. The fact that we were the opposite sex never occurred to either of us; we were soul mates, friend to the end. Our whole lives Asher and I believed the teachings of Mahikari…well, despite the occasional doubt once in a while. However, 99% of the time I would say that we believed whole-heartedly in the teachings; that is until he met Kara. Kara was a girl who went to our school, Catholic and very spiritual, but with a wild side. She and Asher were like magnets with complementary polarities. I can’t deny that I was jealous at first, he was my friend and suddenly he was ditching me for Kara, but I had boyfriends too and I had done the same to him many times.

It wasn’t until Kara and Ash started talking about religion that he came crawling back to me. He told me that she was constantly trying to make him doubt the teachings we had been taught. She was reading information off the internet, which was strictly forbidden within our religion. She was telling him foolish things like, Oshienushisama and our founder, Kotama Okada, were involved sexually, Kotama plagiarized the teachings when he was a member of a group called the SKK, Oshienushisama was using our donations for various business ventures, the list of allegations went on and on.

I was shocked and angered by the allegations his girlfriend was trying to put in his head. “She’s obviously very spiritually disturbed. Asher, you need to get away from her. She will only slow down your spiritual purification.” I told him.

“It’s not that easy, Lara, I love her…or at least I think I do.”

I could see this was going to be harder than I thought. “Fine, I’ll read up on this stuff and see if there is any merit to what she’s saying.”

Asher left and it was then that I started doing my own research. What I found was shocking and crimpling all at the same time. The internet was littered with documents and accusations about the history of our organization, our founder, and all of our activities. It couldn’t be true…and yet there was so much proof that indicated that it was all factual.

No wonder they had fought so hard to ensure that we didn’t look at the internet. It was as though my world came crashing down. If Mahikari was wrong, then what was right? My salvation wasn’t secured…my pendant was useless…everything I had believed was nothing but lies.

When Asher called to talk about what I had found I couldn’t talk to him. I was too emotionally exhausted. I stayed in my room, crying my eyes out, trying to make sense in my jumbled and confused head. Clearly I was spiritually disturbed; that was why I had read those things and the spirit inside of me was punishing me for it.

The next morning I told my mother that I was sick and needed to stay home.

She agreed and that day I traveled by bus to the center. When I arrived I went through the motions, washing my hands, removing my shoes, borrowing a pair of the lender socks, bowing before the shrine, bowing, clapping…praying. I prayed that it was all lies and that everything was still as it should be. When I received okiyome I felt tears running down my cheeks. The woman offering me light must have thought that I was either moved by the act or disturbed. When it came time for me to return the favor I told her I needed to leave.

I didn’t deserve to radiate the light of God. I was an abomination in His eyes.

When I got home I contemplated suicide, but then I remembered what the teachings had said about going through with such an act…if my cord to God wasn’t severed already, it would be once I was dead. Instead I walked to the beach, to a spot where Ash and I used to go to think and talk. The sun was setting and the sea threw its reflection back up at it. I slumped down in the sand, removing my shoes and gazing at the ocean, it was then that I felt a hand on my shoulder.

The touch started me, but when I looked up to see Asian eyes looking down at me, I relaxed. “Ash.” I said in a shaky voice, tears welling up.

He narrowed his eyes at me, puzzled, “Lara, what’s wrong?”

I just hugged him, burying my face in his shoulder. I couldn’t speak.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” He said gently, “What’s wrong, LJ?”

“It’s true, Ash, it’s all true.” I sobbed. “What is?” He asked in a soothing voice, “What are you talking about?”

“All the things that Kara said about Mahikari…it’s true, Ash…it’s all true.”

“Lara, you’re scaring me.” He said, “Maybe you have a disturbed spirit…you shouldn’t have read that stuff. Let me give you okiyome,” He clapped and started chanting the Amatsu, “Goku bi jiso gin gin-“

“Asher, stop it!” I shouted at him, “I’m not crazy…it’s all true. Look at it for yourself.” I continued to cry.

“How do you know?” Asher replied, “How can you be sure?”

“I don’t know for sure, but I can’t see any other explanation.”

“Let’s go talk to the Doshi.” He suggested.

“No…there’s only one person I am going to talk to about this.”

“Who?” Asher asked. “Sho-cho David.” I said with conviction.

“Sho-cho David…but he hasn’t been to the dojo in months…he got transferred to the Texas dojo.”

Asher looked me in the eye, the sun danced off his face, casting strange shadows.

Sho-cho David had just stopped coming to the dojo. No one knew what happened to him and no one cared to discuss it…the rumor had been that he had transferred to a dojo in Houston, Texas, but I knew differently.

“No…I heard my parents talking. He’s still here in California…he quit, Asher. He returned his omitama and Goseigen and quit.” I sniffled.

“Are you sure?” Asher asked, “Why would the Kanbu lie to us?”

“Because they’re trying to cover it up!” I shouted, “Don’t you see, Asher? If they lied about everything else, why wouldn’t they lie about Sho-Cho David?”

“No.” Asher said, shaking his head, “It’s not true.” He rose to his feet. I just looked up at him, my mascara and eyeliner running down my face, “It is true, Asher…if you don’t know it now you will soon enough.” The last few words came out a choke.

“I won’t believe it.” Asher said strongly.

“You already do, Ash, or you wouldn’t still be standing here.”

He seized me by the shoulders and shook me, “No, the only reason I am still here is because you’re my best friend and I love you…if you have a spirit disturbance we’ll help you, we’ll get rid of it, just come to the dojo you’ll see, Lara.”

I laughed a humorless laugh, “No Ash, this isn’t fixable. Once you know the truth you can’t go back. You can’t pretend that nothing happened…that you don’t know.”

It had started to get dark by then. Asher took me by the hands and pulled me to my feet, I sunk in the sand a bit and almost lost my balance, “Then talk to Sho-Cho David if it’ll make you feel better, but I know he’s going to tell you that you’re just overacting.”

“I hope so, Asher.” But in my heart and head I knew the opposite. Things were too tangled to ever be the same again.

(Art by Nene Thomas)


Blogger wonder Boy said...

Lara, Don't loose faith, just follow Asher

7:20 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home