THE FREEDOM OF KONKO KYO
When we examen the lofty philosophies of the ancient Greeks, for example, Plato and Socrates, only to mention two, we find that their philosophies were failures, in their own day, and had little impact on the lives of the people of Athens or elsewhere in Greece.
A fundamental tenet of Plato's philosophy is that the world of form, the material world, is only a shadow of the spiritual world. He declared that Good is the highest ideal. In later centuries, it was Plato's works which gave the West its direction toward idealism. Socrates had a questing spirit and was always in search of wisdom and moral order; he questioned pride and encouraged humility, and insisted that man's first and last concern should be his soul, not wealth or power. Ultimately, he angered the conservative Athenians of his day, and was condemned to death.
When we compare these lofty Platonic and Socratic ideals to the everyday life of the ancient Greeks, we find the ironic contradiction that these philosophers went unappreciated and their lofty philosophies lost on the inarticulate, general populous. The ancient Greeks have been praised for their architecture, their drama, their sculpture and the introduction of reason to men's consciousness; they were also shrewed businessmen and hot–headed warriors, who fought many long and vicious wars. The most disastrous of their wars was the Pelopennesian War, which began over the control of the pottery market. It lasted many years and embroiled all of Hellas. After that war all of ancient Greece was changed forever, and a great pessimism permeated the people.
As is often the case, lofty philosophies only serve those who have the time and inclination to examen them. In the case of ancient Greece, that was the upper classes, living in their private, rarified world detached from the plight of the common people. As the elite and educated classes debated philosophy in the relative comfort of their homes and academies, the rest of society suffered and toiled as indifferent drudges and slaves.
We have historical accounts of life in ancient Greece, especially of Athens, where a primitive democracy and high–sounding ideals existed side by side with slavery. It seems that lofty philosophies and moral contradiction and decadence often go hand in hand, like the tragic and contradictory "peculiar institution" of slavery in the United States, which only ended after the bloody Civil War of 1861–65. The lofty ideals of the U.S. Constitution had no affect on slavery; in fact, the law of the land helped perpetuate that slavery
As we will see, it is not only civilizations that exist in moral contradiction, but many religions, too, exist in moral contradiction. History has shown us that certain religions, instead of spreading spiritual values, become exclusive organizations and regard non–believers as either inferior or unsaveable or as heretics––to be shunned, or seen as enemies and to be treated accordingly. Such religious exclusivity is self–defeating, for once a religion uses its doctrines as a rationale to exclude, enslave or even kill people, then whatever spiritual value these exclusive religions may seem to have, they are rendered meaningless by their contradictory actions.
The great slaughters of putative heretics in Europe during the Middle Ages,are a good example of spirituality gone amuck. The popes of those times declared certain Christian sects heretical, but instead of using persuasion, or love and compassion, as preached by their founder, Jesus, the Church of Rome invoked, instead, the force of the sword to settle doctrinal disputes against break–away groups––so–called––heretics. And, at the behest of the popes, kings mustered giant armies which were sent to kill men, women and children without mercy––in the name of religion. I submit the Albigensian Heresy as one example of slaughter ordered by spiritual leaders, and the infamous Spanish Inquisition, sanctioned by the church, and lead by the monk Torquemada, as another example of spiritual intolerance and dogmatism used to torture and slaughter innocent people in the name of religion. We, of the Twentieth Century, are not immune from the terror of spiritual philosophies gone awry. There are any number of contemporary atrocities against humanity by unprincipled religious groups who have murdered in the name of their religion: The recent poison gas attack, by a fanatical religious sect, in a Tokyo subway station, and the on–going troubles between Hindus and Moslems in India, and the killings between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, speak for themselves.
Lofty ideals, then, for the few, and corrupt spiritual practices cannot further Good, Truth and Love; on the contrary, they breed indifference, elitism, paranoia, hate and blood–lust.
Although Konko Kyo, historically speaking, has a short history, it cannot be said that Konko Daijin himself, or anything he ever said, caused anyone harm or caused anyone's death because of disagreement with him, his teachings or those of his disciples. In point of fact, it was Konko Daijin himself who was threatened and abused and his hiromae ransacked and closed by officials of the state, who decreed Konko Kyo to be at odds with the centralized religious views of those times.
As a Konko believer, I am thankful that I do not have to carry the historical burden of blood on my hands. What I carry from Konko Daijin, instead, are high moral and spiritual standards which are applicable to every strata of society and, at bottom, are simple. One need not be a scholar or learned theologian to understand:
"If you hold conceit for whatever you do, you will get seriously hurt. Prudence is like a cane that prevents you from falling. Greatness is only relative. Regardless of who or what people in this country or in other countries say is great, a person with a true heart, one who is honest, sincere and conscientious is greater. Those who practice faith should be sincere."
–Gorikai I, Sadajiro 58.1
This simple teaching, extolling the virtues of prudence and humbleness, is not just for the few, but for all. The essence of this teaching is embodied in its last sentence, "Those who practice faith should be sincere." This aphorism is very clear, and to the point. And, as one can see, there are no attached admonitions, no warning or hints at any future punishment or retribution should one not "...practice faith..." and "...be sincere." On the contrary, it cannot ever be said that our founder anathemized anyone, or cursed or shunned anyone because someone may have strayed from the above teaching or any other teaching of his.
Unlike some religions, Konko Kyo does not have a permanent sitting body of clerics whose sole purpose is to interpret teachings, then promulgate them as the approved and accepted interpretation with the implication that such interpretation is infallible. Our legacy is Konko Daijin's undogmatic and unconditional, universal love, compassion, tolerance and deep understanding of human nature and the simple, but profound teachings he left us, which have been carried down to us through the generations and across the seas without the use of force or fiat, intimidation or enticement to glory, riches or a seductive paradise or punishing hell after death.
Simple doctrines, with universal applications, which can touch and change our hearts are greater than enforced doctrinal views whose validity have already been decided upon by narrow, willful, unscrupulous clerics, and religious leaders, manipulating spiritual values to create unquestioning, brain–washed believers to say yea or nay according to the edicts of some leader, synod, or council.
Konko Daijin was not a scholar nor was he a widely read or traveled man. However, he understood the intrinsic power of spiritual freedom; that is why he always encouraged people to have faith and to pray in order to build a stronger faith. By having faith, (and receiving the Divine Blessings which flow therefrom) one can develop deep spiritual discernment, leading to quiet release from the sometimes insidious and overwhelming, often capricious powers of existing governmental and ecclesiastical institutions with the authority and ability to control the actions and thoughts of their citizens or believers. Having a strong and abiding faith in Kami is true freedom and independence. Constitutions, legal codes, common laws, traditions, customs and other politico–theological–legal guarantees, only grant a citizen or believer certain rights provided one obeys other laws or doctrines first. Therefore, degrees of freedom and independence in democratic or totalitarian governments and large organized religious institutions are always conditional.
Faith, on the other hand, is free and is not conditional. One either cultivates faith, a lot of it, or a little or disdains it or scoffs at it, or has none at all. To have faith is to have a truly priceless treasure of freedom of choice, for faith is always ready at hand for those who understand it and take their time to cultivate it––free of admonitions and dire threats. This is an important point to remember. Conversely, some churches make irrevocable pronouncements for their believers, on faith and morals, saying this is how one shall believe, this is the faith one shall embrace––even when such pronouncements may go against the prevailing social mores or local laws, or even the conscience of the believer. Not to adhere to some published precept is to invite censure, or to be denied certain rites or fellowship of one's church. Konko Kyo most certainly does not operate in this manner.
In sum, then, Konko Kyo is a simple faith, which appeals to one's deeper nature, and it is free of historical taint; it is a just, tolerant, free union between the believer and Kami––without force, intimidation or warnings about one's fate after death.
had studied helped me to clarify my fundamental
Address Delivered at the Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration of the Founding of the United Nations held in San Francisco June, 1995
LET US PRAY FOR ALL WITH UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND COMPASSION
By Konko Church of San Francisco Head Minister
The Reverend Masato Kawahatsu
Congratulations to the Unit