“To realize a harmonious, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world based on ethical and spiritual values.” ~ this is a vision inspired by Kotama Okada, the founder of the Sukyo Mahikari movement (established February 27, 1959). Sixty years later this vision is still fresh, and instep with the myriad holistic worldviews emerging today across our global landscape.
According to Kotama Okada, we are now in the dawn of a new civilization. Okada said that the twenty-first century would be called a “holy century” because it would be a period of great change– from emphasis on material-centeredness to emphasis on spirit-centeredness and a spiritually founded approach. It would take time for this ideal, peaceful situation to be achieved, but nevertheless Okada said, there exists a universal will to achieve it.
Kotama Okada emphasized that the Mahikari movement cannot achieve such a peaceful world on its own. Everyone must contribute to making a better world. Thus, it is important, he said, for people of academic, technological, and other kinds of expertise to cooperate with each other to help establish a peaceful and environmentally sustainable civilization based on shared spiritual principles.
Since the dawn of history, humankind has been seeking happiness and truth, and has found certain answers in religion, philosophy, the arts, science, technology and other fields. These have resulted in varied kinds of societies and cultures, struggling today to find a natural unity in a globalizing world. Today, with the dawn of the current millennium, we particularly appreciate the contributions that science and technology have rapidly made. We also see, however, that modern civilization has created critical problems and challenges of urgent global concern, such as environmental destruction, toxification of nature and living things, climatic crisis, increasing conflict, cyclic economic collapse, population explosion and spiritual and moral desolation. As our world globalizes the problems of disunity seem to be everywhere. Societies pursue unrestrained consumerism, self-aggrandizement, greed and short-term gain. Our cultural processes appear to have led not to utopia, but to dystopia. As a result, global culture is far from the ideal civilization that humankind would seem to be seeking if we took seriously the teachings of our planet’s myriad philosophies and wisdom traditions.
Over the years, many independent thinkers have tried to analyze and understand the causes for this contradiction– and the chaos and crises occurring more and more on a global scale. Only in recent years, in what many now call the emerging integral or holistic age, has there begun to be a sense of how this has happened. Some claim that it is due to human nature itself and its apparent patterns of greed and selfishness. Others point out historical patterns of political and economic mistakes, even as others propose new economic and political theories to remedy these. Only in the recent decades of integral thinking, new emphasis on interfaith and inter-cultural understanding, and the emerging sense of unity among the sciences have many come to propose that the problem is a lack of a shared sense of unifying principles for people to live and behave by. Kotama Okada identified this problem– that what our emerging global culture seems to lack is an essential value system that is acceptable to all people. It needs this to continue its evolutionary process.
Kotama Okada identified that modern civilization has, so far, operated by fractionalization, separation and a belief that mental skills and analysis are enough to address our world’s growing problems. This has resulted in a flat (two-dimensional) civilization whose emphasis on physical and mental aspects has spawned not just competition but confrontation, conflict and intrinsic global disunity.
Okada said that we must develop a new civilization – aiming to establish a three-dimensional and stable civilization where aspects of seemingly opposite or different natures are harmoniously integrated. He identified three dimensions for this unity– spiritual, mental, and physical. In 1993, the second spiritual head of Sukyo Mahikari, Keiju Okada said in her opening address at the First Yoko Institute International Conference for Europe (Luxembourg),
“As material civilization has developed, ideologies have produced further ideologies and all aspects of human life have become segmented, developed separately in disunity and have gone out of control … This is due to the principle of placing priority on material development. It has brought humanity to the point where the irreplaceable earth has been contaminated and there is even a threat to the survival of humanity. It is therefore necessary to embrace new ideals in order to overcome the problems, and these should be acceptable to people of all backgrounds because they are proven to be sound and viable, not because of some imposed faith or ideology. The approach of imposing beliefs on others has already been tried, often resulting in rejection due to indifference at best and serious conflict at worst. However, if people of the world from different backgrounds and beliefs, through open-minded discussion, study and research, can discover the reality of common, universal laws or principles and willingly agree to implement such integrated principles for humankind to live by, it will be a different matter.”
That is why it is important now globally to generate and support research that can inform this evolution toward a heart-based, healthy and unified world culture. Kotama Okada expressed a vision to provide a forum so that dialogue could occur between scientists, people of religion, educators, medical doctors, agriculturists, economists and learned, concerned people of other fields, to try to find new, yet universal, ways by which humankind can live healthily and prosperously. In this vision, his first priority was the recognition and restoration of spiritual values. The path towards a prosperous future for humankind does not lie just in more technological and scientific development, but in a fundamental change in attitudes and perspectives. In fact, a total revision of lifestyle, a U-turn of 180 degrees, needs to be made – from where only material values come first, to where spiritual, moral and ethical values are of primary importance.
‘Forum’ means a meeting place for public discussion, as existed in the institutions of ancient Greece, Rome and many other of our world’s cultures. In a forum, all viewpoints, all disciplines and all people are represented. This approach, for Kotama Okada was a way of crossing, or integrating, seemingly different or even opposing aspects into a united whole—a “forum for crossing”.
At the core of Kotama Okada’s vision was the perception that “the origin of the world is one, the origin of humankind is one and the origin of all religions is one”. Okada considered it important to provide such a “forum for crossing” where scientists, doctors, educators and other scholars, irrespective of whether they were religious or not, could conduct activities to build up research data and collate appropriate information that would become evidence to validate the practice of commonly held universal laws or principles. Specifically, the aims of the Forum are to cooperatively validate, practice and promote such principles in a scientific manner so that all humankind might unite harmoniously the aspects and contributions of the spiritual, mental and physical sciences.
In order to promote such study, it is necessary to develop networks of learned, capable people throughout the world, persons who have the desire to integrate viewpoints through inter-disciplinary study and are willing to explore new methodologies. Research results should be such that they can be accepted by scholars and others throughout the world on the basis of their scientific credibility and acceptability, not just through blind belief.
Through cooperative, multi-disciplinary study, humanity should be able to restore the lost meaning of life and see how the different aspects all emerge from a common source that is at the center of all existence. In religious terms this source is called God and in more scientific or philosophical terms it is called Cosmic Intelligence, Cosmic Consciousness, the Creative Source, the Great Designer and the like. Through this great core there is intention in the universe, but this is not always recognized by scholars in the different disciplines or by people in general. If intimate relationships exist behind the different specialized and fragmented disciplines, as members of humankind we must try to find them and establish anew their interconnection and interrelation in order to produce new meaning, meaning that is essential to advance our evolutionary process. It is an important task for learned people to research how to integrate the myriad fields of endeavor so that their combined fruits can be utilized to engender a stable culture of high quality founded on peace and the freedom of all to pursue a meaningful and fulfilling life.
In 1959, Kotama Okada predicted that the age of the supremacy of self-centered materialism would soon come to an end; he founded the Yoko Civilization Research Association in which he outlined his vision of establishing a civilization based on the integration on universal principles. To actualize Okada’s vision, his successor Keiju Okada established the Yoko Civilization Research Institute in 1985 and served as its first president.
The Forum 21 Institute was established 2012 in the United States as a sister organization of the Yoko Civilization Research Institute.