As Onisaburo's most important scripture, The Reikai Monogatari (or The Monogatari for short) is a saga of deities in the three spiritual worlds - namely, the shin-kai (world of divinities), the gen-kai (physical world) and the yu-kai
(world of lost spirits). It is also an odyssey of how good deities establish a Maitreyan utopia on earth while leading evil spirits to mend their ways with divine power.
Vol. 1 summarizes the Monogatari as follows:
The Reikai Monogatari chronicles how the Saviour Deity Kamususanowo mows down the Great Serpent Yamata-no-Orochi (Satan), presents the divine sword Murakumo to the Great Original Deity, manifests absolute sincerity in heaven and on earth, realizes the Age of Maitreya, and reinstates the ensnared deity Kunitokotachi of the Earth's divine world as supreme ruler over the spiritual kingdom of the planet.
The author says:
Story-wise, the Monogatari recounts a wide
spectrum of events in the spiritual worlds with an enormous cast of deities, humans, mythological and historical figures, as well as the then-current personalities including Margaret Sanger, an exponent of birth control. (Humans are regarded as shrines of Kami; therefore, they and deities are often interchangeable in the Monogatari.) These events and characters are intricately intertwined, although there are no inconsistencies whatsoever in the plot. Full of arcana, the Monogatari can be interpreted in 36 different ways. (Some claim 120 ways of interpretation are possible.)
- The Reikai Monogatari is the Matrix-store Realm Sutra of Maitreya-bodhisattva, who Buddha prophesied will come to save mankind 5.67 billion years after his death. (Note: Omoto reads 5-6-7 as mi-ro-ku, the Japanese equivalent for Maitreya.)
- The Monogatari reveals plans to implement a divine reign of the world.
- The Monogatari is the Book of the Last Judgment.
In addition, the Monogatari also deals with the creation of the cosmos, Omoto's raison detre, the grand design for a beatific world, socioeconomic issues, world thoughts and religions, art critique, and even theories on love and marriage. And in the process, it incorporates (the modified versions of) tenets from other religions. For instance, the Monogatari endorses Swedenborg's observations on the spiritual worlds, rephrases Christian hymns for Omoto followers, expounds on Buddhist divinities, employs Confucian and Taoist words and clarifies the state-compiled Shinto texts, the Kojiki ("Record of Ancient Matters") and the Nihon Shoki or Nihongi ("Chronicles of Japan").
A major theme that penetrates the Tales of the Spirit World is that as children of the Great Original Deity, all humans - men and women, young and old alike - should love one another in the name of aizen ("love and goodness" or "righteous love"). In fact, Onisaburo set up the Jinrui Aizenkai (Universal Love and Brotherhood Association) to take the lead in unifying humanity irrespective of race, creed, gender, social status or family origin.
The Monogatari braves 81 volumes in a series of 83 books (Vol. 64 comes in two books, and there is a special account detailing the author's mission in Mongolia). As an aside, he originally intended to produce 120 volumes!
Onisaburo dictated the Monogatari to his followers. The pace of dictation was astonishing; in the intermittent period from October 8, Taisho 10 (1921) to
August 15, Showa 9 (1933), he completed Vols. 1 through 4 (each consists of over 300 B5-size pages) in about 70 days, Vols. 5 through 46 in no longer than one year, and Vol. 46 in just 2 days! By and large, each volume took an average of 3 days. Bear in mind that as chairman of Omoto, Onisaburo was already swamped with other business.
Never using any background papers or reference
books, Onisaburo spoke what sprang up in his mind like flowing water, and the stenographers wrote it down. He was presumably in some kind of trance; when dictating a cold-climate scene, he was using the kotatsu leg-warmer, and when a character was suffering from pain, Onisaburo was in pain, too.
Onisaburo's transcribers did not take shorthand; they wrote word for word on the manuscript paper, had Onisaburo correct it at intervals and resumed the dictation. Had they learned shorthand or used a word processor, each volume could have been produced in a single day.
Years later, an Omoto adherent reminisced about the dictation process and said as follows:
Seishi-sama ("Master" = Onisaburo) spoke fluently with his eyes closed, and we wrote it down. When he said "Hm," it meant he wanted us to read aloud what he had said, so we did. After that, Seishi-sama proofread it.
She was warned against asking him to repeat or clarify what he said. Why? Onisaburo explained: "Sentences come out like the threads of a silkworm. So when someone stops me, it's like cutting those silk threads."
The Reikai Monogatari is worth reading as it is Onisaburo's script for a divine drama of restructuring and rebuilding the three worlds, and more importantly, his "flesh and blood."
For free PDF downloads of the Monogatari, check out this webpage from the Aizen-en.
| Excerpts from The Great Onisaburo Deguchi |
A Story Transcending Space and Time
After his release on bail during
the first Omoto persecution, Onisaburo began the dictation of the Reikai Monogatari, the concept of which he had been working out in his mind for some time and which he had also begun to write. This work is based on the author's experiences while practicing asceticism on Mount Takakuma near his home village at the age of twenty-six, and Onisaburo in the preface to the second volume has the following to say about its origin:
This book is the tale of various affairs of the spiritual world and the divine world which Zuigetsu's [Onisaburo's] spirit was shown as it journeyed in the spiritual world during a period of one week from March 1st to 7th, 1898. During that time Zuigetsu was commanded to perform austerities by the Divine World, and during a further period of one week after returning home, he was commanded to undergo the austerity of being confined to bed. Everything in the spiritual world transcends time and space, and there is no distinction between far and near, large and small, or light and dark, and all the events of the spiritual world, past and present, east and west, appeared to my spiritual eye two-dimensionally. Therefore I have picked up the thread and dictated these stories with the main object of making them as easy as possible for the reader to understand.
Thus, while the content of this book is colossal and transcends time and space, it takes the form of a novel, with poems, dissertations, essays, and others scattered throughout the work so as not to bore the reader. The novelesque style of expression makes it interesting, and furthermore its easy language makes it approachable by the ordinary reader.
At the same time, the thought built into it is on a grand scale, as Eiichi Matsushima writes in his article "Kozui Otani and Onisaburo Deguchi" in the January 1966 issue of Bungei Shunju : "In the Monogatari a comprehensive philosophy encompassing Christianity, Buddhism, Shinto and social thought unfolds in a metrical narrative style."
But what is remarkable is that this book is not simply a medium for the setting down of Onisaburo's inner, spiritual world, but is interspersed with allegorical and abstract prophecies and warnings like those that can be seen in Mizu no Shinka.
The Fate of the Reikai Monogatari
While Onisaburo produced the Reikai Monogatari with his superhuman energy and it was published volume after volume by Tenseisha (Omoto's publishing department), the authorities began to watch with increasing suspicion. Their astonishment was not without reason, for not only was the publication carried out at top speed, but the number of copies was also enormous.
The first volume, for instance, saw ten editions each amounting to twenty thousand copies, and the other volumes were printed in an average of four or five editions of ten thousand copies each. Due to the outbreak of the second Omoto persecution in December 1935, publication stopped at the eighty-first volume, but when Omoto rose again for the third time after the war, the reprinting of the existing volumes commenced, and it continues to this day. It is clear that the Reikai Monogatari is not just a book of prophecies, but, as one of the scriptures of Omoto, it covers all questions. But in spite of its obviously being a sacred text, the authorities later made preposterous accusations, saying that it contained a plot to "undermine the constitutional structure of the state." In spite of Onisaburo's having covered the relation between God and man, the origin of Omoto, the state of the spiritual world, the creation of the universe, on through the divinity of the supreme God, the divine administration of the world, the causes of the relative positions of the various gods, morality, world view, religion, philosophy, thought, politics, economics, education, art, love, and more, the authorities attacked it from the narrow standpoint of lese-majeste and the Maintenance of the Public Order Act.
Furthermore, as the spirit of peace and love of mankind is expounded everywhere, exclusivistic patriotism condemned, and a universalist philosophy espoused throughout the work, the Monogatari was seen by the rulers of the time as dangerous.
And so the authorities exerted pressure, subjecting the work to censorship before publication, and Omoto was put to endless trouble to rewrite certain passages or remove them completely and replace them with rows of dots. Interference by the authorities was severe, and certain whole volumes were banned from sale, or passage after passage struck out, and there are parts of the Monogatari that have never been published to this day. And when the second Omoto persecution
occurred, it became the core of the whole affair, the focus of a case of lese-majeste and contravention of the Maintenance of the Public Order Act.
So we can say that as well as being dramatic in its content, the history of the Monogatari, fated to become the center of the second Omoto persecution, can be considered a drama in itself.
Dictating While Hearing the Sounds of Demolition
The circumstances surrounding the start of the dictation of the Monogatari can also be said to be extremely dramatic. It began on October 18, 1921, and two days later the authorities began the destruction of the sanctuaries. At the time, Onisaburo, who was at a place called the Shounkaku in a part of Ayabe called Naminatsu, heard the loud din of the demolition work, but, without seeming in the least put out, he pressed on with his task.
There were many scribes who took down Onisaburo's dictation, but the main ones were Masaharu Taniguchi, Haruko Kato, Shigeo Sakurai, Masazumi Matsumura and Yoshio Higashio.
According to the Seventy-Year History of Omoto, "The dictation was conducted almost entirely while lying on futon (Japanese bedding) without a single reference book at hand. The scribes would take this down not in shorthand but directly on to manuscript paper, would read out a clean copy and correct any mistakes in accordance with Onisaburo's directions, and in this way the preparation of the manuscript proceeded along with the dictation."
We also read that "According to the scribes, there were times when it seemed that the dictation was being done in a state of total spiritual possession; there were times when the dictation was done in a state of possession but with the author at the same time consciously sorting out his past spiritual experiences; and there were also times when he dictated in a state of normal consciousness.
In the preface to the first volume of Tensho Chizui (the title of volumes 73 to 81 of the Monogatari), which was dictated in Kameoka beginning in the autumn of 1933, Onisaburo touches on the circumstances and the process of the dictation of the Monogatari, which continued from 1921 to 1926, and also tells of his attitude at the resumption of the work.
In accordance with the divine instructions of the Deities of Heaven and the request of the spirit of the Foundress...the divine work has become increasingly active with the passing of the years.... At length, choosing an auspicious day in mid-autumn, the fourth of October of 1933, and putting aside all other miscellaneous concerns, I have begun the dictation of the seventh section, giving it the title Tensho Chizui. At Chitose-an on the island Nakanoshima in the garden Gyokusen-en in Ten-on-kyo, I set out on the long road of dictation and editing under the protection of the divine command, having purified my mind and body. Now I have prayed for the safe completion of this great spiritual work on which I am about to embark with [the author lists the names of his scribes], at the Gekkyuden, Taishoden, Kotenkaku and other sanctuaries.
The effort and seriousness which Onisaburo put into the Monogatari were great, but with Tensho Chizui it was especially so. His earnest prayers and his serious and reverent attitude abound in this preface. And Omoto believers are given strict instructions when reading Tensho Chizui to wash their hands, purify their mouths, clap their hands in prayer and sit in the ceremonial position.
Thirty years later, Teruyo Uchizaki, one of the scribes, recollected Onisaburo's style of dictation: "The Master would speak fluently, with his eyes closed, and we would take down his words. When the Master said 'Hm,' it was the sign for us to reread the part we had just written for checking. But if we should ask about a part that was not clear to us while he was in the middle of dictating, he would scold us."
Onisaburo explained that he scolded them because "The words come out smoothly like silk thread from a silkworm, so if the flow is stopped in the middle, it will snap the thread.
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