A homily delivered by Master Asahara.
March 21, 1989, at Tokyo center
The Purpose of Religion - the Liberation of Beings
Today we will discuss karmic relations.
Also we will talk about what the right faith, or the right religion is. Let's say there are three roads. The first road leads to a cliff, so you will fall off the cliff if you drive on this road with high speed. The second road leads to an ocean, so you come to a dead end. The third road leads to your destination. Now, here is a stubborn person who wants to take the first road. He drives a car at high speed saying that he is sure to reach his destination. Of course, he will fall off the cliff and die instantly.
Here is another stubborn person who does not listen to other people's advice. They say, "This is not the right road,"or "There is an ocean. It's a dead end,"
but he will not listen. If he drives at high speed like the first man, he will have to turn back when he reaches the ocean. Only the person who chooses the third road can reach the destination.
Situation with religion is the same. If I were asked "What is the purpose of religion?" I would say, "The purpose is to liberate the souls or the souls of those who practice the religion." If I were asked then, "What does it mean to liberate?" I would answer, "It means to free them from afflictions. It is to be free in the true sense."
You might then say, "But Asahara, if there is a person who can make all his wishes come true, isn't that liberation?" Yes, you have a point there. However, if you analyze carefully this situation, you will see that actually we cannot fulfill all our wishes. The more your soul matures, or the clearer it becomes, the better you will understand the essential meaning of liberation.
Then, what is impossible for us to fulfill? We cannot escape death no matter how much we enjoy this life. We are made to forget about death in our daily lives, but death really exists. Sickness and aging exist, too.
Approaching the World After Death
Then how can we liberate ourselves from these sufferings? The answer is to liberate our mind, or the nature of our mind, from this gross world, or the world where our physical bodies exist. By doing this we can overcome suffering. Moreover, if we have the power to overcome death, we can easily overcome the sufferings in our everyday lives. Such teaching or doctrine is what I call the true faith.
You may say, "But Christianity teaches the path to the heaven." But you will see if you consider it carefully.
Christianity does not tell about this world. It is told there about the eternal life after death, or the eternal soul after death.
Muslims also preach about the life after death because their teachings are based on the Old Testament and the Koran, the commandments. Buddhism also, with its theory of reincarnation, talks about the world after death. As you can see, all three major religions of the world - Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam - deal with the world after death.
The Four Pillars - The Definitions of Right Faith and Right Religion
Now, what kind of faith is the right one? If you are asked, "What is right religion?" how should you answer it?
As I mentioned earlier, blind faith will lead us to destruction no matter how hard you try it. So I would like to suggest that you have the following four guidelines when you are choosing the right religion.
What are these four guidelines? The first guideline is its doctrine, its teachings. It should have consistent teachings. For example, if there were a system of teachings which changes its main god, or says inconsistent things in two different parts of the system, it cannot be considered as the right teaching. We must practice according to the doctrine. In other words, the doctrine, the first condition, is a map to determine whether the religion is right or not.
Now you have a map. In the second stage, do you have a vehicle to reach the destination? Even if you have a map, if you do not have a vehicle you have to walk to the destination on foot. But it is a long way to the destination. Walking is too slow. We definitely need a vehicle to speed up. Is there such a vehicle? The vehicle here indicates the reliable system of practice. If there is a reliable systems of practice, all we have to do to get to the final point is to practice according to its doctrine.
Thirdly, we must consider if there are actually people who have reached the destination by using the map. Let's say there is a clever person, and there is nothing logically inconsistent in the system that he created. In this sense the map is perfect. Effective or not, he also created an original system of practice, which also seemed to be perfect.
Years went by. Five, ten, twenty years passed. Yet, no one reached the destination by using the map. This means that there was something wrong with the doctrine or the system of practice, or both. So the third condition is whether there are people who have actually reached the destination by using the map.
Now you have the map, the system of practice, and the people who have actually reached the destination point. But you can still be worried because you are not sure where you are. You think you are using the map correctly, but if you are mistaken, is there anybody who would put you back on the right track? In other words, is there a right teacher?. In Aum Shinrikyo, we call this person "Guru" or "Taishi". So the point is whether there is a guru or Taishi. This is the fourth pillar.
A religion which has these four pillars - this is what I consider to be the right religion.
The Four Pillars of Aum Shinrikyo
Let's apply this to Aum Shinrikyo. Aum has books such as Mahayana Sutra, or Initiation which form the basis of its teachings. Mahayana Sutra in particular is the basic doctrine of Aum .
As for the system of practice, Aum has such courses as the Yoga Tantra Course, the Phowa Course, and the Siddhi Course, which contain various systems of practice.
How about the people who have experienced it? In Aum there are about 60 people who have attained the stages of enlightenment, including lay practitioners (people who practice while leading ordinary lives) as well as monks and nuns (disciples of Master Asahara who have renounced their worldly way of life). What is more, a lot of lay practitioners have had various kinds of spiritual experiences. So there are people with experiences on different points of the map.
Fourthly, Aum has Taishis who will consult you whenever you have problems concerning spiritual or worldly matters. So Aum contains the complete set of four conditions.
Some people still might say, "I don't believe what you say." This is where "karmic ties", our second topic today, comes in.
What is a karmic tie? Here are two women. One is very pretty, and the other is good-natured although she is not so good-looking. Let's say there is a condition here, that is, if one marries the pretty one, one is going to be unhappy, and if one marries the good-natured one, one is going to be happy.
A man who has a karmic tie with the pretty one will lead an unhappy life, and a man who has a karmic tie with the good-natured one will lead a happy life.
Similarly, here is Aum Shinrikyo which advocates the four pillars. But if one has no karmic tie with Aum Shinrikyo, there is nothing that one can do. Buddha Sakyamuni once said, "It is difficult to save people without karmic ties."
The Four Sorrows of Bodhisattva
I often tell my members that they should consider the four sorrows. What is the greatest sorrow? It is sorrow for the people who have not yet connected with the truth because they will have to reincarnate in the six realms of suffering again and again.
Secondly, we must have sorrow of a middle intensity for those people who have met with the truth but have made a wrong choice between the truth and a wrong religion. These people have more merit than the first people because they are already connected with the truth although they are unable to practice it.
Next, we must have a small sorrow for those people who once entered the stream of Truth but fell soon because of their afflictive worldly desires, or because they could not bear the hard practice. We must have a small sorrow for these people.
Lastly, there are people who fall just before they attain enlightenment, just before they reach the shore of Nirvana.
We must have a subtle sorrow for these people.
The people who have gathered here today have at least fulfilled the second condition. You have already met with the truth. Some of you may be deeply impressed hearing the Mahayana Vow or the Mahayana Buddha Initiation. Some of you may not be so impressed but agree with the idea. These people have definitely practiced as Boddhisattvas in their former lives.
Here is the truth but it is up to your karma to decide whether you practice it or not. Please consider this matter carefully and start practicing the truth as soon as possible.