Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


Oomoto

Author: David Poulson
Published on: April 28, 2000

Introductory note for new visitors to the Esperanto Topic.

If you have only just begun to take an interest in Esperanto and wish to know some basic information about this fascinating subject, please start your reading at the first article of this series. Having already completed 58 articles, I am now at the stage of writing articles for those readers who have learned quite a lot about the Esperanto language and movement already, and who are now wanting to find out more than just the basic introductory information. To get to the beginning of this series, please just click here

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Two Worlds

One of the short pieces in La Teatra Korbo, Julio Baghy's collection of "senpretenda babilado," describes an incident which occurred when he was travelling by train through Northern Europe some time in the early 1930s. Unable to understand the conversation of his travellers, Baghy began to read an Esperanto journal with the title Oomoto Internacia and was reminded of the fact that he wrote his first article for that journal in 1927.

When the train stopped at Haarlem several people got off the train and others took their place. One of the newcomers addressed Baghy by name (having probably recognised him from a photograph) and in Esperanto. Then, having chatted amiably for a while, the newcomer asked to see the journal Baghy was reading. His comment was: "Oomoto. Lying flat on your stomach before Nothingness. How can a man like you read this?"

Baghy replied: "It interests me. It brings to the West the spirit of the East and it tries to promote friendship between contrasting cultures."

"Are you in sympathy with it?"

"I even occasionally write articles for it."

"But why?"

Baghy had to stop and think before he could answer that last question.

"Why?" he replied, "Well, just because it contains the toleration of the eternal Christ and it helps me to rediscover the aspirations of my own humanity as it strives for harmony."

And Baghy's companion, who wore a badge showing him to be a member of SAT, and whose rough hands revealed a history of hard manual labour closed the discussion by saying:

"A fanatical idealist you are, samideano."

Which, of course, Baghy was, and a sentimentalist and a romantic too. But at the same time he was a multi-talented artist, an inspiring teacher, and a tireless activist who devoted his whole life to Esperanto. His novel Viktimoj was re-issued not so long ago and you can read a review of it, written by Edmund Grimley-Evans, and an appreciation of Baghy's talents as an author here

As for SAT, the founder of which might also be described as "a fanatical idealist," I have written about that organization in several articles in this series and new readers can find the first one here

So what is Oomoto, and why did it provoke such antagonistic feelings in the person Baghy met? Probably few Esperantists know very much about Oomoto, if they have heard of it at all, so this article and the next will try to answer those questions. If nothing else, it will enable my readers to better understand Baghy's little story of that chance encounter which he called "Du Mondoj" and which, I think, was re-printed last year in an issue of La Gazeto. Can any reader confirm this please?

Oomoto: How it Began

This strange story begins with a Japanese woman who was born into a poor family in 1837. Her name was Nao and when she was nineteen years old , she married her cousin Masagoro Deguchi and bore him eight children. Her life was unremarkable until 1892 when, after a long illness, her husband died at the age of sixty. Soon after this, Nao, according to the official history of Oomoto, "became possessed by God and was suddenly transformed into an altered state," and "while in this trance, a different, separate force arose in her mind, and words filled with majesty came forth from her mouth."

Even more remarkable is the fact that, although illiterate, Nao was able to produce the phenomenon known as "automatic writing"-and, during the remaining 27 years of life remaining to her, she produced 10,000 twenty-page volumes of "divine revelations, warnings and prophecies" before she died in 1918. Here is a sample:

"The Greater World shall burst into bloom as plum blossoms at winter's end. I, Ushitora no Konjin, have come to reign at last... Know ye, this present world is a world of beasts, the stronger preying upon the weaker, the work of the devil. Alas, ye world of beasts! Evil holds you in such thrall that your eyes are blinded to its wickedness --- a dark age, indeed. If allowed to go on in this way, society will soon lose the last vestiges of harmony and order. Therefore, by a manifestation of Divine Power, the Greater World shall undergo reconstruction, and change into an entirely new creation. The old world shall suffer a most rigorous purification that it may become the Kingdom of Heaven where peace will reign through all ages to come. Prepare yourselves for the Age of Peace! Ye sons of men, hold yourselves in readiness! For the word of God is never-failing..."

An extensive biography of Nao Deguchi in English can be found here:

http://www.oomoto.or.jp/English/enKyos/kaisoden/index.html

Oomoto as a religion appears to have been founded after Nao met a man named Onisaburo who, in 1899, married Nao's fifth daughter, Sumiko, took her family name, (Deguchi) and, together with Nao organized the rituals and procedures of the Oomoto religion.

This is all very strange and some of my readers may be feeling like the fellow Baghy met on the train. What on earth does this have to with Esperanto? Well, I'm sorry but my quota of words for this article is used up so I'll have to wait until next time to answer that question.

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