Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


Oomoto and Esperanto

Author: David Poulson
Published on: May 12, 2000

In writing this series of articles about the history and development of Esperanto I have deliberately chosen to focus on some of the remarkable people who, during the last 113 years, have been associated with the Esperanto movement. These people and the activities and events associated with them are what fascinates me about Esperanto and I hope that some of my own interest is communicated to my readers.

In this article and the next, in continuing my exploration of the association between the Japanese religious sect known as Oomoto (or Omotokyo), I am going to briefly tell the story of another extraordinary person: Onisaburo Deguchi.

In 1871, in the Kyoto region, a child prodigy was born into a small farming family. His name was Kisaburo Ueda but we will refer to him by the name by which he is widely known: Onisaburo Deguchi.

When Onisaburo was only 3 years old, he was entrusted him to the care of his maternal grandmother whose father had been a well educated man. Onisaburo, therefore, received instruction in poetry and the esoteric science of Kotodama. Kotodama, literally, "Word Soul" and roughly translated as "Spirit Sounds," is a Japanese term that denotes the existence of words, sounds, or "resonances" which are perceived to be creative forces, able to evoke a spiritual feeling or state. Morihei Ueshiba, later to become known as O'Sensei, the founder of Aikido, (which was discussed in the forum associated with the previous article,) referred to Kotodama as "the merciful teacher of Aiki." And Aiki means "the harmony of spirit, the blending of intention".)

Onisaburo is said to have displayed "extraordinary psychic abilities" and also began to teach younger children in 1883 when he was only 12 years old. But when he was 26 years old his father died and Onisaburo began drinking heavily. His performance, while taking part in a theatrical production, was so bad the he was dragged from the stage and severely beaten. This beating, however, was a blessing in disguise because while recovering, he was approached by a man who took him to the sacred mountain, Mt. Takakuma. There, Onisaburo "spent a week undergoing spiritual training and profoundly studied many mysteries of the spiritual world, realizing a high degree of skill in clairvoyance, telepathy and prophecy." Shortly afterwards he travelled to Ayabe City and there he met Nao Deguchi, foundress of the Oomoto religion.

Onisaburo was converted to the teachings of Oomoto and in 1900 he married Nao's daughter, Sumiko, and took the name of Onisaburo Deguchi. He showed great talent as an organizer and during the next 18 years, he developed the learning and skills necessary for the development and expansion of Omoto. and devised and codified the form of Oomoto rituals. He lectured extensively and sent out other members of the sect to conduct missionary work and to try to establish a base in Tokyo..

This missionary work was very successful and resulted in some well known personalities and aristocrats becoming converted to Oomoto. The financial support obtained from these wealthy adherents enabled Onisaburo to buy one of Japan's largest newspapers in 1920.

Of course, the more successful a non-conformist sect becomes, the more likely it is to attract a repressive reaction from the establishment and in 1921 the authorities made their first attempt to suppress the Omoto religion. Onisaburo himself was charged with lese majeste and imprisoned for 126 days before being released on bail. If you, (as I did) are wondering how the leader of a religious sect could possibly be guilty of lese majeste, the following explanation might help.

"In Japan, the country or nation was equivalent to the imperial family. Because religion in Japan was always considered as the religion for the imperial family, separation of the imperial family and its religion was impossible. Given the close relationship between religion and the emperor, other forms of religion were all persecuted, including Omotokyo, Christianity, and others. In fact, all those religions were persecuted according to laws such as the lese majesty law and the Public Order Act.

All other forms of religions were expelled from the public arena. Not only were other sects abolished but discussion of religion itself was strictly banned. Under the new constitution, as a kind of backlash, an extreme exclusion of religion was implemented in education and public authority. Yet Japanese people still maintain their primitive religious feelings and, without strongly professing a certain religion, they broadly and very loosely believe in a variety of religions "

Onisaburo was actually convicted by the Osaka court where he was tried. Then the judgement was reversed by a Supreme Court ruling. Then the case was re-tried but, before its conclusion, the emperor died and Onisaburo was released under the terms of a general amnesty. After his release Onisaburo seems to have become even more aware of the pernicious nature of autocratic nationalism and in 1923, he instructed one of his attendants to learn Esperanto. He also founded an organization known as the Universal Love and Brotherhood Association.

In my next topic article, I will describe the basic doctrine of Oomoto, showing the similarity to the teachings of Bahai, and also describe the second attempt of the Japanese authorities to annihilate this unusual religious sect

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PRI ELSTARAJ ESPERANTISTOJ
. EL HISTORIO DE RUSIA E-MOVADO
KION ONI SKRIBAS PRI ESPERANTO
ESPERANTO EN LITERATURO
. KIAL E-MOVADO NE PROGRESAS
HUMURO PRI KAJ EN ESPERANTO
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DIVERSAJHOJ
INTERESAJHOJ
PERSONAJHOJ
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UTILAJ LIGILOJ
IN ENGLISHPAGHOJ EN ANGLA LINGVO
PAGHOJ TUTE EN ESPERANTO
NIA BIBLIOTEKO


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