Oomoto and Esperanto: continued
Author: David Poulson
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 60 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
In the issue of Australia's national newspaper, The Australian, published on Wednesday 17th, there is a long article on Esperanto by Hal Cohen. Although in the main a good and well-informed article, I wasn't pleased to see it illustrated with large photographs of Fidel Castro and Elvis Costello, and I was even less pleased to see this sentence:
"[Zamenhof] concluded - in what became known as the interna ideo of Esperanto that, if everyone shared an easy-to-learn, neutral tongue, political and national strife would disappear."
Well, even if all you have read about Dr Zamenhof is only what I have written in this series of articles, you will know better than that! Possibly Zamenhof the schoolboy once entertained such a notion but Zamenhof the mature ethical thinker, idealist though he was, wasn't so na�ve. He did, of course, recognise that the lack of a politically neutral, common second language was a great barrier to overcoming national prejudices. Nevertheless, he was also acutely aware that conflict and hatred existed between people who did share a common language but did not, for example, share a common religion.
For more information about this subject, new readers can refer to the recent topic article dealing with the innate idea of Esperanto
Zamenhof, I think, believed that a lack of shared values rather than a lack of a common language was the source of hatred and conflict between and within nations. Others have thought the same and in this article we are going to examine how the teachings of Oomoto, particularly as expressed by Onisaburo Deguchi, reflect the point of view expressed in Zamenhof's "Homarismo" and also some of the teachings of the Bahai faith. We will look first at what "Oomotanoj" (to give them their Esperanto name) call:
The Essential Doctrine
"God is the Spirit which pervades the entire universe, and man is the focus of the workings of heaven and earth. When God and man become one, infinite power will become manifest."
This doctrine resembles the Bahai belief that all religion has a common foundation from which is derived the essential unity of the human race. Bahai's believe in the equality of women, work for the abolition of prejudice, and promote the idea of peace for everyone.
Zamenhof, himself, expressed the idea of the unity of the human race as follows:
"Treat the human race as one family, let this ideal guide all of your actions. And acknowledge the concept of humanity as superior to that of nationality." A free thinker himself, all he was prepared to say about religion was that your own religion should be a matter of personal choice and not something forced on you by your ethnic background. He also believed that your own language or religious faith should not be forced on to other people.
Now here are Oomoto's "basic rules for human beings to lead a significant life."
The Four Teachings of Oomoto.
1. Harmonious Alignment with Life and the Universe
I think that these teachings reveal a very oriental way of expressing universal truths. They will probably sound quite familiar to anybody who has already some knowledge of Buddhism or Taoism. By comparison, the Bahai faith, uses a very western mode of expression in stating that "Religion must be consistent with scientific and rational thought."
Zamenhof, on the other hand, avoided any mention of adherence to religious imperatives and drew his ethical inspiration from the great source of European humanism. He wrote:
"In dealing with people with a different cultural background be governed by principles of common humanity and helpfulness and in dealing with all members of the human race, try to promote sentiments which will unite and not divide."
He also stated that no individual should be judged according to his racial origin but according to his behaviour and actions."
Finally, here are:
The Four Principles of Oomoto
1. Purity, purification of mind and body
These principles, according to the teachings of Onisaburo Deguchi, are universal and everything in nature grows and lives according to these rules. But many people, because they live their lives in violation of these principles, are unhappy. Only by practising the four principles, can human beings live in harmony with the universe.
The "progressivism" mentioned in the third principle of Oomoto finds a close echo in the Bahai beliefs which encourage " independent investigation of the truth, and support the ideas of education for everyone, a universal auxiliary language, and spiritual solutions of economic problems."
Zamenhof, although in most ways a conventional and conservative individual, was in others very progressive and he was sufficiently optimistic to believe in the idea of continuous social improvement.
(To be continued)