Encyclopedia of Shinto
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|8. Schools, Groups, and Personalities
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A new religion founded by Goi Masahisa (1916-1980) from the Ōmoto and Seichō no Ie lineages, with an emphasis on two characteristic Ōmoto doctrines, the notion that all religions emanate from the same root (bankyō dōkon), and the principle of world peace.
Following World War II, Goi, who had engaged in a unique form of faith healing based on various writings of the founders of Sekai Kyūseikyō and Seichō no Ie, was deeply inspired by the thought of Taniguchi Masaharu, founder of Seichō no Ie, and thus entered that group, becoming a regional religious instructor. At the same time, he also attended meetings of the Chidorikai, a group engaging in psychic experiments, and he experienced paranormal phenomena so frequently that leading an ordinary life became impossible.
In 1949 he left the Chidorikai and immediately felt compelled by the deities to undertake severe austerities involving weeks-long fasts and avoidance of any thought of self. One evening, during a brief respite from his austerities, Goi had an experience in which his own body began to radiate a shining light, and he became one with the divine. The next day he experienced union with Shakyamuni and Jesus. From that point, he began to have doubts about the doctrines of Seichō no Ie and left the movement.
In 1951 Goi's devotees established the Goi Sensei Sangōkai, which became registered as a religious corporation in 1955 under the name Byakkō Shinkōkai. The group teaches that both the individual and all humanity can be saved simultaneously through giving thanks to one's tutelary deities and guardian spirits, and by engaging in prayers for world peace. At events known as "unification meetings" (tōitsukai) held at the movement's headquarters, followers recite the movement's "world peace prayer." Primary proselytizing activities include distributing posters and erecting "peace prayer poles" on which are written the movement's invocation: "May peace prevail on earth (sekai jinrui ga heiwa de arimasu yō ni)."
Following the founder's death, his successor Saionji Masami (1941-) established special unification meetings in which prayers are offered for international peace. These meetings take place once every month at the movement's headquarters, and once a year at its sacred center at Mount Fuji. Other so-called "peace prayer ceremonies" are conducted throughout the world. The first of these was organized in 1985 in Ryōgoku in Tokyo, followed by others in Los Angeles, Assisi, Paris and then, in November 1989, at the United Nations headquarters in New York. In subsequent years the group has managed to carry out numerous small- and large-scale events both in and outside Japan. The sponsorship of these activities is carried out by an external body called the World Peace Prayer Society.
Headquarters: Chiba Prefecture
Nominal membership: approximately 500,000 (O)