Chapter 10 Sorrow and Love
I began to read the novels of Dostoevsky on the advice of my teachers, in order to learn what it means to atone for a crime, identifying my crimes with the crimes described in his books. I felt Dostoevsky gave a cold look at a person tortured by a guilty conscience, and I thought the reason for it was that a pang of guilt resulted from regret for having committed a crime, but didn't mean awareness of responsibility for a crime yet. And I found this passage when I read on, considering what responsibility for a crime is:
"Mother, everyone is really responsible to all men for all men and for everything. I don't know how to explain it to you, but I feel it is so, painfully even." (The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky)
When I read this passage, tears were flowing down my face for some reason. And then I felt I realized when I had radically strayed from the right path, that was when I had been deeply impressed with Asahara during summer vacation in my third year of high school. In his idle talk with his disciples, Asahara stated "emancipation is like becoming a drop of water. The practice of salvation is that a transparent drop of water melts into a great river as it is". I strongly wanted to melt into the flow of a great river made of mercy, as a transparent drop of water. This wish was my starting point of my activities in Aum Shinrikyo.
Asahara called the person who was a drop of water the "new breed of humans" who had developed one's spirituality by training. Then he regarded enlightening humans by the "new breed of humans" as salvation.
Now, I think the "new breed of humans" philosophy itself was the reason for my serious crime. That is because the way of thinking was absolutely an arrogant assumption of salvation, which excluded all meanings of existence by others who had different values, and was absolutely his own narcissistic work. It was Aum's training which deepened such narcissism.
At that time, I underwent various mystical experiences by training. Then, because of a light inside of me and because of an enlargement of my consciousness, I had a feeling that I was trying to touch life itself. Through that, I deepened my belief that, rather than rules of real society, it was Asahara's teaching based on such mystical experiences that were true. Soon I started to believe that Asahara, as the person who had reached final enlightenment, embodied life itself. As a result, I felt afraid of him dominating and depriving the lives of others, but I felt a sense that there was no way to go against him.
In the final analysis my error was that I entrapped myself in Asahara's exclusive possession of my life. I felt the opposite of such exclusive possession of life in the story of "The Brothers Karamazov".
When I was a first year high school student, I saw lonely old men and old women in a hospital for seniors. I felt that old people were abandoned, which made me angry. I thought, "I should do something to change this". Back then, although I didn't know "how to explain", at that time, in front of these old people who seemed to be abandoned, without feeling true sympathy or love to others, I merely looked on them, in this sense, I was a criminal. Rather than feeling anger, I should have felt deep sorrow. By feeling deep, deep sorrow about human suffering, I should have been aware of the human state in which he or she couldn't live without committing some sin.
Now, I feel that "the great transparent river of mercy" doesn't exist, and should not exist. If one person separates himself or herself from others, and if he or she believe that he or she is only excellent compared with others, and believes that he or she is absolutely right, how can the person understand the sorrow and suffering of humans who can't live without sinning? How can he or she sincerely sympathize with others, understand others, and love others? I didn't understand even one of those important points.
On top of that, according to what I have learned after my arrest, the mystical experience induced by the training was essentially to realize the common state which existed inside of the life. It was for a deep understanding of "even if the state of life is very different, all creatures are kept alive equally by all life". However, because of my mystical experience, I fooled myself into thinking I was special. And then, I had a huge ego thinking that I was allowed to do more things than others on the pretext of saving many people.
I should have dived into the vast expanse of experiences made up of people's lives - their uncleanness, sufferings and sorrows - rather than "the great transparent river of mercy", which was nothing more than narcissism. And then I should have personally learned what it meant to love someone in the sorrow of living.
"What can I do?" When I can do nothing and I am crouching down in a prison cell, it seems that sorrow related to various crimes come to me. The indescribable sufferings of victims of various crimes overlap with my thoughts on the victims of my crime. I feel a stabbing pain in my chest. Everyone who is in prison didn't want to commit a crime, did they? I keenly feel the sorrow of criminals who committed crimes despite that.
Is there salvation for those who suffer from a sense of sin by this awareness? I can't help asking myself. But I just can't come up with the right answer. But once more, I have come to the painful realization of how foolish it is to have blindly believed that there was salvation through the cause, and how deeply sinful it is to have pretended to be a saint, to have talked about saving people.
When I was in middle and high school, I despised the sins and contradictions that humans created and I rejected them. Because of this rejection, I was driven by a sense of justice that I should reform modern-day society as it heads toward Armageddon. I pretended to be a good person thinking that I was a prominent leader. But in fact, I was self-absorbed in our salvation story, I immured myself, I lost sympathy which a person should have towards others.
Nevertheless, I was under the vain conceit of presuming that I was a Bodhisattva-destined to bear the burden of the suffering of others. And so I had come to view all things on my own convenient terms, on the mistaken premise that I was doing good for the sake of my fellow man. In the end, we imposed our "salvation" on a general public who didn't want Aum's salvation at all. We took the irreplaceable lives of others.
As I look on such serious crimes, I become dejected at the seriousness of my crime and the sorrow. However, the more my despair deepens, the more I feel the power of life that thrives within me. I feel that this power visits me not only from my desire to live, but also from life's love, which is more grand and keeps an eye on every life.
The more I feel the love for the life of the boundless affection of living creatures, I keenly feel how horrible and sinful it is to have taken away these lives. I feel so sorry for the victims. I was overflowing with tears that wouldn't stop.
Why did this kind of thing happen?
At least, I can't help asking myself again and again so that this kind of incident can never occur again in the name of salvation.