Sunday, December 11, 2016

The 20th Year of The Sarin Gas Attack on Tokyo Subway

We post a letter written by Yoshihiro in 2015.

March 22, 2015

It is 20 years since the sarin gas attack on Tokyo subway occurred. I cannot help reflecting on how the fatalities, the bereaved families and the injured persons suffering from the aftereffects would have spent their days if we hadn’t caused the incident. All I can do is just to make my apologies to them and to contemplate the pain of my crime.

Every time I see and hear the news that wars and terrorist attacks in the name of God occurred all over the world, many people were robbed of their irreplaceable lives in them or have suffered from them, those news acutely grieve me overlapping with my thoughts on the victims of my high crime.

Why do such incidents occur in the name of God?
I simply outline terrorist attacks based on religion from the perspective of the person who has committed the high crime in the name of God, namely me.

Looking back on those days, I got to leave judgment between right and wrong up to Asahara, the founder of Aum Shinrikyo, regarded as the only person who knew God’s will by blindly believing the just cause of saving people from the Armageddon (the final war in the world based on eschatology) in accordance with God’s will which Asahara set.

As a result, I gave up a sense of responsibility for my own words and actions which I should have had as a member of society naturally by following the teaching that we must not think for ourselves after I became a priest at the age of 18, and I stayed unchanged.

Asahara who had his followers at his beck and call in the name of salvation completely lacked a sense of responsibility for what resulted from his instructions to them as a member of society.

As described above, actually we all the followers of Asahara were not aware of the responsibility for our own words and actions as a member of society and conceited ourselves to be men of absolute justice which led to God beyond morality, and such our irresponsible behaviors escalated into the high crimes. “A lack of awareness of having committed a crime in the name of God” is probably one of the essences of cult religion.

By delving into this actual state in terms of the relationship between the founder and his follower for God as transcendent existence, it is clarified that the practice of the religious faith functions to deviate from the rules.

According to Asahara, the founder of the cult religion, when practicing asceticism on the beach in 1986, he was ordered to be “the Lord leading the navy and fighting” by God, asked God “May I use the force as a means?” and received the revelation “take the order” from God. It can be said that this revelation was the beginning of all the incidents caused by Aum.

Afterwards, Asahara began to preach on a theory of religious conflict and to justify himself by saying that God delegated the right and the power to overstep the social rules to him in his arrogance to distinguish the savers from the saved, the unordinary from the ordinary. He blindly believed himself to be transcendent existence like God, and by identifying himself with God that he imaged, he replaced his ambitions with the orders from God and ordered us his followers to achieve them.

We his followers blindly believed Asahara to be transcendent existence as God and were mistaken in thinking that we could be identified with God as transcendent existence and saved by obeying him(it was buddhistically interpreted as attainment of enlightenment in the group of Aum). I can say that in such a relationship between the founder as God and his followers, we really assumed that the orders in the name of God were given the power to overstep the social rules and obedience to them was absolute justice of God beyond right and wrong in human society because God was transcendent existence, and we obeyed the founder.
Is this the mechanism common to terrorist attacks based on religion all over the world?

While I think that there are various religions around the world and each of the religious persons considers God whom he believes in to be right, I keenly realize from my mistakes that we need to have a sense of humility to be aware that even if God whom we believe in is an absolute being for us, it doesn’t necessarily mean that our judgments or actions based on the belief in God are absolutely right as well. It is because we human beings are different from God, cannot become God no matter how firmly we believe in God, stay human beings permanently and sometimes make mistakes. That is to say the group of Aum should never have justified its own desires by replacing them with the orders from God.

Reviewing what I thought and carried out, I have noticed that the loss of empathy with others, namely dehumanization started exactly when I thirsted for the salvation and tried to identify myself with God or the person worshiped as an absolute being. In the Aum incidents, we imposed the salvation in which we believed on society at the sacrifice of many irreplaceable lives. I feel full of remorse for having done such excessively sinful and foolish acts.

As a person, I intend to face up to my crimes, be aware of the responsibility for them, consider continuously what I can do and put it into action one by one as long as my life lasts so that this kind of incident can never occur again in the name of salvation.

Yoshihiro Inoue