Johrei from a Philosophical Perspective

Healing Art for Tomorrow Part Ⅱ
Written by Mokichi Okada, 1943

Johrei has been criticized when it has a great effect on curing diseases. However, the idea of criticizing it is terribly wrong. It is because modern people have firmly believed for a long time that diseases are never cured without materialistic therapies. On the other hand, Johrei is a healing art without using medicine and machines. Therefore, it’s easy to think that Johrei owes to mental effect, which means that the disease is healed by not Johrei but psychological reaction. The third party especially tend to think so. However, the truth is just the opposite. That is interesting, isn’t it?  

Needless to say, people have a kind of suspicion when they come to receive a kind of folk remedy, as well as Johrei. They cannot help but wonder why such therapies cure diseases without machines and medicines. However, people heard how they were effective or saw that their relatives were cured by them. So, most of them only half believe in it.

On the other hand, those who receive medical treatment are, of course, strongly ruled by a preconceived idea that it heals diseases. Furthermore, the name of major hospitals, PhDs and so on builds people’s trust in medicine. They think that medicine is very advanced and such preoccupation also enhances their credibility. In this way, they mentally trust medical treatment and their trust is incomparable to that in folk remedies. It is because they never lose their trust even if its effect doesn’t appear at all after several months of medical treatment. Nay, their trust will be never changed even if their symptoms are gradually getting worse while continuing treatment for several years. In this way, they surprisingly do believe in medical treatment.

If patients have a poor result with misdiagnosis or wrong treatment, therefore, most of them don’t raise the suspicion of medicine. Even if they die due to injections or they become in critical condition and finally die due to operation failure, they won’t have any suspicion about it. What if a great doctor brought a bad result then? Despite he giving a patient all sorts of the latest medical treatments, what if a patient gradually got worse and finally died? Most people would take it in goodwill. They would think that it was their destiny because such a great doctor tried so hard but he couldn’t save them. They would give up like that and wouldn’t show any regret or complain. Even so, if a doctor apparently makes a medical error and let the patient die, their relatives might think to go to court. However, people around tell them that the dead will not return even if they bring the action. So, most of them accept such an excuse and leave it untouched.

Why do people trust medicine absolutely like that? From my observation, when modern people consider something, they very much tend to depend on external form, theory, tradition and so on. Considering this, I remember that I was interested in philosophy when I was young. I was especially fascinated by the theory of Henri Bergson, who is a famous French philosopher. It is because I was captured very much by the two concepts of his theory; Intuitionism and Duration. Here I will explain them as briefly as possible. From the beginning, it is almost impossible for people to observe things intuitively. It is because no one can have a so-called colourless idea. It means that human beings have a comprehensive idea formed by education, custom, tradition and so on. This idea has become like a stick and potentially exists in human thoughts. Therefore, when they observe something, it is inevitable that the stick influences their thoughts more or less.

Their comprehensive idea prevents them from grasping things themselves. To put it more easily, the stick makes people look at things from a biased viewpoint. In this sense, to grasp things correctly, people should put themselves in the condition that they are not confused by such a stick at all. Then what is that condition like? Bergson called it ‘self in the moment.’ In that condition, no past nor future exists, nay, no thoughts exist. People just exist in the present without preconceptions there. When they are in such a condition, they can see things intuitively for the first time without being disturbed. Bergson said that human beings cannot see things properly without this condition.

Then I tell you how Bergson explained Duration. He said that everything flows without any break. In other words, you are somehow different from the day before. Likewise, the world or Japan of today is not the same as those of yesterday. So are culture, politics, economy, art and medicine.

In this sense, something that was thought to be the truth yesterday might be disproved or not today. If it is disproved, it doesn’t mean that it is the truth. On the other hand, if it is not disproved, it is clear that it is the truth itself or at least it is closer to the truth than non-truth.

It can be also said that the truth may change with the length of time. For example, something is revealed to be not the truth even though it has been regarded to be an absolute truth for decades or for hundreds of years. There are many such examples in history.

In this way, the philosophy of Bergson is quite helpful to grasp which is the truth, Johrei or western medicine. Here you should note that, as I mentioned at the beginning, most patients ask for receiving Johrei because they were not cured with medical treatment that they absolutely trust. As a result, a strange thing happens. It means that they are cured not by their trusting healing art but by Johrei that they are suspicious about. Even from only this case, you would see how different the ability to cure diseases is between the two. In this sense, Johrei has a curing power beyond psychological reaction.

Translated by N.H.