Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods


Birth Of A Guru

The newly-named Shoko Asahara took to his self-proclaimed mission with enormous zeal. He lectured daily to the growing number of followers who were keen to share in his vision for the future. With the increased revenue generated by classes and personal appearances, Asahara traveled to other countries, not only to spread the word of Aum, but to align himself with other spiritual groups.

Asahara and Dalai Lama from Aum pamphlet
Asahara and Dalai Lama from Aum pamphlet
In 1987, Asahara went to Dharmsala, a small town nestled in Indias southern Himalayas. He arrived with a large entourage in time to  take part in the new-year celebrations and also to receive a personal blessing from the Dalai Lama. The blessing, consisted of a simple photo opportunity, but Asahara claimed that he was given a divine mission to show the Japanese people the "true" teachings of Buddha and insisted that the Dalai Lama had selected him for the task because he had the mind of a Buddha.

On his return, bolstered by his new enlightenment, Shoko wrote his first book entitled Secrets of Developing Your Spiritual Powers. This self indulgent tome, which promised to reveal such secrets as the ability to read minds, levitate, see the future and develop x-ray vision, sold well. The resulting lecture series was constantly sold out as the "venerable master," as he now called himself, personally "injected his divine energy" into the faithful by laying his hands upon their foreheads, all for just $350 a session.

Many of his students told their friends of the amazing results of such sessions. Out-of-body experiences, miraculous recovery from injury and illness and increased skill at board games were only some of the many enhancements that the sensei had made to their lives.

Several months into his divine mission, Asahara informed his disciples that the Aum Association of Mountain Wizards was no more. It was now to be known as Aum Supreme Truth and was no longer a simple yoga school that developed psychic abilities, but instead was to be the beginning of a world-wide religion.

To expand his empire even further, Asahara asked his followers to make cash donations to the cause to aid in their own spiritual development. They were urged to spread the word of Aum through the distribution of leaflets, book sales and word of mouth. Aum Supreme Truth, under the guidance of Asahara, gradually became an eclectic mix of eastern religion and mysticism with generous helpings of Buddhist, Zen and Hindu teachings and doctrines thrown in for good measure.

Of all the teachings of the many religions that Asahara studied, none impressed him more than the Christian prophecy of Armageddon. Born out of a rudimentary reading of the Book of Revelations and coupled with such influences as the Hindu god Shiva and the prophecies of Nostradamus, it soon became Aums principle doctrine. Asaharas lectures became spiced with prophecies of impending doom with the world deemed to explode amidst nuclear holocaust in the year 2003. The only ones to be saved, he promised, were those who followed his example and attained spiritual enlightenment through the teachings of Aum.

Hundreds of Japanese citizens responded to his apocalyptic ravings and paid millions of yen to listen to his teachings and to take part in the various rituals that he devised.

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