This is a religious text based on components of Christianity, Shintoism, Taoism, and several other religions mixed with anime concepts into an Interfaith Smoothie
. The result is possibly the first religion created wholly on Powerpoint (although, given stuff like Chick Tracts
, this may be debatable), and is published for free on Amazon
. Yea, you heard that right, the author found a loophole for shelling out actual money on publishing.
This religion boils down the three major religions into three core tenets of worship: Nature (Taoism), Love (Christianity), and Family (Shintoism). Other than that, it seems to just try to be as weird as possible. The religion itself is called Aiken. And no, not that Aiken
This text contains examples of:
- All There in the Manual: To actually understand this text requires at least cursory reading of the Bible, the Tao te Ching, and the Kojiki. And then there are some things taken from the author's experience.
- Ambition Is Evil: Not only does it teach this, but, well... there's a reason the writer has it self-published (everywhere else costs money).
- Asian Rune Chant: The Kuji-In is featured as one of the "prayers."
- Balance Between Good and Evil: It is based on Taoism...
- Barrier Maiden: In theory, the duty of an Aiken monk is to pray to prevent the Apocalypse.
- Club Stub: This "religion" has a total of one known member (the author), so any new member is this.
- Dark Is Not Evil/Light Is Not Good: Light and Darkness are elemental forces. Dark deals mainly in interactions with other people, Light with perfection of the self. The only actual evils are messing with nature, imbalance of the self, mistreating other people, and things like murder.
- Don't Fear The Reaper: The Reapers are basically just a dead Sage, with the duty to collect souls so they can be saved.
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: One of the first lessons is the human beings are made up of five major elements: fire, water, earth, wood/life, and wind.
"Fire forged them from God's essence, water hardened the forge, earth gave them substance, wood gave them a unique soul, (and) wind gave them air to breathe."
- The Empath: Pretty much anyone who uses faith or magic, is supposedly channeling their emotions.
- Empathic Weapon: The Sword of Sorrow. Also, some of the Reaper weapons.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: There are some borrowed tales from Christianity, Shintoism, Taoism, but some of these are spun out of whole cloth to teach a moral. Still others seem to have no moral and just follow the Rule of Cool.
- Friend to All Living Things: In general, this is one of the goals of the religion. A person who achieves this is called a Sage.
- Theurgy/Nature magic: All magic (except sorcery) is based on prayer and emotion, and uses no artifacts. The reason magic circles, ritual objects, and voodoo dolls are largely forbidden is that this links the biblical proscription against idolatry. So mainly what is allowed is protective effects, natural magic using herbs and such, and faith-based effects. Curiously, magic cicles are okay, but only if removable and made with some natural commodity (such as written in chalk, scratched in the dirt with a stick). Carving into stone or wood with a knife, on the other hand is taboo. The distinction, is using magic as a tool, rather than an object of worship (through repated uses of the same item).
- Gratuitous Japanese: The title means in (probably very broken) Japanese "the Heart Truth." In equally bad Japanese, the name of the cult/group is Aiken or loving fist.
- Green Aesop: This is full of them.
- Hypocritical Humor: A religion whose biggest rule is "stop messing with other people and mind your own business (but also try to find love, have a family, and take care of nature)", that is, a rule of no rule. A religion that talks about trying to fight cults, but technically, is at least a sect, if not itself a cult.
- Interfaith Smoothie: It's really well mixed, giving some of the prohibitions against sorcery while offering a means for natural magic to exist without contradiction.
- Ley Line: Geomancy is part of the teachings. And the Sage's trance is based on absorbing natural energy.
- Locked Away in a Monastery: Subverted in that the religion is about self-discipline and free will, so nobody is "locked away", but there is a daily schedule and everything.
- Lucky Seven: There are seven sections, seven original lessons, and (including the five elements, and light and darkness) seven forces.
- Magic A Is Magic A: Averted. Magic and faith are viewed as similar, but magic is seen as distinct from sorcery (or black magic). Sorcery draws on rituals/memorization and mental power, whereas magic or faith comes from emotions and the heart.
- Magical Underpinnings of Reality: In the Sage and the Reaper, it's explained that unlike the conventional Grim Reaper conception, the usual job of the Reaper is actually to work, in conjunction with various spirits, to run various facets of existence.
- No, Except Yes: The explanation of what is, and isn't sorcery, in comparison to "proper" magic.
- Not So Different: Lampshaded. The Sage and Reaper are mirror images of each other. The Sage represents Life and the natural world, the Reaper represents Death and the afterlife. Beyond that, however, they both have EmpathicWeapons, a duty to defend living things and the world, and are generally able to do manage of the same things with magic (although the Sage's power tends to emphasize a trance state and natural powers, while the Reaper in addition to natural powers has exorcism/death abilities).
- Nothing Left to Do but Die: Largely fridge horror, but if Love, Nature, and Family are the meaning of life, what happens when you've done everything? If you're lucky, these things will always give you stuff to do, but if you outlive your family for instance, and have no lover or garden to manage...
- Obvious Rule Patch: The five element system is based on the Chinese system, since it borrows from Taoism, but the author explains that air is "a softer version of metal." All elemental relationships are the same.
- Perpetual Beta: This book was in "life-testing" phase for nearly five years, with teachings getting rewritten if proven false. If some new drastic lesson is unearthed, it would probably change the text.
- Three new sections were added: "The Sage and the Reaper", "Happiness with Unhappiness", and "Rules of Dating."
- And again to add "The Chain of Harm" and "Bonds and Boundaries."
- Private Military Contractors: Right after it talks about nonviolence, it mentions that this group has no problems with other people fighting wars for causes.
- Religion is Magic: As explained above.
- Rule of Symbolism: Number symbolism, massive metaphors, and strange imagery. In other words, what you'd expect from a religious work.
- Schrödinger's Butterfly: There's a section called "Wake Up Sleeping Angel" that suggests this life may all be a dream.
- Self-Inflicted Afterlife: Word of God is that the writer of the work was heavily influenced by Swedenborg, so this fits. Both Heaven and Hell are based on a person's emotions. Dark ones like anger, greed, and sorrow cause Hell (on Earth, and in the afterlife) while things like love or the desire to care for others cause life on Earth (and in the afterlife) to be like Heaven as result of Your Mind Makes It Real.
- Shinigami: The Reapers.
- Super Mode: The Sage's trance. Focus and concentration is heightened, and the sage absorbs natural energy to do things for them (such as using a rock's energy to get it to lift itself, or figuring out something by "asking" an object).
- The Anti-Nihilist: The point of "Happiness with Unhappiness."
- The Fettered: If you live at home this encourages you to try to care for your loved ones, the best you know how.
- There Are No Rules: There are "boundaries" not rules. And the boundaries are rules about not ruling others.
I. What you bring to the temple may be from outside, what you do for the world may be outside/inside, but the resources you use should be inside. (To prevent assimilation)
II. Oppress no others.
III. Do no harm to others.
IV. Do not begrudge the choices of others.
V. Distinguish yourself from others.
- The Unfettered: Paradoxically, this is also the case. The followers are not supposed to impose their will too much on others, and to act in such a way that others cannot imposed their will on them (owing no debts, etc, etc).
- In fact, they are The Unfettered about being The Fettered. In other words, their close friends are of utmost importance to them, rather than themselves, and they are willing to throw their own lives away to save their friends/family/lovers, and nobody, not Moral Guardians (or similar authorities), not the loss of reputation, money, with no consideration of fear or moral consequences, until those dear to them are happy and safe (or at least safe, as they might not be so happy with this choice). Maybe the opinion of their friends themselves, telling them not to do it, would be able to stop them. Maybe.
- Technical Pacifist: The Mune Shinri advocates extreme nonviolence, even abstaining from killing animals. It doesn't however prescribe vegetarianism, or forbid others from killing. The followers are in theory allowed to wield blunt weapons to defend themselves "to minimize slaughter done in the name of faith" although they aren't supposed to use them with deadly intent. Basically, if animals/people are killed by another or by accident, deal with it (in the case of animals, by not wasting their sacrifice and eating them, with humans by burial), but the follower should try not to do it on purpose.
- Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup: In theory, a temple can have up to seven priests, one for each element. See how that works.
- Wide Open Sandbox: The entire religion is a bit like this. There are a few rules, but so long as you don't grossly mess with other people (murder, coercion, rape), you are okay to follow or not follow the rules of the group. In fact this is one of the only fixed rules of the group, don't force your rules on the group.
- You Do Not Want To Know: Conversion process only happens among family/friends, or if someone asks about your religion.
- Your Heart Makes It Real: Everything from the usage of magic, to the afterlife, is controlled by your emotions. If you get consumed by sadness and anger, generally any prayers you make will backfire. If you do this after death, generally, you go to Hell, until you cheer up.