The religious landscape in Japan is complex. While traditional Shinto culture dates back to time immemorial, its practice is intermixed with the later-to-arrive Buddhist tradition. Although Japan originally fiercely resisted Christian influences—at times under penalty of death—the practice has spread in recent history.

Furthermore, several smaller, idiosyncratic sects have gained notoriety and headline attention. Most well-known, albeit infamously so, is Aleph Aum Shinrikyo. Founded under the tutelage of Shoko Asahara, the so-called "doomsday cult" was responsible for the 1995 Tokyo Subway sarin attack. Yet, religious organizations, including smaller sects, are rarely involved in violent atrocities or other controversies—many are harmlessly eccentric. Take, for example, Pana-wave Laboratory, who believe electromagnetic radiation is contaminating society, or Ho No Hana Sampyogo, who believe foot readings can diagnose diseases.

More recently, the Happy Science (幸福の科学, Kōfuku-no-Kagaku) spiritual movement has been the topic of much online attention. Its founder, former Wall Street trader Ryuho Okawa, and followers believe they possess the cure for the Corona Virus and are on a mission to share it with the world.

Happy Science and The Present Incarnation of El Cantare

According to their webpage , Happy Science is one of the most influential religions in Japan. If their self-claimed membership figure of 11 million people is indeed true, their boasting may not be that much of an overstatement. The organization also claims to be represented in over 100 countries.

This religion purports to honor the teachings of the Buddha and believes that reciting Dharma is the "main pillar" of religious life. They hold Sunday services and frequent social activities, all the while encouraging interested people to join them. Simply put, they are attempting to create an ideal world.

Founder Ryuoho Okawa attended Tokyo University and, upon graduating, joined a prestigious Tokyo-based trading company. Yet, he had spiritual ambitions. A few years into his career, he reportedly experienced enlightenment, awakening the part of his consciousness known as El Cantare.

According to the religious sect, this was no small accomplishment. El Cantare, the religion believes, is the conscious energy responsible for the deities Odin and the Buddha. Ryuho Okawa is the current incarnation of this spiritual being and the leader of Happy Science. He was formerly married to Kyoko Okawa, who is believed to be the reincarnation of Aphrodite and the bodhisattva of wisdom and intellect. However, the couple divorced in 2011.

Praise During the Coronavirus

Like many, members of Happy Science are deeply concerned about the spread of the novel coronavirus. Branches across the globe have been encouraging solidarity among members while reminding others of the power of prayer. Practitioners have also seen a slew of new DVDs, books, and other spiritual releases encouraging their faith.

Their media, however, has a strong and controversial, central theme. According to converts, the coronavirus is not a naturally occurring phenomenon, but rather the result of a bioweapon incident instigated by China. "The communist virus," they claim, is a product of the trade war caused by the "non-believing" Asian superpower. As such, the pandemic pits Western, theistic states, against agnostic China.

The New York Times explained the details of Happy Science's conviction. Okawa has purportedly recently been in touch with extraterrestrials and the spirits of Chinese leaders. These spirits informed Okawa that the virus was initially created as a bioweapon and shelved by the Chinses government, but later released by a U.F.O. to punish the Communist party. However, religious followers need not worry, because the coronavirus can be defeated by a belief in the El Cantare diety.

“Out with the Demons, in with The Good Fortune”

Believers need not fear, as the incarnation of El Cantare has also formulated a cure. According to Okawa, Happy Science's newly created ritual cures the coronavirus disease. Functioning as a kind of "spiritual vaccine," the Happy Science prayer is "administered" at Happy Science temples across the world.

In a sort of "out with bad, in with the good" manner, the spiritual energy of El Cantare, cultivated by the prayer, will "knock-out" the virus. Interested parties need only provided donations in the range of $100-$400 to receive the sacred right. Nevertheless, for those afraid to break social distancing rules, the rite will soon be offered remotely.

According to members of the New York branch of Happy Science, the process is incredibly effective. One practitioner told the New York Times, "It's amazing. We're seeing people being cured." The devout have taken note, as many have requested administration of the spiritual vaccine.

Online, Happy Science provides a more detailed explanation of this "spiritual" immunological phenomenon. Pay attention; there is a quiz at the end:

By - Luke Mahoney.