In this age of rapid progress, everything is progressing without exception. But strangely enough, I don’t see any progress in the area of religion—an area that is supposed to concern humanity the most. Actually, it has remained unchanged for a long time, or, rather, it is moving backward. It is regressing. The established religious groups often say things like “Return to the original path,” meaning, “You have to return to the founder.” I guess they say this because they perceive that they have drifted away from the original path their founders took, so they have to go back to the original one. Well, if you keep doing this, there will be no progress at all, will there? Don’t you think that this goes against the rapid progress that culture is making now? This plainly illustrates why the established religions do not have the power to attract people anymore, simply spending all their energy on surviving.
It is true that all the religious groups that exist today flourished for a time at their founding while undergoing persecution and oppression, something that all new religions have to endure. They brought a breath of fresh air and energy to the world and received a lot of attention initially. However, as time went by, with the exception of Christianity, almost all of them lost their attraction and energy. We have to know why this is the case.
And the answer is simple. It is because they did not keep up with the times. They held onto the teachings of their founders so tightly, believing that the teachings of the founders were their only guidepost. As a result, they were left behind by the current of the times, distancing themselves further and further from the progress of the world. And in the end, today, they are criticized for being useless. Every occurrence in the world has its cause and effect, so the established religions need to reflect deeply on their miserable state. It is truly difficult to continuously stay ahead of the times, don’t you think? Based on all this, the fundamental principle of our Church is to be progressive in everything we do, to be in accordance with the current of the times. For example, we disregard any formalities and rituals on which the established religions usually place a great deal of importance. We try to avoid wasting our time and money on such matters. And who actually benefits from the burdens of formality and ritual? I am quite sure that God and other divine beings are also not happy with them.
In the above sense, religion should be something that improves the lives of the people of today and leads them in the right direction—this is the mission of a true religion. To put it simply, a progressive religion is something valuable that can bring salvation to the people of today.
Jikan: A Collection of Essays, January 30, 1950