Exploring the Boundary between Morality and Religion: the Shin-shinshukyo (New New Religions) Phenomenon and the Aum Anti-Utopia

Rodica Frentiu


The study attempts to complete the conclusions of social-religious research undertaken up till now, and therefore analyzes the new religious phenomenon†(Shin-shinshukyo/ New New Religions), especially the Aum Shinrikyo cult of the contemporary Japanese society, from an interdisciplinary perspective. Focusing upon the terrorist attack with sarin gas caused by the Aum Shinrikyo cult, our analysis uses the method of Chinese boxes (the small box is in a bigger box which, in its turn, is placed in an even bigger box and so on), to deal with the complex issues beyond the criminal dimension. The study presents in this sense the victims’ confessions (higaisha) as well as the aggressors’ confessions (kagaisha) as published by the famous contemporary writer Haruki Murakami in the journalistic novel Underground (1997). The Aum Shinrikyo cult and the religious terrorist attack from the Tokyo subway eventually become important “confession-evidence†in the process of knowing the Japanese spirituality and the way in which its religious feeling, permanently in search of a way of manifestation, reflects the “normality†of a free modern society. By its aspects of antiutopian “religious affairâ€, the Aum story urges mankind on an exercice of autoreflection.


Shin-shinshukyo (New New Religions), Aum Shinrikyo, religious feeling, apocalypse, antiutopia

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