For the most part, the Digital Age has transformed communication and understanding in spiritual matters for the better. As acknowledged by Pope Francis, the internet has increased the potential for “communication and encounter” around the world. Despite this, there has also been a growth in intolerance and hate on the internet. It is this misfortune that I seek to sensitively respond to.
One of the most challenging manifestations of intolerance is the spread of hurtful conspiracy theories targeting communities. There is already an abundance of this hurtful material on the internet targeting the faiths of Islam, Judaism and other beliefs. In order to restore respect and truth in the face of such attacks, different faiths must be ready to cooperate and defend one another to repel the cycle of intolerance. Let us remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s expression, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Unless different faiths are ready to stand together against prejudice and unfair attacks, they leave themselves exposed to the same mistreatment.
This essay is dedicated to correcting a misunderstanding that has emerged with regard to a gathering of religious students, now widely discussed in sensational terms on the internet as the Mont Order. Comprising only a few students with shared philosophical interests and no hidden agendas whatsoever, the Order has nevertheless become the victim of conspiracy theories and has even been insensitively described as a cult. I must stress that the Mont Order does adhere to a code of humility, but this must not be misrepresented as a code of secrecy and conspiracy. If I am not offering detailed information on the Order’s origins and membership in this essay, that is the only reason.
I make it my own responsibility to write this article, because I am partly to blame for the misunderstanding that has emerged between members of the public and the gatherings of the Mont Order. As a favor to the Mont Order, I ran a blog sharing some of the ideas and principles of the Order under an alias during 2010-2012. The literature emerging from this blog reflected thinking of the original Mont Order gathering. Unfortunately, this project was abandoned due to a loss of interest by the involved people, including myself. Eventually, I locked the blog out from public view.
News that the Mont Order has become the subject of a conspiracy theory, two years after its activities ended, is astonishing and disturbing for me as a friend of the Mont Order. However, asking to withdraw information from the public domain and suppressing the speculation would be unfriendly to open debate. Hiding information or complaining to publications over the spread of hurtful literature will only boost the asinine claims of conspiracy, so I instead favor informing people about the beliefs and philosophy of the Mont Order and helping the public to understand.
Owing to the deterioration of interest and support from the religious students who were aware of or members of the Mont Order, the Order does not presently exist as an organization. It can be understood more effectively as a metaphor sometimes used by the few remaining people who were part of the Order. These people include Mitsuki Matsuo, who is quite public about his connection to the Mont Order and has asked that his name be linked with it. However, the Mont Order is most certainly not the conspiracy being alleged on several sensationalist websites right now. For defenders of the spiritual principles of the Mont Order like Mitsuki and I, the Order is now only a symbol for something far greater and more enduring than each of us or any other existing organization.
What I have attempted to do with every iota of my own influence in the world is to encourage all people, especially religious and spiritual devotees, not to attach themselves to rigid and unchanging ideas. We must have faith in change rather than the status quo, and be ready to accept the normality of change. Indeed, change is humanity’s only tradition. Everything that has enriched and refined the human experience has been the result of fundamental change in the way we live our lives and the way we organize societies, so fundamental change should be encouraged rather than feared by those of us who oppose suffering.
Spiritual communication has drawn its greatest levels of devotion only in such times when it has been aligned with liberation and change. Faith in change, transformation away what we know, entails the acknowledgment that change is our greatest tradition and this ancient truth should prevail over loyalty to other traditions. During the time when they were active, the Mont Order did well to emphasize the value of this tradition of change through the ages. My hope has been that others will perhaps someday recognize the call of Mont as their own, and acknowledge it as one of their most respected sources of guidance.
To respect a belief, we must first understand that belief. The Mont Order, which has many other names, is a term used to refer to the tradition by which activists and philosophers have historically compared the social and spiritual journey of mankind with the journey to the summit of a mountain. In such times when it has been a gathering of kindred students and philosophers, the Mont Order has claimed a special relationship to this metaphor, using it to drive forward a powerful symbol of spiritual progress and liberation.
What is proposed by the symbolism of the mountain – of Mont? There are many paths to the summit, but there is only one summit! In this way, the symbolism of Mont is parallel to the symbolism of religious pluralism, in which all religious traditions are understood as a starburst of paths to the same divine truth rather than divergent sects. Spiritual progress leads inexorably to social progress and a more harmonious relationship between different traditions and cultural groups.
The Mont Order is not a conspiracy, as has been claimed by the detractors and cynical forgers. It stands as a celebration by a few devoted students of the ultimate symbol of thousands of years of enduring faith in enlightenment and change as catalysts for a righteous lifestyle. Personally, I see this hope for change reflected in the enthusiasm for new technologies like the internet as a way of informing and empowering members of the general public – even if it has been abused.
Although I appreciate the way in which the claims of the Mont Order can easily be misunderstood as a result of their complexity, I encourage others not to fear the Order or describe it as a mystery. Instead, we should join hands with those who wish to uplift the human condition by talented spiritual and technological means. While not necessarily more special than other schools promoting global unity, the Mont Order has earned the right to be counted among the best of them.