I spent today analysing the Haruki Murakami Underground interview with former Aum Shinrikyo member Hajume Masutani. Some insights:
1. Masutani experienced early alienation from his family, initial career aspirations, and university studies.
2. Masutani encountered and joined Aum after seeing an Aum book and visiting a dojo. He spent seven years in Aum including working on animation about Aum’s leader Shoko Asahara which now enjoys an afterlife on YouTube.
3. Masutani engaged in cycles of work and meditation but did not really progress in Aum. He became suspicious of Asahara after meeting him. His experiences reflected parallel research that psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton did on Aum.
4. In 1993, Masutani noted that Aum adopted a more proto-militant outlook and a greater emphasis on Tibetan Vajrayana teachings.
5. Masutani grew more alienated from Aum after leaving and learning of the 20th March 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system. His views to Murakami were similar to United States cultic scholars like Margaret Thaler Singer.