FALSE PROPHET: THE AUM CULT OF TERROR
From the time he was a small child, Chizuo Matsumoto wanted only one thing, to be rich. It was quite an ambition considering his circumstances.
Born in Kyushu, southern Japan in 1955, he was the fourth son of a poor weaver, who carved out a meager existence making Tatami, the closely-woven straw mats, traditionally used as flooring in Japanese homes.
Ironically, the family was too poor to afford such luxuries, living as they did in a rough shack with earthen floors.
Poverty wasnt the only challenge the young Chizuo faced. Smitten at birth with infantile glaucoma, he was blind in his left eye and only partially sighted in his right.
Because of his disability and timid manner, he was bullied and teased constantly at school until his parents enrolled him in a government-funded school for the blind.
He quickly learned that being the only partially sighted child in a class full of blind students had distinct advantages. It wasnt long before he became the school bully, dominating and manipulating his classmates into doing his bidding.
The pursuit of money became an all-consuming passion. He very rarely performed favors for his sightless colleagues without extracting some form of payment in return.
As he grew, his reputation grew with him. He became known as a person who would do anything to gain notoriety and affluence. Many times during his school years he tried, unsuccessfully, to become student-body president. He never understood that his classmates feared, rather than respected, him.
By the time he had reached senior high school, he was well developed in both mind and body. His grades were good and he had earned a black belt in Judo.
The ability to make money had also developed so much that by the time he graduated he had amassed over $30,000.
His ambition continued to grow. He told friends that he intended to join Japan's ruling political party and eventually become Prime Minister. As part of his master plan, he enrolled in a prep school in the nation's capital, seeking entrance into the elite Tokyo University. His plans were foiled when, despite many months of study, he was refused entry.
It was a bitter, angry young man that returned home to the village of his birth. Shortly after his arrival, he was arrested for assault, following an argument in a massage parlor.
Several months later he returned to Tokyo where he met and subsequently married a bright, young college student. Their first child followed quickly, the first of six. His wife, Tomoko, became a steadying influence in his life and persuaded her family to invest money in a clinic to be run by her husband.
The Matsumoto Acupuncture Clinic was a success from the start -- due in no small part to the dubious herbal remedies that Chizuo peddled to the unsuspecting public. These "remedies," accompanied by a three-month course of acupuncture treatments and yoga exercises were sold for $7,000.
One such "miracle-cure," proved to be nothing more than tangerine peel soaked in alcohol. His exploits eventually came to the notice of police after Chizuo had been reportedly selling his "cure-alls" to elderly guests in many of the citys luxury hotels.
He was fined only $1,000. A small sum compared to the $200,000 that the scam had earned him.
Chizuo Matsumoto was close to achieving his childhood ambition. Money was plentiful and his reputation as a healer, albeit dubious, was growing. Despite his success, he yearned for something more, some "purpose for being," he told his wife, that would give his life greater meaning.
He delved into the worlds of geomancy and Chinese fortune telling. Feeling the need for a spiritual experience, he began taking part in weird religious rituals and spent long periods in deep meditation. It was after on of these meditative states that he told of the rush of "psychic energy" that had surged through his body, giving him the ability to see the auras that surrounded "evil" people. Chizuo believed that he was destined for greatness and made plans to seek a way of consolidating his new found spirituality.