Article from the Reading Eagle, originally published: 9/17/2013
By Lisa Scheid
Chisako Fukushima of Allentown demonstrates jyorei on Eileen Weinsteiger of District Township in one of the gardens at the Rodale Institute in Maxatawny Township.
Chisako Fukushima bows briefly, hands pressed together as if in prayer. Then she raises her hand across her body even with her shoulder, palm facing Eileen Weinsteiger, who is seated a few feet away.
Fukushima is sending light. And this is Jyorei, meaning "purification."
It is for healing spiritual or physical ailments, say practitioners. Anyone can receive the purifying light, but you need some instruction to send it, according to Fukushima, a representative of Shumei International and an Allentown resident who works with the Rodale Institute in Maxatawny Township.
Weinsteiger of District Township is garden manager of Rodale Institute and also a longtime Jyorei practioner. She maintains a home center to share and practice Shumei, the first such home center in the country.
The connection between Rodale and Shumei is not casual or random: Rodale and Japan-based Shumei International formed a partnership in 1997, although the relationship between the two organizations goes back a few decades.
Jyorei is one aspect of the spirituality of Shumei (pronounced shoo-may), a philosophy and spiritual practice founded in 1935 by Mokichi Okada in Japan.
There are about 15 members of the Shumei group in the Reading-Allentown area; it gathers at Weinsteiger's home center or in Kutztown.
It's not a religion, Fukushima said. The group has adherents of Buddhism and Christianity as members who don't feel they need to abandon their beliefs to practice Shumei.
So what's Jyorei like?
A person receiving Jyorei can feel a warmness, tingling or nothing at all, according to Fukushima and Weinsteiger. They may see lights or colors. After a session (lasting about five minutes or up to 20 minutes for someone who is ill) they may feel a sense of well-being or peace.
Fukushima said the sender may feel a tingling in his or her palm, which indicates that the receiver needs more light, more energy to heal.
In addition to the practice of Jyorei, Shumei principles include appreciation of art and beauty and reverence for nature as expressed through natural agriculture.
"This is a very holistic approach to life," Fukushima said. "We believe beautiful things lift our spirit and mind."
It's an appreciation beyond museum-piece beauty that includes positive and beautiful words, behavior and relationships as well. It's a positive way of thinking, she said.
What is beautiful?
"(It's) something we can appreciate beyond language," Fukushima said. "We can appreciate with our spirit."
A scientist who discovered Shumei in Japan and came to the U.S. in 1997 and ultimately became a liaison between Rodale and Shumei International, Fukushima consults on the garden and helps run the Kutztown center.
The group is branching out. In July, a conference showcased the natural agricultural approach to organic farming or gardening at Rodale. A public performance of Taiko drummers was included.
Weinsteiger gave a tour noting some of the differences between natural agriculture and other agriculture: no crop rotation, more seed saving, a different approach to composting, to name a few.
Fukushima explained the philosophy behind the approach to not rotating crops.
"The seeds remember the soil," she said. " It's a relationship between the soil and the seeds. They know each other better and they do better."
Shumei Pennsylvania Center
38 Conrad Road, Alburtis, PA 18011