I was in town and arranged to meet him for tea.
He looked older. We all did.
He rose to shake my hand. “Haven’t seen you since Toyko,” he said with a trace of a smile.
I’d been one of those tasked with the delivery system. His job was the chemistry, Others in the group had different jobs. We’d all been young idealists, intelligent yet so easily manipulated by Asahara.
Eventually we got around to the subject.
“You read about the execution?”
“Watched a YouTube of it. Ghastly.”
“Do you ever miss him?”
“Asahara Shukun? No. But sometimes I miss his certainty.”
Shoko Asahara claimed to have achieved enlightenment in the Himalayas and preached an esoteric mix of various Eastern religions combined with his own apocalyptic prophecies.
His followers claimed their guru, who dressed in Chinese-style pajama tunics, had extra-sensory powers and could levitate for hours at a time.
On March 20, 1995 Aum Shin Rikyo released sarin at several points across the Tokyo subway during the morning rush hour.
The attack shocked the world and prompted a massive crackdown that saw Asahara and some of his followers arrested.
Ashara was imprisoned, refusing in his final days to bathe or use the toilet. He was hanged in July, 2018.