by James C. Stephens

March 05, 1980

Last night I started a six week course on “Sexual Self Expression” on Tuesday nights at 7:30 with Actualizations. Our workshop conductor is a man named David Crump. (He trained at Esalen in California under Carl Rogers, a world renown expert on Group Dynamics). One of our homework assignments is to keep a journal–daily of our dealings around a sexual focus. So I might not be spending much time here for the next six weeks, but things will be recorded. I think I will record it in another journal I have. It will just be of this workshop experience. I will ask the workshop conductor if this is okay.*

David A. Crump later developed the Essential Experience.

[JCS 2019 Note: *Not many years later, I sat in on a Psychology class at UCLA to take notes for a sick friend and was deeply impressed by the Professor’s take on the psychological dangers and relational damage due to Pornography. The class radically changed my view of pornography. In the Sexual Self Expression class we were instructed to build a book of sexual images, basically our own personal Playboy, which I did. After the class at UCLA, I made the decision to discard and destroy the notebook and clean up my own mind. It was softcore only, but it was interfering with my own marriage and imagination. I have never regretted my decision to do so nor the results of a discipline of fidelity and the resulting fruits of that practice].

Lots of work these days along with a good deal of stress and frustration. However, I’m trying to work through all these factors and learn my lessons. Wrote a short letter to Daisaku Ikeda and sent it, expressing my feelings re: my role in NSA as I see it.

As usual I’m pushed to the line for my work. Must get to work on Garcia’s plan. (I was training to become a landscape architect and worked on designing gardens for clients).

March 06, 1980

Didn’t tell you-went through two difficult days at divorce court where two fellow members Bob Rafkin and Joanne Harris decided to part.

[Bob passed away awhile ago. Joanne has gone on to be quite a famous hair stylist in Hollywood. Years ago she was one of the members of the Sweetie Seven a performing group in Nichiren Shoshu. Here’s one of her recent YouTube video series from her hair saloon. Hope she is doing well. Say hi if you see her!]

By the way, Dad presented my plan to the Garcia’s today for $12,000-$15,000 and they loved the plan. Now I’ve lot’s of work to do on the working drawings, irrigation, plant plan, staking plan, drainage, contour grading–I’m learning so much by doing–unbelievable amount of work. It’s quite absorbing and I am having fun. Finally. It’s so great to have completed a plan and to have been able to have it presented. Next I’ve got to learn #1. How to budget my time for deadlines–now I know there’s a lot of work to be done in designing the landscape for a home.

#2. To have the whole plan done at least two days in advance–with all prices, all plans in order to relax the day before and to #3. Be in shape for a presentation. #4. Pricing and sales are real weak for me!

One thing David Crump said to me in the workshop on Tuesday was (and it was very perceptive of him) –Stick to it, don’t give up–>see it through.

I thought about that often last night and morning. I would finish the presentation plan no matter what. I knew I could, but it would take discipline; which I’m trying to develop.

I had never seen Chaplin speak.

Before I sat down to continue my work last night I watched some movies on “ON TV.” The first movie was a Chaplin film-much to my surprise, I had never seen Chaplin speak. It was so damned funny. I didn’t know it was Chaplin until after the film (The King of New York City). I was really taken over by him. It must have paralleled his own life, as his son was in the movie also. He did deliver some real eloquent punch lines about the American system and it was really sad, but true. It revolved around the Communist issue, which involved Chaplin quite deeply. He left America I believe because of it. I will research this. A very warm, funny man.

I could not help but be inspired by Truman’s guts, courage, honesty and conviction.

The next movie was “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry”–a story, a play about Harry S. Truman played by James Whitmore. Well done–damned inspiring. I could not help but be inspired by Truman’s guts, courage, honesty and conviction. A man of integrity. I wanted to run out and get into the political arena right then. I realize now it is rather the guts and other traits I aspire to enhance in my own life. If politics ever becomes my destiny–I give my life in service to the people. This is the only raison d’etre for politics. Great play. I highly recommend it. I must study history more. What makes such a man. I’m inspired.

Yesterday–got a call from Paris regarding an apartment we looked at in Santa Monica. Two bedrooms-dining room, big living room-French windows, Spanish style. Really nice. It will take some work. We have an interview Friday or Monday. It’s on 6th Street diagonally across from the World Culture Center. Close to Liz’s work and close for us to W.C.C. Bank. Well, whatever’s in the stars for us–that will be fine.

Got a call from school–Bonnie from Landscape Extension called regarding Neil’s class–I gave her my analysis of class. Too much in too short a time. Glad I could give input, by the way-a day before the department meeting. She was very receptive for which I was appreciative. She told me she would talk to Pat Allen regarding my input.

Next, Dad called me and reported to me he ran into a gentlemen he had been trying to contact for weeks to work for him. Best worker he ever had. We had just had a heated discussion the day prior regarding employees and his name had come up. Thanks universe for putting them together the next day. What a fortunate occurrence. Dad happened to go into a Montgomery Wards and ran into the guy. Very fortunate occurrence considering the size of this city… Dad also talked to his friend Pierre regarding his landscape crew and working together. They agreed to do some business. This will probably promote more design business for me.

Garcia had called me early Tuesday morning also and said the Hospital might need some design work. Mad appointment Thursday. What a day. Not only that, then Ann Hagihara called regarding the Youth Development Movement in Beverly Hills. She at first felt me out regarding my feelings and I reassured her that although Andrea was the figurehead at the time, I personally had already accepted total responsibility for the program in Beverly Hills. Right now I’m just not trying to make waves, with the powers that be, but instead just floating among them and scoping out the situation. I assured her that I got the same feeling as her on Andrea. She told me that Andrea really was not interested in the youth program at this time and was probably feeling guilt and pressure since she was formerly in charge of the Young Women’s Division. Whatever. I’m sure everything will work out for the best for everyone. I hope she is interested, if not we can work with the too.

After Liz got home we went out to MacDonald’s and had dinner and talked in the van about all the things going on. Something’s changing.

I’m chanting more and doing some music meditation. Getting a bit more in contact with myself. The Sexual Journal is helping me explore myself more for which I am thankful.

General ideas for Youth Development Program.

Summerhill-Freedom–Not teaching–Facilitating–Freedom–Patience–Coordinating–Finding people talented in area of youth anywhere-members or not–youth programs–non dogmatic–True Buddhism–True Freedom–Non authoritarian–non coercive–Room for youth–Library–Communication Newsletter national, local–workshops (summer courses) with real growth–not like past in NSA–Together! Planned M. Crenshaw (Actualizations leaders)–if youth needs something, let’s provide for growth–Parental cooperation–Community Service Program–Community Service Center–Sunday Daimoku Tosos–Preparation before meetings–Responsibility–Everyone–Youth Government–not benevolent Dictatorship–Youth free run of place.

Awe and respect for life.


by James C. Stephens

February 17, 1980

Illusion living on credit. Americans are people shopping on credit in relationships.

Many people haven’t accumulated currency of evolution, of experience, spontaneity, conscious love, artistry, perception, intuitiveness.

Popularization of Psychology. “A little knowledge was dangerous. Much pressure on relationships, high expectations. Marriage different purpose in older ages. Marriage in common law for property. Much pressure put on relationships. Destruction of nuclear family, decentralization of the workforce, transient society. Much pressure on area.

Instant gratification is unavailable. Neurotic episodes of falling in love starts all over again.

People end their relationships more often than not when its not the thing to do.

People want to eat the whole thing. Very few people go the extra distance. I am old fashioned in a way I like things to endure.

But not in the essence of form. Relationship didn’t end, but form, wife, Carol Augustus. Stewart Emery and Carol Augustus experienced that life didn’t have to be a war.

Don’t demand a constancy of form, just a quality of experience. Spend a lot of time in investing in currency to make the relationship.

Stewart Emery-I’m 39.  Eleven years ago everything totally unsatisfactory. Spent a year and a half doing workshops, sold business, packed suitcases-came to America-to Los Angeles because it offered more than any place else. I knew that India and Ceylon were available.

When not doing workshops, was at Vegas–find consciousness were it exists. When I was broke, played blackjack, won-blessed. Got involved in Mind Dynamics with Werner, the originator of concepts in EST.

People don’t know what it takes. What it cost not to work for a year and a half-made an investment in me. I was so scared that I started to wake up my sheets were soiled I was so frightened-no choice but to got forward and keep going forth.

Times I wondered why I left unconscious affluence. When you start to wake up its painful–I didn’t think I was without courage. Part of me just started to register for everything–$2,000. I made an investment in myself. Less experience than a year of college. Frightened we need it, and that its an admission that something is wrong with us. American Pollyanna-the dream.

What are you going to be when you grow up? How in the hell should I know? I don’t plan on it. I don’t choose–I don’t sit back. I do what I do with enthusiasm and assertiveness. Open to the currents and shifts of the wind. Somethings I really want to do, seas don’t part, so I am don’t do it. I don’t push shit up the hill. It’s irrational, in a society that trained logically.

If you look at a successful, an unsuccessful person, immaterial, or material.

Resentment is an unsatisfactory partner in a ménage à trois relationship between two partners. Resentment is a form of arrogance that you despise very much.

We are not lucky, we simply reap as we sow.

Anger has served its purpose in your life. When it was there it kept you alive, but it’s no longer an appropriate traveler that kept you on the path. How can you overcome the anger and resentment?

Joni Mitchell said, “It’s life illusions we recall, I really don’t know life at all.”

by James C. Stephens

February 15, 1980

[Note: I was in a period where I was involved in Actualizations, a human potential workshop established by Stewart Emery in 1975 who was influenced by the work of Werner Erhard, the founder of EST, where he served as its first CEO before launching out on his own. He is originally from Australia. He has since trained over 250,000 people in his seminars and worked with clients ranging from the Design team at Apple to Barnes and Noble, to the Priceless campaign at MasterCard. His ideas are incorporated in “Success Built to Last, which he co-wrote with Porras and ThompsonThis body of work sprang from the most comprehensive research project ever undertaken into what makes a great company great, how good companies become great companies, and the traits of enduringly successful leaders who build great companies.”

These are some of the notes I took during the workshops composed of those items which I personally found of interest. It may be something you want to skip or not as they are bits and pieces as recorded. JCS]

Graduate Workshop Review with Stewart Emery.

Why make marriage commitment? Why do people need that legal paper? Lot of energy on the word marriage.

Mother died at 3. Sadistic mother. Discipline–staying on the path.

Bankrupt at 20. Worked ass off. Shattered my Pollyanna attitudes. In the 60’s standard of living up; 70’s consumer index record high in history; historically record high prime rate.

Big minded people began to think they may have to do things they might not want to do. Many were ineffective. I began to explore the idea, “How to become effective?” Some didn’t want to be accountable. Great performers who have not felt great,  had a great performance even when they hate doing it. They set aside hate doing it-just do it. [I wonder if that is where Nike got their slogan-Just do it!]

Movies. In Good, Bad and the Ugly, there is a scene where Eli Wallach, the “Ugly” is in the bathroom taking a bubblebath and a gunmen barges in and tells him, I’ve been hunting you down and now… Ugly from under the bubbles shoots him a few times and then says, “When you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk.”

The lesson in life is when its time to shoot, shoot.

You get results by busting your ass. “You can have almost anything in the world you want, but probably you will have to work for it.”

Memory trainer. Easy Way to Remember, Miracle Memory Book, Memory Training Course.

Items that make a difference for me.

  1. Simplicity-throw out a lot in home. Organization contributes to your health.
  2. Commitment with wife. Sometimes in love, sometimes not, but committed.
  3. Finding people to play with. First, being more playful.
  4. One step at a time. I don’t get up early, but out of necessity am starting to in order to produce a new reality.
  5. Cut out extraneous activity and environments which are not supportive.

As long as something is not finished, the consequence of fear of being judged is postponed.

Get rid of projects that are not creating value for you.

Develop the discipline of choosing projects that fit your goals, otherwise they are a drain on your power.

Items that separate us from people.

Stop editorializing. [If someone editorializes, they express their opinion about something rather than just stating facts; mainly used in contexts where you are talking about journalists and newspapers.]

Money Consciousness. It’s hard to get what you resent.

[Definition and used in a sentence- “to feel angry because you have been forced to accept someone or something that you do not like: She bitterly resented her father’s new wife. He resents having to explain his work to other people.”]

Vague and general communication.

Confusion is the indulgence of irresponsibility, so you never get called on it.

Close jobs playfully. Results matter, not just working on it. Do well and you will be nurtured in business.

In business: Learn to stay focused.

February 16, 1980

Lack of focus is a form of irresponsibility.

Nothing clears the mind better than you will die tomorrow.

Gravity doesn’t give a shit.

Kyochi myogo-fusion of subject and object.

Stewart Emery: “Success is a journey not a destination.”

Don’t take acknowledgement personally, it ain’t.

Sometimes its okay to detest behavior and differences.

Best cure for tantrums is to ignore them.

Don’t give up your power to guilt.

Someday you have to give up illusions of what you have to be.

Surrender takes courage.

Distrust of life itself is not surrender.

Let it Be (Beatles).

Give up trying to satisfy your needs. To have friends, don’t pursue. Need to be a friend.

Darkness tries to engulf the light.

In a Great Light,

No Darkness can hide,

It runs like cockroaches,

when the light comes on.

Without Darkness, there would be no light.

“If you’re a willow tree you need to be by a river.”

Jenny had an accident at 15 years old and was in a coma for two months. “Why did this happen to me? Could have given up on life, but I didn’t.

Honnin’myo. Get on with life. Start fresh from now.

Getting sore from sitting so much in these seminars.

Lust, let it be. Next.

Keep demanding that the world conform to our view of reality, but it doesn’t.

Can’t resent that, should see that its an opportunity for you to be supportive.

For Stewart Emery –to be wherever he is, he is contributing to a supportive environment.

Some who complain the loudest, usually are doing the least. Complainers can be a disease. Need a surgeon.

Probably complaining because they are not getting their job done.

Time to be a source of a supportive environment instead of demanding one.

Aspect of enlightenment-Buddhahood.

Demand supportive environment. Took me 3 years to get boss in the workshop. Took risks.

Victim not source. Be a source of support. It’s up to us.

God made the props and cast of millions and is watching.

Be unyielding, tough, and supportive.

Enrolling people to play. Nice guys are nauseating. Graciousness is important.

Do it or don’t. The rest is caca.

Would like Mark Lovendale to share a bit about his work about Quality Longevity based upon the work of Pritikin who addressed degenerative diseases, heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes through diet and exercise. [He showed charts of lifespan per country and how diet affects that longevity].

Tough to be loving.

Keeping inspired by keeping around me those people, those things, those objects that inspire me.

Lots of healing in music. Beethoven, Mozart. These alter the state of one’s consciousness.

What gets in most people’s way is indulgence. Dungeons and Dragons.

Isolation in life in profession.

The heart is the last thing to open in safety.

Can’t serve two masters, you never do-finally its only yourself.

February 17, 1980

Illusion living on credit. America-people shopping on credit in relationships.




by James C. Stephens 

February 12, 1980

In two days I’ll be taking the Graduate Review Workshop put on by Actualizations. Lately I’ve been coming up against some major blocks and major goals and I’d like to share these with you.

#1 For example I’ve gotten into a rut of always thinking something is wrong or has to be wrong. I’ve caught myself developing extremely negative thought patterns, mostly analytical and don’t give myself room to play. That brings me to my goal. I want to learn how to play.

#2. I want to learn how to relax and be less critical of myself and others and not be afraid or uptight about making mistakes.

Also I freak when I am up against the unknown at times. And life is always the unknown. Of course things are not the way I think always. Otherwise I would not be able to recognize that there is something, some feeling worth striving for. For I have at times felt this feeling of excellence.

Oh and don’t let me forget arrogance. I like Stewart Emery’s confidence w/power yet it is humbleness at the same time. This is a quality I’d like to develop more of.

Another quality I’ve yet to fully develop which I saw at a Creative Arts workshop I attended in NSA was being with a person or being with the moment. I’m well on the road however, I feel.

Speaking of that particular workshop, I have a few comments and suggestions, feelings. By and large it was great first step. It took a lot of effort and was for the most part successful. I think I picked up some interesting perspective as far as my own growth is concerned. One: I’m concerned for NSA and yet at times it’s not a very supportive environment for me to be involved in. Two: A lot of people are highly charged with dogmatic viewpoints and have a hard time releasing these and seeing an elevated view of Nichiren’s Buddhism. Not that I have. I am just feeling that I have reached a bit higher elevation on the mountain. I see some who are really in darkness, some who are a bit higher and arrogantly look down on others, others basking in the new found sun, and others realizing we are on the same journey and must help others on the path we are blazing. If some desire to take another route up the mountain we must support them also. I tend to be critical still. I need to climb higher, become less critical, less fearful, and more playful. I am at a point where I avoided certain people of the past purposely since they were never flexible enough to allow themselves to see me differently. I didn’t want to appear snobbish. I just am trying to build my own momentum in my life and presently didn’t want to focus on those ‘black holes’ so to speak.

Al Albergate approached me regarding my interest in the Youth Division. We will be talking soon regarding this. This is the second person who has talked to me rather than me pursuing the issue. I feel that the youth movement is definitely the future of NSA and I will dedicate myself to opening up in this area and doing whatever I can for the growth of NSA.

by James C. Stephens

Wednesday, January 23, 1980

Beautiful day! Lots has happened in the past couple of weeks. I have been investing some time on my body with a chiropractor Jerry Wilhelm had recommended. I had been feeling the recurrence of a back spasm I had had several times. While chanting I felt that maybe my spinal alignment or misalignment might have something to do with my “hypoglycemia.” I also had cold feet, spasms, etc. and wondered if they had any connection to my physical condition.

Then I had my appointment with Doctor Clemens and we talked about various feelings I was having. Three vertebra’s were not in place. Specifically # __ and #___ which had a direct effect on my pancreas, which as you know secretes insulin and a second vertebrae which effects lower body circulation. Afterwards I felt quite different. He said we had to realign my hips, which would have an effect on the remainder of my spinal column. As so it went; my feet have been very warm and Liz noticed this as well as did I. My temperament has changed quite noticeably. For the first time in quite awhile I have noticed hunger pangs before my mental alarms have sounded. It is definitely worthwhile to be aware of your physical self and to help maintain it.

I must improve my diet more and (chiropractor just called me in).

Friday, February 1, 1980

I might as well start off with the disturbing dream I had this morning. The basic line was I dropped Liz off at work, she went into her office, and then came out made up real nice. She then hopped in a car with some guy. I drove up to her car, got out, told her, “Wow, don’t you look nice.” She was cold to me, very cold. I told the guy who was young, “it’s okay, we’re getting divorced anyway,  so don’t let me stop you.”  She drove his car away with him and as she left I saw her look through her rear view mirror, I waived, but was hurt very much. Later she returned and says, “hello.”  I look at her and she says yes. But he’s not as good as you at all. End of dream, but not end of feeling.

I communicated this dream to Liz. She was very interested in my reaction to the incident. She left the house very cold this morning as far as I’m concerned. But then again, I expressed my basic interpretation of the dream which was my mistrust of women. The makeup thing and the other man is something my father went through and then divorce; the intercourse and “oh you’re better syndrome is something I had gone through with “X” (before Liz and I were married or knew each other) when I caught “X” in bed with her future husband. (“X” and I at the time were engaged to each other). Both incidents were founded on mistrust. Very painful events which must have had a strong impact on my psyche and thus on my present relationship with Liz. She must have been hurt that I still had this feeling which I laid upon her.

She’s always telling me, “I’m not them.” It’s so hard for me to say, “so” to these extra marital relationships sometimes because it is so related to my self esteem and psyche and past experience.*

*[JCS-These experiences are very painful to recall. Elizabeth and I have since processed many of my failings and the dysfunctional patterns inherited from my youth as I watched my parents failed marriage and examined how they impacted my later relationships. I don’t wish this on any family or their children as divorce affects generations].

February 3, 1980

light sensitivity glassesIt’s been so hard to get around to you (journal) and letting you know what’s been going on. Here’s the list.

  1. Experience with sickness trip at school*,
  2. Onslaught of design jobs-Sarah Vaughn the singer calling our house for maintenance and design, two jobs in Mission Viejo, one in Malibu (Ford Watson);
  3. Decision to pursue apprenticeship in Landscape Architecture firm (Master-Disciple relationship in the field);
  4. Strong feelings about new direction in NSA (my ideas, not organizations); my deep respect growing for Nichiren Daishonin and Buddhism;
  5. “The Phoenix”; Nuclear Build up in Nevada and Utah;
  6. Bob and Joanne Rafkin’s divorce and ensuing problems, involvement w/ people’s internal affairs– learning lesson;
  7. Chiropractic body experience;
  8. Discussion meeting and experience of facilitating;
  9. Adrianne coming to house;
  10. Vincent moving in, cleaning and consolidating, and discarding;
  11. Experience with deaf man working at UCLA in the Ornamental Horticulture department greenhouses on planting in radioactive soil;
  12. Gary Curtis takes Actualization’s workshop,
  13. Classes, projects, wind park, special projects;
  14. Visit to Mom’s; talk with Mom; Dad’s problem’s with relationship; possibility of workshop for him;
  15. Robin Stephens to dinner; planning meeting at our home;
  16. Academy Awards movies;
  17. Rent increase $100-talk with Gerda.


*I was sitting in one of my landscape architecture evening classes at UCLA and there was flickering fluorescent light and it triggered something in my brain. I recall leaving class early and being in an altered state of consciousness. I was not taking any drugs, nor drinking. It was an environmental issue. As I drove home, I thought I was going to die and all I wanted to do was get home to my wife Elizabeth.  I have since discovered that flourescent lighting vibrates at a certain frequency and can affect sensitive persons. When I was working on my master’s degree, I would wear dark glasses to class if it was at night and flourescent’s would be used. That seemed to do the trick.

It’s called photophobia.



by James C. Stephens

January 9, 1980



A snowflake carried by a cloud

and then dropped to the earth

An individual is it

Its duration unknown

but within it lies infinite meaning.



On Wednesday, January 2, Liz and I went to Dr. Stevens. She had been bleeding steadily for the last two days unlike a period however, we were worried. We had previously had two negative pregnancy tests. We soon learned that she indeed was pregnant and had a threatened abortion, which is a natural occurrence perpetuated by the body. Sent across the street to Dr. Gary McClellan’s, he diagnosed the problem as a miscarriage and recommended a D and C, which is a dilation and scraping and cleaning of the uterus. It would be short yet would require anesthesia since it was a painful operation. So off to the hospital we went (Glendale Memorial). Strange what a day can bring, one never knows. Life is change. So we checked into the hospital and around 3:00 the anesthesiologist took her to the operating room. Then the waiting began, and thinking, chanting, and contemplating, and worrying. Around 3:45 Dr. McClellan came down and reported she was fine and that he had removed some tissue that had formed and said she looked fine structurally and saw no reason she could not carry in the future. He gave no cause for the miscarriage, just one of those things he said.

Sweets woke up about 4:30 and I met her upstairs in her room where she would spend the night. I felt her pain very much. We talked about feelings; I had class that night, she wanted me to go, and yet I found it very hard to leave her there. I cried, she cried. So near yet so far. It was a trying day, yet we both took it well.

After class when I got home, it did not seem like home without her. I chanted for awhile and moved the bed into the Gohonzon room for her comfort and to be able to watch T.V. from bed the next few days after she got home.

From Thursday to Saturday we spend a lot of time in bed reading, watching T.V., sleeping, and talking. Liz felt like a fallen woman and I assured her she was not, which she certainly is not. These things will happen, let’s just change it into our fortune or benefit. It can really damage your self esteem when something like this happens. She even felt like she betrayed me. No! You have not! I love you and only worry for your health. There will be other times. The body is miraculous. If the pregnancy was wrong the body would reject the fetus and save your bodies energy. Don’t worry.

She’s feeling much better now. This morning I woke up around 4:15 A.M. and could not sleep, so I rose and decided to cook breakfast. I had a very uneasy feeling about some energy in the air and we talked about this over breakfast. I thought about the battles of wills in a human being and specifically over murder. It was not an easy subject to talk about, it chilled me. But I said we all contain a murderous, criminal, philanthropist, teacher, parent, lover in us. When people refuse to see this they refuse to see themselves. All men are brothers.

Anyway, during Gongyo I got tremendous chills like some entity was with me. At first I was frightened and then while I chanted and meditated on this, I felt strongly about the entity which had been born in Liz’s womb and which had died. I felt some energy crying out for recognition and during Gongyo I prayed for that entity and its happiness. Don’t worry I said, you did not come to us in vain. I felt immediately a warm feeling inside and almost tears. I felt in touch with a near possibility in life. I denied fear and reached out towards understanding.

I told Liz and she felt the same way. I’m not crazy am I? No. I understand and feel the same.



by James C. Stephens

Sunday, November 25, 1979

My Search~Journal of Buddhist Study

Bodhi Tree Bookstore wall

On occasion I would stop by the Bodhi Tree Bookstore and peruse various sections and sometimes copy passages which I found interesting. It was a New Age, Buddhist, watering hole of sorts.  

Morning Gongyo. I determined to do a study, to deepen my faith and become closer to Nichiren Daishonin’s spirit. This will be the record of my search. I will record questions, doubts, dilemmas, enigmas, quotations, solutions, thoughts and feelings on many areas.

[JCS/2018. Well, it started out well, but keeping a separate book which was not in chronological order proved to be a short journey. I found that it was easier to include those thoughts and questions, quotations, poems in the context of my day to day life. I now keep a commonplace which is a chronological recording of what I do on a daily basis with occasional notes and diary entries interspersed throughout. What I did though discover in typing out these old entries is that in my reading as in my note taking during lectures, that I frequently have a silent dialogue with the writer or speaker as I make notes. You’ll notice that as I jot down passages from Alan Watts, the Episcopal priest turned Zen Buddhist and occasionally interact.]

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, 1962.


Radiation-genetic mutation.

Why are people not still reading and feeling towards their environment? What is needed?

Dr. Elton: “We need the basic knowledge of animal populations and the relations to their surroundings that will “promote” an even balance and damp down the explosive power of outbreaks and new invasions.”

Primitive farmer-diversified crops. Now no companion planting. Pest thrives on alfalfa or the elm beetle.

Question #1: What is the meaning of life? Are we any different than animals? Why live? These were questions asked by a friend (Vincent Wong) after seeing the movie Nichiren. I’ve asked the same questions, too.

“Plucking chrysanthemums along the East fence,

Gazing in silence at the southern hills;

The birds flying home in pairs

Through the soft mountain air of dusk–

In these things there is a deep meaning,

But when we are about to express it,

We suddenly forget the words.”

~A Chinese poet

The Wisdom of Insecurity by Allen Watts’ chapter on “The Transformation of Life (pg. 115-118).

“So long as the mind is split, life is perpetual conflict, tension, frustration, and disillusion. Suffering is piled on suffering, fear on fear, and boredom on boredom. The more a fly struggles to get out of the honey, the faster he is stuck. Under the pressure of so much strain and futility, it is no wonder at all that men seek release in violence and sensationalism, and in the reckless exploitation of their bodies, their appetites, the material world, and their fellow man. What this must add to the necessary and unavoidable pains of existence is incalculable.

“But the undivided mind is free from this tension of trying always to stand outside of oneself and to be elsewhere than here and now. Each moment is lived completely, and there is thus a sense of fulfillment and completeness. The divided mind comes to the dinner table and pecks at one dish after another, rushing on without digesting anything to find one better than the last. It finds nothing good, because there is nothing which it really tastes.

When, on the other hand, you realize that you live in, that indeed you are this moment now, and no other, that apart from this there is no past and no future, you must relax and taste to the full, whether it be pleasure of pain.”

I think that sometimes future goals or past experiences will help one through a terribly painful period. This is where Zen thinking is limited in scope.

Watt’s continues, “At once it becomes obvious why this universe exists, why conscious beings have been produced, why sensitive organs, why space, time, and change. The whole problem with justifying nature, of trying to make life mean something in terms of its future, disappears utterly. Obviously it all exists for this moment.”

I’ve often thought about this fact-if the world were destroyed tomorrow, many people’s lives would be in vain because they neglected to enjoy (appreciate) the life they have.

“It is a dance, and when you are dancing you are not intent on getting somewhere. You go round and round, but not under the illusion that you are pursuing something, or fleeing from the jaws of hell.”

“How long have the planets been circling the sun? Are they getting anywhere, and do they go faster and faster to arrive? How often has the spring returned to the earth? Does it come faster and fancier every year, to be sue to be better than last spring, and to hurry its way to the spring that shall outspring all springs?”

“The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance. Like music, also, it is fulfilled in each moment of its course. You do not play a sonata in order to reach the final chord, and if the meanings of things were simply in their ends, composers would write nothing but finales. It might, however be observed in passing that music specifically characteristic of our culture is progressive in some respects, and does at times seem to be decidedly on its way to a future climax. But when it gets there, it does not know what to do with itself. Beethoven, Brahms, and Wagner were particularly guilty of working up to colossal climaxes and conclusions, and then blasting away at the same chord over and over again, ruining the moment by being reluctant to leave it.”

“When each moment becomes an expectation, life is deprived of fulfillment, and death is dreaded for it seems that here expectation must come to an end. While there is life there is hope–and if one lives on hope, death is indeed the end.”

One lives in faith-there is no end. (JCS)

“But to the undivided mind, death is another moment, complete like every moment, and cannot yield its secret unless lived to the full-

“And I laid me down with a will.”*

Death is the epitome of the truth that in each moment we are thrust into the unknown. Here all clinging to security is compelled to cease, and wherever the past is dropped away and safety abandoned, life is renewed. Death is the unknown in which all of us lived before birth.”

“Nothing is more creative than death, since it is the whole secret of life. It means that the past must be abandoned, that the unknown cannot be avoided, that the “I” cannot continue, and that nothing can ultimately be fixed. When a man know this..”

Knowing, being gut level feeling with his heart and soul, not just intellectually understanding.

“…he lives for the first time in his life. By holding his breath, he loses it. By letting go, he finds it.”

“As long as you do not know how to die and come to life again, you are but a sorry traveler on this dark earth.” ~Goethe, Westöstlicher Divan ”

..My questions-What is faith? What is belief?

Watt’s Wisdom of Insecurity (page 148, 149).

“Christian concept of surrender. Its own hidden answer to the problem in the idea that man can only surrender himself “in Christ.” For “Christ” stands for the reality that there is no separate self to surrender. To give up “I” is an false problem. “Christ” is the realization that there is no separate “I”.

Bible- “I do nothing of myself…I and the Father are one.. Before Abraham was, I am.”

Freedom- “If there is any problem at all, it is to see that in this instant you have no “I” to surrender. You are completely free to do this at any moment, and nothing whatever is stopping you. This is our freedom.

“You are your fate, and that there is no one to master it or to be mastered, to rule or to surrender.”

“Civilization is ready to fly apart by sheer centrifugal force. In such a predicament the self-conscious type of religion to which we have so long been accustomed is no cure, but part of the disease.”

“The greater the scientist the more he is impressed with his ignorance of reality, and the more he realizes that his laws and labels, descriptions and definitions are products of his own thoughts.”

Often the lecturer who finds it easy to put his theory into words is lecturing people who are living life far beyond the lecturer’s capacity, yet can not put it into words or do not care to.

“To be interesting, you must be interested.”

“A window in one’s mind whose name is not ignorance, but wonder.”

“But the open mind knows that the most minutely explored territories have not really been known at all, but only marked and measured a thousand times over. And the fascinating mystery of “what” it is is that we mark and measure must in the end “tease us out of thought” until the mind forgets to circle and to procure its own processes and becomes aware that to be at this moment is pure miracle.


“The highest to which man can attain is wonder; and if the prime phenomenon makes him wonder, let him be content; nothing higher can it give him, and nothing further should he seek for behind it; here is the limit.”

“In such Wonder there is not hunger, but fulfillment. Almost everyone has known it, but only in rare instants when the startling beauty or strangeness of a scene drew the mind away from its self pursuit, (viscous circle) and for a moment made it unable to find words for the feeling.

“Ye suffer from yourselves,

None else compels,

None other hold you that ye live and die.

And when upon the wheel,

and hug and kiss

its spokes of agony,

Its tire of tears, it nave of nothingness.” (End of Wisdom of Insecurity).

The Broken Wings by Kahlil Gibran

Story of a young man’s and woman’s love for each other and the fire that keeps our spirits alive.


“Come, let us be strong towers before the tempest. Let us stand like brave soldiers before the enemy and face his weapons. If we are killed, we shall die as martyrs; and if we win, we shall live as heroes. Braving obstacles and hardships is nobler than retreat to tranquility.”

Speaking of love: “I responded, “This emotion which we fear and which shakes us when it passes through our hearts is the law of nature that guides the moon around the earth and the sun around God.”

“Thus, the appearance of things changes according to the emotions, and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.”

“Every beauty and greatness in this world is created by a single thought or emotion inside a man.”

“There is something greater and purer than what the mouth utters. Silence illuminates our souls, whispers to our hearts, and brings them together. Silence separates us from ourselves, makes us sail the firmament of spirit and brings us closer to Heaven; it makes us feel that bodies are no more than prisons and that this world is only a place of exile.”


  • *This is the New Living Translation of the passage Allan Watts was quoting from the Gospel of John 10:18 in which the Messiah Jesus said of his death on the cross and His resurrection,  “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”