by James C. Stephens


Thursday, December 20, 1979

Imagineer Press November clouds over Santa Monica Bay

November Rain Storm over Santa Monica Bay – Immaginare Press

A cold front moved in today. Snow clouds off the ocean. Cool winds blowing through tall eucalyptus, silhouetted against a dramatic sky. Oh! what an exhilarating feeling I get. That sunset, one agrees to one day capture deep within one’s soul.

Change~that’s life. Things don’t remain the same. Ill feelings, they pass. Sometimes they hang on, only if they become an issue within your own mind. Let go and I discover life’s drama opening new vistas to be explored.

Yesterday, a new determination in my life arose. Youth, the torchbearers of this age. I am a youth. The finger of destiny points at me. The age, the decade of the eighties is now upon us. The United States has lost much of its integrity and courage. I am part of this flow of history. What can I contribute? The prime of my youth, 28-40. I will become a standard bearer for Buddhism in this age. Action. As I previously determined starting January 1, 1980 I will consistently chant 2 hours a day for one year. I will use the General’s strategy-The Lotus Sutra. From daimoku will come everything. That is my only strategy. Step by step.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

As with my business I need not be anxious. One step at a time. Tonight, Neil Weikel called me up and said he needed my projects tonight. At that point which was 7 o’clock I had two projects to go. An orthographic projection-which I finished by 8:15. (I commend myself, it looked rather well for a rush job) and a profile on a contour and a french curve terrace and pool, which I finished by 9:45. Liz and I dropped it off at Neils over on Ashland and had a rather nice talk with Neil. He’s an extremely interesting and personable fellow. His apartment serves as his office and home. Piano, ~ Brahms, Copeland, Saint Saens, Mussorgsky. We talked music~he used to sing classical up in Seattle. Passed through Montana in 1953 with a bunch of friends. Must be in his 40’s. Doesn’t show it at all. I feel compassion for him as a friend. His house decor showed definitely dedicated to his field of Landscape Architecture. I was a bit judgmental, but not in a negative sense. He at first, I feel was uncomfortable about his environment, but he as an individual far outshines it in his tremendous sense of compassion, genuineness and warm sociability. I enjoyed our short conversation. He seemed to warm up as we talked and showed us some of his music he had collected, and told us of his Russian musical score. He and Liz and I talked about memory~he told us about a sub-durum blood clot he had on his brain as a result of a childhood injury at the age of 5. He had no memory previous to 5. But remembers everything since. I talked of my experience with being gassed at the old NSA building on the beach.

Of course we both admitted frankly that we couldn’t use those events as excuses. We got a slight laugh out of that.

Good practice at fast drafting. I feel proud of myself even though it was not “A” work. Anyway, I fell much relieved and proud of the fact that I COMPLETED two courses. Completion is the name of the game for me. After all the past fiascoes I have been through.

Well, I must get a little “shot eye” since I have to be up at 5:30 to drive Liz to meet her ride to Downey at 6:30. Earl White give her a ride for the next 5 days. She has a trunking school for her switching job at the phone company.

We go through our off and on’s in our relationship. Last night when I was being affectionate, she said well we’d better get to sleep. Right in an awkward way and moment. Sometimes we feel separate, sometimes not. Anyway, it is temporary. Right. Relationships do take work. There is something not quite right, however I can’t put my finger on it.

It may be my new determination has put some strain on our relationship. Possibly she resents me being too “faithy.” This will just have to work out. I do have the tendency to be that way and it is a definite problem in that one becomes too dogmatic, religious, missionary type. It’s a definite drag! Sometimes I feel separate from Liz. It’s not a good feeling, but of course at other times I feel extremely close and loving.

She has become a union steward. I’m glad of this. I am happy to see her develop other interests besides work. She does read quite a bit and is becoming much more attractive and interesting. I hate to sound like a judge here. But I am such a critical son of a bitch at times. This is a bad trait in a sense, but I am dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and feel I would be robbing my partner if I did not support the beauty she does indeed possess. She has been baking cookies~ and is very good at it. I’m proud, but not always in love with Liz and myself too. That’s the true battle.

Notes: Idea for changing name of Gadfly to “Phoenix.”

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by James C. Stephens


Tuesday, November 27, 1979

Frustration would have been yesterday’s caption on my diary if I had written it. No doubt about it. Yet this morning I again am in contact with that tremendous world of conviction, confidence and freshness. How silly I am at time, or how willy nilly life is. I’ve been swayed by at least a couple of the eight winds. Yet I feel like a young sapling able to learn a lesson from the wind.

It is not the beautiful curtains, yard, paintings on the wall that makes a person happy. Yesterday I felt closed in by my environment, desirous of escaping. This morning again I feel boundless, free as the wind, as fresh as the sun in the new day. As I look up the sun greeted me with memories of Nichiren. The sky is dark and overcast yet the sun manages to burn through. It is never defeated, but burns even more brightly against the gloomy skies. I too am determined to become a beacon for all.

A great man is not held back by his own preconceptions, but can change and alter his course when he recognizes a better path.

I love my parents. I love my father. Yet he does not know what he desires to do. I must be firm. To become wealthy is not to pursue wealth. Rather it is a spiritual state. On Sado Nichiren declared even in the midst of suffering that he was the happiest man or the richest man in Japan.

Starting the first of the year I will start my business. However it will not be a conventional start. First, I desire to earn money for the propagation of Buddhism. It has been my excuse in the past not to give gokuyo because I didn’t know where it went as far as NSA. This was understandable. What is regrettable is my failure to see that the temple is a direct link to Nichiren Daishonin and that I have failed to lend my support. I (we) will begin as soon as possible.

I feel no real negativity towards NSA as I did in the past, however at present I feel NST is more open and understandable to myself. The layman’s organization is in a period of flux.

I am convinced 1980 is going to be challenging beyond my expectations. I am also determined to see my effort bear fruit this year (1980).

Tuesday, December 4, 1979

Record High for this date of 91 degrees.

Jean Claude KillyRon called tonight from Bend. He and Pam are doing fine. Ron is pretty busy with coordinating his race program at Bachelor. He sounds quite happy. I’m so glad things are going better for him. He said he’s the best skier on the mountain. He’s already beat the new Frenchman in a series of races. (The Frenchman was on the French “B” team). Ron and I talked about his attitude towards his racers. He said many will never move on to competitive careers so it is a program helping kids build their character. He however does have some pretty hot material. A couple of his guys are at the National Camp at Gunnison, Colorado this week. Ron also said there is so much ski politics up there, but for the most part he stays out of them. He is now also the Rossignol On the Hill Rep.

(Liz) Sweets got her hair cut today. At first it was hard to get used to, but now I like it. Basically, all I have been up to the last several days are drafting projects. (When people ask why my printing is so neat, I tell them mechanical drafting and hours and hours of practice and the excellent teaching of Neil Weikel).

Liz has been having some stomach type problems. Hasn’t had her period recently. Pregnant? Who knows?

Sweets and I went to Bodhi Tree Bookstore Friday night. Picked up a few good finds. Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XXXV and XXVI: Questions of King Milinda; Korzebsky: Science and Sanity; Watts, Psychotherapy East and West, Wisdom of Insecurity and last but not least the Kama sutra.

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“X” called Monday night. Talked about movement. Idea of a support group~West Coast Movement with about 250-350 supporters. Network-Gadfly important. Let’s get started.

Talked to Scott Ferguson-receptive of the idea. Ken Tapola-definite yes. Out of Navy now working at Dunlop as a machinist.

Worried about “X.” I’m afraid he’s not tackling his own personal life and goals. This could be dangerous for him and his family. I sincerely hope he is not just avoiding his own reality. I’m just concerned as a friend.

Thought about Walter Moeck tonight. He used to be the Brass Band conductor. Mike Lisagor gave him a terrible time. I will never forgive him for that. Must write Walter a letter! (Walter Moeck was the summer conductor of the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra and was my clarinet teacher. He was strict, but kind. May he rest in peace).

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Monday, December 17, 1979

Hi Diary! How are you this fine day! I hope you’re well rested and happy.

Last week I took Liz to the Doctor. Gary said she wasn’t pregnant as of yet, but gave her a week and said to bring in an urine specimen and they’d run another test. Since the day of the test she hasn’t been feeling nauseated. I’m happy for that is a lousy feeling.

Saturday night we had a Christmas party and you know all the preparation that takes. Liz made over 100 invites and I framed pictures, helped clean the house, etc., etc., etc.

Liz bakes lots of cookies (They were excellent by the way and made a superb spaghetti. There was lot of food and a whole ton of people.

People starting arriving around 4:00. First, Adrianna, Liz’s sister. She’s such a big help! She helped out tremendously. Next around 5:30, X. He started out drunk and as the night wore grew intolerable for many of the guests. He is quite an unusual character. Harmless, but with a build of 6’5″ and with a laugh so loud you’d better put up shoring around your house before he comes over. In any case the party was an interesting and festive experience nonetheless. I’ll get this out now. We had been working on an idea together as far as what can be done to help support the organization. He has been pushing to form a support group of 200-350 people who can offer suggestions to the Executive planning board from an organized power group. I had my reservations. #1. I have and still question X’s true intent at this point. I do not get the true feeling he is committed to this serious goal. I feel, and this is my intuitive feeling, that he is using the organization as an escape from his own reality. His situation at home is not conducive to running a reform movement. His wife is not well, finances are in really bad shape, they have children, beautiful at that, and he has several misconceptions about the faith. His Gongyo is very poor, health poor and drinking a severe problem. Now this is not all. His business dealings with people has left several people in highly critical situations. His construction business left one family without a kitchen, etc. and near a divorce after spending $15,000. He is a man of talk, not action. It is the last party we can afford him to attend. It is not however the end of our friendship. He needs support and what I can offer, I will. Besides him; Liz and I feel very much love towards his wife who is a tremendous women of the highest caliber. She is under much stress at present and her health is poor. I wish her all the best.

Bob Rafkin stopped by before work and dropped off a pie which was really nice of him. We talked briefly. His career is doing better once again. His divorce proceedings will occur in February.

Others who made it: Darlene Benson, Steve and Ronalee Haggard, Chris Scott, sure was good to see him, he was hobbling on a cane, having trouble with the knee he hurt in Rugby. He wanted to know what was happening with the literary group. I told him everyone but me sort of petered out. He’s still interested, so we’ll start again soon. He said his house could also facilitate such a meeting.

Vincent Wong, Michael Roquemore (we had a good chat and he had a fine talk with Linda Valles, his former roommate for many years); Michael also expressed an interest in Judy. I forgot to mention Steve H remarked on my Alan Watts books and his own interest in Zen Buddhism. I found this to be exciting. Steve and Ronalee and Liz and I get along well together and have a good relationship. Steve and I played racquetball week before last. It was my first time and I did quite well. Last week I spent many hours drafting away. I worked through one night and didn’t get to sleep until 9:30 AM.

Who else came? Lets’s see, there was Jeff Silver, Linda Dekowski-very nice gal who is a friend of Jeff’s, Devorah Sorrell, Pat Kremer, Guy Boudoin, Katie Newman-we talked business-she’s a wonderful woman. Bruce Barnes and Maggie DeLux-they’re engaged to be married, Ric and Bethany Coleman, Les Steinberg and his mother Lillian, Kelly, Shawna, Judy Gold and Glen-we had a great talk and it was so nice to see her. Glen is really jealous, so we really had no time to talk. Beth Minton and her boyfriend Michael came by, Karen Okata and her friend, Kate and her brother Randy Schindler; Ford Watson brought over a whole lot of food, very generous of him, Dion Dow and Nancy, Steve Seigal, Allan, Ron Kolman, Bobbie and Joey Gluskin, Alice and Sully, Jane Murad, Brent Wilson, Jason and Mary Jane Kovatch, Ed Nakata, Michael Hayes, Linda and Victor Valles and friend Sal, Thomas and Zadith Fresquez, Russ Isobe, John DeGomez, and Donald Hodges.

I stayed up til 3:30 talking with Jeff, Linda, Katie, Pat, Allen and Steve Seigal. Then from 3:30 to 6:30 cleaned up the house to surprise Sweets who’d retired to bed. We slept most of the day and enjoyed every moment of it.

Sunday evening we went out to a Moroccan Restaurant called Dharma Greg. It was a gathering with Les and Jeanette and her friends, Ric and Bethany, Elaine Geeler and her lawyer friend. Food was nowhere as good as at the Moon of Tunise and the atmosphere was less than comfortable-I suppose it was also the company. We did not enjoy ourselves quite frankly.

I’ve been listening to some really funny W.C. Fields cuts and also to some famous bloopers, they’re great!

Anyway, Goodnight.

 

by James C. Stephens


Sunday, November 25, 1979

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Aunt Lil and Bel, two sisters, both retired attorneys on a final visit to Los Angeles.

Thursday spent a few hours with Liz’s Aunts from Israel. Bel, Lil and Doris at Aunt Sharon’s. Adrianne, Ruthie, Sharon, Rebecca, and Jerry were also there with Liz and I.

Left, went and picked up Vincent and had Turkey Thanksgiving Dinner with Mom and Sully. Carol, Candy, Chris and Steve and Jeffrey their son were also there. Chris is very cold. I feel sorry for her. Her beauty is very shallow although she looks very much so, she is not any fun. I feel very sorry for her.

Sully is 61 as of Wednesday last week. We all had a few good laughs over his talk about cockroaches in his peanuts, all in all a pleasant dinner and company. Sully is a fine person. Mom would be making a mistake losing or moving away from him, as far as I know.

Who s killing the great chefs of europe film posterFriday, Liz and I went to the Valley. Mostly loafed at Reiner’s. Francis gave us the “cooks tour.” (We were the gardener’s for Rob and Penny Reiner, who at the time were married and had a home in Encino. Rob was “Meathead” on All in the Family and Penny Marshall was Laverne on the Laverne and Shirley show). We had a pleasant conversation about odds and ends. Friday night we spent a really  (trying to get away from using this word) pleasant, lovely evening at home. Watched a hilarious movie, “Who’s Killing the Great Chef’s of Europe.” Very funny and also heart warming, exciting and sad. Next James Taylor in Concert. We felt like young lovers, who had just met. That was so warm for the both of us. At times you discover someone new in the person you love and think you know so well. It’s quite exciting.

 

Saturday~Bought the Aunts some Caswell-Massey Cologne for presents. Slept late cuddled.

Nichiren the filmSaw movie “Nichiren” at Toho LaBrea Theater. Liz cried many times. I was inspired by the movie. What a great heritage and founder we have. I must not let him down.

Vincent came with us. He asked many questions about Nichiren and the religion.

We all went out to Asuka Restaurant for Japanese food and walked through Westwood afterwards, picked up a Cole Porter Record for Sully’s belated birthday present. Then home. Talked for a time about Buddhist philosophy with Vincent. I must improve my delivery of ideas. More clarity. Must develop my own style.

Spa, study and visited Aunts at Sharon’s. Talked of many things. Aunts want us to write once a month. Aunt Bel was mad at us for them for giving them presents. None-the-less they liked them.

Home~felt a knot on inside of my leg. Called Gary (Dr. Gary Stevens). He told m to come on by. Liz and I did. He said it was surface infection. Gave me antibiotics.

Starting my study on Buddhism and Times. Bought another record book. Will read, record, and develop my understanding of Nichiren’s Buddhism and Nichiren. His confidence inspires me. I hold the same goal. New determination is growing inside of me.

~JCS

by James C. Stephens


November 18, 1979 

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“Mom and Sully took Liz and I to our first Laker’s game today, and what a first time! Sully knows the owner of the Phoenix Suns Richard Block and Richard Block quite often gives Sully his tickets. Our four seats were right on the court. The Lakers played the Indiana Pacers. Today was evidently one of the Laker Girl’s (cheerleaders) first debutes. We watched Kareem Abdul Jabar and Magic Johnson, Nixon, Wilkes, etc., play some fancy ball. It was great entertainment, and I was so happy to watch Liz yelling and enjoying herself.

Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabaar

We all had a drink in the Forum Club also. Definitely a nice benefit of being invited. Afterwards Sully and Mom took Liz and I out to dinner at Petracelli’s restaurant on Sepulveda. Pretty good food. Did you know that Sully was raised in a family of 22 children? Unreal! When Sully said he had dozens of brothers he wasn’t kidding. His brother died last year at the age of 93. Sully will be 61 on Wednesday, November 21st.

Liz and I also were heir to two tickets to a Charity dinner and dance at General Lee’s in Chinatown given by the Young Chinese Women’s Association. Katie Newman couldn’t make it so she called and asked us if we would like to go. Sure. It was a very nice occasion, nine course meal (very, very tasty at that) and Liz and I got to do a little disco dancing. Afterwards we dropped by Bruce’s on Shoreline. He announced to us his engagement to Maggie DeLux, super nice gal.

Saturday, Liz, Vincent, Kirk (Cal Tech grad student) and I went to the Spa. Kirk showed us more about how to use the weight machines than any instructor ever had.

Friday night was Liz’s last night at Grandview GTE school for equipment repair, so I checked out Santa Monica Group meeting. Gave Pat Shaw a ride. The meeting was a complete farce. Also saw and met this Tim (Thomas) Payne from North Hollywood. His slide show on Buddhism was degrading and very sloppy. I was not impressed. The gent can not take criticism, even constructive at that. Liz and I went out afterwards to the Magic Pan. Food about a 3.

Saturday night we witnessed a crime. Mexicans in a beige Dodge van ahead of us got out and batted out all the windows of a Toyota and drove away. I, well we went through a big dilemma of whether to report it or not since we did not get the license number. At first we feared reprisal (we lived directly across the street where we would normally have turned into our driveway, but drove on past so they did not associate our green Westfalia VW quite recognizable with our address as witnesses), but realized that you couldn’t allow fear to run or ruin one’s life. Sort of like the Nazguls, the ringwraiths in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It is not fair to the criminals to let them get a way with thinking life is so simple. Also cause and effect. Hopefully someday if we need protection we will be repaid by the universe. Not that we expect it. I now realize the fear of reprisal syndrome you hear New Yorker’s talk of. It is definitely a battle of justice and evil. One that takes courage to fight. However, even though we reported the crime I believe the victim’s probably did not. It seems it is an in-house thing between Mexicans. (In retrospect, I could be horribly wrong). It’s a shame their dealings tend to be so violent. I dare say it will be a cold day in hell before you find me hanging around places like East L.A. Unfortunately gang violence is now at our back door literally.

(Note: Well, that all changed when I became a Christian. I spent time in Watts with an ex Hell’s Angel arms dealer “Wolf” (Steve Johnson) at a deserted crack house restoring it for recovering addicts, and led Julian my neighbor, who used to be a hit man for the Mexican Mafia to the LORD. He had tried to drown his troubles in the bottle, and was miraculously saved, filled with the Holy Spirit and sober for the first time he could remember. His family history was traced back to Pancho Villa, the notorious bandito. When he passed away, it was requested I assist in his funeral service in East LA. I absolutely loved the guy. When our family suffered a retaliatory eviction, he said, “Do you want me to burn the place down? I will.’ I told him, no, as Christians we must forgive, but I appreciate your loyalty. He did a lot of excellent work on our home and furniture).

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The Iranian situation is a sad disgrace to the human race. A “religious” leader Ayatollah Khomeini  endorsing international blackmail and the takeover of a U.S. Embassy in Iran. It is unfortunate we have the Shah of Iran in our country, but the manner in which the Iranians have chosen to handle the situation is terrorist and unforgivable. It is the action of an irrational animal and may the universe see the safety of the American hostages. Iranians by the 100’s of thousands have been demonstrating against the U.S. Government and are now emphasizing that it is not against American citizens, but the American Government. Unfortunately their program doesn’t fit, since it is American citizens that are being held hostage. I can understand their hate of the Shah, but Jesus, what terrible tactics. We shall not back down and we shall not forget. The Iranians are acting like barbarians. What a terrible name they are making for good Iranians around the world.

Goodnight.

P.S. Couple of other items-Aunt Lil, Bel and Doris here from Israel. Liz, Adri, and I had dinner Friday in October with them. Very nice meeting them. They love Adri and LIz very much and we spent a great deal of time talking about past experiences. I was fascinated.

Liz and I made a tape the following day of some of her past experiences.

Had a Pot Luck Discussion meeting at our house. Bob Rafkin and Debra, Scott and Michele, Vincent, Lydia, Bruce and Maggie, Vic and Marta, Katie Newman, Mike Roquemore, Darlene Benson, Liz and I.

It was an interesting experience. However not much Buddhist dialogue transpired.

Vic and Marta and Eric spent the night. Vic, Marta and I had a meaningful conversation late into the night.

Had a dinner at our house for Sharon, Ruthie, Rebecca, Jane Murad, Liz, Adri and I. Okay. Sharon needs to loosen up definitely.

 

 

 

 

by James C. Stephens


Tuesday, November 6, 1979

Well, well, well. Deep hole in the ground right?! Lots has transpired since I last wrote you. Right now I’m sitting in Room 339 of St. Charles Hospital in Bend, Oregon with Dad. Sunday he entered the hospital and was having tremendous difficulty breathing. At first they though it was a heart problem. Then after x-rays and Dad’s own body wisdom they discovered 4 clots in his lungs. He was in intensive care on Sunday and Monday. Sunday afternoon-Ron called me in Los Angeles at about 11:30. At 1:40 I was on a United 727 to Portland. I arrived in Portland at 4:20 to the tune of “Singing in the Rain.” Hah. I caught the Tri-Mountain Bus downtown for 45 cents and was very lucky to meet two sisters-Debbie and Missy, who showed me to the Trailways station and prior to that showed me around the City Center Parks. Anywhere downtown the bus is free and no cars are allowed in designated areas. The fountains are really beautiful.

Wednesday, November 7, 1979

Dad is doing a lot better. He’s out of intensive care and in a room with a real nice view of the surrounding area. Tuesday I spent most of the day with him. He had a bad pain in his side on Tuesday morning at 3 a.m., but has felt less pain since then. He said he hasn’t felt any pain today. His Dr. Hurlass said that his lungs sound better and that the x-rays show 3 masses of blood clot present, but that they look better. He increased the blood thinning agent more and today took him off oxygen. Dad was telling me that he has had this shortness of breath all summer and that during his hunting trip he sensed something was really wrong. He cut his trip short in Montana and by the time he was in Bend he was feeling pretty bad. Saturday night his breathing was really short and he was was gasping for breath and looked white as a sheet. After quite a little talking they got Dad to go into the Hospital. The next morning Ron had the lump under his chin operated on. He was nervous as a leaf. He’s a real rambunctious guy. The first day he was in some pain from the anesthesia and then the second he was up doing laps around the hospital building. The lump was not a tumor, but an infection from foreign matter determined to be plant material. Possibly wood. It formed such a lump around the foreign particle that antibiotics couldn’t fight the problem prior to the operation. It was difficult operation and surgery took over an hour. Since the Dr. had to move many nerves including auditory, and other sensory nerves. It was a successful operation still the doctor had to remove one salivary gland, but said he would not have a dry mouth and the other 3 glands could do the job.

Back to Portland. It was quite educational to see the fountains there. Debbie and Missy showed me all the neat parks.

One was a grass amphitheater which was pleasant looking.

The Bus stops were covered in plexiglass and provided protection from the rain.

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Can’t wait to get rid of the sore throat I’ve caught up here. I guess sleeping on the floor at Ron’s, the rainy weather, the cold and dry heat hasn’t helped matters at all.

Liz and I talk twice a day. She misses me a lot. I miss Liz that goes without saying. I can understand that since its lonely being home alone. I’m busy enough not be feeling too lonely. Dad and Ron keep me going, and also visiting with my Mom and calling people and meeting all the nurses and Doctors and other people. Soon, I’ll be home.

 

by James C. Stephens


September 18, 1979

Today makes 1 year and seven months Liz  and I have been married. She really is a tremendous woman.

Many times I have wanted to pick up a pen and write, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do so. For the past several weeks I have been caught in a terrible rut. I have felt a great deal of anxiety over my plans for now and the future and have been unnecessarily crucifying myself. Yesterday had to be one of the worst days. You know the kind of day when you are so uncaring, you don’t give a damn about anything. Nothing seems to penetrate that condition. Late last night I cried myself to sleep. I was extremely discouraged and my back was burning and hurt.

I think crying is at times a great release of pressure one carries around inside. I felt much better in the morning. If I was to analyze my situation I would look at several factors. I have made a strong determination which I typed up and it reads, “By 1985 January 1, I will be worth $5 million dollars. This I will accomplish by dedicating myself to the study of Landscape Architecture for the next three years at UCLA night school and getting to know as many professionals in the field as possible. By building myself a supportive environment based on my Buddhist practice to the Gohonzon. Being the master of money, using money as a tool to build my dreams into reality. Not to be ruthless, but extremely confident, persistent, and humane. To develop my worldly wisdom and mercy. For Liz and to be extremely and for our family to be also. Radiant, creative and infectious.

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Plan to make $2 million through Travel Tapes idea or any variation. Use this fortune to start Pioneer Design Landscaping. Put together a dream team of same mind and determination. Designers, Landscape Architects, maintenance division, landscape, interior and design nursery. To have a 5 acre Ranch home in Los Angeles County. No time for robbers and thieves. Greenhouse developments within and horses. A nursery complex in an ideal area manned by experts with development consciousness. Be Santa Monica’s landscape architecture firm. Make Santa Monica into a virtual paradise. This is the start. Redesign Santa Monica’s present mall by 1984. Firmly established company. Capital tied up in land, some cash for investment.

Development of Nichiren Shoshu of America. Become a cohesive agent between all elements in NSA. Founder of Los Angeles Philosophical newspaper called “Gadfly.” Ability to lecture on Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism and bring it to life for myself and other people.

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My family’s enlightenment.

James Carlton Stephens

September 4, 1979

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#1. I have made a career determination which takes a lot of work.

#2. I have made a determination to build a supportive environment. This is causing me some pain. Many of my supposed friends are not calling or coming around even after I made all the calls and causes. I don’t feel bad now however. Yesterday I did, today I don’t. How exciting I can make more new friends.

#3. I determined to transform myself and build a supportive environment.

Liz and I are basically remodeling the interior of our house. We have cut down on a lot of stuff. This has resulted in a changed feeling of living in our home. A lot of old articles with past feeling we have now let go of. We do indeed feel better for it.

[JCS. Early minimalists].

#4. Some of my friends I do not desire to be around or rather not to pursue at this time. Basically because they are sedentary, thinkers only and this does not facilitate me getting active and changing.

#5. Liz and I made a determination while on our trip up the coast to learn how to have a good time.

I desire friends who also call me up and suggest let’s do something, such as Scott and Michele.

Liz and I were going to lecture, but individually decided that that particular environment was not conducive to our growth at this time.

Sunday through Thursday are to be treated as worknights and weeknights I must watch my activities, “Time is money.” I prefer to use time for value.

I feel again my determination is growing. Action is fuel for engines. Action breeds energy. I know very well that inaction breeds lethargy.

Forward.

I just finished reading Zorba the Greek by Kazantzakis. I was deeply moved by the transformation of one individual from an intellectual who doddled his life away writing, into a man living his life with gusto, pursuing life as an adventure to be lived.

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Our VW Westfalia camper bus.

We had an interesting vacation. Spent first night and day at Vic and Marta Adints in Oxnard. Had a tremendous conversation about Buddhism and life. Next night spent the night at our old stopping spot, the rest stop by Goleta. Next day, Sunday morning we had breakfast in Solvang. Don’t try the Danish sausage, its terrible. Bought some Danish Butter cookies, went through those on trip. Camped at Pismo, relaxed, read. Onward. Aunt Rose and Uncle Moses in San Mateo. Slept outside of their place on street as we didn’t want to wake them. Visited with Rose and Mose, talked of family. Liz’s father is from Turin, Italy. Later we traveled up the coast spent night in camp of many rules.  Next two days we camped in the Avenue of the Giants and Hidden Springs campground. As we started driving to Eureka, we had enough driving and headed home. Dinner at Mandarin Inn in San Francisco. Lousy food, both of us were tired and very irritable. Argument supreme. Slept again in San Mateo and then next day home, sweet home.

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[JCS: Our experience with San Francisco years ago was that it is a very confusing and spiritual dark city, although it is beautiful. Highly recommend you have a friend give you a tour, or at the very least take a tour. Read the Michelin Guide for restaurants, I had no clue at the time about how to dine in an unfamiliar city.]

People take vacations so they can appreciate their home.

by James C. Stephens


October 15, 2018. In 1979, my journals take a very awkward turn. At the time, I thought I was casting off the shackles of my militant practice of Buddhism, the repression of my sexuality as a man, and exhibit a subconscious desire to protect myself from being emotionally hurt when I was a young man after my mother suddenly deserted my father and I when I was a freshmen in college and new to the practice of Buddhism.  I exhibit many confusing signs of a youthful self-centered nature, my wrestling over the issue of sexuality and marriage.  The experimental nature of the New Age Movement, along with the lack of any moral code to abide by in my Buddhist practice, left me in a position where I was the indeed “the master of my own reality.”  I was not in a very healthy place to examine these issues and certainly had no mastery and was a wandering star at this period of my life.  We were literally surrounded by those focused on experimental living.

Elizabeth’s past history was somewhat a mystery to me because I was more interested in myself, although as I reflect on that time in retrospect,  I had convinced myself that I was the healthy one psychologically and spiritually, when in fact I was the unhealthy victim of my own delusion and desires.

This period of my life is an embarrassment to me. I have wrestled over editing this out, but Elizabeth and I have agreed that it is part of who we were at the time and is an example of a newlywed couple and the influence of the emerging New Age movement.  I said it would be a very raw journal of a young Buddhist radical. It is in some respects my confession.  I recognize that it will be something which is read by all and will reflect poorly on my past character, but it is not who I have become and the transformation I have experienced.

Elizabeth and I have now been married forty years.

Here is the journal entry:

Monday, August 6, 1979

I am the master of my own reality.

The past few weeks have been difficult difficult for me in their own way. I have been going through tremendous inner turmoil over several issues. First is career. Second is my relationship to Liz. Two weeks ago I decided to terminate my relationship with the Phone company. Financially we need the money. Spiritually it was destroying me. In certain respects I enjoyed being a customer representative, yet I could not see any future for myself in working for the Phone company. I could not stand to be plugged into a 8 to 5 job commitment. Anyway it is now a past experience. An issue which has caused me much more pain is my relationship with myself. At first I said the issue was my relationship with Liz. This is probably a misstatement. When my condition of life is high my relationship with Liz is beautiful in so many ways. I think I have a fear of being locked into things and not being able to get out. That’s probably why I can’t stand roller coasters and other such paraphernalia. I want to be vulnerable and find my fears intruding far too often. Fortunately Liz is extremely understanding. She is so abundant in common sense and is so in touch with practical feelings. We are definitely a beautiful couple. We work together well. Liz says at times that I think I’m going to be in the same place forever. That definitely coincides with the fear I previously stated. As FDR stated, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

I am concerned about how my turmoil is affecting Liz. We have been talking about relationships with others, meaning members of the opposite sex. This issue has cause us both considerable pain and reflection. To a lot of people the only thing that bonds them together is sex. This is something they save only for their mate. They put down their desires for others and put down their spouses for not doing so. It seems that it is okay socially for the man to be sexually (married man) interested in other women, but for the married woman not so. At present I have a relationship with another woman although it has not gone as some term it “all the way.” Liz knows about my relationship and feels fine about it. Now Liz has a relationship with a gentlemen by the name of Ben. I’ve never met Ben and (we) I seem to being going though a lot of changes about allowing Liz to be with him. My relationship with this problem has been going on for about six months. At first it was extreme jealousy. Days, days, that seemed like months, like eternities. Now it has progressed to where we both faced the need and reality of relationships within a marriage. There is a favorite term from Actualizations we use and are trying to firmly make part of our reality and that is, if Liz goes out with Ben it doesn’t mean anything about me. And vice versa. If I go out with Kate it doesn’t mean anything about Liz.

Now because we are allowing ourselves to become vulnerable to Life by living it, we also faced some realities. If sex is not holding our marriage together, what is? And that is a question that calls for some true searching. In Buddhism we talk of soul mates. Do we have just one or do we all vary? We had to face the reality that if we were all willing to play the game of life that we may not end up in the same marriage. It’s possible that we may grow out of our relationships as marital partners. Everything is transient including the form of relationships exist within. There is a reason for all relationships and yet we are all part of each other. Life is a drama that is continually unfolding new challenges and opportunities. The pain is in letting go of past karma, enculturation and old tapes, the joy comes in seeing a future of limitless possibilities.

People. Me. I should always remember that I define and determine my own reality. I am responsible for my own experience of what life has to offer. Liz is my partner at this moment. I must not destroy my relationships by my preconceived notions of what marriage is supposed to be like. Illusion is death. Clarity is life. China dolls are illusions.

To understand these things with my life, this is my goal, nay, this is my responsibility to my life. To experience life without delusion.

Women were once property and did not have the right to much of anything. That consciousness still prevails pretty generally in our society. Although they are not verbally called property, just general morals reflect this observation. A woman is a slut when she goes to bed with another man, a man is a conqueror and can hold his head high. This is pure and simple in-congruent bullshit!

I recognize that I am ahead of my time. I recognize that by recognizing my wife as a separate entity and allowing myself the same takes great courage. It is courage to see the dignity of life. And to see the past for what it was and to go on. Inner Space is the new frontier. Human Revolution, Human Evolution.
“Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” Beauty surrounds us, it is just that at times we are too blind to see it. Life is too precious to be wasted on pettiness. Flow with life, be with Life and we can receive all it can offer. Death rides alongside us wherever we are. Sadness supports happiness. Life is a series of moments, some desperate, some serene.”