James C. Stephens


January 17, 1971

The month of December was unbelievably heavy but I made it and I’m happy for that. During the week before New Year’s I chanted to get closer to my leaders and also to create value and make causes for the New Year. I went to Brass Band one day, but the next day I left for Mammoth for two days, to have “someone” ride home with Mom. But really I had opportunities to stay home and go to Brass Band. Well, Dick Bond told me to chant and see what happened. The Two days at Mammoth were really a blast. I saw Karen and Shakubukued her. I really seem to like her, but I saw later what value such relationships create; and how girls really can break the bond between you and the Gohonzon, or at least take your Ichinen off practicing to change yourself during young days in faith. But those two days were a tremendously valuable experience.

The day I got back I went to a Yusohan meeting and volunteered and was chosen as a Yusohan for Shibucho. This was to be the start of my biggest benefit since I joined Nichiren Shoshu in May. From that moment I was Shibucho’s Yosohan. It was not just a valuable experience, but it showed me where my life was and where it is going to go hopefully into the future.

That night at 2:30 I went with Soshibucho to LA International to pick up baggage of Kansas City and saw the Kanki of “out of town” members. But they didn’t seem out of town at all. Then on the way back to the Honbu I got to talk to Soshibucho. But it’s hard to talk to him for me.

When I got back I was told to take a nap. So I went up to the second floor, boy was it humid, a million bodies were lying all around. So I didn’t lay down but five minutes and felt there was more to be done so I went downstairs and worked on the “Space Needle” in the Band room. While I was painting, Sogohonbucho walked in and wow. He was carrying his saxophone to find a place to practice, but he was checking on our progress I know. But I heard him in his office practicing his sax. Time passed by fast and at 4:30 I went upstairs only to find that Shibucho had gone to the airport.

Later that morning I went to sleep around 5:30 in the World Tribune room and really enjoyed my sleep. Then I was busy doing odds and ends in the morning and by afternoon Shibucho said, Well you can go see the parade and do New Year’s Gongyo at the Temple. So during that afternoon I knew there was more to do, I don’t know why I wanted to do more but I did. As I was changing I asked Gohonzon, first for something to do and something to eat. Well, instantly a member came up to me and said, “Jim, got time?” Yep! “Ok, let’s go deliver dinners to New York and Hawaii. Inga guji. So we delivered dinners to New York and Hawaii; and I had dinner with Hawaii. Good dinners too.

Honbucho from Hawaii asked me if they had the generator yet for their float, so I ran over to the warehouse and talked to Soshibucho. He told me they needed two generators and two floats were stranded at the warehouse. Well, it was about 5:30 and the parade started at six. By the time we got everything loaded and everyone fed it was almost 6:00, and no communication from the warehouse to anywhere. So we got everything loaded and hustled to the beginning of the parade route and I and two New York members chanted all the way for Gohonzon to help everything work out. Immediately everyone loaded the dishes and I called Shibucho. It was a blow mind because a guy just gave me the money (member from N.Y.) no hassle. Shibucho said get those floats down here and he told me where the Ryder truck and stake truck were. Everyone’s karma was really oozing out by this time. I found the stake truck but unfortunately the New York skyline was built on it. I found on of the three Ryder trucks, someone lost the keyes. The other Ryder truck was emptying dishes and the last was without a driver. By this time I was a little frantic. But I got one on its way and finally got the other on its way. Then I was assigned to a Sr. leader from Chicago and his float was the one of two missing. But through their faith the floats arrived two minutes before parade time. It was a fantastic parade. I was a self assigned runner for Shibucho Jim Cuda. Never ran so much and felt it so little, it was unbelievable. The Gohonzon brought out my true vitality.

You know after a Christian parade how long it takes to clean up? Well we had the entire parade route cleaned, the floats demolished, the warehouses cleaned in tow hours at 25 to 12:00, unbelievable. True unity. Afterwards I went back to the Honbu and we loaded food for the Min-on on New Year’s Day. Then I went to the Shibu washed my pants, did Gongyo and crashed until 5:30. Then I went straight to the Honbu and reported to Shibucho. He kiddingly said I looked terrible, as I had clean pants and a new sweatshirt. So we got them dirty working that day getting things ready for people leaving after the Min-on. I didn’t get to the Min-on but I felt it. That morning I got to say Gongyo with the NY members and Sogohonbucho. Later as I was loading trophies and gifts from Sogohonbucho, he came up and asked me to count the trophy’s. It’s hard to express how it is to look up and look Sogohonbucho in the eye. It’s much like looking at a sun but can see the face. It’s the feeling. He doesn’t say anything, but you can feel it more than words could express.

That afternoon, I talked with a member that was from England and shared Toban with him. We had two or three very strange experiences with people coming in. About 7:00 I decided to take a nap for an hr. in a guidance room. One person came and shut the door so I wasn’t disturbed. At 1:00 I was awakened and promptly taken out of the room by another person on Toban. By morning I would have been dead by gas. But almosts don’t count, you win or lose in Buddhism. Why I wasn’t phased I don’t know.  I then did evening Gongyo on the third floor alone at 2:00. Really fantastic. Russ did it at home at 2:00 also; really mystic. Then I went and slept on the second floor, but only after I went down to see and smell the guidance room. Whew!

The next morning Mr. Kato asked me to clean the 2nd floor Butsudon. I was happy to serve the Gohonzon, but why me? It seems I am way too unworthy to have been given the opportunity to have been so close to the headquarters. Maybe one day I might fathom; why.

I really saw that I have to battle my ego, my big head. I have to be more humble.

I saw Brass Band is really important, and I still don’t know how Sogohonbucho does it. Maybe Gohonzon? Most definitely.


Sogohonbucho: General Director George M. Williams of Nichiren Shoshu Academy, aka Soka Gakkai, North American Division. His name at the time I believe was still Masayasu Sadanaga.

Honbucho: Headquarters Chief.

Soshibucho: General Chapter Chief.

Shibucho: Chapter Chief.

Shibu: Chapter meeting house usually belonging to the Chapter Chief.

Yusohan: Young Men’s Division group assigned to protect the Gohonzon, the buildings, leaders, and members.

Dick Bond: Leader of Young Men’s Division Brass Band and also of the Tribune Band which was an exclusive band that was on call for all sorts of VIP events held at the North American Headquarters.

Kanki: Basically life energy of a person.

Mr. Kato: The quiet right hand man, an administrator of General Director Williams.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s