Posts Tagged ‘Brass Band’

by James C. Stephens

April 27, 1973

This month in fact, ever since Sepulveda became a chapter I have gone through some changes. My district chief Mike Lisagor has really helped me understand more of the spirit of this Buddhism and of President Ikeda. He has had many of the same problems that I have. We are definitely kenzoku.


For the last four or five Fridays I have been working on the Malibu Training Center. The Training Center is right next to the ocean. I can’t say but the feeling is so fresh and pure like the beautiful forests. Not like Mammoth Mountain, but a feeling of serenity and power and freshness. I believe it must be President Ikeda’s spirit.

Recently, I freaked out when I was really sick, I could hardly breathe and I can really understand shiki-shin funi from this. What was strange about this time that I got that titan feeling, was it so and ugly I thought what would I do if I wasn’t in Nichiren Shoshu; so instead of waiting around for someone to feel sorry for me and encourage me, I called my soshibucho Gary Curtis, and told him my problem. He told me I had no goals in my life. Even if its just to get across the street a person must have a goal he can reach. I told him I used to enjoy things so much and he said when you get older that fortune goes away, but by chanting you can get that excitement back. He said to call him back in a couple of days after I chant three hours of daimoku a day. Well I chanted and it felt like a new beginning. I didn’t stay home and chant those three hours, but I reached my World Tribune goal. I got one World Tribune on the street which was such a good feeling.

My brother flew in from Colorado earlier and we went out to Two Guys from Italy for dinner with my dad before the meeting. After the meeting I freaked out about being alone, but its so strange I am feeling stronger inside about just standing up.

My problem is just keeping going. I have a lot of things I want to do, but I am so lazy I never do anything, so I really chanted to overcome this and even more my on-shitsu nature. I really weep many tears during my daimoku and then Mr. Williams came and chanted many daimoku with us in Brass Band. I just don’t understand but I really felt alot for Mr. Williams. He has so much patience to put up with people like me. I was really choked up with tears while chanting to the Joju Gohonzon. Even with my bad nature Sogohonbucho really loves us. I’m really a fortunate person to be with him last night.

Russ explained at Band what he explained to me earlier when I called him that it is our Christian nature to be defeated and accept it. He said Sogohonbucho is always victorious. He never just stops, but always fights to win.




by James C. Stephens

Tuesday, September 28, 1971


Beautiful autumn day and equally beautiful benefit to be going to school again this fall. Ran into three or four Brass Band member, and its always good to see members. My Urban Scene class was so inspiring that I can’t express the enthusiasm I have for the department in words.  As Professor Lamb said that we are not just “pilots” for the urban situation, but of also a new re-establishment of humane education.

Russ mentioned a very important thing this morning about which I must take note. I have a very rude nature, especially a big head when I get Shakubuku. He said I’m so selfish in that when I’m freaking out, I let it out around the wrong people, and don’t hold it in. I have a terribly rude nature.


Monday, October 4, 1971


Right now we are in the middle of a big  Shin’ichi Yamamoto Shakubuku campaign. Sogohonbucho is in Japan with modern Abutsubo’s. We though are not standing still, but are the modern Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s fighting vigorously while our Abutsubo’s are reporting to the Dai-Gohonzon and meeting Pres. Ikeda. It is a difficult time, but my benefits are great. School is really fantastic and I have five people who joined and are interested enough to try Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. But now the difficult part is to come.


My personal Shakubuku goal is 15. I have 5, but the hardest 10 are yet to come. I am really feeling happier everyday. I just must continue to develop with a steady rhythm.


Number 1: more daimoku.

2: more Shakubuku.

3: closer communication.

4: Better son.

5: Harder study.

by James C. Stephens

Sunday, August 29, 1971


This morning really felt like a fresh start to my practice. My Dad drove me to the Chiku at 7:00 and he was really in high spirits, it made me feel very happy inside. We arrived in time to catch our breath for Gongyo with Larry Shaw. Brass Band was very vigorous and high spirited.

The Maneuvers we worked on today were extremely challenging. As far as we know we are the only marching band that has tried a moving spiral since Nazi Germany 30 years ago. It is indescribable.

After Practice we sang Sensei and called for the clarinet section. I felt uneasy take leadership, but only through making attempts can you gain benefit through Gohonzon. I asked Gary Murie about Jay Stone not being there and he said it’s up to you. You take the initiative. Call Jay Stone and say, “The Clarinets are wondering if you’re still the section leader?”

Afterwards we worked at the New Headquarters and Phil, Ken Tapola, Chico, and I painted the back fence. Good benefit.

After the meeting everyone gravitated towards Russ and he stressed that from now on everyone must practice because he is not going to wait for people that are freaking out, but is going to steadily march to Sho-Hondo. He related that after Sho-Hondo a lot of regret will be happening because people did not practice with their full effort. “Everyone in our district has a chance to be in the Sho-Hondo Opening Ceremony.”  But right now everyone is just sitting wiping their ____must fight harder. Take the initiative myself. Form your own nucleus. More Shakubuku.” Immediately afterwards I just did lots of Shakubuku. Must continue no matter how bad I am freaking out!

by James C. Stephens

Wednesday, August 11, 1971


Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve written in my record, but I will try my best to record the last days. The period before Seattle was absolutely amazing. Like Shibucho said, the convention is the preparation, the convention itself is the victory party. But still the Seattle Convention was great human revolution. I was really chanting to do something. I realized it is never too late to start so I resolved in my daimoku to do such. It I believe was a great benefit to me.


July, 19, Tuesday 20? After Brass Band (I was laid off work on Monday, so I decided not to look for work until after Seattle) I asked Gary Murie if he needed any help at all. I was in rhythm he did. So for the next three days all I got to look at was music. That night we started putting together the music for the 500 members of America Joint Headquarters Brass Band. We didn’t work too late. Wednesday morning.


I helped my dad move until about noon and hitched down to the Hdqt’s. I got one ride from Nordhoff to the front steps of the Honbu. I shakubukued an assistant of the Santa Monica District Attorney and he just drove me all the way, far out! He was interested, said he had attended meetings before, along time ago. That day we worked on the music quite long and I copied music until late afternoon. That is when I really cut a lot of karma. The copying machine broke down and so Orlando said shiki-shin-funi-esho funi[1]—so let’s go chant some daimoku so it gets fixed.

I really got yelled at by Tony Sugano and he said, “This could stop the whole convention.”  You should have seen the expression on my face. Whew. It’s really true, everything in the Headquarters runs on Ichinen[2]. It took a senior leader to fix the machine it definitely shows the power of Gohonzon. So we worked on music until about two and wrapped it up for that night.

So Bob Ludovise, Barry and I jetted home and spent some time scarfing[3] at Barry’s—we stayed there. Chanted an hour and slept from 5 until 10 that morning. So they couldn’t go to the Headquarters because of their jobs, so Barry drove me to get my suitcase packed and dropped me off at the Freeway on Roscoe. I immediately got a ride to Santa Monica and another ride down Santa Monica Blvd. and took the Bus to the Beach for two bits.[4]

Tom and I worked on the music and about four in the afternoon, Gary Murie, Tom and I went to Lunch at the Brown Bag. Good food, good music, good people. After lunch we found out that the deadline was 8:00 that morning. So Bob, Barry and I worked all night. What a heavy cause, never have I been so spaced[5] in my whole life. I can’t write the experience inside very easily on paper. But I think I cut a lot of ego problems. I really like doing things at the Honbu.

We completed the music 10 minutes before the deadline. It was definitely the power of the Gohonzon.

Thursday afterwards I took a good nap and went to a daimoku toso at the Chiku. Friday was busy as hell, getting ready for the flight.

Tonight I am really forcing myself to write about the Seattle Convention. At this moment I am going through the heaviest numbers I think I have encountered in my practice. What it is, I can’t just pin down.


[1] Shiki shin funi esho funi was his way of communicating two terms~oneness of body and mind and the second separate term esho funi was the oneness of you and your environment. He basically was saying that my laziness affected the copier

[2] Ichinen is basically the power of your life force.  “Literally, “one mind.” The life moment, or ultimate reality, that is manifested at each moment in common mortals…one can manifest his or her Buddhahood inherent in each life-moment.”

[3] “Scarfing,” slang for eating a lot of food quickly when you’re very hungry.

[4] “Two bits,” slang for 25 cents.

[5] “Spaced, spaced out,” slang for a physical, mental feeling of not being in touch with your body or emotions—managing to go through your daily routine without being in balance. Often a result of trauma, lack of sleep, improper eating.

by James C. Stephens

Wednesday, June 9, 1971


File1125 - Copy - CopyWell I finally finished finals at about three o’clock today and it is really a relief to be done with school for the summer. As you notice I did not fill in the last few days in my record. Tonight at the Headquarters I realized how little faith I have and how little I feel for Pres. Ikeda. But tonight I resolve that I am going to Seattle and find out what I am doing.  Sometimes I feel so insufficient, and I know that my sincerity to change is really lacking. But I’ve been chanting 2 hours diamoku a day without fail. I think and hope that my attitude will change and that when I march down Fourth Street in Seattle that I really understand my life as well as feel Pres. Ikeda’s Spirit.


I realize that up until now my seeking mind has gone downhill, but I really want to find out what my life is about. I am going to try my best every day for Seattle. Maybe, then I can really meet my Master or at least realize his spirit. My whole year at Valley State made me realize that I just didn’t care about a lot of things. But this summer I am going to study and read without fail.


Sometimes I just feel like hanging everything up, it just gets so heavy. Everything around the house seems very sluggish and I know it’s at its worst. So from today I resolve to change my life as much as I can until Seattle, and find out what Seattle is really about for me and my country. It is evident that I am not doing anything except leading a day to day existence. I must have dreams and goals.

For Seattle:


  1. Happy Meetings
  2. My new YMD.-!
  3. To do my best in Brass Band
  4. Chang my whole situation at home into a benefit.
  5. Do happy Shakubuku and merciful
  6. Promote World Tribune
  7. Establish New Friends and re-establish old friendships.
  8. Get a job
  9. Get a car.
  10. New home-apt or small house
  11. Sell horses.
  12. Sell dogs.
  13. Become closer to my father.
  14. Establish Candy machine route.
  15. Become closer to my leaders and fellow members and people.
  16. Feel Pres. Ikeda and Sogohonbucho
  17. Do a fantastic art project.
  18. Develop my body and improve my health.


by James C. Stephens

Friday, May 7, 1971


Attended school today, but I am finding the study of Christianity unimpressive and further proving my faith in Gohonzon.


Saturday, May 8, 1971


Got up late, but managed to make to Hollywood Bowl at 12:00 or so. I practiced alone and with the Band until the performance at 7:00. During the practice for this General Meeting, I have developed many good friends, and it has also developed my human revolution a step further. The Meeting tonight was super fantastic. My mother and brother attended. I am happy that they came. I am also very happy to have Sogohonbucho back from Japan. Our performance was not very fantastic technically, but Sogohonbucho was proud of us. He made us feel better when he played a song for “my Brass Band.” He showed us a film of his trip to Japan to see Pres. Ikeda. He showed their tennis match and pictures inside Sho-Hondo. He related Pres. Ikeda’s Guidance, “Action is Shakubuku” and reference to hardships in youth are necessary…He also told us of the 2 new temples being built in the U.S., one in San Francisco and the other in Chicago.


Sunday, May 9, 1971


I had a real bad dream last night about my Gohonzon. It was stolen, but then I discovered it destroyed. It was one hell of a nightmare. Boy I was really in hysterics.


I’ve been having a lot of strange dreams lately.

by James C.  Stephens

Monday, April 26, 1971

Slowly, I am discovering that the feeling (egotistic) of being someone special is now being brought out and crushed out of me by Brass Band. At Practice tonight I thought, “Wow” all these people are getting good on their clarinets, but I’m not advancing.

Brass Band is definitely a valuable experience in cutting your karma.

I also felt the principal of kenzoku today with my Sepulveda District members. Everybody is freaking out, sickness and head numbers. It’s a good feeling knowing you’re not alone.

Today I talked with my History Professor Patterson about Jefferson. He suggested that the reason Jefferson was such a brilliant man was that he strictly adhered to his schedule and rose early and studied late. He had very strict self discipline. Such Neo-classicists became great leaders because of such devotion.

Karma-Originally in Sanskrit (karman )it meant work or office based upon our thoughts, words and actions. It’s the cosmic accounting system of our actions (past and present life) both good and bad which determine present and future effects if not in this life, the life to come.

Kenzoku-mystic relationships we have with people based upon our karma and karmic connections with others in past lives.