Posts Tagged ‘Buddhism’

by James C. Stephens


February 20, 1975

Tuesday I got up early did a couple of things. I read for awhile and finally decided to take a shower. All of a sudden I heard some knocking on the window. It was ________.

We were both nervous, but happy to see each other.

I really feel something that I feel I can define now. I love her as a human being, we have something really deep in common. She sees me as a Bodhisattva and knows I’m true to her and concerned about her life. I vow to my Gohonzon to see her enlightened in this lifetime and with 3 happy boys.

One million daimoku for _______ to go to the Hawaii Convention and for a strong practice.

Today, no in fact last night I went by Mr. Mitchells and told him I’d be unable to take the job just part-time. This morning Mr. Mitchell woke me and told me I was hired and that I’d be using his Datsun station wagon.

So now I have it. I think I’m going to wash it. Bye.

April 10, 1975-Wednesday 2:30AM

President Ikeda’s guidance.

“A swan seems to swim calmly, but under the water and invisible to us, it paddles unceasingly. For this reason, it can glide smoothly. The leaders may be compared to the webbed feet. Through their strenuous efforts behind the scenes, the whole organization can advance with reassurance.

The new leaders of the future should not be here types who deal with matters merely through their own abilities. A good leader is one who harmonizes all the people in a group,be it a company or home, so that they can put into use their full individuality and potential and work smoothly.”

swan-photo

April 11, 1975 2:35 AM

In about one month I will of had the Gohonzon five years. I can not tell you how happy I am at this moment to realize my fortune of meeting this practice.

This evening we did Brass Band gongyo with Mr. Bond. Each day I’m realizing so much more about my life. I just read over my diary about my experience with ___________.

Now I see it with a much deeper perspective. It brings tears to my eyes and it affects my heart, but in  a much different way than two weeks ago. Of course its natural to be horny and feel you’re God’s Gift to women, that’s a male’s nature. But now I feel a bit more hesitation about the sex end. Sure it goes through my mind, but now I think much more about others happiness and constantly remind myself of my unfortunate experience. Sure its hard sometimes to women off your mind, but now I’m thinking much more about the serious campaign we are engaged in now. The Blue Hawaii Pre-Bicentennial Convention. I’m nervous. I have made a new resolution for the past month or more to develop the YMD in our district. For awhile some new YMD were coming around. Now they have titaned strongly. They don’t hate NSA, they love it, but are just too lazy to practice this philosophy. Now before I would have been depressed, but instead I have resolved not to give up. I know that the Gohonzon’s benefit is there but I have but to struggle and develop through the obstacle to obtain the great benefit.

Even though the Shakubuku result does not show at the moment, I am confident that we will very definitely shoot up very soon.  I feel that the YMD movement is taking on new power. I have seen Jeff Silver take on new interest, even make some suggestions about the Shakubuku campaign. This is my benefit, knowing this is from trying to capture some of Soshibucho’s YMD spirit. Shibucho is letting me help with the YMD report. Also I’m back in Brass Band. Last week I had to lead a major portion of a drum section practice. Definite steps to increased human revolution. I have also assumed the responsibility through Shibucho of being the Chapter representative of the University Club. I got a raise at my job of $25.

Three days ago Scott and I started a 2 hour toso every night until May 15 or later. This is a great benefit to me because I need this daimoku fortune to develop myself.

I’m finally starting to think of the person I want to become. Soshibucho is a great encouragement. Another benefit is the Shakubuku Shockwave I was able to go on to Santa Barbara recently. Shoshibucho was there. I shakubukued a girl and she joined. Sunday night I got a huge benefit. I had sort of blown Sunday, but nevertheless I felt like going to Santa Monica to get recharged. I dropped off some cards from the UC at the JHQ. No one seemed to be around. I talked to Jim Jay in the phone box for awhile and as I was about to leave he said Homencho was in the office talking to some people. Why don’t you try to get in. So I did and ended up listening to guidance for about 2 hours on various subjects from the Hawaii Convention to YMD spirit. Well time to chant some daimoku.

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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.

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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


September 10, 1972

Sometimes I do not know why I continue practicing Buddhism. But my own personal philosophy is that before I started practicing I was not enjoying my life, so I set out to try and find a philosophy which could change such a situation and which could bring about a change inside so I could really become excited about living.

Sapling in Winter Blackfoot RimeOnSaplingBuddhism brings about the deepest realization of life. I am a very impatient person, but as I look at the sapling tree next to me, I realize that life is a natural rhythm, and for a sapling to grow into a great tree it must endure many cold winters and hot summers, at times it will go without food and water and with little affection. But, at times it is very difficult to realize why we want to be happy.

Sometimes for instance I feel, why world peace? Why be happy? But for the very reason I question it I realize that to care naturally about people and your own life you must joyfully undergo human revolution.

At the moment I must sink my roots, I must strive hard, but naturally to progress.

If I quit now, I will only be like a footprint in sand on a stormy beach. But if I continue to progress in a natural way, I will one day feel like a majestic mountain inside in perfect harmony with life.

Let me try this practice for 20 years and on September 10, 1992, let’s see where my life has gone.

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.

 

by James Stephens


Thursday, April 29, 1971

 

File2977After my political science class, I sat in the cafeteria and studied there till 1:30. After that I talked to a friend and this girl for sometime. We had a rally good rap and I ended up walking this girl to the administration and talking to her about Buddhism…I promoted Min-on tickets to a Japanese class, but met with no success except seeing where they were at and where I was at…Then when I was walking down the hall I saw Jack Sterk (a good friend my old debate coach) teaching a speech class, so he motioned me to come on in…I really think he’s a fantastic person.

 

Jack and I share common goals. We talked of value creation education and he talked of his views on education. He hit it right on the nail. Education is in a sad dehumanized state. I told him that one day he’ll probably teach at Soka University or High School in the United States. I really feel he will one day chant. It just looks like he is now under Gohonzon’s pull. He is sick of school, can’t find a job, and in general is very frustrated with the state of things…

  by James C. Stephens


Sunday, April 18, 1971

In 1967, April 18 President Ikeda founded Myohoji temple with Nittatsu “Geka” Shonin and Sogohonbucho. Today was equally a beautiful and significant day in the history of our United States.

Senator Alan Cranston of California sent Sogohonbucho a letter of congratulations with a flag that flew over the nation’s capitol. Today that flag flies over Myohoji Temple.

What happened today is not possible for me to express in words. It was just happiness. Pure happiness and Unity.

I thank Gohonzon for letting us spend a day with our Sogohonbucho.

Events: Volleyball tournament, Parade, Flag raising ceremony, Young people’s egg hunt, Min-on show, eats and final volleyball, and tug-of-war.

Nancy and I visited Tony, but I just am not impressed with his lack of life.

 

Thanks, Pres. Ikeda.

 

Must sleep-

 

Goodnight.


Myohoji Temple was lead by a Nichiren Shoshu priest and was located in Etiwanda, California. Evidently, during the controversy between the lay organization and priesthood, it was sold and is no longer a Buddhist temple. It is now the home of Etiwanda Gardens~ Christ’s Church of the Valley.

 

    James C. Stephens


Friday, April 16, 1971

Well, today was a far out experience. I took my Man’s Religions exam on Hinduism and Buddhism. I think I faired quite well. My English class brought out my lazy nature again. Mrs. Foster talked to me about trying and said she couldn’t help me if I just didn’t try. I’m ashamed, but then I’m not, because finally I can challenge this problem and overcome it….Oh, got a benefit tonight. I got turned onto a new butsudon[1] in exchange for my old one; truly a benefit. I practiced my instrument again today. I hope I can keep this up and extend it to my studies. I’m afraid if I don’t then I will definitely get behind in the busy month ahead. Sunday Myohoji sports festival, parade and picnic are coming. It’s really great to spend a day with Sogohonbucho.

 

…Today after school I talked with Dr. Shofner and we had a good conversation, he listened very intently to the little I could relate on Nichiren’s Buddhism. He got World Tribune for May…Lately, I have really been experiencing what the importance of one’s Ichinen actually is. When it slips (your life force), it really effects your environment; like people you talk to.

 

…I feel like my practice is getting together again, but usually it blows up again when I say or feel that. I am trying to have faith like water, and not fire. I usually burn out too fast. Hopefully, I can change that.

 

“High spirits tomorrow and very constructive.”

 

One of my members is not practicing everyday; he’s pushing, so I am really learning more about human nature. I just am not chanting enough Diamoku for my members. I just must make more causes by doing Gongyo with him more often…


 

[1] Butsudon, literally means “Buddha’s home.”  It takes the form of a cabinet which houses the Gohonzon. We used to raid the back of grocery stores for fruit crates, buy some black spray paint, white poster board,  and a picture hook. We’d spray the crate, let it dry,  bend the poster board to line it, staple it in, and then hang it up at a new members with the picture hook even before they got a Gohonzon to give them a place to worship. We’d then place two candles on either side of a makeshift incense burner, have then get a small juice glass for offering water, a small plate with fruit on it, and a glass with water to put an evergreen into as the final offering.

Ichinen: Mind of a person in one moment which can manifest itself in three thousand different ways, determination.