Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

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.

Biocides-insecticides.

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.

Goethe

“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.

Quotations:

“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.”

 

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by James C. Stephens


February 11, 1979

Got back from dinner with Mom and Sully. They took Liz and I out for our anniversary. Had a tasty dinner.

Right now I’m reading an extremely interesting article on cults and a deprogrammer named Patrick. I really feel our present campaign in NSA towards openness and getting a firmer philosophical base is justifiable.

Jonestown massacre

Jonestown Mass Suicide of 918 individuals on Nov. 18, 1978 . If you ever wonder where the term “drinking the kool-aid” came from you’re looking at it. They drank cyanide laced kool-aid. This shook up Nichiren Shoshu which downshifted its activities and initiated “Phase Two.”

 

I would like and will ask some of the following questions in the coming days.

Josei Toda, “The organization is more important than my own life.”–This is a dangerous concept. It should be explained much more thoroughly.

If your house was burning should you save the Gohonzon or your kids? A girl once answered, “The Gohonzon.” I believe this is not Buddhism and extremely dangerous thinking and should be cleared up.

As RSG, we have often been told to protect the Gohonzon with our life. If the Headquarters and Gohonzon burned, we should burn with it. I think this is not Buddhist. I should like to question this and change this. It is a dangerous concept. Human life is more important than a piece of paper, no matter how you look at it.

Mrs. William’s children were in a serious car accident, but she helped President Ikeda in his movement first. It was called sancho shima* (four devils and four obstacles) that such a thing happened. And the kids turned out okay. I disagree. If my kids were in a serious crisis and the hospital needed my signature immediately I would go. I wonder what this experience is trying to prove?

Material benefits? Gosho?

Enlightenment in this lifetime? Gosho?

Kosenrufu in 2 years? Like world ending in seven in Christian religion?

Buddhist gods?

Chanting in faith alone? In Gosho without practice and study there can be no Buddhism. Every cult has signed letters from Presidents. This doesn’t make it legitimate. Question of our own signed books.

Organizations immunity from checks and balances. This is important for NSA to be totally open. And if anything is wrong, admit it and change it.

Word-leaders and leadership in sect.


Ted Patrick father of deprogramminghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Patrick

Retrospective: Nichiren Shoshu at the time was feeling societal pressure as a result of the Jonestown massacre and purposely slowed down the level of activity so as to maintain a lower profile in society and called it “Phase Two.”  At that time, a number of younger Buddhist radicals began to question the organization in an attempt to reform  and contexualize Nichiren Shoshu Academy (aka Soka Gakkai International) in what came to be known as “The Open Forum” movement.

Jonestown Massacre:

Wikipedia: “The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, better known by its informal name “Jonestown“, was a remote settlement established by the Peoples Temple, an American cult under the leadership of reverend Jim Jones, in north Guyana. It became internationally notorious when, on November 18, 1978, a total of 918[1][2] people died in the settlement, at the nearby airstrip in Port Kaituma, and at a Temple-run building in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital city. The name of the settlement became synonymous with the incidents at those locations.

909 individuals died in Jonestown,[1] all but two from apparent cyanide poisoning, in an event termed “revolutionary suicide” by Jones and some members on an audio tape of the event and in prior discussions. The poisonings in Jonestown followed the murder of five others by Temple members at Port Kaituma, including United States Congressman Leo Ryan, an act that Jones ordered. Four other Temple members committed murder-suicide in Georgetown at Jones’ command.”

Background Check on Pelosi, Feinstein and Jim Jones

Unburied Truth About Jim Jones

 

 

by James C. Stephens


Tuesday, September 5, 1978

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Liz and I drove up to see Ron and Pam at Mammoth. They are moving to Montana the end of September and will be working at Whitefish’s Big Mountain Ski Resort. We had a really nice visit with Ron and Pam and had a relaxing vacation I’d say. Liz and I went jogging in the mountains and boy was that refreshing. We discussed jogging back in L.A. and decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea. I think the real benefit of the trip was being with my wife and seeing what a fantastic gal she is. We discussed many things and came to the conclusion that we needed to set a goal again. We had so many things going we had no direction. So we decided the most important of the goals was a house.

Monday, December 4, 1978

Boy it seems hard to write in my diary anymore. My obstacles seem so abstract and it seems hard to put them down in words. Well lots has happened in the past 9 months since Liz and I have been married, much of which I haven’t yet recorded. I have gone through a lot of human revolution and in the past couple of weeks we have made a couple of decisions which are of course major ones in my life. Liz, Dad and I helped Ron and Pam move to Montana in September and Liz really liked Montana. Of course I have always loved Montana, but it was equally important that my wife like the idea of moving there. Her happiness is most important to me. We are a team of course…

 

So while Dad was away in Montana I worked the business myself and had sometime to think about my future. Then while Dad was still away Liz and I moved into Dad’s place in order to save some money and pay some bills. After Dad got back Gary Curtis and Kay Yoshikawa came by one night and visited. Gary really encouraged me in my practice. Until then I was feeling really progressively worse as far as my whole attitude. I felt confused and extremely frustrated.

He must have perceived my condition and at the same time its remedy. He told me that I should apologize to the Gohonzon for trying to figure everything out or thinking I was smarter than the Gohonzon. He also told me I was acting like a 40 year old, contemplating more than acting. Don’t spend so much time thinking. Make action, so what if you make a mistake, that’s why you need to be around leaders more. You’d see they make action, they do Hendoku Iyaku if they’re wrong. As far as moving to Montana if you move up and decide it’s not for you, you can always come back. don’t be afraid of what others say. Be your own man.

I followed his guidance on apology and action to the letter. And though I have never been one to really apologize, I can not believe what a tremendous effect (above my intellect) that it has had. I feel most confident of my own identity and things are really different with me. I’ve made two big changes. 1. We made a decision to move in September 1979 to Montana, and 2. I terminated my partnership with my father on the best of terms. One week later I was assigned to a different chapter–West Hollywood to be exact, and mad a vice chapter chief in the YMD. This to me is a great challenge. My life is definitely changing. I feel a bit shaky, but confident of the new route. Well I’m off to Beverly Hills monthly leader’s meeting.

Thursday, December 28, 1978

Liz and I dropped by Les’s and gave him a copy of Dicken’s David Copperfield for his birthday. We also talked of an idea we had of how to improve our discussion meetings. Basically it entails dividing the district into smaller units of approximately 10-15 people and holding discussion meetings at people’s homes over coffee or tea. So let’s say one district had thirty people, for instance. You would have two meetings going on simultaneously. He felt the idea was worth a try. Evidently somewhere else it had or is being tried.

Tonight I read some of President Ikeda’s Youthful Diary and personally was greatly encouraged. Yet in a sense I am ashamed of my own actions as a human being. But I am determined to make this into fuel for my personal development as a human being. Since November I have not been working. In a sense I feel I’ve retreated, but don’t feel any remorse. The first two weeks of December I became ill with the flu, Russian I believe. For five days I had temperature. Two days of 102 degrees, one of 102.8. I did Gongyo in bed a couple of days because of the chill I felt.

JRR Tolkien Lord of the Rings

JRR Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings.

I became more ill. During my illness I chanted only a small quantity of daimoku I felt very weak. I did quite a great deal of reading to pass the time. I tackled and finally conquered JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.  It was a most enjoyable and informative book. I think I gained a new respect for life in several ways from this book. It is a book of the struggle of good against a dark evil. In a sense it triggered thoughts of a Bodhisattva’s struggle in our benighted world. A struggle by a common man, in this case a hobbit, against a powerful foe. A struggle against one’s own doubt and greed, a struggle which awakened the shoten zenjin in the environment.  Frodo holding onto the Evil Ring of Sauron and also the Phial of Galadriel. It reminds me of my own internal battle against the claws of greed and power taking us over. The phial of Galadriel like the Gohonzon inspiring a greater goodness inside. The power to complete the Quest, Gandalf the White against strong enemies protecting Frodo who grew from a meek Hobbit to a Hobbit of Great Integrity and Courage. Saurumon, or Sharky wicked society or wise man corrupted by the sweet sounds of power and greed.

All of this is good and wise. But I must indeed forge my own foundation through my own challenge. May, will be the month we will move to Montana. A great challenge lies ahead. Yet a great challenge must be to enjoy each moment and create value each day. Otherwise I’ll be living like a Christian seeking heaven after death. Past, present and future are contained in this moment.

I had a career realization which I deem a great challenge, but something I would really like to accomplish. To study international business, get a MBA and to learn fluently 4 languages.

  1. Russian
  2. Chinese
  3. Japanese
  4. French

I feel that the future will need linguists who can communicate among other people. It is a deep feeling for kosenrufu which spurs me in this direction. I want to study Buddhism as my hobby. Maybe even progress to the point where I could teach a class at the University of Montana.

  1. I need to develop a strict discipline of study.
  2. I determine to live a daily life worthy of a disciple of the Daishonin. Now I can only say I’m not, but I will do Hendoku Iyaku in this area!
  3. I need to develop a rhythmical daily life based on faith, based on creating value.
  4. I need to become constructive, active and devoid of slander.
  5. Joyful practice.

Too late. 1:47 am, must sleep and rise at 6:00 am with Liz.

by James C. Stephens


Friday, May 06, 1977 (1:45 a.m. Saturday Morning)

This week has not gone well as far as business goes, my determination has just not been there. I am chanting daimoku for my business to get together. I’m confident this will start to come about soon.

Tonight I had my first “date” with Isabel Nagy. I’m so excited tonight, it is hard to fall asleep. So I decided to tell you what happened tonight, impressions etc. You never know, what if this was my first date with my future wife. It would be neat to read such a thing in the future and look back on first impressions.

Of course I am not trusting my ability to reason, trying to take relationships rationally, but actually I’ll just shoot out what I feel.

Isabel I am so comfortable with. Many women in fact almost all I have never felt so relaxed with. From the time I picked her up, Isabel brought up philosophy. She discussed Jung and his view on Western people turning from Western thought, i.e., Christianity and turning to Eastern thought. He thought this would also pass since it meant putting down Western traditions. We discussed Nichiren Shoshu and Zuiho Bini. NSA being very assimulative with American culture. She brought up “Equis” a play, very interesting, I must read it.

We went out to General Lee’s restaurant in Chinatown. Had a great meal, really filling and a bottle of wine. We both were pretty spaced, but feeling good. During dinner we discussed Women’s Lib, the China Wall, travel, Hotel Street Hawaii, expensive restaurants in France, etc. Basically, a super relaxed dinner.

Coronet Theater Los AngelesThen we jetted off to the play and arrived just in time for the play to start at 8:35. We saw “Vanities” at the Coronet Theater on La Cienega Blvd. Oh at Dinner I found out some of Isabel’s family history. Her mother was born in France, her father in Hungary. Father escaped from Hungary after the Russian Revolution when the Russians wanted to draft him. Her mother lived in Northern France and fled during WWII occupation. They met somewhere in France. Father wanted to go to America, but the quotas didn’t permit him. So he ended up in Canada and earned enough money through a T.V. repair business to want to send for his love, Isabel’s mom. She told him I don’t think I can come or leave my country. So he spent all his money and bought a car, clothes, etc. Then he received a letter. ‘Changed my mind. I want to come.’ She said, ‘you are the only man I love and I don’t think I could ever meet another so I decided to come to Canada.’  Consequently  no money, they lived on little and spent their honeymoon in a hotel in town.

Isabel was born July 2, 1955 on a camping trip. She was delivered in a small town hospital at _______Sound.

The play was a comedy. Very strong impact!  Isabel was going through some heavy reflection. We had a very interesting dialogue. I must say she is very aware. Basic points: 3 cheerleaders are taken through life-H.S.-College-Post College 6 years. All three are popular riding on this dream. One reflects on herself. Kathy-One is an escapist, Mary and one Joanne just floats with programmed nitch-wife, kids, hubby.

Scene II. College graduation. Kathy same role, but in college, finally what is life all about? Tears to my eyes. She is developing a seeking spirit about life-Isabel really related to this.

Mary-I don’t know what to do, but I’ll just escape to Europe. Escapism is her bag.

Joanne-getting married by graduation. Ted is everything to her-doesn’t want to think about life and just floats on dreams.

Scene III.

Girls meet together six years later at (Damn Police Helicopters flying over at 2:30 in the morning. Wonder what crime is happening now?)

Vanities

Kathy’s apartment which she lives with somebody-you don’t see of course. Enter Joanne-looks like old woman has had 3 kids and 4th is on the way. Enter Mary-sexually liberated woman (so she thinks) runs a porn art studio, sells erotic art.

Scene goes from an explosion of myths-shows Mary still escapist. Joanne into alcohol and avoiding questioning reality and then Kathy saying, “you know all those books they assigned for us to read in college, well I’ve been reading and they’re much better than all those monarch notes (crib notes). The books aren’t that bad. She also brings up the popularity fame issue which she explodes beautifully. Joanne leaves not being able to cope with Mary’s morals. Joanne’s reality being shattered and drink the only weapon to cope. Afterwards dialogue between Mary and Kathy-they toast to forget the past. Honni’myo Spirit of Kathy.

Excellent play. Started out slow until you caught what was happening.

Isabel was depressed, we talked and went out for coffee.

She was tired, went home early-12:30 a.m. She is a most attractive young lady to me. We seem to be on a very good footing with each other. I hope we can develop something. I chanted daimoku when I got home. I find I thanked the Gohonzon for a most enjoyable evening and for meeting Isabel.

A strong reflection. We hugged and I felt I didn’t want to leave her. Not just the sexual urge, but more of a feeling that I was home with her. My knees knocked, I was nervous, I told her. She laughed. Her feminine essence was very strong to me, but in a most warm way. She has much capability I know. You see I can’t stop writing about her. It’s my feeling to want to be with her.

I asked her, her first impression of me. She said, “I like to be around you and you were very open and exuberant.

Anyway, I’m going to try to sleep.

Sweet dreams.

 

by James C. Stephens


Wednesday, May 04, 1977

Wildflower

Obstacles or sancho shima will arise when we are making headway in our practice. For our district we can say we are making strong headway. As of late we have confronted the demon of death and the demon of insanity. I’m sorry to say that my friend and colleague John DeGomez had a great tragedy befall him this past week. His sister whom I knew committed suicide by hanging herself. I deeply regret that she did and am grieved by this unfortunate circumstance, I send my daimoku to her. Her face is very clear to me. Damn!

The second demon was the X* incident. A girl that, nay a woman in her 30’s, who used to practice in the old Wilshire, caused a scene at the World Culture Center and threatened to slit a member’s throat. She had to be physically restrained. Saturday night she ended up at our discussion meeting. I welcomed her, naive of the fact she had this incident behind her, but nonetheless I sensed a strange feeling.

Tonight we had a district daimoku toso in which Steve Bell, Bruce Barnes and I arrived early in order to meet X* and uninvite her to our meetings. She did come and Mr. Bell put it in very humanistic and rational manner to X*, ‘Hi, sorry we have to uninvite you. Please understand why. We have to go on your recent performance at the headquarters and until you improve your track record I’ll have to ask you not to come to any meetings.’

The way he said it was a bit different and very merciful, but strict. He spoke to her in a mild rational way. I could not have done it. I of course had mixed feelings, but I definitely was against her coming to any meeting if there was any chance that a member might be hurt in the least.  Incidentally, she did leave and it seemed she understood and didn’t leave uptight.

My Young Men’s Division have recently gone through many changes. You know that Jeff Silver finally rolled up his Gohonzon. Now he will be only able to blame himself instead of the Gohonzon for his problems. I sincerely believe this is an important step in his human revolution. He will eventually come back, as soon as he grows up, realizes his shortcomings and realizes the value of the Gohonzon. He needs to learn by facing society along. I feel confident in this.

Two of my other Young Men’s Division are in need of finding meetings closer to their homes. Darrel Schreiner and Walter Johnson. I am in the process of trying to make this happen. Darrel’s practice is so-so, but Walter is doing well and wants a place where he can bus to and fro and become more involved. I’m excited for him. But I’ve got to get my rear in gear and find him a meeting place.

Tom Brittingham had a fling for about a week with some girl from India until some Arab Prince whisked her off to the middle East in his jet. The Gohonzon has an incredible way of protecting members. Amazing! Anyway he’s back struggling with school and practice. I’m not worried. He’s young and has a lot of guts. He’s a good kid, just a bit unsettled and confused. But it will work out.

Last night and afternoon I got my filing system in order. A major accomplishment. I feel 100% better with things in their proper place. Now I can begin many projects I have neglected because the lack of my organization.

Called Pat Flaherty this morning at work in Helena. He has now gotten into Christ, he says. Sent me a letter, but I never received it. Well, he has to practice Christianity to see for himself. He is wanting to know Buddhism’s relationship to Christianity. I can’t relate to him falling into this Christ trip, but then he said it was a good looking girl who gave her Christ experience. And again life is so mysterious the mind so marvelous. I am not in the least discouraged at my shakubukuing him. When he joins, watch out! The guy has so damn much potential.

Friday night Isabel and I are going to a play called Vanities. It’s a comedy. Should be a lot of fun.

 

Each day I will try to advance if only a step.

Yesterday I sent my Japanese friend a letter.

In this way without fanfare we will develop bonds that can never be broken by war, or evil demons or selfish politicians.

I’m trying to correspond more. I feel I am the link to the Gohonzon for a great many people, many friends.

Mission. A growing sense of this is blossoming in my life.

I’m trusting the Gohonzon more. Isabel is not a member, but of course I would like her to practice. I will take my relationship seriously but not filled with anxiety.

The desire grows within me to find my mate.

It’s becoming more exciting as my trust in the Gohonzon, grows. What every happens for my human revolution and growth.

Soon,

Seven years

Each day

seems, no brings

with it

the realization of what

Jiyu no Bosatsu

means to me.

A blade of grass

weak?

No, I don’t think so.

Look at it

she pushes up through

the seemingly impervious concrete.

What does she desire?

I believe to live, to breathe,

to search for its purpose.

Life.

I feel like the seedling

now sprouting its head through

the crust of earth

Seeing, breathing, seeking

Sun,

Seeking a master

for the first time

seriously.


“The days of man are like grass. He grows like a flower of the field.  When the wind blows over it, it is gone. Its place will remember it no more.” Psalm 103:15

by James C. Stephens


Wednesday, October 20, 1971

 

This morning Russ enshrined Dave’s Gohonzon and afterwards Dave and I did Gongyo together. The day I had was really vigorous. Class in Urban Administration was interesting.

 

This evening, a Shakubuku of mine actually called me and wants to come to a meeting. After Dinner, I wrote a couple of letters to friends in Japan and then I studied at the library for a 1 ½. After the library closed I did some Shakubuku. I won a religious debate over two Christians. One agreed with me about the pure lineage lacking in Christianity. In fact, when I left they argued about their philosophy. Christianity is a dangerous illusion definitely!

 

Gosho Whether or not your prayers are realized depends on your faith

When I got home I read longer, and when I started to doze I started reading Pres. Ikeda’s Complete Works on the Komeito Party[1], etc. His Ichinen is extremely powerful, because I ceased dozing and became extremely alert. Very strange to me.

 

Sunday, October 24, 1971

 

Today, we had an Oeshiki Ceremony celebrating Nichiren Daishonin’s Death. However, the celebration is not like celebrating a past event, but celebrating now. It was the first time I saw Sogohonbucho for any length of time since he returned from Tozon.

 

Dave, my Shakubuku met Gary Curtis…It rained early so we left the Temple early.


 

[1] Komeito Party, literally “Clean Government Party”  is Japan’s third largest political party which was founded by the Soka Gakkai.

Tozon: A pilgrimage to the Head Temple to worship the Dai Gohonzon, Nichiren Shoshu’s object of worship which serves as the pattern for everyone’s Gohonzon. Gohonzon’s are not owned by the member, but loaned to them.

 

by James C. Stephens


Tuesday, August 17, 1971

 

Jr. Hancho Meeting

 

Goals of Sogohonbucho.

 

  1. You are the meeting. Relate how Gohonzon changed you.
  2. Bring guests.
  3. Should call and see if they (district leader) need anything.
  4. Condition of Chiku.[1]
  5. Forget about what you are. Concentrate on what are you’re doing. What you’re doing shapes the future.

 

Monday, August 23, 1971

 

Summer is going by so fast, it really is a mind boggler[2]. Friday night I got guidance from Guy McCloskey my Shibucho and it straightened out a lot of thing in my practice. It was really a benefit to be able to talk to him. One day last week I went taitan[3] in my head and refused to do Gongyo, but ended up doing it at 1:30. I really felt good after I did it. Gongyo is far out.

 

One day I encountered a “Jesus freak.” He knew Nichiren Shoshu because he had been a member for 2 ½ years and burned his Gohonzon. I will never forget the terrible condition of his life. I could tell he was in hell, before he even said a word. His head was like they say split into 7 pieces. Very strange, I really see the terrible condition and effects of Christianity today.

 

I did a lot of Shakubuku this week, but am determined to do much more! I’ve really been encountering a lot of Christian heavies, but man am I cutting that karma.

 

My brother came down last week and it brought a big argument and he split. I really felt bad about it because my Dad’s nature comes out on Ron in a bad way. I hadn’t done morning Gongyo yet, but did after he left. I really chanted hard for Hendoku Iyaku “changing poison into medicine.”

 

Immediately after Gongyo I could not stay awake, so my Dad and I went to sleep and woke at 1:30, saying we’ve got to get out of this rut. So I said I want to look at some butsudon’s, so I ended up putting $10 down on a nice cabinet I’m going to make into a butsudon. It is definitely a benefit. So after we went out and ate and for some reason stopped at the Builder’s Emporium. We had already passed it but turned back and went in.

 

After looking around for about 10 minutes we ran into Rick Richards and I introduced him to my Dad. My Dad was hit very strongly by Rick’s Shakubuku.  My Dad attended his first meeting on Saturday Aug. 21, 1971, a day I will not forget.

 

I had one experience last week which I must write down because it is a very important benefit to my practice. One night, Rudy, my member stayed over. Because of that a girl he met, Linda, came over here, after being kicked out, to get Rudy’s #.  I let her stay here. It was a bad slander to Buddhism to let someone us my home as a crash pad, but I though it would be a good Shakubuku. It was the worst! You are a Bodhisattva not a Christian, practice like me. More mercy, better Shakubuku to not let them take advantage of you.

The girl ate our food without asking and never really thanked us. Never again!


 

[1] Chiku is a district meeting place. A men’s district leader is called a chikubucho.

[2] “Mind boggler,” slang for a situation or series of events that happen so fast that your mind can’t   correctly evaluate the situation because there are so many elements involved.  Liken it to attempting to rake up a pile of autumn leaves and a gust of wind comes along and blows them in circles.

[3] Taitan is the term for quitting one’s practice of Buddhism.