Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

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

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by James C. Stephens


December 5, 1976

File2982

Young Men’s Division Leaders gathered together for a commemorative group photo of the First YMD Training Meeting in North America with Nichiren Shoshu Academy General Director George M. Williams on the lawn in front of the Malibu Training Center on December 5, 1976.

(The following notes are from the first Young Men’s Division (YMD) training meeting in Malibu, California on December 5, 1976 as they were taken with no annotations, so it’s pretty rough, but provides an idea of what went on in the meeting).

Mr. Wilson-You have just learned formality and surface of Mr. Williams.

G.M.W.- Many years ago Y.M.D. Training meeting- Mt. Wilson, Santa Barbara. Always to study Pres. Ikeda’s writing. Today study Pres. Ikeda’s Guidance towards the 21st Century. Ode to Youth. Let’s make determination towards 21st Century. What we can do for Pres. Ikeda, not what he can do for us.

Your age 25. Perfect age as leaders of the 21st Century.

Read with sound.

Especially important for Y.M.D. Answer with sound. If you’re reply can understand by kyo.* Steady, inside strong determination.

Like Gongyo recite sutra-Ode to Youth. Sutra is writings. Pres. Ikeda’s writings sutra should..

  1. Many obstacles-attitude of everyday life. Life without problems. Something always there. Cold wind blows-to me not my members. Trouble to me not my members. Challenging-receive testing as a senior leader. Sanrui-no-Goteki.*
  2. Do-Juman* -from neighbors, etc. General public.
  3. Religious World-Clergy.
  4. Sancho Do Juman-Opposition from authority. Most respected journalists. People in General society.

Only people understand life emotionally. Peoples society based on religion. Religion way of life. Today IRA-Middle East, Lebanon, Christian, Jewish, Islam.

Roman Empire-Always condemning, killing.

17th Century-New England Area. Witchhunts-people burnt.

Catholic Pope vs. Emperor Kings.

In Question-Man of La Mancha, Cervantes.

Today, not religion, but religion is communism. vs Capitalism. Old wars, Hot wars.

People in 700 year ago Japan, Zokuchu DoJuman.

In future we can expect these enemies. Right now I don’t know how many will titan. Daniel Webster hope all will protect people with justice. Daniel Webster’s gravestone asks, “How’s the Union?”

Responsibility. is how we can protect Soka Gakkai, NSA, S.G. International.

Government level.

Constitution. Article I-Freedom of Religion

Nov. 21, 1620. Mayflower-Pilgrims.

Nation-USA-most fought subject-Pilgrims.

So many don’t know the power of the Gohonzon. You should develop and grow. Shakubuku.

Never change rhythm of faith.

Mass Media/ Magazine/Newspaper.

Most U.S. papers relay regional news. World Tribune only National.

NSA organization same way. Strong nationwide. Catholic, Southern Baptist.

Our target towards 21 century.

You are most important. Gakkai Spirit of Pres. Toda, Ikeda.

Eventually may expect Sanrui-no-Goteki.

Crucial moment remember. Stick with President Ikeda, Gosho, Gohonzon.

Eliminate Slander.

Searching Spirit.

5 points.

One. Always on side of people.

Practice sincere faith.

Master-Disciple Relationship-most important for Human Revolution.

Never stray.

Pray towards Japan. Thought sun from that direction. Old NSA headquarters (on Santa Monica on Pacific Coast Highway).

8:00- Morning sun. Symbol of Youth.

Eight-means Hachiman-Open

Boundless power-chanting daimoku.

Muhengyo-Power no limit.

Steady-Accurate.

Like Sun-never prejudice, but equal to grow.

Giving people hope, courage, confidence.

Two. Orbit-faith.

Aiming towards Kosenrufu (world peace through Buddhism).

Aiming towards our master (Daisaku Ikeda).

Loving the organization, protect and make harmonious, humanistic and unity.

Story. Friendship, never betray.

Help each other, support each other.

Ichinen (focused life force) of Responsibility-Severe on yourself.

One person in group.

Should stand alone.

Together strong, but alone?

On job, in society?

If all titan (quit the faith), one stands up. He is a true disciple.

West Point-strict training.

Strict training-severe on yourself. Never take mean strict guidance. You are qualified to receive this strict severe guidance.

Severe Guidance comes. Take strong. Follow sincerely Buddhism.

Broad mind.

Zenchijiki-Haeno Saemon made Nichiren Daishonin True Buddha.

Enjoy all days campaign.

King of Beasts-Lion never look for help.

But strong-people will follow you. Not easy way.

Three. Mission Civilization of the People, by the People, for the People.

To Wake Up! People waiting for YMD (Young Men’s Division).

Four. (no notes)

Fifth. Darker the night the nearer the dawn.

Steady burning of the Sun. Continuation. Rhythm, Vitality, Justice.

Sixth. Try to prove yourself. First, You yourself by such strong determination, Anger for the wrong things in the world. Reverse, not punish but reawaken spiritual Renaissance.

Ikeda University. Freshman.

Myo no Shoran. Inconspicuous.

Seventh. Fundamental challenge is oneself. Enemy within us.

Weak nature. Target to change. Ichinen within us.

Gumpon-no-mumyo. Dark spot which we can not realize.

Habitual laziness. Bathroom-reading.

Nichiren Daishonin-700 years ago.

April 1958. UCLA-GMW (George M. Williams, aka Masayasu Sadanaga) letter from President Ikeda, when President Today passed away. New Year’s message from Pres. Ikeda. Be Friendly, Bright, Cheerful.

Spoiled spirit.

Lagura Matsu nori- Son of Sakyamuni-Behind the Scenes.

Move, Action.

Sincere Motivation. Manyo, people’s poem. 1000 years ago in Japan.

Tale of Suiko. Emperor of China at the time, like the Son of Heaven.

He spoke of Revolution in terms of Kaku-Reformation, Mei-Order or life.

108-Devils under monument became stars in heaven.

108-People in Society.

Questions asked on Languages: Gosho should be in our language.

Question: Rissho Ankoku Ron in America asked by Ralph Anderson.

Question: L. Arnold- New position 5 YMD- Hippy type in Thousand Oaks.

[Our meeting ended on the lawn with a commemorative photo with General Director George M. Williams].

 

by James C. Stephens


July 8, 1973

Kosen-rufu Gongyo with General Director George M. Williams.

‘We are pioneers–pioneers mean you have no money. You are pioneers like 100 years ago. Same frontier spirit. Must develop same spirit. No air-conditioning for them. Really a hard task to travel West. Some pioneers cry and some never see their family again.

‘First time I came 16 years ago, no community center. First Headquarters an old post office. President Ikeda told me to move to the West Coast. Then Western White House. Now Watergate.

‘President Ikeda stayed at the Watergate overlooking the Potomac River. But he stayed only one night. Asked about Washington, D.C.. No one knew much. He said, please you are young. Please study much. Learn about your country. You will be proud. Please study. Ok?

‘Study Democracy. You must study so you don’t have mob-o-cracy. Ignorance like the Salem Witch Trials.

‘What is the season? What type of world we live in? Through faith in Gohonzon we overcame. Many of us narrow-minded. We are the intellectual division of NSA. Read Time or Newsweek. Study alot.

‘Cousin smarter than me. But as soon as he graduate he went to hospital. Still there. I’m dumber maybe, but happy. Don’t worry about comparing university. You are members of NSA and disciples of President Ikeda. If you can’t study books, study NSA Quarterly.

‘The human body strange, hardships, problems, study all come back to you. Much knowledge comes from experience. Really become proud of America. If you’re Canadian, be proud of Canada. Just become a better human being. Better asset for nation, world and all mankind.

‘2001 just around the corner. Many of you will be on the moon. I hope all of you will become great leaders. I always spend each Kosenrufu Gongyo with you. I hope nobody hates you. Maybe no one follow you now, but 5, 10, 20 years from now, thousands, millions of people will follow you.

‘Chanting daimoku is important because the campaign (in Japan) is not over, the result is not in yet, so we have extended daimoku campaign tonight.

12:45 AM. Tokyo Time-9:00 on Monday. Komeito election.

Ikeda_Williams‘Good friends. My first butaicho (Young Men’s Division Chapter Chief) Mr. Y (sp?), now an assemblyman. Mr. Matsuo used to be one of my chikubucho’s (District Chief’s) when I was a YMD Taicho. I too care of 8 districts. Next Kakura, second from left end under President Toda, a General Director, #1 elected to Congres in Japan in 1956.

‘A Yusohan chief-Mr. Hachima, chief of all TCD (Young Men’s Traffic Control Division)-I under him. TCD lost spirit in Japan. They say George M. Williams take spirit away to America.

‘Behind the scenes spirit–TCD–happy, not Nazi feeling, but protect the members, and give the guests a good impression and feeling. Quick Action. Clear and Accurate Information. Watch for elderly people and children. Don Quixote spirit. Love everyone. Uniforms important. So they don’t get arrested directing traffic. Only TCD get special uniform, badge. Like Angel Corps (Young Women’s Division). Good Judgment. Smooth going. Thank you’s make things go better. Hard work.

‘Hard work–much difficulty, but remember you are pioneers. But as long as you have Gohonzon and President Ikeda. I your big brother with President Ikeda our daddy.

‘Keep study–not just recent news, but history of Los Angeles and the United States, of religious persecution. If you are just proud of Los Angeles you are a like a frog-in-the-well. Develop a systematic way of study.

‘Maybe not too handsome or pretty yet. Today’s handsome, I don’t trust.

‘Nichiren Daishonin always receiving persecution from all walks, types of people. In 1261 he was exiled to Izu Peninsula.

He (George M. Williams) then pointed at Gohonzon, ‘This is God. Open your eyes right in front of you. Jewish, Catholic, Chinese Gohonzon. Gohonzon same everywhere.

‘President Ikeda’s student should be A+ person at job or school. Let Gohonzon come in. Stand up this time, march towards the future. You can enjoy good health. Chant daimoku for good health. Someday become a great prince. Pay now, fly later-old Buddhism. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism–fly now.

‘Kosenrufu and Shakubuku in past untouchable, now touchable. Kosenrufu one by one. Everyday Kosenrufu!

by James C. Stephens


July 6, 1973

Only 99 days left to the convention it said at the Headquarters. Each day I hope to make a stronger determination and really build it in my life. Lately, I have been on a communication campaign with my assistant chapter chief Russ Dilando. One of my big problems has been communication. I report on things like a bureaucrat rather than as a human being. When I feel lousy I try to paint a rosy picture to my district chief, like, “I feel lousy, but I determine to change it!” Instead of telling him, straight like a common person, and getting to the root of the problem. That’s a big problem in our society. We may admit we have faults, but often it is just useless talk, when we don’t really try to get down and change those problems through action.

Mike Lisagor my chikabucho (district chief) said that many of my Sr. leaders said that when I find somebody to communicate with (a Sr. Leader) then my practice will really change.

I need to really be able to take guidance no matter how harsh it is and translate it into action. That is one of my major obstacles in handling or being able to handle more responsibility.

Another problem I am trying to tackle more consistantly is the problem of on-shitsu. I am chanting to the Gohonzon to be able to really learn from other people and rather than compete with others to learn that the battle is really against myself.

Right now I only have $100.00 down on Tozon and not to say the least I am worried about it. However, the job I got as an administrative coordinator is not bad. I really chanted for a well paying job and for a job that I could put myself to a definite challenge. Well, I got it. I type invoices, I file, I answer phones, talk to clients, work with bank accounts and truthfully am under some pressure. I am really happy for the challenge. It pays $2.75 an hour which is 50 cents an hour more than I ever made before. We are a service company which ships commercials for radio and T.V. and has other clients which we handle their business of film distribution throughout the U.S. It is definitely a good experience.

My obstacle are showing for Sho-hondo Convention for sure. For the last week I have had a touch of the flu, and not too good of a diet to fight it. I have been trying to get things turned on at my new apartment for the last week and so things and money have been tight. I got the electricity turned on last week and the phone this week.

Red VWMy car–wow. It’s a sore subject. I rarely am not seen running alongside it and then hopping in and popping the clutch to start it.

Well, it’s time to get back to work. I just shakubukued the waitress Maria–she’s from Columbia. Bye.


I was working two jobs. Before I got the job at Benson-Jones I got a graveyard shift job busing tables and doing dishes at Alphy’s Coffee Shop. I was determined to save up money for the Sho-Hondo Convention in Japan. I would go to evening meetings from 7-8:30PM, volunteer at the warehouse until 10:00PM, drive home, take a short nap, go to work busing tables and doing dishes at a 24 hour coffee shop, go home, take a short nap, shower, do my morning Gongyo (prayers), drive to Toluca Lake to work at my Administrative job, take a nap during lunch, work. Repeat.

by James C. Stephens


Tuesday-May 23, 1972

Last night Jim Jay, Lee Pederson and I returned the key from the Min-on warehouse #1 and we saw a few people gathered around a person upstairs, so we just went up there and a lady said, “Excuse me,” but we just kept walking. For two hours Mr. Fukushima Youth Division Chief gave everyone personal guidance from Gongyo to marriage.

He said, “I’d rather you not be seen, but be like the axle on a car, it’s the dirtiest, darkest job, but it is the driving force of the car. You know the drive shaft can’t be seen. You be the same.

“In your twenties you should wear working clothes, later in your 40’s and 50’s you will have plenty of time to wear other dressy clothes…

He said, “It takes a different foundation to build a trailer house or a one story house. You can have a girlfriend or such and be happy for a year, maybe even three years, but we are building a foundation like the Empire State Building you know. We are building happiness for forty and fifty years and happiness for eternity. That’s why the 20’s are so important.”

by James C. Stephens



Tuesday-May 9, 1972 

It is not an easy task being a true pioneer. It is a constant struggle against yourself, always pushing a step further, when you feel you can not go anymore. Life is constant struggle, but it is so beautiful, because with great struggle comes great growth.

President Ikeda states:

‘On the road to World Peace many problems may occur.
However, through Hendoku Iyaku we must continue our
boundless advance, never stopping for anything.’

………..

Tuesday-May 23, 1972

North America Joint Headquarters Building in Santa Monica, California.

Last night Jim Jay, Lee Pederson and I returned the key from the Min-on Warehouse #1 and we saw a few people gathered around a person upstairs, so we just went up there and a lady said, “Excuse me” (wanting to prevent our access), but we just kept walking. For two hours Mr. Fukushima Youth Division Chief (from Japan) gave everyone personal guidance from Gongyo to marriage.

He said, ‘I’d rather you not be seen, but be like the axle on a car. It’s the dirtiest, darkest job, but it is the driving force of the car. You know the drive shaft can’t be seen. You be the same.’

‘In your twenties you should wear working clothes, later in your 40’s and 50’s you will have plenty of time to wear other dressy clothes…

‘He said, ‘It takes a different foundation to build a trailer house or a one story house. You can have a girlfriend or such and be happy for a year maybe even three years, but we are building a foundation like the Empire State Building. We are building happiness for forty and fifty years and happiness for eternity. That’s why the 20’s are so important.”


 

Hendoku Iyaku: Changing poison into medicine. Basically taking challenges and turning them into opportunities for growth.

by James C. Stephens


Thursday, April 15, 1971

About 3:30 this morning we had a 3.5 earthquake. Really strange…I got back my gov’t test-got a D, as in Despicable, and then had a talk with Professor Machado. I shakubukued him. Now I must really shakubuku him through better grades and class participation…

I studied for my Man’s religions exam but fell asleep, in the library. That seems to be a real problem with me, I use it as an escape…

Today I have a new determination to advance on my clarinet and in my studies day by day. But we’ll just have to see how long that lasts….[1]

We had a very good Brass Band practice tonight. I helped another member with his music and it really felt good. After Band, Honbucho, Mr. Kikamura spoke to us about Sundays activities at Myohoji.[2]

He quoted President Ikeda, saying that we should all develop our talent.” Because we can do something no one else can do for Kosen rufu. However he said that we should never think that Nichiren Shoshu needs us, but we really need Gohonzon for our individual happiness.

He says Sogohonbucho[3] is working very hard and maybe we could help him a little more by chanting some daimoku for our unity and his success in his travels…I really chanted tonight to feel unity maybe it will come with hard work.

Ask Gohonzon in Evening Gongyo[4] to be in high spirits the next day and have a constructive meaningful day.

Plan your activities a day in advance during evening Gongyo is a good time. And then rethink it during morning Gongyo.

 

 


[1] {I was very pessimistic about my ability to maintain a discipline}.

[2] Myohoji Temple was built in Etiwanda, California and was about an hour drive east of Santa Monica.  We used to take members there to receive their Gohonzon (Buddhist object of worship) and also for marriages, funerals, and New Years’ activities.  I became acquainted with one of the later priests who is now at Taisekiji near Mt. Fuji in Japan.

[3] Nichiren Shoshu’s organization was a hierarchy that was based upon the master-disciple relationship and used Japanese terminology to denote rank.  Sogohonbucho was George M. Williams, the General Director of  Nichiren Shoshu Academy (NSA, now known as SGI, International-or Soka Gakkai International).  Honbucho was Headquarter’s Chief, who was over the Soshibucho’s (General Chapter Chiefs) who were over Shibucho’s (Chapter Chiefs), who were over Chikabucho’s (District Chiefs) who were over Hancho’s (who were han or small group leaders) who were over junior hancho’s (who were cell leaders).  Each of the male roles had a female role that complemented it.  There were four divisions within the organization: Men’s division, Women’s division, Young Men’s Division (YMD), and Young Women’s Division (YWD).

[4] Gongyo is the prayer liturgy of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhists based upon a chapter and a half of the Lotus Sutra which is recited five times with accompanying silent prayers in the morning and three times in the evening.