Posts Tagged ‘Joju Gohonzon’

by James C. Stephens

April 19, 1974

Spirit of Toban

Talk by Honbucho Mr. Hall

Protecting the Joju Gohonzon means protecting the Headquarters from crazy people. It’s President Ikeda’s building, Mr. William’s building. There are three things to remember as Yusohan:

  1. To protect the Dai Gohonzon.
  2. Protect President Ikeda or the President of the organization.
  3. Protect the members.

Prevention is a hell of alot better than putting out a fire. In your mind be alert. As assistant you should be at your seat when members are around, but not glued. You represent President Ikeda!

NSA constructs people. Toban is for your future development! Look at young men today in our society. Damn few developing men with vigor.

Toshiro Mifune is an example of someone who is courageous and has guts. One who exemplifies spirit of master and disciple. Human spirit strong like a lion and mountain. Fighting to grasp the same spirit.

General Director Williams has unshakable courage and words like swords. Shakubuku meeting is a war of words. Not to chop people. Our enemies are misunderstanding, confusion. Such a perfect battle to engage in today. Special training to become treasure of NSA. To understand spirit of Toban. Where else can you find a master that gives a damn. That stays up nights thinking how to train you.

Because of training you become a free person. Not training for NSA, but as a leader in society. We need leaders who give a shit about the people. Happy society will not happen until leaders stand up.

Victory-to win. No win, no mercy. Win so you can help another. Devote your life to what is good and what is right.

Mercy. Work for people, work for society according to the law of the universe.



by James C. Stephens

March 7, 1974

On Friday, March 1st a new era began in NSA. At the first Headquarters Mr. Williams enshrined a new Joju Gohonzon. The old Gohonzon was ten years old and had Soka Gakkai written on it. The new Gohonzon has Nichiren Shoshu Academy, November 26, 1973 written on it. Friday night I was TCD for this activity. Boy did I go through some heavy changes. Dave Anderson, my TCD chief gave it to me with both barrels. I was TCD of the cross walk on Lincoln Blvd. and what a responsibility it is to guard the crosswalk for pedestrians.

Saturday morning I got a call from my Shibucho to be TCD at the Joint Headquarters. So Saturday morning the first thing I had to do was get some gas. The lines at most stations were about 30 minutes long and I didn’t really have the time to wait that long. Strangely, a service station decided to open up exclusively for my member Paul Diamond and I. (Many years later he asked me to fill in for him as a chauffeur for Eli Broad, who would become the wealthiest entrepreneur in Los Angeles. I did so. Picked up the three newspapers he read daily,  Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and LA Times, drove to his house and drove him in his Jaguar to the UC Board of Regents meeting in Long Beach).

Afterwards I went to the Joint Headquarters and talked to Scott Wilson and at about 4:30 I went to the airport to pick up Mrs. De Chu of Panama. She’s really a groovy person. She speaks Spanish, English, and Japanese and was really an incredible person.  After I picked her up at the airport I took her out to buy some clothes. We sang Doshi-no-uta together.

At eight I had another mission. Instead of going to a meeting I had to drive Mrs. Hall and Mrs. Chuda. I drove them to Malibu in the super van. What a trip. It was pouring rain and all the way out we were learning Doshi-no-uta. I was teaching them the words and son, but in essence they were teaching me the spirit of the song. We sang the song all the way there in the rain, fixed up some beads for President Ikeda’s room and then sang Doshi-no-uta to Mr. Enaba and his wife before we left. It was such a groovy experience.

Sunday morning at 6:00 I started picking up Senior leaders at the Airport for the special Senior leaders meeting with Mr. Williams that afternoon. Once Brad Nixon from Seattle found out that I was originally from Montana he casually joked about the need for leaders in Montana. Later he got serious and he asked my name and who my Shibucho was.

To me it was definitely a benefit from the Gohonzon that such a thing would happen. It was not a mere circumstance. I’m sure of that. Cause and effect are too clear to me for that.

After morning transport, I was told no more help was needed that they had a fresh crew. Well I stayed anyway just downstairs and shaved and washed my face and then took a nap for an hour while we were waiting for the leader’s meeting to conclude.

Afterwards we cleaned up and I was fortunate to be able to give Mrs. O’Rayeh who was carrying Gohonzon’s for Las Vegas, a ride to the airport. On the way, I told her of my Montana benefit from Brad Nixon. He told me he would give me Montana and Idaho and even part of Canada if I decided to move. She was in the bus earlier when he talked to me.

Josei Toda Portrait

Second President Josei Toda.

On the way, she told me about her early practice and her husband Mr. O’Rayeh. She told me that they both received guidance from President Toda personally. She told me he was a very funny person, but very powerful when he had to be, but immediately afterward he would encourage the person he just scolded. Mr. Grant told me that once too. He said that Mr. Williams would scold someone and he really would forget right afterwards. He doesn’t harp on things. Mrs. O’Rayeh said also that President Toda usually wore a kimono. He was a very relaxed person and unusually tall for a Japanese. When he used to give guidance he always would look at you over his glasses with his head tilted down.

I swear I believe we or at least me, for example, take Japanese or people who have practiced a long time for granted. But I felt her beauty from the Gohonzon very deeply. She has had the Gohonzon for something like 20 years. She’s definitely a groovy example of the Gohonzon.

Later that night I got guidance from my Soshibucho Gary Curtis on my job. He told me to stick with it. It’s easy to cop out, he said, but stick it out. He said to quit before the convention is senseless. If you have the Ichinen there will be plenty to do two weeks before the Convention.

Last week Pres. Ikeda was in town for three days. My Chikubucho in fact our whole district was fortunate to have our Chikubucho be with President Ikeda.

For three days before President Ikeda got here, the Malibu Training Center now renamed the Malibu Community Center by President Ikeda, was moving fast. Friday night I helped in the pouring rain and I mean pouring.

Saturday, however I had tobon at the 1st Headquarters during the day. That day was really far out. The Koteketai was leading a whole lot of songs and then all of a sudden, I was called. “And now we’ll have a song from the Toban.” What a hell of a rush. I started off by singing NSA we’re going to Sho Hondo. Oops! Everybody cracked up. Then I sang a vigorous rendition of Shakubuku Song and quickly exited back to my seat to the thunderous applause of the Koteketai. What a rush!

During the week I made the resolution to be on time for work. Monday I did not work, but really got a lot accomplished. I took care of 3 warrants, my registration, address changes, payed off a bounced check and various other things. It was totally worthwhile. Now I have one warrant left which I’m now working on taking care of. I decided not to buy a new car, but to put money into my ’64 VW and get it painted. I think it’s a wise decision, because the price of cars has gone up accordingly with the price of everything else. Hell, you can’t even buy milk one day without the price going up the next minute you turn around. It’s a strange situation. Everywhere you turn there’s some type of problem. If it’s not inflation, it’s gas lines, it’s a line at the post office. The even sadder thing is that the Government is not moving fast enough to put a stop to this critical situation. The gas crisis they say, well it’s over, but is it? Maybe temporarily, but unfortunately the Arab oil barons, a handful of men, could do it easily again to us at an even more crucial time.

It’s four a.m. now at the Joint Headquarters and people are still moving around so at least one Toban should be up. Guess who?

It’s my first Toban at the Joint so I want to be the best Toban! I’m not trying to be a martyr by staying up all night, but Mr. Hall said the Joint Headquarters should be especially protected even if “it means staying up all night yourself.”

by James C. Stephens

Thursday, November 1, 1973

At 8:00 we did a special Gongyo with Mr. Hall. Not only was it the regular first of the month gongyo, but more significantly it was the 10th anniversary of enshrining the Joju Gohonzon.

Santa Claus at the Beverly Hills HotelBesides having a fantastic day at school where my drawing teacher said I was doing B+-A- work and doing a half hour and more shakubuku; a special meeting hancho up was called with Vice President Williams at the First Headquarters. What an incredibly good ‘homey’ feeling, like I would not have traded being anywhere else for anything. What great fortune of being with V.P. Williams on his 10th anniversary with the Joju Gohonzon. He told us someday, in fact 10 years from now, we would have this Gohonzon enshrined in a room 10 times as big and it would be the International Center. He gave us great hope for the future. He talked about the San Diego Convention and revealed some of his hopes for it. Our theme song is going to be Jingle Bells. He said Santa Claus is really a Bodhisattva and we are his helpers, his Sancho Panzas. He told us to get plenty of rest, because Kosenrufu will not be done tomorrow or the next day but will take many years so let’s please all make it to the year 2000 together okay?! Hai!

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

Saturday, September 11, 1971


George M. Williams photoThe highlight of my Day as seeing Sogohonbucho enshrine the Joju Gohonzon at our new Headquarters. It was beyond words.  After Gongyo when he turned around his life, his eyes are just so beautiful, I felt tears in my life. I feel so happy when I’m around him. He encourages you so much through his life. He said that our Gohonzon is the first in America, November 3, 1963, enshrined by the High Priest Nittatsu Shonin and with Pres. Ikeda. He talked about Hosshaku Kempon[1], and how we are going through the same human revolution from Transient to True Teaching. I can’t parrot what he said, but I can really feel it, but can’t write it.

He also said that we “must use that Headquarters. Pres. Ikeda is here 24 hours a day. Just chant daimoku and you will fuse with him for guidance. The Gohonzon has Pres. Ikeda’s name on it, and his whole Ichinen is here with it.”


Sunday, September 12, 1971

Today was the opening ceremony, but I am much happier to have seen Sogohonbucho the first to enshrine Joju Gohonzon and actually the beginning of Honmon with Gohonzon. It was a great beginning.


Tonight we promoted World Tribune. No success, but we planted a lot of seeds.


[1] Hosshaku kempon: “Literally, “to cast off the transient and reveal the true.” A Buddha’s act of discarding his transient or provisional status and revealing his true identity.” Pg. 166-167 NSIC.

by James C. Stephens

Saturday, April 16, 1971

Today I got up at about 8:00 and cleaned my room. Sal came over and we chanted an hour of good daimoku and did Gongyo. Afterwards we drove down to Fullerton and got a girl’s World Tribune. It was really a good experience Shakubukuing an older lady and a young girl.  They were Sal’s old acquaintances and it was a good Shakubuku. They fed us lunch and we had a good personable talk, no real hang-ups. It feels real good.


Then we went to the Honbu and fortunately the Fuji shobo was open and I got my Seattle T-shirt for Band Tommorrow….I had an unbelievably full schedule for me, but the Gohonzon helped me achieve my goal; for your daily schedule has got to be a goal. I got one World Tribune today which brings my total to four. It broke my record of last month, so I’m happy for that. And it just seemed my schedule answered itself. I was going to pick up my new butsudon, but Russ left it here, I was supposed to call up Jay Stone, but Jay called me; I zipped in cleaning the house and it was just a good day.


Evening we had a good Zadankai meeting. We had an elderly man and many younger guests. I helped the older man and it made me feel good inside. But not just good, but it put me through human revolution.


One other thing I must note; My Dad, while buying some hay, ran across a man he hadn’t seen in ten years. The benefit is this man offered my Dad or asked him to interview for a job managing a Rental (U-Rent type of set-up) Shop for $15,000-20,000 + commission a year. It sounds good, but I don’t get my hopes too high. I just have got to get him to chant so it goes through; I will chant, too of course.


Oh, I practiced my instrument again day by day. Now I must extend that to my studies.


Tomorrow-Myohoji—can’t wait.

World Tribune campaigns. On a monthly basis we would go out and promote the organization’s newspaper to members, friends, relatives and meet briefly each night to see who got the most subscriptions.

Zadankai meetings: Discussion meetings were held in individual’s homes and occassionally at the Headquarters, wherein one would bring guests to a meeting designed to introduce them to Buddhism.

Honbu-Each headquarters had a meeting place. Santa Monica Headquarters originally was housed in an old Elk’s Lodge that we remodeled as members. One would enter through a front door into the reception area where the Men’s Division or Young Men’s Division would be on Toban (guard). Downstairs was a sitting area with vending machines, near the Fuji shobo where one could purchase religious articles such as beads, incense, books, and convention t-shirts; the Headquarter’s chief’s office, and restrooms.

One would go upstairs, take off one’s shoes, and then enter the main meeting area which housed the especially inscribed Joju Gohonzon (Object of worship) made for each headquarters, housed in a large Butsudon on a platform in the front of the room. One would chant sancho daimoku three times out of respect. Usually on the right hand side of the wall hung a photo of President Ikeda, the third President of the Soka Gakkai. On the platform were offerings of fruit and during New Year’s mushimoshi, rice cakes.  On another altar table were place two candlesticks, an incense burner and on the floor to the right a bell which would be rung to help others in a call to prayer.  Women would sit on the right, men on the left.

In an adjacent room was a room especially dedicated to President Ikeda whenever he would visit. Next to that was a kitchen.