Posts Tagged ‘Ron Stephens’

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

Thursday-January 27, 1972

Phil Toy, Ken Tapola and I got a house which we had been chanting for. The house is going to be great for meetings. It is really a wreck now, but it can be fixed up so nice. When I think about how I would have reacted to such a house two years ago, I can really laugh at myself. We have changed.

This evening Russ enshrined Bill Myers Gohonzon and it was a good okrie.

Afterwards, we went to see Larry Jason in a play, put on by the Black Art Class. Russ, Chico, and Iwere the only white’s there. I really enjoyed the play, but even more I realized something more about the great separation between the white and black person in America. The feeling I got was, from the Blacks, “What are you doing here?” Wow, I enjoyed it though.

Another experience I had recently which I really enjoyed occurred during our recent World Tribune Campaign. Dan Castle who is an interpreter for deaf people took me to promote with at a deaf couple’s home. He didn’t say anything, but just talked with his hands with the couple we visited. It was an extraordinary experience, and so warm.


Saturday-January 29, 1972

Tonight we had a Leader’s Meeting at the Santa Monica Civic with Sogohonbucho and I was appointed Hancho. Wow, did I go through numbers. I couldn’t do Gongyo well, my heart thumped a million times a second, unbelievable.”


Thursday-February 11, 1972

My new district chief or Chikaton is Nancy Joyer. She’s really encouraging.


Saturday-February 19, 1972

“Everyday is a battle,

Reminds me of fighting for Seattle,

But each day I try to renew

the spirit of being a Bodhisattva.

A year ago I told my taicho

I really didn’t care about people.

He told me to chant to change that condition.

Strange, I have a much different feeling about

about people this day.

Last night before my member

came over I thought how fortunate

I am to have such friends.

I recall when I was young in Montana,

I used to dream of having a friend with whom you

could discuss anything and not hold anything back.

Many of my childhood feelings are really blossoming once again.

But the fruit of my dreams is now based in reality.


 Thursday-March 23rd, 1972

“Ron called me from Mammoth and says he should be down this weekend. I was really in a sour mood for him and also my dad today, definitely the lack of diamoku. I became very fed up with school today and called Soshibucho Gary Curtis.  I told him I was sick of school and he said, “Why? Are you having tests now?”

“No,” I said, “I just can’t get behind political science.”

He said,  “School is really a game and is a test for you. A lot is bulls…, but without it what do you want to be, a dishwasher?”

He said if he could take it for six years, I could take it for 1 ½ more years.


by James C. Stephens

File1170In 1967, my family moved back to California during my sophomore summer at Hellgate High in Missoula. Yes, it was called Hellgate. Attending James Monroe was a big change. I immediately got involved in extra-curricular activities, Junior Achievement, joined the Debate team and also student council. I was the Treasurer and later the Parliamentarian. During my senior year, I won Outstanding Debater of the Year award.

Highlights. I remember that I enjoyed eating lunch with Rodney Dilger and James Glanville. They were down to earth, counter cultural hippies. I was the Montana kid who was on the ski team and fairly naive about the city. One day they had given me a ride home and were smoking something in the back seat of their old Corvair and I said, “Hey, that better not be marijuana! They joked, “Of course not, we’re just smoking tea leaves!”  Yeh, I believed them.

On another occasion my debate partner, David Goldberg who I had won a gold medal with at a debate tournament at Taft High had grown muttonchops and was told that he had to cut them to meet the dress code or be suspended. He wouldn’t comply. So Dilger, Glanville and I put together a little counter cultural magazine called *The Gadfly* patterned after what the Greeks called Socrates and passed our mimeographed rag out on campus. We gave it our best shot.

File1108 - Copy - CopyRemember the Winter of ’69? The storms unceasingly hit the country for thirty days and snowplows couldn’t keep up with ole man winter. In some parking lots at Mammoth Mountain, California entire parking lots looked like well spaced bamboo forests where poles marked  cars submerged under feet of snow. My brother Ron and I were on Kratka Ridge Ski Team, a southern California team coached by Robin Morning, formerly on the US Ski Team and Pia Riva McIssacs, three time Italian downhill Olympic gold medal winner.  The storms were great for the local ski areas.  I had invited a girl that I was interested in up to watch me at an Alpine race up at Kratka Ridge. While,  I was warming up, I decided to take a run by her and show her what I had. As I hit an icy mogul, I caught a tip, dug in the snow, and did an unintentional cartwheel, crashed, burned and ended up breaking my arm. She wasn’t impressed. I would of buried myself in a snowdrift if I could have found one.

After that, I spent a lot of time on the bench during PE healing and recall getting into some philosophical discussions with my classmate, Russ Dilando, who had been my locker partner and classmate in my Russian class. One day, he sat next to me and showed me *Seikyo Times* a Buddhist magazine with my picture next to Joe Landis who was a television director and the moderator of a televised debate I participated in. Russ told me that Joe was a Buddhist and that I was going to be a Buddhist too.

“No way!”I said, “That’s communism.”

Russ said, “No, it’s Buddhism.”  I really had no clue at the time what he was talking about, but he and two other classmates Jim Jay and Carol Dell were really into it. He was Shakubukuing me, the Buddhist equivalent of sharing his faith with me. It was but a seed that he had planted.


Student politics. I decided to run against Kathy Kelly and Steve Knowles for Student Body President. It was not a memorable campaign. What was memorable was that we were able to get Strawberry Alarm Clock to play at our weekly student assembly. “Incense and peppermint, color of time” still rings in my mind.





File1154The clock was ticking and Senior Prom was approaching. No date. Every guy I knew was afraid to ask Deborah H. who looked like Kathryn Hepburn to the Prom. One day, I was in the library and I said to myself, “I like her, why not?” So I went up to Debra and asked her if she would like to be my date to the Senior Prom. She said, “Yes.”  I was ecstatic. I enjoyed our Prom date. Those were the days you could walk on the Santa Monica Beach at night. It was a romantic evening. Yes, I was a perfect gentlemen. At least that’s what I remember…






File3025Although this picture was not taken in 1970 (let’s pretend it was), it takes me back to February 1970 when I worked for my Dad at his Mobil Station on the corner of Westwood & Santa Monica Blvd., in West Los Angeles just south of UCLA. Years later, my wife Elizabeth told me she used to get off the bus right by these gas pumps when she was returning home from University High School. She was in her senior year when I was pumping gas just prior to going to Cal State Northridge. We never met:(