Posts Tagged ‘Ron Stephens’

by James C. Stephens


Wednesday, June 05, 1979

Finished a terrific day off with life. I love my wife very deeply. Our relationship is growing tremendously each day and I would just like to express my appreciation here of my wife’s magnificence. I will stick by her no matter what, let me always remember this. Death will not sever our relationship. I think I experience fear of things worsening when things seem to be getting better at times. We must both look ahead. This is of utmost importance. Then our relationship is so terrific. After the toso tonight, on the way back home, Liz talked about many things she was feeling. I can’t tell you how overjoyed I am to hear her communicate so freely. It’s such a tremendous joy for me to experience her exuberance.

Judy called this evening and left a message on the tape. She got my letter and was moved to hear from me. I tried to reach her at 11:10, however no one was home. I’ll try tomorrow.

Had teeth cleaned today. Talked to Dr. Coombs. Seems to be having some problems. I like the guy; had a short conversation regarding his work and his having bad days.

Physical exam for General Telephone Employment application. Dr. Stevens’ letter upset me in its incompleteness. Worked it out. Still waiting for the word on acceptance.

Breakfast with Kathy this morning. Talked about our experience with workshop and our sexual relationship with people. Interesting.

Toso tonight. Chanted for about 45 minutes. I ended up leading it. Session of chanting was a real personal workshop. Benefited from the experience greatly. Feel tremendous. Sleep well! Love, me.

P.S. Saw Suzanne Tarlton tonight. Talked with Geoff Johnson, very interesting fellow, has a lot going, hope to see him more. Our conversation was meaningful. Instead of flitting around to several people, I really stayed with him and gave him my presence. I enjoyed sharing with him.

File1209Wife and I sailed on Sunday with brother Ron in Marina Del Rey. It was a fun experience. Of course it was cold and I broke out in usual hives and rash. Most of all I enjoyed seeing Liz take off in boat with Ron. Her first time sailing. Leaning over board, switching sides, it was exciting. What a trip!

Went through a quick number previous to going sailing with Mike going to Malibu and Liz possibly going. I wanted her with me. My possessive nature. It worked out, but the conflict remains inside me although no where as heavy as previously.  Goodnite., Oh one more thing.

Went to General Lecture tonight with Sudo. A real drag. Started on my personal campaign to become a class A lecturer on Buddhism. I can do it.

Thursday, June 14, 1979

File1338The Actualization’s workshops for June began today with seven NSA members attending. Donna Bond, Darlene Benson, Ford Watson, Greg Case, Ric Coleman, and Elaine Elders.

Yesterday Liz and I attended Holiday Spa for the fourth time. Chris DeLisle, Lydia and Linda came with us. On our way out we ran into Judy the Doctor of Psychology who took the May workshop. We spent over an hour in the Van talking. It was an interesting experience. One observation. Everyone goes through bummers, the important things is to keep moving, keep doing and you’ll work through it.

Afternoon drove Bob Rafkin to pick up wife’s car from UCLA hospital. They’re in the process of getting a divorce and Joanne is bringing a lot of sickness to herself by tension, etc. She has colitis and has been bleeding internally. She needs to practice, but evidentally is not facing the reality of the situation. Suzanne and Mrs. Harris evidently have been giving Bob one hell of a rough time. Liz and I met him at Pacific Sandwich and Savings tonight and spent some time together.

Big thing accomplished this week. Got hired at General Telephone as a customer service representative. Big step.

Problems with school-no motivation. Just dropped off.  Did learn some good stuff so I don’t feel I wasted money and time.

So much happening. Spa is definitely a plus experience. Redoing house, less clutter, more light, more spacious. Environment reflects my life condition.

Roquemore and my friendship meaningful. Great friend. Reading Kahlil Gibran. Bought several of his books.
Les Steinberg and my relationship-rocky. He seems unsure of who he is. Being a judge much of the time. Uncomfortable being around him. I assume part of the responsibility.

NSA reorganization plan from the Executive Planning Board–not impressed so far. However, I am open to possibilities. Belief that Workshop campaign is most valuable booster now for NSA.

Substance vs. Form is essence of any look at Organization.

Have been going through major ups and downs.

Feeling more stable. Action. Very important. Creative energy.

I am definitely feeling better about myself. I mean this is a major benefit.

Liz and I have our trying times, I need to give her more space to herself. For our relationship.

Cancelled music lessons-finances-must work on this one together. I must take more responsibility there.

Garden prospering. Yard is improving day by day.

Advertisements

by James C. Stephens


Tuesday, September 5, 1978

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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


June 1, 1978

“The prime point of the Gakkai is, and always will be, the people. Never forget that our prayers and exhaustive efforts to protect their happiness will give rise to true human justice.”  -Daisaku Ikeda

Hawk and Rabbit

Again I struggle with my dark nature. Feeling defeated in business I feel like crawling into a corner. However, I only realize there is no corner. I feel like a rabbit being stalked by a hawk on the prairie. The only place I have felt left to turn is inward to myself for the answer. I am chanting to the Gohonzon to overcome this.

Night before last I kicked a member out of my house or basically I asked him to leave. I am not a very poignant example of a leader I’m afraid. At 27 Pres. Ikeda was something else.

The worst part of it is, I don’t regret it. I sincerely feel he got what he deserved. If after all I have tried to do for the guy, he tells me that what I say is full of crap and he just wanted to give me a second chance. And whether or not I descended to his level or not, I’d kick anyone out of my house. I sincerely hope and have been chanting that he realizes something from it. I am already.

Possibly I handled the situation wrong as my Chapter Chief Mr. Dixon suggests. I didn’t see him with true mercy. I’m sorry I just can’t buy all this stuff yet. I’m not a Buddha A-1. I am not his parent, I am more closely a brother. I’m not perfect. I chanted for his happiness before he came over. I can’t help it if I acted or reacted in the way I did. I believe one has to be true to his feelings about certain things. All I can do is try to get something from what Bob Dixon said.

June 15, 1978

Notes from Young Men’s Division Soka Group meeting:

Soka group formed November 2, 1976.

To take care of everyone, Soka Group should study a lot, (Gosho).

To protect all members.

To become capable leaders in society.

To develop ourselves as individuals.

Mr. Saito in Japan.

To challenge difficulties in life. Trash group–behind the scenes. I must challenge egoism.

Role of Soka Gakkai in 1979.

Dave Martinez Soka Group Chief.

Daily campaign.

Develop younger Soka group members.

Mr. Williams.

To be a Soka Group is greatest honor and privilege.

You are President Ikeda’s group.

Vanguard of all campaigns.

Soka Group should read three books:

–Gosho

Human Revolution Vol. X

Ode to Youth.

These three books are the important key to develop your spirit.

Volume X=Spirit of the Soka Gakkai.

Soka Group Mottos:

  1. To protect all the members. Yamamouchi-TCD who saved women from death.
  2. To take care of members–courtesy, bright way.
  3. Behind the scenes- Itoko wa wareba–behind the scenes efforts, visible benefits you will enjoy someday.

Don’t be swayed by trivial You are crown prince, lion cub. Like Samarai you need a place to fight. When Samarai has no direct lord, they ask other lords if he can fight for them. Without district meetings, where can you fight for Kosenrufu? Or be idealistic?

You are in a district. You fight. You are the vanguard. Jet engine. Tremendous.

Leader without experience—miserable! Leader gains wisdom through experience. Don’t avoid problems. You are keyholder. Chant for kosenrufu. More problems–more progress.

It takes flint and a rock to make a spark. Youthful energy is only produced by putting our views on the line with the understanding they could be wrong, but realizing this is the course to laying our foundation of life philosophy.

June 21, 1978

“Throughout our campaign, let’s protect our fellow members and compensate for each other’s shortcomings. Let’s forge on in unity, radiant and light hearted.” —President Ikeda’s Daily Guidance.

Now that I have had some time to think about the situation with T.., I readily agree with Mr. Dixon’s analysis of the situation. I sincerely regret causing anymore ill feelings between us. Only my shallowness remains to be examined. I will apologize to him at the earliest opportunity. I am worried about his health, he has never been too well and I heard a report yesterday that he went to the Veteran’s hospital and had a conference with a psychologist. Evidently he broke down crying during the encounter. I must take action. I must overcome my shallowness in feeling, etc. toward my responsibility as a human being!

Sunday morning we had an RSG meeting with Tony Sugano. It was quite high spirited. I gave a RSG experience on my January 1971 near death experience and being saved by a fellow RSG Ron Thruelson.

File1382

My Brother Ron and his first wife Pam, a helicopter pilot.

Sunday afternoon Liz and Dad and I celebrated Father’s Day with dinner. It was an enjoyable day. At 5:00 or so Pam, Ron’s wife, Mom and Carol stopped by. Though unexpected, the occurrence was interesting. Pam stayed for awhile and just when we were all getting into a good conversation, Mom and Carol returned from the bar and everyone left.

 

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.

File2982

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.

File1155

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:(