Posts Tagged ‘Tom Brittingham’

by James C. Stephens


Thursday, January 30, 1978 –30 days

Up 5:45. Made calls for daimoku campaign. Raining moderately.

Last night I could not write about my experience, because it was so fresh in my life, so I decided to wait til today.

Before I go into it though, I called Tom Brittingham in Las Vegas. He is going through a lot of human revolution and says he is seriously thinking of coming back to Los Angeles. I will hear from him at 10 this morning.

One of my inner struggles is vanity. As I was reading Pres. Ikeda’s Youthful Diary I was encouraged by one paragraph in his–Thursday, June 2 diary,

“Men thirst after vanity, even I myself. Future life, future leader, must have unshakable power. Never forget the spirit of pathfinders and forerunners–especially in youth. Day after day, age progresses. Wish to make myself catch up with progress, and become its pioneer.”

I feel the same. We have to truly realize we are the pioneers, the sons of liberty, the sons of the American Revolution of this age. If we don’t, if I don’t grasp this fact, I feel I have missed the point of my life.

Foundation in study.

Speed reading–I read too slowly to read all that I wish, no, that I need to read to grasp and face the harsh realities of the intellectual society. All mankind must reach for enlightenment. Must tap power and mercy deep within.

Sunday, February 12, 1978

For the past couple of weeks it has been raining off and on again. We have already far surpassed seasonal norms. Catalina came off their water rationing program. They now can take regular baths again. I bet husbands and wife’s are really happy for that…The rains have not however brought only good, they have brought much grief to many people in Los Angeles. Tornado’s swept El Segundo. Flash Floods, mud slides have left hundreds homeless, and even wiped out one entire mountain community.

It is most Tragic. It is truly as in the Rissho Ankoku Ron*. Water drought, rationing, fires, floods, spiritual famine. People are at a loss.

1978 is definitely a very significant year for my own personal development. This month we are studying through Ho’on Sho which is a Gosho of extreme importance. It deals with the Three Great Secret Laws*, and appreciation. We are studying the section dealing with appreciation. This is truly my human revolution. I realize honestly that I don’t appreciate Pres. Ikeda or the Gohonzon nearly enough. This is extremely important to do however! Bruce, Jerry, Liz and I started a group reading the Human Revolution–all ten volumes. With this campaign as a start it is my determination to develop this appreciation of Pres. Ikeda and become a true disciple. I am little more than a follower now. However! It is my determination to receive extensive training from Pres. Ikeda when he comes to the United States. Until then each moment, I must prepare for that step. I am so distant. Last night at my Chapter Gosho discussion I felt so limited to move or encourage Pres. Ikeda’s YMD. I made a determination from that meeting to develop a pure seeking mind and an appreciative, most appreciative life toward Pres. Ikeda. I voiced my determination at the meeting to fulfill this vow and for all present to become the kind of persons that would get and give the most when Pres. Ikeda comes to the U.S. But it begins not just physically, but to spiritually prepare, when the master is not physically present.

My 1,000,000 daimoku target is nearing. I am 22 hours from completion. My goal is to be finished by Thurs. 2 days prior to our wedding. Friday night, 2/10 I chanted 10 hours. It definitely was an experience. I was tired yet I feel it was worth it.

Did 5 hours today. Happy YMD Senior Leaders meeting today. Much more real unity. Sleep is my campaign now, so, goodnite.


*Rissho Ankoku Ron: Treatise written by Nichiren Daishonin to the Shogun calling for the Pacification of the Land through the Establishment of the True Religion. Nichiren the Buddhist prophet states:

“I have pondered the matter carefully with what limited resources I possess, and have looked a little at the scriptures for an answer. The people of today all turn their backs upon what is right; to a person, they give their allegiance to evil. This is the reason that the benevolent deities have abandoned the nation and departed together, that sages leave and do not return. And in their stead devils and demons come, and disasters and calamities occur. I cannot keep silent on this matter. I cannot suppress my fears.”

https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd-1/Content/2

The core of the Three Great Secret Laws*: The Gohonzon, or the object of devotion of the essential teaching, is the core of the Three Great Secret Laws in Nichiren’s doctrine that represent the purpose of his life. The Three Great Secret Laws are the object of devotion of the essential teaching, the invocation, or daimoku, of the essential teaching, and the sanctuary of the essential teaching.

The Sho Hondo: https://youtu.be/dXS5MwdLW7o

The Dai Gohonzon being inscribed in sumi ink by Nichiren Daishonin.

Inscription of the Dai Gohonzon

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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


Monday, April 11, 1977

1:10 a.m., Tuesday morning.

Last few days have enjoyed beautiful spring weather. It’s been cool and slightly overcast with that ocean air influence. Perfect working weather. Soon, I’m sure we’ll have some more scorchers, though.

Had an enjoyable Easter Sunday. My Aunt Retha came over, Ann Sandene and her son Tony, and Emery a bowling friend of my fathers and three friends and members of mine, Tom Brittingham, Tony Schmidt, and Brent Wilson.

My Aunt Retha is looking so much better and younger. It’s great! We had such an interesting conversation about her studies in genealogy, etc. She told me about our family tree on the Stephens side of the family. In the near future I would like to get the tree from both sides of my family. It fascinates me.

After the folks ate, they went out bowling and we, the YMD, had our one hour toso and did a precise Gongyo, ate, drank and watched the conclusion of a very interesting movie, Jesus of Nazareth. Very well done. I was particularly impressed with the master disciple relationship between Jesus and his disciples, very interesting. I have much to say on this, but would like to start a notebook on personal essays on such thoughts of philosophy, education, etc.

https://youtu.be/ruLjkt-5Kao

This evening was most enjoyable for me. Bob Rafkin, a former roommate and good friend of mine is getting married this coming Saturday the 16th and tonight his Bride, Joanne Harris’s mother gave a dinner for them. It was a family dinner and I am touched deeply that I was considered to be close to Bob to be invited. We get along like brothers. Anyway it was on Restaurant Row at the Mediterranean Restaurant and I enjoyed it immensely. I became associated with Mr. Harry and Mr. Sinclair and several others of the Harris Clan and met Bob’s parents who are very neat people. There were quite a few members there also, including Mik and Liz Shevchek, Terry and Guy Meek, and Andrea Hairston.

Terry Meek and I had a very heart to heart talk; she’s definite proof of the Gohonzon, a very beautiful women with very warm eyes and emits an incredibly down to earth countenance without losing that female grace and beauty. I had mentioned Mr. Williams talking to my father and we got to discussing the literary group I started, she was extremely interested and wants to attend a meeting and if possible get into our group.

Had to leave at 10:45, because I had another equally exciting thing I had to attend in Westwood. About 3 weeks ago I met a girl named Isabel at Howard Johnson’s during my coffee break. We had a conversation across the counter and I mentioned our Literary group when I heard she was trying her hand at writing short stories. She sounded interested so I invited her to be a guest one month, she accepted.

We talked about travel and she mentioned she spent a year in France, so I mentioned the fact that one of the members in our group was from France, Pat Kremer, and if she needed to practice her French I was sure that maybe the two of you could get together via me as the liason.

About a week later I called made arrangements for the two to meet tonight. I had not shakubukued her up to this point. I introduced her to Pat, did sancho daimoku and we talked for awhile. We shakubukued her and I left for dinner while they had a talk in French. This was at 4:20. Now 11:00 I arrive and take Isabel home. We had a warm channel of communication. She expressed exhaustion in her meeting with Pat and Charlotte and how she went through changes talking to them. “They wanted to talk so much I had to fight to talk. It was a struggle, but I am becoming more aware of myself. It was good.”

She mentioned she was interested in Buddhism. Before she had come to a meeting but was not particularly taken by Phase I. She expressed that Charlotte came on a little heavy on shakubukuing her and then questioning me. Isabel sided with me in the care saying she was happy I had made friends. You’re more experienced and confident so if it comes up later you would of told me more naturally. We discussed the fact that one who is new is less confident and feels compelled to tell it our faster. Interesting.

As we departed, she said I have your number, give me a call about the book for June. I think I’ll be too busy to read until them with school exams. But I’d love to do it this summer. Maybe give me a call and we could go out or something. “Sure,” I said.

She is very soft spoken and possesses a lot of wisdom for a girl of 21. Beautiful eyes, medium dark hair, medium build. Born in Quebec, moved to California at the age of 6. Mother runs nursery in her home. Her father is an electronic technician for ITT or some big company.

I’m attracted to her, who knows but the Gohonzon. I’ve given up trying to figure things out if you know what I mean.

Oh well, its late and have much work in morning, so better sign off.

My heart is fragile

So caution is my password

But hope is always in the air

A woman is so important in my life

that I no longer take

things nonchalantly.

I feel my mission

supreme.

Fortune is on my side

each day I ask Gohonzon

My wife, my business, my members

Tantamount is my faith in Gohonzon

It I trust as

Parent, teacher and sovereign.

by James C. Stephens


February 6, 1977

Lots of things have been happening in my daily life recently. I’ve been concentrating on studying more and have been trying to keep up on current affairs.

Apple Computer 1977 Steve Jobs and Wozniak

Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in 1977 working on the Apple II Computer.

Last Friday night I called my long term friend Pat Flaherty. It was the first time we talked to each other for about 8 years. Much changes in 8 years that’s for sure. He and I talked about the whereabouts of old friends, state of religion in society and what had been happening in each of our lives. I did shakubuku on him and he asked many questions. He admitted being very inspired by the World Tribune or should I say he said enlightened. The close of our conversation to me was most emotional. He said, “Jim, I really feel that it is not coincidence that we have kept this relation for so long. I believe there is going to be a great war. A spiritual war. I sympathize very much with the Nichiren Shoshu movement. Also there is going to be a financial war (he joked) between you and the telephone company, so we’d better cut the phone conversation short. I’ll send you a letter soon.”

I am going to send him some NSA Quarterly’s this week.

My correspondence is shaping up. Wrote many letters this week.

Scott Ferguson opening up. Tom, Scott and I had dinner last night. At first the conversation was very stiff, then everything lightened up. We are all becoming closer.

Tonight, I went over to Pat and Charlotte’s. We watched the McCarthy trials movie, did Gongyo. They made me dinner. Pat is only 19, but she is mature in many ways. Still she is young. I like her, but I’m being careful. Love is so deceiving to me. It can also so easily destroy good relationships.

Meeting with Mr. Izumi this week. He served under all three Presidents (Makiguchi, Toda, and Ikeda). Such confidence he has.

Business is picking up. This week is going to be really busy, so I must get some rest.

by James C. Stephens


December 27, 1976  1:20 AM

This afternoon I saw an art exhibit on “The World of Franklin and Jefferson.”  It moved me.

Historigram of Franklin and JeffersonLately, I have felt a strong desire to develop my life. It has been difficult to write on this since I have been quite unable to put my finger on it. I realize I am none to brilliant a human being. My members are more well read to a degree. I am struggling to develop my own potential as a leader and foremost as a human being. I was not raised in the arts when I was young. Literature was not foremost, nor was music. I was raised in a small town of 2,500 people on a lake. Very sports-minded, I always seemed to be. A desire to be a professional baseball player. I devoted so much energy to this endeavor. Physically I had much going against me. I was short and fat, yes I was fat at one time. Consequently, I was not at all a fast runner. But I persistently applied myself to the game and became a good ball player. I played golf too. Skied during the winter. I’m sure when others were reading on their time off I was most likely playing socceer, basketball, sledding or football. Now my thirst to develop is coming to the fore. Why? It is not in my ability to answer this question totally. But possibly out of a desire to discover my mission, maybe to help other human beings. So often I have discovered myself short in encouraging people. When I first started practicing the only people I could relate to were on a skiing level. But as I continued to practice, my scope of experience broadened. I scraped in so many ways to survive. I jumped around in school I had no idea what education even meant. But through living in so many different situations my thirst for knowledge is coming from me as natural as an artesian well.

One area I lack is in the Ichinen for study to sink into my life. But I feel that I now see this gap and will be able to change it through faith in the Gohonzon.  Our study group is coming together. Our first meeting is in January 1977. Our group is composed of Scott Ferguson, Bruce Barnes, Tom Brittingham, Cheryl Bell, tow of Scott’s acquaintances, and myself. It should be an interesting experiment.

Our business is not fairing the way it should. I must devote more energy to it.

Now is the time for a foundation! I must compose a plan of attacking my present problems and deficits. Step by step I must advance.

Spending habits are very poor-must change this.

World of Franklin and Jefferson

Got or should say giving Dad a gift of book I picked up at Art Museum on Jefferson and Franklin. Hope he enjoys it.

Must find study material for next YMD meeting with Rejicho! Jan., 77!

Washington interesting me greatly. Is there a relationship between us? He is my 9th cousin as far as my family tree goes. Is he a window to my past? To my future?

Get notebooks for your study campaign. Record book for study book group. I think it is necessary to separate my diary on this subject or is it?


by James C. Stephens


Tuesday, August 10, 1976

Had breakfast with dad, planned when I would start to work with him. The next two weeks must work on portfolio for landscaping.

 

Wednesday, August 11, 1976

Drove in West L.A. to Hollywood area to check out landscape design and basically check out the area. One place I’ve wanted to see was the Pacific Design Center. Very nice. Met one of my old art teachers in there. She, Robin owns the Art Source.

http://www.pacificdesigncenter.com/

Later, I checked out a barrel yard. Talked to an interesting man who explained many things to me about barrels and containers…very, very interesting. Got some great ideas for landscaping. Coming back through Beverly Hills I just stumbled into what must be the grandest mansion in Los Angeles–The Greystone Mansion. Roman Gardens, a panorama to beat panoramas, and the home–wow! It was bought as a park by the City of Beverly Hills for $1,000,000.

https://www.greystonemansion.org/

Thursday, August 12, 1976

Slept late. Terrible feeling. Drove to Jeff’s, talked to him for awhile. We drove down and looked at the new Fox Hills Shopping Plaza. Not too impressive. Rather reeked of the indoor shopping plaza’s so commonplace today. Okay, but not on my menu.

Got home to pick up Tom for Band. Didn’t want to go. Told him let’s talk to Shibucho. Couldn’t get ahold of. Just as I was ready to leave, Chikabucho called and talked to Tom. I was going to give Tom a ride over to the chiku. Just then, Shibucho called. Yelled at Tom. Woke him up. Rejicho was coming to band tonight to watch the Band and Special Group called Energy Crisis. Wow! He freaked didn’t know. We drove down. He’d been titan for four days. We heard Mr. Williams talk. Afterwards I was volunteered as TCD for Koteketai practice at the beach. Many wierdo’s. I almost got punched out by a drunk guy from Santa Cruz. Weird night. Obnoxious Koteketai leader Shelly Blumberg. Women are strange.

(No offense Shelly. I later grew to like Shelly, but ended up marrying Liz Lascar, a Koteketai member-I was probably protecting her from that drunk that night and didn’t even know it! We just celebrated our fortieth anniversary and are very happily married).

20140807_160338

Friday, August 13, 1976

Today, Jeff Silver and I did a vigorous morning gongyo and visited many places. Downtown Arco Plaza, L.A. City Library, Biltmore Hotel, International Trade Center and Huntington Library. Very interesting and educational day. I’m in the process of writing a special article for the World Tribune. Maybe they might be interested, all I can do is try. Meeting tonight with Fujimbucho–0 Guests. Tom is chanting again. Had an interesting talk over diner with Fujimbucho after the meeting. Chanted two and a half hours.


Huntington Library and Gardens:

http://www.huntington.org/

Arco Plaza, renamed City National Plaza:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_National_Plaza

Los Angeles City Library

https://www.lapl.org/collections-resources

Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel

https://www.millenniumhotels.com/en/los-angeles/millennium-biltmore-hotel-los-angeles/

World Trade Center Los Angeles

https://www.wtcla.org/