In the popular parlance, streaming is now how many people view media content. Not us; not yet anyway. Consciousness streams here in this post
Two months since the last post on Views. An epoch in the blogosphere.
Stuff happens. Like:
Confirmation of occasional AFib after the third incident in two and a half years; Eliquis time–stop taking formerly favorite pills
Rotator cuff surgery for her; shopping, cooking, laundry, etc. for me–and personal assistance to her
Physical therapy for my knee–hey, a future fitness program at the local gym
Yes, growing old is not for sissies. Then there’s the other things like scheduled–and unscheduled home maintenance projects. Puts a kink in the writing schedule. Blogging AND getting out that delayed blog-to-book project.
Oh well, as a self-published writer I have no editor, agent or publisher to deal with.
Joe Biden has accomplished much in just a few months
The Party of NO (AKA, Republicans) oppose or delay in Congress
The insurrection continues in slow motion as Red states throughout America pass legislation to suppress votes and enable themselves to overturn the results of coming elections if not to their liking [more later on that–here or in the Eagle Peak Annual coming later this year]
We ARE determined to help get past the cultural and divides in America. It begins with what Nichiren Buddhists refer to as human revolution. Change from within manifests without.
Don’t blame the politicians for the weather (but get them working on the climate crisis) nor expect them to ensure your happiness and success. Don’t blame THEM (those of other races, religions, ethnicity or sexual orientation) either.
The pandemic is nearly over, but all the unavoidable, unexpected and frustrating obstacles still make planning getaways more than just challenging.
Nature just carries on, despite unfavorable weather–some of the time, in some places. Little or no rain fell in southwestern New Mexico in 2020. Didn’t faze the cacti and the agave. We had at least 50–maybe 60 of the latter bloom this year; the most ever.
The many cholla (another cactus relative) have flowers too. There all volunteers, except for the potted cacti. Coming soon, more reasons to visit Silver City–and maybe some updates on deferred writing project.
A very mixed post today. A very long post today. Bear with me as I cover
Progress and obstacles to getting out the Eagle Peak Annual
Trump and the GOP
Creating value from chaos—not being provoked into a responsive rant
Well, the Eagle Peak Annual is moving along—ponderously slowly. More obstacles arise when one is striving to accomplish a thing of value. So it goes for one who lives the life of a Bodhisattva—dedicated to leading others to enlightenment.
I had my annual Medicare wellness visit on Tuesday. Tests were all great. HDL cholesterol is outstanding and LDL is low. Perhaps it’s something untested or a medication that could/should be stopped or its dosage reduced. As it is, I sometimes (over the past two years) have as much as three or four good writing hours a day. Other days I may have an hour or less.
Non-creative tasks or chores are possible. Walking the dog, sweeping and vacuuming. Even financial entries on Quicken or the spreadsheet—a mental subroutine, as it were. I have prevailed upon my primary care physician, who is now aligned with me to solve the problem. He and I will be victorious! I have too many books to write before I die.
Meanwhile, Donald “Biff” Trump and the KK-GOP conspire to cause a reactionary rant. That won’t help. It just feeds into the mindset of them and us.
Send her back his supporters yell at his North Carolina rally. He, them and the GOP persist in an effort to destroy America. I can’t abide that.
So, instead of working on the Annual, I must now work on yet another response to all them.
That, after returning from the vet to get my dog an antibiotic shot and some pills for a gastrointestinal ailment.
Obstacles! One cannot allow them to defeat progress.
Yes, I AM calling out the GOP. They are reincarnations of the Know Nothing Party members from the 1850s. They are reincarnations of the enablers of Adolph Hitler—who promoted his rise to power as an expedient. Hitler had ten times as much charisma as Trump. Watch Leni Reifenstahl’s Triumph of the Will–which G. Gordon Liddy showed at the Nixon White House as leader of the Plumbers.
Laws were passed giving Hitler autocratic power. Would the GOP do that for Trump?Probably, if they had a chance–but they don’t, NOW.
In the run-up to his reelection campaign for 1972, Richard Nixon came up with the Southern Strategy. Very conservative Southern Democrats became Republicans. Nixon won reelection in a landslide—then he was impeached.
Trump is worse, of course than Nixon—as far as criminal offenses go. He’s also not nearly as smart as Nixon.
Nixon was an anti-Semite. Trump is fine with Jews. He hates Muslims (except rich, nation-leading ones like MBS who might spend money at Mar-a-Lago or his golf courses, etc.), Mexicans, people from s-hole countries and other non-whites.
During the Vietnam War era, the bumper sticker for the right was America, “love it or leave it.” The response among antiwar people during Vietnam, was “change it or lose it.”
The Vietnam experience, Nixon and Watergate ineluctably led me to Buddhism. From the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin and the SGI, I learned that to change the world, I must change myself. Read the book, Waiting for Westmoreland—you’ll understand.
Trump recently invoked the memories of love it leave it. In his warped mind, he equates criticism of his policies as hatred of America. He, of course, is NOT America. He doesn’t care about America–he cares about money and adulation from fans.His values are not those of American democracy. His policies are racist, misogynistic, sexist, etc.
Pundits or analysts offer an armchair diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder for Trump. Yes, but that’s not the whole story. How about the Dark Triad?
The Dark Triad personality is one that combines narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. A Psychology Today article from 2013 says the Dark Triad is:
“Defined as a set of traits that include the tendency to seek admiration and special treatment (otherwise known as narcissism), to be callous and insensitive (psychopathy) and to manipulate others (Machiavellianism) . . .”
They also note that: “Researchers are finding that the Dark Triad underlies a host of undesirable behaviors including aggressiveness, sexual opportunism, and impulsivity.”
Wow, sounds like him, doesn’t it? Check out the 12-question test in the article to confirm the diagnosis. But does anyone really need to identify Trump’s problems?
The real problem is that his behavior and actions are not only condoned but endorsed by the Republicans. A party that destroyed the hope that the election of Barack Obama engendered. A party that is OK with the rollback of regulations that would protect America from dirty air, dirty water and a sooner devolution into economic chaos (see the deficit increase their tax cut wrought) even as they deny the Climate Crisis.
So, are more rants needed? Hell no! More protest marches? Hell no! More sit-ins at Congressional offices? I marched in countless protests to end the Vietnam War. Nixon and his supporters were unmoved.
What does work?Voting?
Democrats took over the House by 40 seats. That’s not enough.
What then? The Senate and the White House? That’s not enough either.
No, the ill-fated strategy of the Vietnam War was winning the hearts and minds of the people.The Vietnamese people. America didn’t succeed at that. For good reason.
This time, it’s the hearts and minds of Americans that need winning.The Americans who are misguided and deluded by the Dark Triad Trump and the Neo-Nazi/KKK/Know Nothing-Republican Party. Those who believe that immigrants, non-whites and of other than Judeo-Christian beliefs are the problem.
We must create value—not simply respond to insults in kind. Which it may read like what I am doing descriptively about Trump and the GOP.
If we hold hate in OUR hearts and minds, we cannot change America. We will lose it.
In Buddhism, we understand that our karma—the results of our words and deeds creates effects we would as soon not endure. We have the President we have through some horrible collective karma as Americans. A very large, very hard pill to swallow. You may well not believe that.
Buddhism is not a turn the other cheek religion. It’s OK to send bad people to jail. It’s OK to impeach presidents or to vote them out of office. It’s not OK to physically attack them. We can argue with them–show them and tell them the error of their ways.
So, we begin by changing ourselves and by so doing, changing them. It’s not enough to blame or hate them. They are human, if mistaken and misguided. I can hope and imagine that the GOP as it is now known will fail as a party or be reconstituted with more principled and morally correct members. But that’s not MY job.
We must create value in the workplace, on the highway, in the neighborhood, at home and in school. Sit with the other. Talk with the other. Aid and give comfort to the other. Don’t just castigate those whom we hold responsible for the ills of America–despite the distinct possibility our assessment is correct.
2019 Here We Come—Big Plans for a Bigger and Better Year
I’ve lived enough of them to know that some years are more challenging than others, even when they are successful. 2018 had only a few goals achieved. Various obstacles (mostly health) obstructed other objectives. More on that below. 2018’s off year won’t stop me from making and achieving some very ambitious determinations for 2019. I will try again to make resolutions to succeed—more on that below as well.
Before I let you in on some highlights for 2019, I want to thank those fellow writers and bloggers who steadfastly followed and commented on posts here, despite some lack of reciprocity on my part.That, by the way, is one of the major goals for 2019–connecting more with all of you in that group and supporting your own efforts.
Some of my 2019 Determinations:
Writing, blogging and social media
Follow and interact with more writers/bloggers
Make the most of Goodreads (see below about Google+ and Facebook)
Publish the 2nd collection of short stories in late 2019
Work diligently on a novel to come out late fall, 2020
Mental fatigue impacted my writing—a CPAP machine helped but didn’t clear it up completely while doctors have no clue. A one-off cardiac event interrupted my writing agenda as well as other goals. After much testing—no invasive procedures were done. No new drugs and no changes in exercise were needed either. As the Simple Minds song goes, I am “alive and kicking.” I plan on staying that way for years to come. I’ve done as Ikeda urged and didn’t give up.
Goals met include:
29 books read (surpassing a goal of 24)
A decoratively curved patio/walkway for enjoying the view from our hilltop home in sunny New Mexico
Completing a two-year weight loss goal, 80 pounds off—I am not even overweight.
Didn’t expand my networking with fellow writers/bloggers and others
Didn’t join Facebook (not sure now if I still want to), expand use of Goodreads or the dying Google+
Took no vacation and didn’t publish that book by the same name (The Vacation)
If I couldn’t conquer those obstacles in 2018, how can I win in 2019—with much more ambitious goals? Nichiren Daishonin, founder of the Buddhism I have practiced for 41 years, says
“Employ the strategy of the Lotus Sutra before any other.”
By this he means use the practice first, not last. When medical treatment doesn’t cure a problem, then practicing one’s faith is a rational choice. Once I made a stronger, more focused prayer to be clear headed, the brain responded with focused energy much more of the time.
My wife and I have achieved too many goals (that some might say were impossible) to list them here. You can find many of them in Waiting for Westmoreland. My recent reminder about the tired mind confirms that I can achieve victory in 2019.
Whether you find Buddhism or any other faith a means for achieving success, having a clear process for accomplishing goals is essential.We’ve put these steps out in prior New Year’s posts, but here they are again.
Making Your Resolutions Come True
Don’t call them resolutions–call them determinations
Make an action plan to attain or achieve them
Execute the plan
Monitor your progress
Forgive yourself for occasional shortfalls
Never give up
Reinforce your confidence with recollections of past victories
I read and reviewed Herbie Hancock’s book last year. I post this review now because it is ineluctably linked to my own writing goals for 2019 and beyond. (See the last line of this review). I’ll post those goals on my other blog late on New Year’s Eve. Check back here early next year for more on how I’ll make those writing plans come true–along with other New Year’s Determinations (no, I don’t call them resolutions–that’s a tired cliché satirized ad nauseam).
I must confess to being both bewildered and inspired reading this book. I’m bewildered because much of what Herbie talks about in this book is Greek to me—I am not a musician and the details he offers about the evolution of his own musical techniques makes less sense to me than a discussion of the finer points of calculating interstellar trajectories using advanced mathematics.
I’m inspired (and a little jealous) of his many successes. He started on his musical career as a child and continually refreshed his style and knowledge of music. The title, Possibilities aptly describes his refusal to adhere to a status quo but always to innovate–no matter what learning curve might be required. Like Herbie, I am a practicing Buddhist. Forty-one years for me this year–more for him. Much of his success–his many Grammys, an Oscar for the musical score of Round Midnight, his Kennedy Center Honor, his record sales, etc., has to do with his practice of Buddhism. From it, he early on recognized that we are in control of our own destiny and that only surrender to doubt or the obstacles that occur in life will keep one from achieving whatever one sets out to do.
I had the good fortune of meeting Herbie in 1982 when he, Tina Turner and Patrick Duffy–among others, were preparing to perform at the “Aloha We Love America” event on the mall in Washington, DC. I worked in the control center, in L’Enfant Plaza where we did our morning Buddhist prayers (Gongyo) around 7 am for several days. All those celebrities were among the twenty or more people doing Gongyo there every morning. Herbie was an incredibly sincere and devoted member. He told the organization’s General Director to let him know whatever he could do to help. One of my tasks was to drive Herbie and his wife Gigi around Washington, DC. They were without pretension and without condescension. He was a star and I was no one of great stature but that mattered not at all.
The book touches only briefly on his Buddhist practice, just enough to establish its importance to him without a heavy handed push to persuade them to practice. Still, there’s enough encouragement to anyone open to this belief system to learn more. As it happens, I was among a large group of fellow Buddhists attending a conference in Florida when the Grammy for Album of the Year was awarded to Herbie for River: the Joni Letters. The first time in the history of the Grammys that a Jazz album had won this award.We watched the award show that night and rejoiced with him.
I too wrote a memoir, Waiting for Westmoreland, which has quite a bit more to do with what the practice of Buddhism has meant to me in reforming my own life and working to make the world a better place. I am envious of Herbie only because my career as a writer has begun at such a late stage in my life. It will be very difficult to acquire fiction writing skills comparable to Herbie’s skills as a musician in the years that I have left. But, inspired by his success and confident in the power of my Buddhist practice, I will make my mark in the next decade or two.
Forty-one years ago I formally committed to the Buddhist faith I practice today. I will confess I was somewhat less diligent at first than I am now. But events came along that offered the opportunity to deepen that faith–such as the threat of death from my prospective father-in-law. That came a more than two years later, enough time for me to soon conclude that the most appropriate response was to quickly get more serious about my practice.
I didn’t miss my morning or evening sutra recitation and related prayers for the next three years. I’ve only missed them on a few occasions since–maybe once or twice a decade due to illness or other special circumstance.
My book, Waiting for Westmoreland details more about the threat and how we overcame it–leading to the happiness of all parties concerned. The book also informs the reader how I learned that the way to make the world a better place was to reform myself. Until Buddhism, I had become a cynical idealist after my innocence was lost in Vietnam. Then my remaining illusions were shattered by Watergate.
Eventually, I realized that reforming America’s legal and political systems weren’t sufficient to cure the country’s ills. Still, politics has its place–when properly applied, humanistically. When it’s not, the results can be catastrophic for a nation. Corruption, racism, economic inequality are just a few of the problems. When you add in leaders who are incompetent, ignorant, suffering from personality flaws, quite possibly mental disabilities and worse, the nation is at peril.
The logline of this blog is “Seeing things as they really are, without the illusions or delusions.” That comes, in my belief, from my Buddhist faith and practice. But one doesn’t need to practice my faith to see Donald Trump for who he is. Anyone with the slightest awareness can see the wrecking ball he as taken to America. I won’t belabor those points previously posted here and covered on a daily basis by US and World media. I just want to focus on two points:
What must Putin have on Trump
GOP aiders and abettors to Trump’s treason
One can no longer conclude it’s simply Trump’s mental capacity and other lacks that are to blame for his fawning support of Putin. It’s not America First–it’s Putin or Russia First. As many commentators have said, what Trump said and did yesterday in Helsinki amount to treason. There’s no need to rehash the coverage. Putin laughed off the very question of him having something on Trump or his family. So what could it be that not only keeps Trump from EVER speaking or tweeting a word critical of Putin and now, engaging in treasonous behavior? It must be much more than a “pee tape” Maybe:
An IOU for millions or even billions of rubles owed to Russian mobsters/oligarchs or recorded conversations confirming it–NAH, that’s not enough
An adult video of Melania–NAH, even if there were one, Trump really wouldn’t care
An audio (or even a video) recording of Trump grabbing a Miss Teen USA contestant by the p***y–no Putin couldn’t have that, even if it might have happened
Solid evidence of Trump having sex with a minor and Cohen fixed it with a payoff–not enough
What if the sex with a minor involved drugging her, like Cosby allegedly did–now we’re getting into serious stuff
Some other perverted sex which ended in serious injury or death to a possibly unwilling participant and Putin has proof–well that could be it, but that’s getting a little farfetched (but knowing Trump, maybe not)
The only way we’ll ever know is if Trump crosses Putin, which he apparently views as more dangerous than impeachment or jail–so whatever it is, it is REALLY bad
Here’s the irony the GOP aiders and abettors–Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows are co-founders of the so-called “Freedom Caucus.” Like Trump and on his behalf, they attack Mueller, Rosenstein and the FBI. They ask for documents to help is defense against the “Witch Hunt” that is producing indictment after indictment proving Russian agents hacking and interfering in the 2016 election on the behalf of Trump. Rather than promoting freedom, they are tacitly, if not expressly, supporting Russia’s attacks on America. They should be impeached from Congress if they are not voted out and invited to join the Duma! (The lower house of the Russian Federal assembly). Perfect! They’re all US House members now. They can move to Russia in 2019; the next election for the Duma is 2021.
Along with them Louie “Goober” Gohmert, who has a brain the size of a peanut. Trey “Benghazi” Gowdy, who spent two years and millions of dollars trying to prove (without success) that Hillary Clinton was responsible for the deaths in Libya. NO ONE was charged with anything as a result of Gowdy’s waste of time and money. The list could go on and on. Some, perhaps, are good people, as Trump might say about Mexicans. For those, maybe just throwing them out of office might suffice; Gowdy, wisely isn’t running–he’s looking to become a model for those commercials looking for the scruffy man.
This an excerpt from an interview with Tony Goodlette, which appeared in the October Eagle Peak Quarterly. Tony is reluctant to take credit for successes that his contributions in government and the private sector have generated. With some difficulty, we pried them out of him.
Tony Goodlette is reluctant to stop working. At 73, he’s finally put in for retirement from the US State Department. He’s retired before, but after the 9/11 attacks he returned to work on security issues to protect State Department facilities from terrorists—including personnel and civilian visitors. He’s also a 37-year member of and senior leader within the SGI-USA Buddhist organization. His practice of Nichiren Buddhism has helped in surviving and transcending a variety of challenges to his health while contributing to successes in the workplace and the community.
Quarterly: You spent eight years in Vietnam, from 1967 to the fall of Saigon in 1975. That’s much more than the time that most US military personnel (including the generals) spent there during the war. Tell us what you were doing all that time.
T. Goodlette: I spent the first three years in the US military. I left the country for a day and came back in the employ of a variety of consulting firms associated with other elements of the US government, as well as the US State Department.
Quarterly: Can you be more specific?
T. Goodlette: Up to a point, without naming names. As you probably know, from history books and movies, most wars offer many opportunities for people to profit illegally—selling goods, materiel or weapons on the black market. You can read examples of that in a book by June Collins, a woman met while in Vietnam. I spent much of my time combating those kinds of activities working for a major defense contractor associated with a federal agency that will remain nameless. I worked closely with the US military, security and law enforcement, civilians and South Vietnamese government officials.
Quarterly: You were there until the fall of Saigon and helped evacuate people in 1975?
T. Goodlette: Yes, a very difficult and traumatic time. Over the course of six days, with limited sleep, I ensured the safe evacuation of hundreds of American families and South Vietnamese from various locations within the country.
Over the past year, we’ve had much political commentary on Views from Eagle Peak. Some of it has been rather polemical. Some, seriously satirical. Some, more observational and some intentionally humorous in an effort to lighten the mood of those afflicted by our current situation. The objective is to create and retain a sense of optimism. We’ll skip the clichés that describe that in contemporary America and perhaps around the world.
As a Buddhist, I don’t shun observations about what I see as the reality of politics in America. With regard to optimism, a phrase from the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin you may have seen here before, reads:
“When great evil occurs, great good follows.”
It’s not a foregone conclusion that such should happen, but rather it is through the efforts of practitioners that it will. Thus, Nichiren goes on to say in this short missive (possibly an excerpt; the date and recipient are unknown):
“What could any of you have to lament? Even if you are not the Venerable Mahakashyapa, you should all perform a dance. Even if you are not Shariputra, you should leap up and dance. When Bodhisattva Superior Practices emerged from the earth, did he not emerge dancing?”
Hardly seems pessimistic, does it? But, have any of you felt like dancing amidst the chaos created by America’s White House occupant? Probably not, I suspect. Yet I find Nichiren’s words both convincing and encouraging that wonderful things will happen in time. This despite the evils of America’s so-called President. I am confident that the country and the world will not only survive but can thrive. But let’s be clear, it will take effort on the part of many. Consider what Daisaku Ikeda, president of the international Buddhist organization says about Buddhist optimism, in Buddhism Day by Day.
“Buddhist optimism is not the escapist optimism of those who throw up their hands and say, ‘Somehow or other things will work out.’ Rather it means clearly recognizing evil as evil and suffering as suffering and resolutely fighting to overcome it. It means believing in one’s ability and strength to struggle against any evil or any obstacle. It is to possess a fighting optimism.”
Whether you practice or believe in Buddhism as I do, the explanation and admonition of Daisaku Ikeda is valid for anyone. Pollyanna’s need not apply. Only those willing to work for the results they hope for will validate optimism.
The tagline of Views from Eagle Peak is “Seeing things as they really are, without the illusions or delusions.” That’s something that takes wisdom, which is something that comes from time and faith. Faith in something that works. Eagle Peak is an allegorical reference to a place where the Buddha lives and practices. In one sense it’s an actual place. More generally, anywhere one practices Buddhism is Eagle Peak. A place where one can see how and why things are the way they are. Cause and effect.
Today is the 40th anniversary of my commitment to practicing Buddhism. Looking for hope, a methodology and a means to achieve my goals and dreams. I needed to overcome indecision and procrastination. Almost without noticing it, I did. All a part of what Soka Gakkai International (SGI) President Daisaku Ikeda calls “human revolution.” An inner transformation of character. One that enabled me to overcome so much and achieve so much. I could go on for many pages describing the good fortune and joy this practice has brought me, but I won’t. Instead, here’s a short list.
I am in a happy and successful marriage, now in its 36th year, after two failed ones. In so doing, my wife and I overcame the death threat of her father, who after just a couple years welcomed me into his home and later said, “just call me Dad.”
After a year in Vietnam which began ten years before I encountered Buddhism, my illusions were shattered about America’s virtues and my innocence was lost. My faith and practice couldn’t bring back the innocence but it gave me the means to make the world a better place by making myself a better person.
From a lazy person contemptuous of authority—something three years in the Army fostered, I became a trusted employee at a local government agency. Upon my retirement, the agency director (a retired full colonel from the US Army) said this, “Whenever I wanted something done right and on time, I gave it to John.”
Nearly ten years ago, I recounted the experiences which led me to Buddhism and the benefits that resulted from that human revolution in a memoir, Waiting for Westmoreland.
Now, I am finally on the way to writing fiction, my goal from childhood. A short story collection, The Fountain, went on sale July 10th on Amazon.
We live in a dream house, high atop a hill in southwestern New Mexico. A house I designed on a computer. A far cry from the home I grew up in, foreclosed on when I was 11. My mother could not pay the mortgage after my father died four years before. She died five years later.
From the poverty of my youth, my wife and I have taken many wonderful vacations with two children—now grown and on their own. We continue to travel, now more often on our own. In the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, this financial security is called, “treasures of the storehouse.”
We have had a few health problems now and then, but by and large we are not inconvenienced greatly by them and have overcome them. Similarly, in our Buddhist faith, this is called “treasures of the body.”
Of the three treasures, “treasures of the heart” are the most valuable or important. These too, we have in abundance. The certainty that we can achieve anything, that we can overcome any adversity. That our happiness is absolute—not relative, like winning the lottery, a wonderful car or a wonderful home that could be destroyed by fire or flood.
One doesn’t need to practice Buddhism to be successful in life—to have a happy marriage or a good job. One doesn’t need to practice Buddhism to be financially secure or able to overcome illness. But it certainly helps immeasurably. If it didn’t, if it hadn’t, I wouldn’t still be doing it 40 years later. I would be happy to share more of my own experiences with you about this practice or refer you to sources of information about it—should you be interested. But today’s post is not a paean to draw you in, it’s a commemoration of my personal anniversary.
One more important note: the path to becoming a Buddha, an enlightened human being, runs through the world of the Bodhisattva. In other words, the practice of Buddhism entails practicing for others as well as oneself. It’s not a greedy, self-realizing endeavor that you keep to yourself. Oh no, it’s a practice that involves helping others find happiness, hope, courage and more through the compassion of a Bodhisattva. An essential element of the beneficial results I’ve obtained over my 40 years of practice stems from that commitment.
Even as President-Elect, Donald Trump has no hesitation in making policy pronouncements (via tweet, which his team must interpret and translate) as if he were already in the White House. Today came his tweet that the US must expand its nuclear arsenal. In response to a question by a radio host, he added that if it’s an arms race, we’ll win. For 40 years each American President has worked to reduce the US stockpile of weapons in conjunction with other countries. In a tweet, Trump cavalierly appears to abandon that perspective.
In the December 2016 Eagle Peak Quarterly, we featured an excellent piece by retired diplomat Bob Tansey. In it, he expounded on the words of Nichiren Daishonin, 13th century Buddhist. To read the entire piece, please go here.
Nichiren states, “If you care anything about your personal security, you should first of all pray for order and tranquility throughout the four quarters of the land, should you not?”
That certainly seems like an appropriate response to Trump’s most recent unthinking outburst. Here’s a little more from Tansey’s article:
In his 1260 treatise, written in the form of a dialogue between a host and a guest, Nichiren recounts the many disasters confronting medieval Japan, such as famine, internal strife and foreign invasion. . . . He also brings up the challenge of “reforming the tenets in our hearts.” That means to examine our basic beliefs (which are mixed with emotion as well) and seek to perceive our own enlightened potential and perspective—strengths arguably much in need at this moment in our own United States of America.
Reflecting on these two key phrases from Nichiren’s rather lengthy treatise led me back to an earlier writing of his, “On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime.” From all of Shakyamuni’s teachings and all that flowed from over those two thousand years, Nichiren adopted the tradition of the Lotus Sutra. I’ve been practicing Buddhism for going on five decades but am not a Buddhist scholar. Nonetheless, I like to say that to me “On Attaining Buddhahood…” (which is notably brief) summarizes the key principles of the Lotus Sutra:
The idea that everyone has the potential to reveal their inherent “Buddha Nature,” which seems to me to be a statement of ultimate equality. Nichiren Buddhism sees the Buddha nature as the inherent potential within each human being to attain Buddhahood, the state of enlightenment and the goal of Buddhist practice. It’s also the tenth or highest of the “Ten Worlds” (states or conditions of existence).
Interconnectedness, aka “dependent origination,” i.e. though we may believe we’re separate from others our lives and fortunes are intertwined. “On Attaining Buddhahood…” states in part, “It is called the Mystic Law because it reveals the principle of the mutually inclusive relationship of a single moment of life and all phenomena.”
Causality, i.e. ultimately what we think, say and do is determinative rather than external factors. Nichiren states, “Whether you chant the Buddha’s name, recite the sutra, or merely offer flowers and incense, all your virtuous acts will implant benefit and good fortune in your life.” He urged his followers to strive with this conviction, while fully cognizant that the society of his time was besieged by seemingly overwhelming negative forces. Nonetheless, he constantly emphasized the power of a single individual and of individuals working together to make a difference.
Bob spent decades around the world–China, Israel, Central America, Africa and more countries in Asia. He speaks five languages. Since retiring from the Foreign Service he has been working at high level position within the Nature Conservancy. So what is he doing to move forward? He’s working to create a community association in the multiracial neighborhood where he lives in Washington, DC.
Happy Holidays to all—whether you celebrate a secular or non-secular occasion this time of year with family, friends or fellow believers of your faith. For some it’s a time of hope and renewal. For others it’s a trying time given personal setbacks, memories of lost loved ones or even political turmoil. For myself, my circle of family and friends, it’s a little bit of each. While we had no personal setbacks this year, we empathize with those who did.
Most years, including this one, there is conflict in locations around the world. Yet hope remains in the hearts of people with faith in a religion or in humanity itself. The Buddhist scholar, philosopher and peace builder Daisaku Ikeda says this:
Peace and culture are one. A genuinely cultured nation is a peaceful nation and vice versa. When conflicts multiply, culture wanes and nations fall into a hellish existence. The history of the human race is a contrast between culture and barbarity. Only culture is a force strong enough to put an end to conflict and lead humanity in the direction of peace.
I hope you will have a safe and joyous encounters this season. Share in a peaceful culture in whatever way best suits you. Triumph over any challenges or obstacles to happy holidays.
Seeing things as they really are, without the illusions or delusions
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