Seeing things as they really are, without the illusions or delusions.
That’s the tagline for Views from Eagle Peak. It’s a little long, but it’s what it is.
George Floyd. Cops. Minneapolis and more. Protests–peaceful and violent. Us and them. Self-identity–race, sex, job, age and much more. Attitudes and beliefs. Norms and Values. Hate.
We’re all human. That’s the race I put on those forms that ask for it. You can see from my profile picture I’m White. My wife of nearly 40 years is African-American. Her father wanted to kill us if we got married. Later he just said, “call me Dad.” That’s because, in the words of Daisaku Ikeda,
A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.
I prayed for his happiness and accepted responsibility for his attitude toward me–expecting to change myself and thus his perspective. Those things happened.
Blacks are seven times more likely to be killed by police gunfire than Whites are. I don’t have statistics for death by other police behavior. When charged (rarely) and tried (more rare), few cops are convicted in the death of Blacks.
The words in the graphic sum up the major point of this article—living with the inevitability of death. And doing it successfully! In other words—happily and fearlessly with purpose, despite the certainty of your eventual demise. You can find this quotation–and other encouraging bits of wisdom here.
We all will die someday. How we live our lives will make a difference on what happens thereafter. Heaven, hell, rebirth–your faith and your choice. If nothing else, a life lived well offers an easier death and good memories of you by others.
Here’s a nutshell excerpted from the article:
Death: As Victor Hugo said, “We are all under sentence of death, but with a sort of indefinite reprieve.” Do you give it much thought? Most people don’t–until a serious illness strikes, or they lose a loved one.
Many of the world’s religions and philosophies focus on what happens after you die. They promise a hereafter—an eternal life in heaven—OR rebirth. They don’t let you off the hook entirely. That eternal life comes with a price—living your life according to some precepts or guidelines.
A Buddhist perspective on eternal life: You won’t remember a thing, but you will have do-overs. A new body and mind with the same core entity—karma included. In other words, you start over where you left off, in karmic terms.
Whatever worldview you may have, living with the inevitability of death is a reality. Whether you practice an organized religion or not, there is a point to considering how you live YOUR life. We will explain.
And a remembrance: Recently, a friend of 35 years died, surrounded by friends and loved ones. He lived a full and happy life. He created value. He shared the joy of Buddhism with countless others. He left unafraid of the death that will supply a rest before another rebirth.
As a doctor and professor of neurology, Oliver Sacks knew much of death. He was also an accomplished author. Awakenings, a book about treating of patients awakening from sleep after decades, was made into a movie. When he faced a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Sacks penned an op ed piece in the New York Times February 2015. It says, in part:
I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can.
Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.
On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.
Ideally, we should live every minute of our lives valuably, as if it were the last moment of our lives. Those who live aimlessly are left with a sense of emptiness at the end of their lives, but those who live all-out, striving right to the end, will die peacefully.
Leonardo da Vinci says, ‘As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, a life well used brings happy death.’
One aware that death could come at any time will live each day to the fullest.
Today, I find much to agree with in the words of Sacks and Ikeda. That didn’t come for several years after my years in Vietnam. My fears of death were short-lived and only episodic in Vietnam. I saw no death while there.What I did see and experience corrupted my youth. Along with Watergate, the war shattered my illusions about America.
To reclaim my virtue and ideals, I began a quest to reform the people or institutions that failed me. I learned much along the way, during my college years—despite the interruption of classes for protests against the war.
Some years later, I realized that reforming myself and not changing others is the means for attaining happiness and for making the world a better place. Yes, Sacks and Ikeda have it right.
This is an extended excerpt from a recent article by long-time SGI member Michèle de Gastyne that appeared in the October Eagle Peak Quarterly. Her piece focuses on elements she found noteworthy in the 2017 Peace Proposal of the same title, published on January 26th, by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda. De Gastyne’s thoughts are excerpted and condensed from a more comprehensive article on her blog. Unless otherwise indicated by a link, all quotations from Daisaku Ikeda are from his 2017 recommendations.
Essay, “on Nuclear Disarmament, Human Rights Education, SDGs and ‘Leaving No One Behind’,” by Michèle de Gastyne
Involve Youth in Global Programs
How many people feel there’s nothing ordinary citizens can do in the face of the 15,000+ nuclear arms that exist on our planet? If you fit into that large category, I’d like to share another way of viewing Humanity’s current situation. Without one trace of pessimism in his recommendations, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda asserts we must include youth at the forefront. He calls youth the “critical agents of change who embody hope” in finding and implementing international solutions, including the most intractable.
Many will be surprised to read that last statement. But the realization of its truth is already making its way within the U.N. system and hallways of governments. I hope after reading this piece, a few more people will be equally convinced there is a clear path forward for a safer world, which is also more just and harmonious.
Take this inspiring paragraph, for example: “It’s estimated there are currently 1.8 billion young people between the ages of ten and twenty-four living in our world today. If these young people, rather than resorting to conflict and violence, can come to uphold and protect the core values of human rights, I am positive that a path toward a “pluralist and inclusive society”–as articulated in the U.N. “Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training”–can be brought into being.”
Likewise, Dr. David Nabarro, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, said:
‘[W]e have to make sure there’s space for young people everywhere to be part of this movement for sustainable development. . . young people want to work together with joy, they want to trust each other.’
Nabarro’s remarks came at “Youth Boosting the Promotion and the Implementation of SDGs,” an SGI co-sponsored UN event [SDGs or Sustainable Development Goals are a UN-developed set of 17 goals and 169 targets to sustain habitability of the World as development occurs].
For Abolishing Nuclear Weapons, End Deterrence and Empower Grass-Roots Involvement
There is a powerful case for “participative democracy” and transparency in this peace proposal. Ikeda encourages individuals and groups to publish statements indicating their commitment to a nuclear weapons-free world. Or to hold grass-roots events on the significance of a people-driven international treaty in the spirit of the Einstein-Russell Manifesto of 1955, which he quotes,“We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.“
Ikeda says the supposed deterrence of a nuclear umbrella is actually a “sword of Damocles” hanging over the head of humanity. He urges ordinary citizens to promote the idea through NGOs and Civil Society that nuclear conflicts must never be fought. He urges working hard to include participation of U.N. treaty negotiations for prohibiting the existence of nuclear weapons, reminding us that Japan has a particular responsibility. Never losing his optimism, he nonetheless warns that nuclear states would need strong encouragement from their citizens in order to move toward this goal because of vested interests.
It’s here–in living color! The October Eagle Peak Quarterly. Read it all at once or a little at a time.
We’ll try something new in this promo. Today, the list of articles with short excerpts. Then, for the next two weeks, we’ll post more of each article every other day. If we don’t get to your comment, it’s because we’ll be offline for a few days.
Most people, I suspect, celebrate anniversaries as special occasions. These are different. They’re reference points in the tapestry of life. Signposts of events that have significantly affected the trajectory of my existence or describe it. Arriving in Vietnam 50 years ago. Writing a book about what transpired and how it changed me for the better.
Franco-American writer and professor Michele de Gastyne offers her views and agreement on SGI leader Ikeda’s proposal to put youth in the forefront of dealing with the problems of nuclear proliferation, refugees, xenophobia and more. It’s a long and densely worded article, reflecting both the thoughts of Daisaku Ikeda and de Gastyne’s consideration of them.
Tony Goodlette spent eight years in Vietnam from 1967-1975. He still suffers health effects from that time. But the Buddhism he began practicing a few years later has enabled him to make even more valuable contributions to America and the world, with humanism and compassion. Read the interview for details of this man’s interesting life.
It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it. Be advised: this is not a “wing it” vacation. Planning is essential if you’re to make the most of your family’s time and money. Juanita explains it all–well much of it anyway. But she tells you where you can find out more.
Did you watch the PBS series on the Vietnam War? This 10-part, 18-hour film is among the best and most comprehensive feature on that war–with interviews from both sides and more. Stream it from the web and much more on the PBS site. Or take a peek at some beautiful travel photos from Nat Geo.
More on financial planning (boring or droll–it’s important). Weight-loss techniques that actually WORK–the publisher can prove it! You won’t believe how much he’s lost. Building that dream home–realizing a boomer fantasy; another true-life experience. We’ll explain some alternatives and offer tips on buying a house. Plus the usual: Like an interview and items worth noting.
Sally Cronin’s fabulous site is indeed a smorgasbord, with a potpourri of posts across a broad topical spectrum. There’s health, nutrition medical news. She freely promotes fellow authors. Most importantly, Sally tells readers about her own books–providing reviews and telling us where to get them. She’s been a storyteller most of her life, she says.
It’s that annual celebration–picnics, trips to the beach, parades and fireworks. So long ago, 238 years, that the concept is difficult to grasp. Independence from colonial rule. Today the focus is either on enjoying the holiday or making political points about the significance of it all in relation to modern government in America. In the sixties and seventies, radicals spouted slogans like, “Power to the People,” in response to what they saw as political repression and talked of “come the revolution.” Today it’s the right wing Patriot Movement that threatens to take up arms to protect their liberties against government repression. Neither made or makes much sense. America still has more opportunities, more freedom and more liberty than almost any other nation (not to say that I am aware of any that has more, just trying not to overstate my case). Ironically, it’s those celebrations that are most indicative of this truth. While a burger, a beer and a hot dog may not have much to do directly with patriotic observation of the independence our forefathers fought for, the fact that we can freely indulge in them comes as result. But what of human revolution?
“A great revolution of character in just a single person will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will cause a change in the destiny of all humankind.” Daisaku Ikeda
The fight for independence from colonial rule is long over in America. The political points that ideologues attempt to make using the words and principles of the Declaration of Independence ring hollow to my ears. The true revolution for America today is human revolution. The change in character that comes from accepting responsibility for one’s own happiness, one’s own successes in achieving goals–unimpeded by the real and the not so real constraints one faces–not from a repressive government, employer, neighbor, or significant other but from those imposed by oneself. Now is the time to engage in that revolution and to celebrate it.
No, the Dalai Lama isn’t mad at the Pope; that was just to grab your attention. The Pope is visiting America–Washington, DC in fact. The Dalai Lama is upset with China at it’s treatment of Tibet. But they do have something in common. They were both chosen by adherents to lead major religions. Continue reading The Pope is Coming and the Dalai Lama is Pissed→
Seeing things as they really are, without the illusions or delusions
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