“The raison d’etre of the world of faith is to help people become happy. In essence, ours is a gathering of supreme freedom and joy. No one has the right to reprimand and cause suffering for others, nor is anyone obliged to let him- or herself be reproved and made to feel bad…There are many differences , for instance, between the cultures, climates, and social systems of Japan and the United States. Therefore, it is only natural that there might be differences in how kosen-rufu is advanced in the two countries.”
Daisaku Ikeda, My Dear Friends In America, page 8.
The first fourteen pages of this book, and page 190, could be the best leadership manual I’ve seen to date. In fact one could build an entire practice on those pages. I want to share what has been sitting on my altar for two years from Daisaku Ikeda:
“We are now in the process of creating an unshakable foundation meant to last for 10,000 years. For that reason, we must not be impatient, nor is there any need to try to look impressive. It is important that, person by person, we increase the size and scope of our movement by developing friendships based on humanism. Making true, genuine friends and creating a core of capable individuals is crucial. No great development can be accomplished without painstaking effort.”
I am, of course, lampooning the organization which brought this amazing Buddhism into my life. That being said, and thanks to Byrd who coined the phrase, I bring you…
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This is the harrowing story of Aeon Klutz. A young girl, played by Oscar winner Charlize Theron, practicing Buddhism under an unscrupulous and abusive leader, played by Oscar nominee Gary Busey, who is not so much acting but just being himself. Aeon escapes but must wander in the North Country until she meets her mentor played by Oscar winner Sally Field: “Norma Rae…that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long, long time.” Norma instructs Aeon in the ways of her previous mentors, Makiguchi, Toda, Ikeda, and the master of them all Nichiren. All portrayed brilliantly by Oscar winner Linda Hunt: “I find the challenge of playing four different men challengingly different. Instead of one Filipino man, these are four men, Japanese, you see? You see ‘Filipino’ begins with an ‘F’ and not a ‘Ph’ as in ‘The Philippines’. You see?” Aeon and Norma, together with their band of disciples, Sofia Gakkai, Inagaddadavidadevadatta, Don the Medicine King, Byakuren the Flight Attendant, and Evil “Friend” Knievel (in his last appearance jumping the drunken elephants), these Magnificent Seven help each other and the Village People they vowed to protect, regain what they thought was lost forever: conformity! And when they kick ass it’s by the book! After the smoke clears, and the dust settles, and the earth turns, and the sun comes up, and the cock crows, and the cows come home, and Tupac’s last album is released, and Elvis has left the building, sameness is restored in a miraculous transformation; everyone becomes Linda Hunt (as portrayed by Oscar winner Linda Hunt.)
What the critics are saying:
“Rapturous! Leaves everything else behind.”
Kirk Cameron
“Free Thinkers? Not for me. From now on, I’m charging for it!”
Susan Jacoby
“I found it’s ‘in your face’ approach refreshing.”
Richard Dawkins
“I read the book. I couldn’t put it down. Of course, I couldn’t pick it up either.”
Steven Hawking
“Finally something I can believe in!”
Sam Harris
“Let it be a warning for gays, lesbians, those bad people with aids, those bad people from Louisiana, feminists…oh wait, I already said lesbians… Hugo Chavez and anyone else trying to destroy the fabric of God’s America. And by God’s America, I mean My America.”
Pat Robertson

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“Ben…Ben. Why didn’t you tell me?”
Luke Skywalker to his friend/mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (posthumously). After battling his sworn enemy and having his hand chopped off in a light saber fight by the second evilest dude in the galaxy, Darth Vader, the man Luke believes killed his father, Luke finds out from Vader himself that “Obi-Wan did not tell you everything. No. *I* am your father!” Not only that, Vader is cajoling Luke to join him in his evilness and Luke can feel his presence because of the special connection they both have as father and son through the “force”. Talk about internal personal conflict! And you thought you were having a bad day!
PART 2 OF BETWEEN A ROCK AND A MANDALA;
THE FUNCTION OF BETRAYAL

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Recently I had a conversation with someone whose opinion I greatly respect. We spoke about the essence of the Nichiren Gohonzon, the one all of us in the Soka Gakkai International practice with. This person expressed the their understanding of this mandala as an expedient. That is, something that wouldn’t be needed if only we could tap into our Buddha nature on our own, without relying on an external object. This made perfect sense to me. Since we seem to be at the whim of external influences that consistently affect our momentary states of being, having an object whose sole purpose is to help us provoke the most positive effect possible is something to be desired. And for economy’s sake, let’s just say this effect is that we see things as they are from an enlightened perspective.

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