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Tim Janakos (ティム・ジャナコス): Bioプロフィール

Scroll down to read Tim's biography in English, along with some of Tim's recent published and unpublished writings in English - ティム・ジャナコスのプロフィール

アメリカ合衆国、カリフォルニア州出身。
10歳から音楽を始め、2005年に来日。シンガーソングライターとして、現在は新潟市で活動中。
作詞、作曲の他、ピアノ、サックス、ギターを演奏。
去年までは仙台市で活動しており、ジャズフェスティバルの出演を始め、Date FMやNHK FM、また海外のラジオ番組でもオリジナル曲が採用され、活動の場を広げて来ました。

Tim Janakos (ティム・ジャナコス) - Energetic Emotional Healer, Singer/Song Writer, Musician, Novelist, Writer, Buddhist Activist

“There are no boundaries in the field of music. Music is the flower of culture-a language common to the entire world; it is a thing of beauty sought by all...” - Daisaku Ikeda

"Lyrically Heartfelt, Soulfully Melodic. Truly in a class of his own, Tim Janakos is able to transpose his thoughts, feelings and dreams into a musical delight without the mimicry that is so common today. This CD is a prime example of how Tim Janakos has defined his own style while still maintaining diversity. Tim is the fresh young artists to watch."- Paul Monaco (Program Director / SWAKradio.com)


Short Story:

Tim Janakos is either a best selling author, a trickster and host of "From Time Without Beginning," from Kuon Ganjo, a grammy award winning singer/song writer and/or a trans-morphic, post-macro-neurotic, ex-vegan, excommunicated buddhist/certified, un-certified, post-certified, pre-certified, de-certified OR quasi-certified, student OR practitioner of either the Emotion Code, the Body Code, Quantum Touch 2.0, Three Dimensional Therapy, Access Consciousness, Healing Frequencies and/or other yet unnamed healing modalities that he has either personally discovered, co-discovered and/or remembered from some previous lifetime to break us out of this holographic matrix. He is the creator of many CDs and author of many books. He is here, if you please, to invalidate your reality of limitations.


Tim's Music Bio

Tim Janakos is an award winning singer/songwriter. After winning the grand prize in the 2nd annual Niigata Power Song Competition Finals in 2013, and after winning the audience choice award, in the 1st annual Niigata Power Song Competion Finals in 2012 (the only act to make the finals two years in a row), he just finished recording another new 3-song Japanese CD with a local Niigata, Japan Record Label, Oto No Hakko.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYTUzmvk1_A&list=UUCjrpCA7lWa1jNM-BXxX9dg&index=1&feature=plcp

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfUJRBMyIKE

In September of 2014, his original song, “It’s All Up to You,” was selected 1st out of over 1,400 entries to be featured first on the OxJam Unsigned MixTape to raise money for Oxfam, UK.

http://tape.ly/oxjam-mixtape-unsigned-artists

Tim’s newest full CD (his 3rd original CD release), with Wave Reader Productions, "The Beginning is Here," was released in 2012.

https://timfm.bandcamp.com/album/2012-the-beginning-is-here

Tim released two music videos for two of the songs on that CD.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTMuQEcAG2U

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HefnDrgttM

Since 2013, Tim has been singing lead and solo every weekend at Wedding Duo Grand Chariot, Niigata, Japan where he can be seen in this commercial at his weekly wedding location.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qILqvb3Nx1Y

Throughout 2012 and 2013, Tim had many TV and Radio appearances, where he was interviewed and he sang his songs. Here are a couple

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ml7_5Pv1D50

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dl0JNOWy2-s

He also won the Audience Choice on a TV performance competition that he was invited back to perform at 3 times: UX TV Egg Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7MSsk8j31A

From 2005 to 2014 Tim has performed live in at least 30 cities in Japan, including Sendai, Niigata, Yamagata, Kofu (Yamanashi), Fukui, Tokyo, Chiba, Koriyama, Nagano, Matsumoto, Mito, Iwaki, Morioka (Iwate), Nagaoka, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Kanazawa, Akita, Nagoya, Takasaki, Utsunomiya, Maebashi, Ueda, Toyama, Nanyo, Tagajo, and Joetsu.

From 2007 to 2010 Tim lead sang and arranged music for a big stage, brass band where he also played piano and saxophone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40mxT0-kjwA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN53axQY-ZE

Tim also fronted a few original and cover bands from about 2005 to 2008, called Southern California Sunshine, Drive-Thru Exciting and DaDoodz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZXQaa3d3zo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEEM8FOGM8w

In the duet band, Dadoodz, he and his partner, Richie Gill were featured throughout Japan on the national TV station, NHK, doing a few duet harmony versions of Bridge Over Troubled Water and More Than Words. This replayed throughout Japan from 2007 to 2009 at least 3 times, but NHK won’t release a video of it to the artists due to copy right infringements, but here are 1st take studio recordings of the songs.

http://www.ourstage.com/media_items/ICIBZSAGUDUC-bridge-over-troubled-water-simon

http://www.ourstage.com/media_items/ZOGUOXXDDYXP-more-than-words-extreme-cover

On the Our Stage Song Competitions his songs have 18 times ranked in the top 40 and 4 times in the top 10

http://www.ourstage.com/TimJanakos

During his 13-plus years in college studying music, Tim Janakos played with many bands in Southern California, which include doing originals and covers with a trio group called Stranger’s Milk, where he played guitar, sax and sang lead and harmonies, and he played sax in a hippy trippy funk band called Zumbuladelic. He also played and sang in many college bands and choruses, including singing in goshel choirs, chamber singers, and playing in jazz, symphonic and marching bands on sax, french horn and trumpet during his high school and jr. high school days.

Tim had his debut musical performance at about age 6 playing recorder for a children’s group that performed at the Shrine Auditorium and the Scottish Rites Hall, both in Los Angeles. And continued in singing and performance groups all through his elementary school days.

Full Life Story:

Born as Timothy Gianakos in the mountains of Big Bear, California to hippy parents, who were escaping the civilized world, Tim grew up surrounded by music. His mother's love for classic rock and especially David Bowie, gave him the dream at a very young age to be a singer/song writer and musician.

His mother joined Soka Gakkai International (SGI-an international lay Buddhist organization, which focuses its activities on promoting peace, culture and education) before he turned 1 year old (against his father's wishes, which eventually led to their divorce 2 years later).

Tim’s courageous, Buddhist mother raised him and his older brother for 7 years as a single parent. It was from her that they both developed their strong practice of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism.

Tim had his debut musical performance with the SGI Junior Pioneers (an SGI kids organization, now called Future Division) where at age 6 he was scheduled to perform on the recorder at the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles (However, he lost the recorder at a practice before the show and had to go on stage playing air recorder. Luckily he survived the stage fright to continue his music career).

Growing up too poor to get private music lessons, Tim first learned to play music in the SGI Brass Band, where at age 10 he began playing the trumpet and performed his first parade in Washington DC at age 11.

It was at this young age, when he first read an essay by Daisaku Ikeda, written for the SGI brass band that he confirmed his dream to be a musician for world peace and to, as Daisaku Ikeda wrote in the essay, “spread [his] music to all corners of the world [for the sake of peace].”

Despite his upbringing in the Soka Gakkai, like many youth, Tim went through his very rebellious days in elementary school and junior high school, where he didn't do well in school and where he smoked marijuana on a regular basis. Despite this short hiatus from his dreams to change the world, during this rebellious time he was able to gain a lot of experience in what the youth of America have to live through. That delinquent time in his life became the subject of his novel, "Myth Shattering," where a young punk rock kid changes his life with his discovery of Buddhism.

Despite this rebellious time, Tim's love of music caused him to join the symphonic band in Junior High School, where he learned to read music and play the saxophone at age 13.

On his own, he later picked up the guitar, piano (no, he didn’t literally “pick it up,” it was too heavy), and French horn at about age 16.

In the SGI Brass Band, he performed in many world peace cultural festivals: in Hawaii at age 14, in San Diego at age 15, in Seattle, Washington at age 17. (He was scheduled to perform at Madison Square Gardens in New York, with the brass band at age 16, but he wasn't able to get the money together, even though he practiced the music and routine with the brass band up until a week before they left to New York).

In high school and college, he sang and played in many musical groups (jazz bands, rock bands, a gospel chorus, a salsa band, chamber singers, symphonic bands, marching bands, and more) and he began writing his own music about 18 years ago.

He has thus far, written over 50 original songs. His song lyrics reflect his Buddhist belief in the unlimited potential of each human being to transform their life and the world in a positive way.

Outside of school, he was a sax player in a hippy-trippy, funk music band called Zumbuladelic, where he did many shows in Hollywood and throughout Southern California.

One of the songs on his first demo tape, “Song of Triumph” was featured on Orange County, California’s KSBR Radio’s “Local Artist Spot Light.”

The highlight of his Orange County, California music life was for 3 years he played throughout Southern California, Big Bear and on Catalina Island in a 3-piece original and classic rock/acoustic band called “Stranger's Milk,” where he gained the confidence to eventually start playing solo original gigs, singing and playing piano and guitar.

Throughout his many years in College, Tim supplemented his school study by reading almost every book of Daisaku Ikeda's he could get a hold of (or that was translated into English at the time), which led to his dream to along with being a singer/songwriter and musician, to also be a writer of many books.

He finished writing his first novel before getting accepted into the first class of Soka University of America in Orange County, California in 2001, and he has since also published most of his writings from Soka University of America (which have now been published in over 3 volumes, amounting to well over 1,000 pages).

After doing a study-abroad program in Japan, where he played his first concerts in Japan, and after graduating with honors in the 1st class of Soka University of America in 2005, Tim packed up his bags and moved to Sendai, Japan to give the Japanese audience a taste of his music and eventually a taste his book writing (once he finds a Japanese translator).

In Japan, he changed his legal name (which was Timothy Van Campen at the time) to the Japanese name, Harada.

After a few years in Sendai, he moved to Niigata where he found a producer, Remi for his new CD. In Sendai, Tim played many duet concerts with his regular act “daDoodz,” featuring guitar virtuoso, from New Zealand, Richie Gill, which at times becomes a trio, with the addition of either Takke Matsumo, an incredible drummer from Tokyo, or Moppy (Satoshi) on his dog box (Cajone). They played regularly at many of the Annual Jozenji Street Music Festivals, LLL (Love, Listen, Laugh), The Izumi Park-town Golf Resort Restaurant, Antre Lounge, The Green Shamrock Irish Pub, Club Shaft, the Satin Doll, Charly's Lemon Country among other places.

Tim also performed solo at many other places in Sendai and other areas of Japan, including the Save Java, From Sendai Concert in Kotodai Koen (Park), the Tagajo Community Culture Center and many SGI community centers in Sendai, Niigata and Itoh, Japan.

Along with playing with daDoodz, Tim also played in a couple of full bands in Sendai. The first one, “Southern California Sunshine” (with lead guitar player, Tokita Yasushi, previously with Ozaki Yutaka's band, bass player from Saitama, Takumi “Bill” Wada, and drummer from Miyagi, Mitsunobu “Mi” Sato and Tim on vocal, piano, keyboard, acoustic guitar and saxophone) featured his original music and the second, “Drive-thru Exciting” (with Rino Honda on vocals, Mikkie on bass, Takke Matsumo on drums, and Tim on vocals, piano, and guitar) was a cover band that performed weekly at LLL (Listen, Love, Laugh).

Tim has had many of his songs played on radio stations in Niigata and Sendai, Japan. His original song “With You; With Me,” the second song on his first CD, “Love; The Only Proven Way to Fight Terrorism” had its first playing on the largest FM radio station in Sendai, Japan, Date FM, 71.1 on Honma Chan and Chicka Chan’s Friday Air Jams show, February, 2006. One of his recordings, “Will You Be My Wife?” was played on NHK FM, Sendai, Sept. 2006. After that, his live solo recording of his original “Come Alive” (live from Soka University of America) was played by Maynard, the singer of Monkey Majik on his weekly show, “Monkey House Music” on Date FM, Sendai, Japan, November 16th, 2006. In October of 2007, NHK FM-Sendai played his previous original band's live recording from the 16th Annual Jozenji Street Music Festival of his original song, “Princess.” On the internet, many poscasts around the world have podcasted many of Tim’s original songs. After winning the Audience Choice award in 2012 at the Niigata Power Song Competition Finals and after winning the Grand Prix award in 2013 at the same Niigata Song Competition, Tim had a string of Radio interview and TV performances, which included two interviews on FM Port, Niigata, two interviews on BSN Radio AM, and 3 performances on UX TV's Egg Live, where he won audience choice again in his first performance. He was also on a TV Show on BSN TV, called SuiYouBi Naito, where he was interviewed along with many other foreigners in Niigata about live in Niigata and he performed a song by Oda Kazumasa

Along with having many of his songs on radio stations, Tim's performance with daDoodz at the 17th Annual Jozenji Street Music Festival was featured quite prominently throughout Japan on NHK TV'special on the Jozenji Street Music Festival in October of 2007.

When Tim moved to Niigata, Japan he took a break from doing as many shows to record a new CD "The Beginning is Here" with Wave Reader Productions and also to promote the new release of his novel, Myth Shattering and his “Collected Writings From Soka University of America,” Volumes I - III. (See them at www.lulu.com.)

Tim's old CD, “Acts of Sedition; Classified CIA Files” (Listen to it at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/harada2) is a compilation of the best songs on his 3 previous CDs, and includes all the songs from his most recent CD “Love: The Only Proven Way to Fight Terrorism” (listen to it at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/harada)

The Love CD was a great departure from Tim’s two previous CDs of sad and introverted songs.

His new CD, which goes way beyond love to address world issues and issues of human happiness and self empowerment can be found on Itunes, Amazon.com and almost everywhere else CDs or downloadable music are sold online. Search The Beginning is Here, By Tim Janakos.

Tim's novel, Myth Shattering, a semi-autobiographical/cultural criticism/political protest novel of a young punk rock kid’s journey to Buddhism is now out on paperback at www.lulu.com. Tim released the first 3 volume of his Collected Writings from Soka University of America,” And a compilition of all 3 volumes was published in both hard cover and paperback in about 2008 at www.lulu.com. Along with writing books, Tim is also a certified energy healer, using the Body Code and Emotion Code along with a few other healing modalities and he has a bi-weekly call-in radio show where he does live long distant healings on all the people who call in. www.blogtalkradio.com/timjanakos

Tim is now on the 4th year of his all Japan Station to Station music tour. Stay tuned as Tim Janakos’s music spreads throughout Japan and the world, and eventually makes it’s way back to Southern California.

“Whenever one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself” - Jacques Cousteau

Synopsis of Tim's Novel "Myth Shattering"

Myth Shattering, by Tim Janakos

A Novel, Availible on paperback at

http://www.lulu.com/shop/tim-janakos/myth-shattering/paperback/product-14414445.html

230 pages (40,922 words)

A Brief Synopsis:

A semi-autobiographical novel about a young punk rock kid in Wutherington Beach, Southern California. With his punk rock friends, he steals marijuana plants from his neighbor's backyards, smokes them in their underground clubhouse and shop lifts for munchies on a daily basis. However, on one summer afternoon, while trying to hide a large bag of marijuana in his apartment's garage, he discovers his dead father's revolutionary book collection. The things he reads in these books open his eyes wide to the nefarious history of the US government and the nefarious nature of their foreign and domestic policy. This awakening causes him to search for other like books, which further awaken him to the need for revolutionary change in his county.

However, the more he learns, the more bewildered he becomes, and the more withdrawn from school and social life, until he is on the brink of total despair. What finally saves him are the books in his father's collection about religion and philosophy. One particular book, by a Japanese Buddhist philosopher named Ho Goku, entitled Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth and Death, gives him courage and faith that a change in his society and the world is possible, but only through an inner spiritual revolution of each individual.

Penciled in the back of this book by Ho Goku, he finds a name and number of an old friend and colleague of his dead father. Though the number is wrong, he eventually locates this man on the Internet, and he adopts him as his spiritual teacher. The more he learns from his teacher, the more empowered he becomes. Though change is slow, he first realizes before he can change the world, he first has to change his own life and his own actions.

(Full Chapter-by-Chapter Synopsis)

Prelude-

The opening scene describes a historical school (Huntington Beach High School), while also describing the political situation and culture of Huntington Beach [H.B.], Orange County (otherwise known as "The O.C." on the teenage T.V. Drama), Southern California (though I change the name of the city to Wutherington Beach, a reference to the twisted, if not demented state of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights). The novel is a semi-autobiographical portrayal of my junior high school day's in the early to mid 80s, after the famous annual 4th of July riots, which were sparked by the over oppressiveness of the H.B. Police Department. Each year, the kids of Wutherington Beach High School grow more rebellious, as the laws grow stricter, "Like weeds that break though the city streets, they proved the forces of life only grow stronger against the countervailing forces, which attempt to suppress them."

Instead of setting the novel in the 80s, however, I set it in the 90s, to intertwine the state of affairs of Wutherington Beach with the state of affairs in Washington D.C., during the Newt Gin-"Grich" so-called, conservative revolution, which I was living through while writing the novel. Though the city of Huntington Beach was described in the Orange County Register, in the early 90s, as the "safest city in America," the narrator of my novel argues, "It just depends on whose side you are on."

A somewhat minor character, the narcotics officer, Mr. Sajak, which the kids call "Nark Spooge-whack" (who actually resembles a famous narcotics officer at Huntington Beach High School, during the 80s, whom my older, punk rock, drug dealing, H.B. High School brother used to love telling me stories about) is described, along with his history. He was a bullied kid, who failed in everything, including admission to the Huntington Beach Police Academy, so he's a little disgruntles to have to do his job, "'baby sitting snotty nose kids', as he calls it."

It is the first day of school, and as Sajak is waiting guard in his golf/patrol cart, the last bell rings, and the kids all gush from the classrooms.

The First Day-

Two of the main characters (both new freshman at Wutherington Beach High) meet each other on the way home after leaving the first day of school. They are briefly described: Debussy Jensen (formerly Debussy Xanthankis), AKA "Debut X" is the most intelligent in his bunch and the protagonist of the novel, and Nathan Phelps, AKA "Nate" is the greatest trouble maker in school, but by far the most ignorant of his group. On the way home, they meet up with Christopher Andrews, AKA "Chris," who is the most scared and innocent one amongst the three, who goes along with Nate's misadventures, because he wants to be accepted in the group. They meet up in Lake Park (a famous park in Huntington Beach for after school fights). They do their normal horseplay and in the end dog pile on each other with Nathan, the heaviest, ending up on top. After they get tired a wrestling, Nathan finally announces to the group, which he is on top of, "Let's get stoned!" The other two go along with him, even though this year, their first year in high school, both Debut and Chris seem much less interested in their Junior High School stoner days.

In this chapter, we also learn about Debussy's crush on a girl in his history class, Lori Thompson.

Walking Wall-

On the way home, the three walk on walls, which separate the backyards of track homes. This is how they have been able to get their weekly or sometimes daily dose of marijuana, which grows quite abundantly in most neighbor's backyards (Most of this is semi-autobiographical. This is how my friends and I got our marijuana, when we were in junior high school in Huntington Beach.) The kids recall times when they got in altercation with neighbors for walking walls and almost got caught steeling plants before. The plan of apprehension is detailed in this chapter: Debut's older brother Zeus is a paper boy and the other three have often helped him solicit door to door for new customers-each new customer gets them a weekly free trip to Punchy's Pizza and Arcade, with dinner and tokens to play video games. (Again, this is autobiographical. My brother, Adonis was a paperboy in junior high school, and we helped him get new customers in exchange for a night out at Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theater.) Once they find a house with a marijuana plant in the backyard, they use soliciting door to door for papers as their alibi, to see if the resident is home or not. On their journey, they do find a large plant, so they make their plan.

While Nate is trying to pull the plant out of the ground, and Debut is at the door pretending to be soliciting, the resident pulls up the driveway in his car. Debussy is at a loss of what to do to stall the homeowner, and he forgets his well rehearsed sales pitch, so the homeowner tells him to go away; he doesn't want any papers. By the time the homeowner goes to the backyard to water his plant, it is nothing but a mound of dirt. Luckily, Nate hides from the neighbor, who instead chases Chris in his car, but Chris manages to escape by jumping over a maze of backyards.

Going underground -

The kids finally meet up in their underground hideout in Hidden Valley (another famous park in Huntington Beach), where they laugh about their victory, and they make jokes about each other. Finally, Nate says they should smoke some of their prize, but Chris claims he's too tired now, from being chased by the man. However, Nathan taunts him with ridicule, until on the verge of tears, Chris finally gives in, and they all smoke out. While they are becoming sedated, Nathan makes jokes about Chris's belief in God, and they all cut into each other with more ridicule. Christopher's character is discussed much more in this chapter than the other two. Chris was a richer kid than the other two, and he moved to Southern California, from "Palookaville," Nebraska (Not a real city of course. I took the name from the famous movie quote, "I could a been a contender, ay; instead I got a one way ticket to Palookaville!") a few years prior, as a shy and well-behaved boy, only to meet Nathan, to become a forced trouble maker. He suffers from "mother love Asthma," having over baringly strict parents. His belief in God is perhaps more a fear of the consequences if he doesn't believe, than an actually faith that there really is a God.

Debussy -

The next chapter is a detailed history of the main character of the novel. Debussy (Debut) was born to freethinking, hippy parents. His late father, Charles Xanthankis was a writer, poet, musician and a well-known progressive Pacifica Radio commentator and journalist. He named Debussy after the last name of his favorite avant-garde composer, Claude Debussy. His father's death (or disappearance) is still a mystery to Debussy, who only knows that his father went to report on some political turmoil in Central America in the 80s and was never seen again. His mother, Justine Jenkins (J.J. as the kids call her) changed her name and has been in hiding, since shortly after Debussy's father disappeared. All of this is also a mystery to Debussy and his older brother, who because they were 2 and 4 years old, respectively, when their father disappeared, they were too young to understand really what happened. His mother gave Debut's older brother, the name "Zeus," because she was taking Greek mythology during her senior year in high school, when she became pregnant with him (Again much of this is semi-autobiographical. My older brother was named Adonis for the same reason as Zeus. My mom was in hiding since I was 2 and my older brother was 4. She changed our last name from "Gianakos" to "White." But she was in hiding from my dad, whom she ran away from, because she says he was abusive. As kids, we didn't understand any of this, and the facts, such as why we had a new name, were a mystery to us. Also, I was named by my father after Timothy Leary, who was equally as avant-garde as Claude Debussy, though in other ways I'm sure.) Debussy was an avid reader, and he had a very progressive outlook on life.

The Discovery -

The next chapter reminisces back to the previous summer, when Debussy made a life-changing discovery. After sneaking into their apartment's garage, which Debussy's mother kept locked at all time, Debussy found boxes of his late father's book collection. Books and authors, whom he had never heard of-revolutionary political books, history books and philosophical books. Books about the Black Panther Party, books about the CIA, books about the lost years of Jesus, books about Buddhism. He first became drawn to the political and historical books. He was especially drawn to the political works of Michael Parenti, Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal and Howard Zinn. This brought him on a quest to his local library to find other works from these writers. This new quest for knowledge was one of the many reasons Debussy was far less interested in smoking marijuana everyday, as he had been the previous year in junior high school.

Up into the Sun -

The three main characters finally come up, out of their smoke filled, underground fort, on a ravaged search for food. It is a normal display of their craziness under the influence of marijuana, where, for example, they fight each other to get over the wall that separates Hidden Valley, with a large sprawling supermarket and strip mall. (This is all very much reminiscent of my junior high days in Hidden Valley.)

Picnic Time -

They make their way to the regular shop lifting sight, the local supermarket, where they enjoy a free picnic under a covered fruit stand. It is a fun filled chapter, where a lot of Debussy's new political views are exposed and contrasted with the views of his friends.

White Lies -

This chapter takes place in Debussy's freshman history class, shortly after Debussy just read the book, Lies My Teacher Told Me. We see how Debussy's authoritarian history teacher tries to indoctrinate the students to the false image of the US and the West in general, as the only true "civilization." Debussy wants to confront the teacher's biases, but after he experiences the verbal abuse his teacher unleashes on his fellow classmate, for other matters, he refrains. After the class, Debussy experience great anguish, trying to accept and reconcile the two worlds, portrayed by his father's book collection and his educational indoctrination at Wutherington Beach High School. However, none of his peers seem to be at all interested in, or even conscious of the indoctrination taking place there.

In this chapter, we also see Debussy's growing infatuation with the previously mentioned girl in his history class, Lori Thompson, whom he is too afraid or shy to talk to, though he sits very close to her and he has a locker right underneath hers.

Disillusionment -

Debussy's inability to cope with all the shocking information he was learning from his dad's book collection and his investigations at his local library, and his inability to reconcile this with what he was being forced to learn in school, leads him to start skipping classes and spending most of his days educating himself. This crash course awakening to what was going on in the world, what was happening in his own country and what his government was doing around the world, brought him to a critical breakdown, where he couldn't read any more, and he couldn't think anymore. He just wanted to lie down in a park, watch the clouds pass by and try to shut off his mind. After a few weeks of doing nothing and trying not to think of everything he had learned, he found himself being drawn to the spiritual and religious books in his dad's book collection, which he had previously ignored. One particular author that drew the most of his attention was Ho Goku, a Buddhist Philosopher. However, the only book Debussy's father had from this author, was entitled Unlocking The Mysteries of Birth and Death. After reading it very quickly, he searches frantically for other books by the same author in his local library, but finds none. He makes his way to one of the huge corporate bookstores, where he also finds no books by this author.

Just before he was about to give up on his search, he thinks to ask a young, cute girl (Jessica, a minor character that later surfaces near the end of the book) who is working at the bookstore, if she could find any books by Ho Goku in the bookstore's computer. When she finally does search the publisher's database, she is amazed to find over 100 books that he had authored or co-authored (on Buddhism, history, art, education and peace.), and they are both shocked to find none of them were in this huge two-story corporate bookstore, which had a quite extensive collection of other books of similar topics. She tells Debussy that she could order anyone of them, if he'd like, but by this time, his disillusionment leads him to resignation, and he say to her, "ah, no thanks, I'll look elsewhere."

Winter -

After looking more and not finding any books by Ho Goku in other libraries and bookstores, Debussy finally remembers seeing a name and number penciled in the back of his dad's copy of the book by Ho Goku. He gets excited at first, but he is also reluctant to even try the number, figuring it would be very unlikely that after 10 years in storage, the number would still be valid. He procrastinates calling it for many weeks, as he sits around letting his life pass before him. After some time, he manages to brake through his apprehension, and he calls the number, only to have his hopes shattered with a disconnected number.

Finally, he decides to go to the library to search the Internet for the name that was penciled in the back of the book. He finally does find an email, and he emails it, but doesn't get a response for about a week. It turns out that the name in the back of the book, "Theodore Copland" who goes by the nickname "T.C.," was a fellow Pacifica Radio commentator with Debussy's father.rd president. T.C. had introduced Debussy's father to the Buddhist group before his father disappeared, but Debussy's father only showed a little interest in it and preferred to not join any one faith, but instead to remain "religiously eclectic," as he called it.

On the way home from the library, Debussy falls asleep on the bus and dreams back to one of the riots he had been at with the Wutherington Beach Police (a very autobiographical account of my own recollections of the Huntington Beach Independence Day riots of the late 80s and early 90s), only to be awoken in the middle of the chaos by the turn of the bus, which had already passed his stop.

Spring -

Two months later, Debussy finally gets the courage to call Theodore Copland (T.C.) back, and he set's up an appointment to meet him. He waits with excitement until the day he will meet T.C. He assumes from talking to him on the phone, that he is an African American man in his late 40s or early 50s.

Mentor -

Debussy finally meets with T.C. at T.C.'s house, a very unusually looking house, which should be called the "International House." Every room in the house was a different theme, such as a Native America room, a Japanese tea ceremony room, a revolutionary African American activist's library/study, etc. In the library, T.C. loans Debussy many of the books from his collection and they have a great talk about many subjects, finally ending with the writings and philosophy of Ho Goku, which actually derives from the 13th century Japanese Buddhist philosopher, Nichiren Daishonin.

After Debussy exhausts all of his seemingly endless questions, he asks to borrow more of Ho Goku's books, and he agrees to meet again with T.C. in the nearest future.

Debussy decides to go home and put into practice what he learned from T.C. Above all, he begins chanting "Nam Myo-ho Ren-ge Kyo" the Japanese title of the Lotus Sutra, which is the historical Buddha's final teaching. This chanting drastically changes his outlook on everything. It makes him feel very optimism about his own life and about how he has the power within himself to drastically change all the things he sees in society that he had grown to despise.

Human Revolution -

Debussy puts everything in his life on hold, as he continues to barrow books from Theodore, by Ho Goku. He hides the books under his bed in his bedroom, and he opens each with the excitement a kid opens Christmas presents. He jumped from book to book, reading small parts, but with too much excitement to see what was in the other books, he never finishes reading any one of them completely. Many of them were dialogues that Ho Goku had published with many world leaders and activists around the world. There were also books Ho Goku wrote about the history of Buddhism and about the philosophy of Nichiren Daishonin.

The ones Debussy enjoys the most, were a series called the Human Revolution, which was a novelized history of the Buddhist movement of the VCS, to which once again, Ho Goku is the 3rd president. It is a fascinating story of two educators in Japan before World War II, who try to reform the educational system of Japan to make it foster self empowered individuals who have the tools to lead happy, peaceful and productive lives.

The society, originally an educational society, went up against the military government of Japan, which was instead trying to produce obedient subjects of their military expansion and domination of the rest of Asia. Eventually the Japanese military government imprisoned the founders of VCS as "thought criminals," and the founding president, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi died in prison during World War II.

After World War II, the 2nd president of VCS, Josei Toda was released from prison, and freedom of religion was established in Japan. The VCS then transitioned from mostly an educational society to become mostly a Buddhist lay organization that focused its goals on its three pillars: peace, culture and education. The society grew quickly from a small handful of educators before World War II, to over 750,000 households in Japan before the 2nd President passed away in the late 50s.

The growth the new Buddhist organization experienced under the 3rd From hundreds of thousands in Japan to tens of millions in Japan and millions more around the world, the organization started to affect every aspect of Japan and began even having an effect on international politics. president, Ho Goku, became synonymous with the unprecedented growth of Japan, from a completely war devastated nation, to a top economic and industrial nation, in just a few decades.

In the beginning, the VCS was characterized in the Japanese tabloids, as an organization of the "sick and the poor" of Japan. Within a few decades, however, the tabloids started to lambaste it for instead being an organization of the "rich and powerful." Yet its unprecedented growth, and the success of its millions of members, showed proof of it's unprecedented philosophy of "value creation." It was the same poor and sick people who joined the organization at the beginning, who soon became the cultural and educational power behind Japan's growth as a nation. This was a "human revolution" that based its entire growth on self-empowerment, dialogue, cross-cultural understanding and peace-education.

Debussy saw hope in the history of this movement, that maybe he too could be part of changing his own country's military and exploitive capitalist system, into a system based on peace, culture and education.

The Power of One -

As Debussy reads more about Buddhist philosophy, he sees how each person has so much untapped power to transform their lives and the world around them. He then studies other progressive movements in history, in which he sees the power of one individual to stand up and to cause a ground swell of change around them, which in turn causes great movements of people who would change the world for the better.

After reading all 10 volumes of the Human Revolution, Debussy starts reading volumes of The New Human Revolution. He sees parallels between the revolutionary growth of the VCS in Japan and around the world, to another movement he starts to study in the US. This movement was started also by just one person, a courageous Maryknoll Priest, Father Roy Bourgeois, who started the School of the America's Watch (SOAW). After being kicked out of Bolivia, for helping to educate and feed the poor of Bolivia, Father Bourgeois started to study the school, which he felt he was a victim of. The School of the Americas (SOA-now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, WHISC), which was once stationed in Panama, but kicked out of Panama for it's ties to human rights abuses, is now stationed at Ft. Benning, Georgia. It is the school that trained the military dictator of Bolivia, Hugo Banzer, who overthrew the democratically elected government of Bolivia, in a military coup. Father Bourgeois felt that it was this school that was responsible for him being kicked out of Bolivia.

Father Bourgeois started a thorough study of the SOA, in which he found that many of the military dictators in Latin America received their military training at this school. He also found that many of the officers trained at this school had been implemented in the worse atrocities throughout Latin America. Despite this school's negative reputation in Latin America, many in the US had been completely unaware of this school's tainted history. It took Father Bourgeois's courage to bring to light to so many US citizens this, the greatest terrorist training camp in the West. Father Bourgeois bought a place across the street from the school, to set up the office of the SOAW, a watchdog organization that studies the actions of this school and has worked for many years to shut it down.

Debussy sees, through his study of this organization, how just one person can build a movement to change the world in a positive way. Through this study, he gains more confidence that someday he too could build a movement to change many of the things in the world he knows must be changed. Debussy also feels a strong connection to this school, because he realizes that people trained at this school may be responsible for his own father's disappearance.

Julian-

This chapter is about Debussy's new English composition class in high school, which a young, attractive and progressive substitute teacher, Amy Baldwin, teaches. Not only does he like this class because of the new teacher, but also his heartthrob, Lori Thompson is in this class. In this class, from the encouragement of his new teacher, Debussy gains a passion for writing, feeling that his writings can help change the world in a positive way. For many reason's, Debussy feels this is one of the first proofs that his Buddhist practice is having conspicuous results in his life. He had hoped for a positive change in his school environment.

In one of his first assignments, he is asked to write about a novelist and one or more of that novelist's novels. He chooses to focus on Gore Vidal, and especially his historical fiction novel, Julian. As he studies about Gore Vidal and about Julian, he finds that Julian was one of the most important emperors of Rome, during a very dark time in Roman history. It was a time in which Julian witnessed a cult, which he called the "Galileans" take over the Roman Empire. However, their beliefs, very positive at root, if not benign, were instead manipulated by the Roman establishment to focus only on the most destructive of those beliefs, in fact to perpetuate the very antitheses of those beliefs, shrouded in the name of those beliefs. The original ideas of the "Galileans'" faith were turned on their heads. Everything the "Galileans" believed in was co-oped by powerful forces in Rome, and it was used, instead of liberating people as they were originally intended, to control the "Galileans" and the rest of the citizen's of Rome, and to make them all more obedient servants to the state. (sounds familiar huh?)

In the process, Julian's uncle, Constantine, managed to create an "all embracing" religion, which, in the name of the teacher of the "Galileans," completely bastardizes his teachings. In a series of religious councils, most of the historical writings of their faith were expunged, along with much of the teacher's history and many of his paramount beliefs. The history of the teacher's 17 year travels to the East, to study other philosophies, from the time he was 13 until the time he was 30, were deleted from the history books. His belief in reincarnation was also deleted. His belief in the power of femininity was instead replaced with the domination of male power. The hundreds of historical writings of his contemporaries and others who wrote about it were scrapped, leaving only the barest, out of context remnants of their beliefs-only those that didn't contradict the political philosophy of the basest elements of power in the empire. Out of the left over shards, Constantine, with the help of his bishops created a book, which they conveniently titled, "The Book," as a tool of control over people in the empire and even people outside the empire. This book would soon replace all other books throughout the world, which were all summarily burned or destroyed by the hit men of Constantine.

As Debussy studies this history and writes about it, he sees many parallels between the battle Julian waged against those who twisted faith for their own benefit, and what was going on currently between the VCS and the priesthood of Nichiren Shoshu. Ho Goku, the honorary president of VCS was battling the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, which was manipulating the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, to gain power and control over their believers, twisting faith as an instrument to deceive people. However, Julian wasn't trying to save the teachings of the Galileans. He was instead trying to protect the indigenous teachings of Rome and Greece. He was a Hellenist, who preferred the teaching of Socrates to any doomsday cult, and he was hoping to maintain religious plurality in the empire. The new "all embracing" religious instead, stole all the ceremonial days of every religious traditions of the time and before, and rewrote them into their tradition. All the old myths of Mithras, Demeter and Dionysus were incorporated into this new "all embracing" religion, with a new more ominous twist.

In the same way that Julian was labeled by his contemporaries as the "Apostate," Ho Goku, who was fighting to protect the true teaching of Nichiren from destruction by the mad priesthood, was now being labeled by the powerful in Japan as a "billion dollar cult leader."

Debussy also found much kinship with Julian, because both had lost their fathers at a young age. Also Julian, like Debussy was well aware of the diabolical things going on around him, while others around him somehow stayed completely aloof of what was happening. Both hoped to stop the destruction of their societies, which people in power were causing. Although Julian was unable to save the Roman Empire from his uncle, Constantine and Constantine's mad bishops, Debussy gains strength and courage from studying Julian's battle with tyranny. Debussy knows that now there is much more on the line. He knows that if he and his contemporaries don't stop the insanity that is going on in their government, more than just the US Empire would be destroyed, but possible all of human civilization.

After Debussy finishes his writing and turns it in, the good grade he gets on it (the only redeeming grade he had received in all of his 9th grade classes) keeps him from failing out of his freshman year.

Zeus-

The next chapter is about Debussy's older brother, Zeus. Zeus is 3 years older than Debussy, and he is a much bigger troublemaker. He wears his hair spiked up in a tall Mohawk, adorned with a ripped leather jacket, ripped jeans and spiked steel toe combat boots.

While Debussy is in his room, on his bed, reading some writings from Nichiren Daishonin, Zeus barges in on him. They share the same room, and Zeus constantly tries to make that hell for Debussy. He first taunts Debussy for being home alone and reading on a Saturday night, saying he's becoming a "brainiac." Then he turns on loud punk rock music and slam dances around the bedroom, kicking Debussy's leg or foot with his combat boots every time he circles near Debussy's bed. Finally, Debussy throws something at him and they get in a fight, which prompts their mom, Justine to come in and break it up and kick Zeus out of the house.

Justine-

This chapter is about their mother, Justine Jensen, once again also known as "J.J." to the kids and their friends. It's a continuation of the previous chapter, after Zeus has been kicked out of their room. Justine asks Debussy what is going on with him and why has he been acting so different lately. He says there is nothing wrong with him, he is just growing up and his friends aren't. Now that he is in high school, he doesn't feel like doing the same things he and his friends did in Junior High School. Justine says she's worried he is becoming more like his father.

Debussy is shocked, because this is the first he can remember his mom saying anything about his late father. After this remark, they both sit in silence, not knowing what to say next, until finally Justine changes the subject and tells Debussy that she has found a new, much better paying job, and it will cause her to have to move the family to a different city, some distance away, which would make it hard for Debussy to continue going to the same school. Despite her fear that Debussy would be upset by this change, Debussy is glad. In fact, he had been chanting for them to move out of their roach infected apartment and for his mom to change her financial Karma.

Justine is surprised that Debussy is not only happy with this change, but he says he had been hoping she would find a better job. She is also shocked that her son was thinking about her, which she thought most kids were too busy growing up to give much thought to their parent's lives.

Finally, Debussy for the first time asks his mother about his dad. He asks, "Do you remember dad chanting Nam Myo-ho Ren-ge Kyo?" She is shocked, because she doesn't know how her son knew that his father once chanted, and also, she hadn't heard that phrase since shortly before he passed away. She hesitantly tries to talk a little with Debussy about her dead husband, but in the middle of a sentence, she starts to cry, so Debussy holds her.

Though Debussy had witnessed his mother crying often over the years, this was the first time he saw her crying about his father. He never knew before what it was she was crying about. She would at times lock herself in the bathroom and cry in a hot bath, but Debussy never thought she was crying about anything, because every time he would ask her what was wrong, she would just say, "nothing. I'm just sad." Therefore, he just thought this was a normal thing that women do often. When Justine cried, it was usually after her ritual weekly house cleaning spree, where she would get drunk drinking Japanese, Akadama plum wine and blare David Bowie music. She would get so drunk, until she was finished cleaning, where she would take a bath and cry drunk in the tub. Debussy was usually the only other person home at these times, so he would sit outside the bathroom and ask if she was OK, but she always said there was nothing wrong. It was a very confusing time for Debussy, he wouldn't know what she was crying about, but in empathy, he would usually end up crying too.

This started causing Debussy to also cry regularly. Debussy hoped smoking marijuana would help him not cry, but although it made him happy momentarily, after the buzz wore off, he ended up feeling sadder than before he started smoking pot. When Debussy first started chanting, it was the first time he was able to cry so powerfully, but this time he wasn't sad, it was as if the tears where washing away his sadness, and for the first time he was crying tears of joy.

Nichiren-

Through the encouragement of his substitute English teacher, Ms. Baldwin, Debussy feels that his mission in life is to be a writer. He feels through writing, he can help change the world, by changing people's thinking. Because he enjoyed Gore Vidal's two historical novels, Julian and Lincoln, so much, he decides he will begin his life as a writer by first writing a historical novel about Nichiren, the founder of the Buddhism he has been practicing. He sets the end of his 4 years in high school as the goal for finishing this first novel. In the mean time, he knows he has to study the life of Nichiren and study the Kamakura period of Japan, the time in the 1200s (C.E.) when Nichiren lived.

He finds while studying about Nichiren that, like Jesus, Nichiren was persecuted for his revolutionary beliefs. However, it wasn't just his beliefs. Like in the case of Jesus, it was the actions he took to appose "false" beliefs that gained him so many enemies in high places. Like Jesus, who over turned the tables of profiteers, Nichiren constantly challenged the corruption of the religious and political establishment of his time, and like Jesus, the political powers took him to be executed. However, unlike many such revolutionaries (Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc), somehow Nichiren managed to escape or evade all death attempts, until finally the government and his other adversaries gave up on killing him and eventually pardoned him and allowed him to establish his own government-sanctioned school of Buddhism.

Debussy feels that this remarkable ability to survive death over and over, was why Nichiren's life story surpasses in amazement all other such revolutionaries' life stories. Through studying Nichiren's life and his philosophy, Debussy begins to understand that all life is in the state of flux, yet as Nichiren wrote, a person who embraces change, and is solid in their beliefs in the face of change, will always find a way to use that change to move their life in the direction of happiness, and toward greater fulfillment of their mission in life.

Debussy embraces the changes going on in his own life (the move to a new town, which his mother's new job necessitated, etc.) with the optimism that all these changes were in fact the answers to his own prayers.

Star Belly Sneetches-

On Debussy's way home from school, he runs into Christopher. Both are surprised to see each other. It has been since last semester that they hadn't seen each other. Christopher asks Debussy where he has been. Debussy explains how he has become burned out on doing all the things they did in Junior High School, and he has become sick of the high school cliques and everyone trying to be different. He says, "the more they tried to be different, the more they end up the same." He compares all the students in his high school, who try to keep up with the latest trends, with the Star Belly Sneetches, referring to the book, The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss.

As he's walking home with Christopher, both seem happy to see each other and Debussy starts thinking about last summer, when he suddenly remembers, he won't be around this coming summer to enjoy the beach with Christopher, like he did the year before.

He tells Christopher about his family's plan to move inland. And as he's thinking about moving away, he suddenly feels he will miss everything he did before in Wutherington Beach. He realizes now how much he has taken everything for granted, and now it will soon all be gone. Although he wouldn't be moving inland for a couple of months, he already starts missing everything, and he hopes their walk home will last forever. He then remembers the clubhouse and asks Christopher about it, but Christopher tells him the bad news-that it was found and destroyed by the police. At this point, he feels incredible regret that he hadn't gone there for such a long time. At this point, Debussy doesn't want to go home to his books anymore, he wants to experience the last two months of his beach community, which he will no longer be able to experience once he's moved.

Finally, Christopher asks if Debussy wants to come over to his house, and Debussy accepts happily.

Planting the Seed -

The next chapter takes place in Christopher big house, while his parents are away at work and Debussy is visiting him. It is Debussy's first time in Christopher's house. He is surprised at how big and beautiful the house is. Christopher asks Debussy if he wants a snack. He is happily surprised, because in his run down apartment, there aren't usually any snacks worth having.

He has time to contemplate his life, while Christopher is getting him a snack. He thinks about how poor his family is, and how he used that to justify shoplifting for food in the past. However, as he is learning about karma from his study of Buddhism, he sees how his desire to shop lift, unlike Christopher's is not only caused by his poor financial karma, but is also a cause to perpetuate his poor karma. He sees that his financial karma is already changing, after chanting only about six months, and during that time, he had not once shoplifted. He feels that his mother's new job, which promises a much higher income, is also a product of his changing financial karma, which is brought about by a change in his behavior.

Though Debussy is a little envious of Christopher's financial fortune, he also senses Christopher's sadness, and how Christopher is more envious of Nathan's popularity. However, Christopher has yet to realize that Nathan's popularity is now all but gone in high school. Christopher is still clinging to the lost image of Nathan, as the class clown in junior high school, which has been replaced with the image of a punky freshmen high school student, who still hadn't yet grown up.

Debussy feels empathy for the first time for Christopher's loneliness and his desire to belong. He wishes to share with Christopher the joy he has been experiencing, ever since learning how to chant. Although he is fearful of how to tell Christopher about Buddhism, without having him become scared of it, he decides anyway that he has to plant the seed of Buddhism in Christopher, knowing that someday it will be able to grow, when the time is right. Therefore, he teaches Christopher about the chant "Nam Myo-ho Ren-ge Kyo," without telling him it's a Buddhist chant.

The Wondrous Law of the Lotus Blossom -

This is a continuation of the previous chapter in Christopher's house, where Debussy gives a full explication of the meaning of the chant "Nam Myo-ho Ren-ge Kyo." Although Theodore has told Debussy not to give out too much information to someone who is new to the chant, for fear of confusing them, and getting them bogged down in the details, and missing the main point that you don't have to understand what the chant means or how it works, in order to try it, and to see positive changes in your life. However, Debussy has been studying way too much about it's meaning, and he can't help spewing out, ad nauseum every intricate detail of information he has acquired from his long study of the subject. He doesn't however, ever call it Buddhism, or explain it in a religious way. He instead relates it to quantum mechanics.

Surprisingly, although much of his lecture is going over Christopher's head, Christopher is very amused by Debussy's lecture, and he is excited to know more, so he keeps egging Debussy on and on. Regardless of whether it is all sinking in or not, one thing is for sure, both Debussy and Christopher are having one of the most enjoyable times talking together than they have had in a long time. They continue talking until it becomes quite dark.

Ten States of Life -

When Debussy gets home that night, he feels so good. He feels he has been on a roller coaster of emotions all that day. He experiences first hand what he has been studying in his Buddhist books, called the "Ten World" (10 states of life). He learns first hand that day that Buddhism is not an abstract philosophy about other worldly experiences, but is a life philosophy that is designed to make a person understand all of their feelings, and to understand everything going on around them, and to be able to be in controlled of their life, their feelings and their environment. He also learns that day that he still has a long way to go to be in complete control of his life and his environment, so he can direct his life and the world in the direction of positive change. Even though he realizes he has a long way to go in his human revolution, he also realizes he is making sure steps in the direction of his life's mission. This realization makes him feel so great and so encouraged about his future.

He wakes up the next morning and he feels so connected with nature and the universe that he writes his first poem. It is a poem about the inner connectedness of all life.

Reunited-

As Debussy is chanting that morning, many people come to his mind that he had not thought about for a long time. He wants to share the great feelings he is experiencing with all the people he knows. He starts chanting for the happiness of his deceased father, his mother, his brother, other friends and relatives he has not thought about for a while, and even people he had once considered his enemies. He chants that they all would one day find the Wondrous Law of the Lotus Blossom, so they too could feel as happy as he feels now.

As he is chanting, the cute girl from the bookstore, who helped him try to find Ho Goku books a few months earlier, suddenly comes back to his mind. He is surprised that he had not thought of her since that day he met her, but now while he was chanting, her image came back to him. He couldn't remember her name, and he wondered if she still worked there. He thought to himself, "She must like books as much as I do. Why else would she want to work at a bookstore?"

He then decides to go visit the store, to see if she still works there. He is happily surprised that not only does she (Jessica) still work there, but she also remembers him quite well, and she in fact had since meeting him ordered many books by Ho Goku from the publishers, to be shelved in the bookstore. Jessica was so shocked when he first came in, and they discovered that Ho Goku had written or co-written over 100 books, yet somehow not one of them were in this giant bookstore. This curiosity led her to order and read one of his books after another. She was so shocked about how great his writings were, and she was equally baffled as to why such a great and prolific writer would not have any of his books in what many thought was such a well shelved bookstore. This amazement caused her to request her managers to shelf more of his books. She also started sharing them with many of the customers and her other coworkers.

Soon Ho Goku books started to become best sellers at her location, until the corporate offices started ordering his books for other locations. Debussy didn't realize that his inquiry a few months ago had started a snowball effect, awaking many people to the teaching of Buddhism. It was just like Theodore told him, to never underestimate the power of planting just one seed. One lotus seed, planted in a muddy swamp, can start the flowering of millions of beautiful lotus blossoms in time. It was true as the saying goes, "The muddier the swamp, the more beautiful the lotus blossoms." Jessica also tells Debussy that she has been chanting, but she pronounces the chant a little wrong, so Debussy tells her that there are introduction meetings that she can go to in Orange County to teach her how to chant correctly. She is shocked, because she thought the SCV was only in Japan.

Jessica asks Debussy if he wants to hang out with her and talk on her lunch break, which was coming up shortly after he came into the store. Debussy is very excited. On her break, they talk about Buddhist philosophy, among other things, and they agree to meet again and go to an SCV introduction meeting.

The Last Day-

The last day of Debussy's freshmen year at Wutherington Beach High School is very clear, sunny and warm. Debussy cleans out his locker and turns in his textbooks. He sees Officer Sajak as he is walking off the campus, and for the first time he feels sorry for Sajak, so he decides to say good-bye to Sajak. Sajak is surprised, because most of the kids aren't nice to him, so he smiles and says good-bye back, and Debussy says to himself, "He's not such a bad guy."

Then as he is just about to walk off the campus, a voice from beyond calls out to him. He turns around and to his surprise and delight, it is his heartthrob, Lori Thompson. This is the first time they ever talked to each other. She thanks him for the great writings he shared in their English composition class about Julian and especially about Nichiren. She says since he gave a speech in class about Nichiren, she has been trying to find books about him. He happily tells her that he can loan her some.

She then says that her dad won't be picking her up today, and she asks if he would like to walk home together with her. She tells him that she lives right on his way home, next to Lake Park, where she has seen him out her window playing with his friends before.

He is so excited that he fumbles on his words, but manages to accept, and they both walk off campus smiling as the sun is also smiling in the sky, with not a cloud in site (or is there).

(This is definitely left to be continued in a second twisted love triangle novel with a big struggle between his two new friendships, with both Jessica and with Lori over the summer, and his struggle having to move away from both of them.)

Sample chapter of Tim's Novel "Myth Shattering"

Debussy

Debussy was born into a very freethinking family. His late father, Charles Xanthankis, a writer, poet, and musician named him after his favorite composer of avant-garde music. He had the nurse of the hospital Debussy was born in grudgingly type in the column of his birth certificate that specified his religion “All or None!” Debussy’s mother and father were very progressive. He adopted their philosophy, which included questioning all beliefs and ideologies. It emphasized learning to think for yourself.

While his mother, Justine Jensen (“J.J.” as everyone called her) was away at work, he loved to browse through the scientific journals that decorated her coffee table. He learned from them that the visible ends of the universe were now believed to be somewhere between fifteen to seventeen billion light years away. He couldn’t see how any modern thinker, armed with the latest scientific information, could logically fit some creator or that old “Heavenly Jerusalem” world-view into this new scientific equation, without completely ignoring it.

Debussy’s father died when he was two years old. His older Brother, Zeus was almost four at the time. (Justine came up with Zeus’s name from the Greek Mythology class she was taking in High School, when she got pregnant with him in her senior year.) Although the kids were too young to really understand why or how their father died, and the mystery that stayed in their minds was kept to themselves, they loved to amuse their friends with fantastic and heroic stories. Out of fear, however, mostly of their mother’s reaction, over those preceding twelve or so years they never questioned her about his death. Equally mysterious to them was the reason their last name had been changed from the unusual Greek name Xanthankis, to a common name like Jensen-for which there were no other relatives on either side of the family sharing this new name. But the years simply passed by, and they never got around to asking her why.

The two brothers shared a mixed heritage of Greek, Italian, German, Irish, and American Seminole Indian. The American Indian side was from their Father’s Grand Mother. After their father died his side of the family from back east lost touch with them, probably in part because of the sudden name change. However, Debussy, although only a fifth Native American held the most pride in that ancestry. He would often say he was half American Indian and half “European Mutt.” He would also say, “We are all born part angel and part devil. Though we must learn to keep the angel in control of the devil.”

Since his mother worked two or three odd jobs at a time (As a hairdresser, a waitress, and a jewelry store clerk) the two boys mostly raised themselves. Although there were ever-changing babysitters, mostly Spanish speaking, who offered to watch them for next to nothing, these babysitters usually had many kids of their own and couldn’t give Debussy or Zeus too much individual attention. In addition, with the language barrier between them and their sitters, it was each brother relying on the other for advice and encouragement that got them through those early days of youth. Although Debussy looked up to Zeus, in many ways he felt he should have been born as the older brother. Perhaps he believed he had been in a previous life. Although Zeus was more organized with his physical possessions, Debussy felt a much greater control of his emotions, and seemed to have more direction in life. The former was more left-brain and anal retentive, while the latter was much more creative, intuitive, and clearly dominantly right brain.

It was in this freethinking environment that Debussy adopted a dislike for anything dogmatic or authoritarian. He had an avid thirst for knowledge and an interest in any information that went against the mainstream glut, of what he would say was “misinformation fed to me at this white majority, ‘conservative’ institution.” The “institution” he referred to was obviously the school system that to him didn’t allow people to really grow into independent, thinking people. He felt the capitalistic educational system, and its huge corporate owned textbook manufacturers led people to become nothing but hard working corporate puppets, and acquiescent mindless “consumers.” He resented and refused to take part with such socialization, as being forced to take part in the daily solute to the “Bars and Stars.” He also had a predilection for reading that which was controversial or which caused him to stretch his mind beyond the plebeian concerns of his insular and extremely myopic community.
Debussy’s mother supported his independence state of mind.

One time he was called into the vice-principal’s office because he was the first boy at the school to pierce his ear. When Debussy refused to take out his earring, the vice-principal called in Justine for a parent’s conference. However, this proved fruitless, when Justine threaten to file charges of sexual discrimination. Her argument was: if girls were allowed to wear earrings at the school, there’s no reason why boys shouldn’t be able to. Although Justine was supportive of Debussy’s freethinking, due to the hardship of single parenting she had over the years slowly lost her own active zest for learning and revolutionary thinking. She had outgrown her belief that she could change the world, but luckily, Debussy was far more idealistic.

The Discovery

Last summer Debussy made a discovery, which would continue forever altering his perception of reality. It was a warm July weekday afternoon. He and Nathan were trying to find a hiding place to stash some weed they’d seized from a downtown neighbor’s backyard.

His mother’s garage was kept locked at all times. It was used only to store boxes of various nick-knacks, which were leftovers from their move into their small apartment, shortly after Mr. Xanthankis’s death. Without her husband’s small income, Justine had to move the kids into this run down, cramped up apartment and stored away most of their belongings, until someday, when she hoped to move the family into a more spacious home. But now, it was twelve years later and that day still hadn’t come.

This apartment complex they lived in (occupied by mostly Spanish speaking, migrant worker and their families) was situated on the outskirts of downtown, in an area many of the more affluent residents snobbishly referred to as “the projects.” Of course every middle-class beach community had to have a place where the cities trash truck drivers, gardeners, and widowed parents could live. And “Delaware Manor” was just the place.

The apartment Debussy’s family shared was right above the garage units. The garages were separated by a thin wooden wall about six and a half feet tall, leaving an opening about two feet wide at the ceiling. The neighbor who shared the garage next door used his only to park his car and often left it wide open. At times he pulled the car out into the driveway, and could usually be found under the hood, doing regular maintenance on his jalopy.

Debussy rarely conversed with his neighbors. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to; it was their lack of ability in the English language, which made any meaningful communication impossible. However, at times he would throw try to out the few Spanish words, which he had learned from his babysitter's kids. Everyone was amused by his bad pronunciation.

That afternoon his next door neighbor left his garage door open all day. Debussy and Nathan climbed the dividing walls of the garage and went to hide their goods in one of the boxes that filled the garage.

“Hey Nathan. Shit. Give me your lighter. I can’t see crap.” Debussy called out in the dark, trying not to trip over all the junk. “Ah! Ah damn!” He shouted, as he fell over a stack of magazines.

“What? You need some fuckin’ training wheels to keep yourself up?” Nathan laughed.

They lit the candles, which they kept in their stash bag.

The garage was littered with cobwebs, dust, and boxes-hidden memories of the life Justine once shared with Charles. Nathan started opening boxes. “Books… Full… Ah, more books… Full… Shit how many fuckin’ books you guys got in here? You didn’t tell me your father ran a damn library.”

“Let me see!” Debussy moved over to the candle light with excitement, and started sorting through them. “Ah, CIA and the Cult of Intelligence. Hemp: Lifeline to the Future. Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth and Death. Man these books are punk! Make-Believe Media.” He read the titles out loud as he flipped through the books, with intoxication.

Getting annoyed, Nathan grabbed the candle and yelled out “What did we climb in here to fuckin’ study in the dark; or are we gonna find a place to stash our bud before your mom comes home?”

“Come on; I just want to check out a few of these!”

“Your mom’s gonna be home soon. We better hurry and hide this shit.” Nathan finally found a box that contained only a few antiques. He stuck the bag inside.

“Dude just pour it in the box. I’m gonna put some of these books in that bag.”

“OK, it’s gonna be your bust, when your mom finds pieces of leaf all over the bottom of the box.”

“My mom hasn’t fuckin’ opened the damn garage for over a decade.” At this point, Debussy didn’t care much about the pot or hiding it. The boxes of books and their strange titles made his curiosity peak to the height of enthusiasm. He felt a sense of nostalgia, imagining these were the same books his father read-the dad whom the only memory he still recalled of was that big bag of cookies he left on the counter the day before the last trip of his life to Central America.

Debussy crammed as many books as he could carry without ripping open the bag. From that day on, for the rest of the summer, Debussy would hide himself away somewhere, and veraciously eat away at the contents of these secret books. He kept the bag under his bed, safely tucked behind shoe boxes, so his mom wouldn’t notice he had them-afraid she might keep them from him had she’d known. Anyone would probably keep them from him, if they only knew the secrets they revealed-secrets that demolished those lies he’d been force fed by his barbarous culture-the propaganda that had been sold to him by Corporate America-the lame excuses for “news”, which he had been a victim of ever since he first learned to suck the “boob tube.” Every myth from “milk it does a body good” to “USA’s keeping the world safe for democracy” was slowly dispelled like ranking armpit odor being blown out by one refreshing spray of deodorant. Finally he had verifiable reason to distrust the mainstream, right-winged, “conservative” brain-washing, crap he already so despised.

He always hated TV commercialism, and refused to be caught dead wearing their “just do it” child slave-labor made tennis shoes. He felt like busting the TV screen whenever he saw that despicable excuse of a public servant, Newt Gin"grinch" talk out his ass about his “Contract Against Americans.” He knew no corporate puppet head in Washington gave a damn about his mother working three jobs to keep the family alive- be them “Demican,” “Republicrat,” or one of those cross breed “Demo-Repulicrats” like Billy “ah, I didn’t inhale” Clinton. He believed, as Marx wrote, that the government in a capitalist system is simply the administrative arm of the rich, upper class, bourgeoisie. He must had somehow inherited a small gene of progressive intelligence from his father, which helped him intuitively discern between reality and the utter nonsense he was daily bombarded with in this fairy tail land of “Calafia.”

These books contained the revolutionary political writings of such great minds as Dr. Michael Parenti, Gore Vidal, Noam Chomsky, Helen Caldicott-just to name a few. He dabbled in writings of historians like Toynbee, Sorokin, Spengler, and Quigley, and found magazines like “The Nation,” “The Progressive,” and “Mother Jones”-fabulous muck racking journals, all of which added insight to the works of these great revolutionaries. He read biographies and autobiographies of such heroes of humanity as Steven Biko, Che Guevara, Jose Marti, and Martin Luther King Jr.-men who risked their lives to stand up for truth and justice in a world where it was so lacking.

He read things that although they disgusted him didn’t totally surprise him. After all, one of his slogans was “I love my country. But I can’t trust my government.” He read from Mortimer Adler what he had always expected-that his government was never founded as a “democracy,” and was never intended to represent one either. As Mortimer wrote, “The notion that this country was founded as a democracy, of course, is sheer rot. It was anything but that.” He learned that it was started as the greatest oligarchy ever, as Mortimer stated “ an oligarchy of the most severe kind.” Through these great books, he learned about how corrupt the CIA is, and how their initials could be more truly interpreted as the “Capitalist International Army” or perhaps the “Cocaine Import Agency.” Since true “Intelligence” was something they completely lack. It was no wonder to him why both the Kennedy brothers had been taken out, especially when both tried to limit the power of that evil “intelligence” organization.
He learned about their nefarious dealings in Central, and South America, Asia and Africa. He read how, with the American tax payer’s money, death squads in all the countries of those continents were trained and covertly financed by this agency and other crooked arms of the state department, like the DOD, and DEA, through the “black budget”-that budget that not even congress was allowed to review, lest they be killed like the Kennedys. It involved drug dealing and other criminal acts to raise money for covert operations that no civil person would possibly approve. All in the interest of preventing democratic change, which might upset US and Western capital penetration and exploitation into these “mal-developed” and “over-exploited” countries, as Dr. Parenti called them.

He also discovered how most, if not all, of the leaders of these death squads, and the military leaders and presidents of the countries that employed them, were often trained by the US, often on US soil, in such infantry schools as “The School of the Americas” in Fort Benning, Georgia. This school was dubbed by many humanitarian organizations in Latin America: “The School of The Assassins”-where decorated graduates became leaders of such criminal organizations as “The Contras”-that drug dealing Mafioso style organization that was funded by CIA drug money and trained by the CIA and other infamous parts of the so called US “Defense Department.” He learned that ruthless military dictators such as Manuel Noriega of Panama and Hugo Bonzer of Bolivia were amongst the school’s “Hall of Fame”-or as Senator Kennedy called it the “Hall of Shame.”

He read how colonialism never really ended as his apologetic, revisionist history books tried to falsely portray it-as if it was some relic of some “past” America. These books taught him that it was just converted to a less costly form of what could be termed “Corporate Colonialism.” Big transnational “American” corporations, once they grew larger than the national government, and once they completely infiltrated the American and other so-called “first world” governments, found it much more profitable to extend their dominion by getting in bed with smaller government’s oligarchs. And when sex with these governments wasn’t submitted to, rape would follow.

This prevented the corporations from being held accountable for any liability if their callous business dealings caused destruction or waste. The responsibility for cleaning up was dumped on the citizens of the nations, who were exploited at the hands of these rip-off artists. This practice was neatly referred to by economist as “externalizing cost” and “internalizing profits”-part of the master plans of such notorious WTO trade “agreements” like NAFTA and GATT, and financed by such undemocratic, elitist organizations, as The World Bank and The IMF. The corporations get the rewards, the citizens foot the bill, and the oligarch are fed handsomely by corporate kickbacks to subjugate their meek populations.

If these governments didn’t sell off the people’s lands or support the huge corporations deceitful dealings, the “capitalist international army (CIA)” would help install a more “corporate friendly” government, like the murderous Indonesian, Iraqi, or Chilean governments, which the US helped prop up. However, they often had to destroy those governments and the people in those countries once they no longer acquiesced and did their bidding. Iraq was a classic example of such a change of heart by the US State Department. These governments, with their ruthless police and military forces, would up root people, who once live off the lands, and then they would sell great tracks of land to huge American and European agribusiness plantations and factories at garage sale prices. Of course these businesses were more than happy to employ the displaced and starving populous at practically slave wages. This helped cause much of the people in Central and South America, and other Asian, Middle Eastern, and African countries to live far below the poverty line.

The books being his father’s were all at least a decade old. He wondered if this disruptive corporate behavior persisted till today. If so, why had he never heard any word of it in his school history books or in the main stream media? This curiosity brought him on a journey to the Wutherington Beach Public Library- a beautiful four-story glass building in the middle of Central Park.

He walked down the stone spiraling walkway, which circled a flowing fountain. It led him to the bottom floor where the therapeutic sounds of running water enveloped him. He got on one of the computer catalogs and searched a subject, which he thought must be in this giant edifice-“controversial history.” Under that heading he found a very interesting book: Lies My Teacher Told me; Everything American History Books Got Wrong. He then searched under the heading-“Corporate Abuse.” There he found When Corporations Rule the World. Finally under “corruption in politics,” he found, Washington on Ten Million Dollar A Day, and Senator For Sale, a brilliant expose’ on Mr. Personality himself, Bob Dole.

Then he started to search for books by his favorite author in his father’s collection, Michael Parenti. Under that author, he found an incredible book about American capitalist exploitation around the world, Against Empire. He also found The Sword and The Dollar, and Inventing Reality, a book about corruption in the US main stream media.

He sat back in a chair as the sound of water cleansed him of societies hypnotizing myths. He inhaled the contents of these books, until he found some sense of clarity to his questioning. He was able to discover the reasons his history books and the corporate owned media overlooked or purposely avoided much of America’s unsavory history. To admit the past would be to admit the present, which is an ongoing extension of that hidden and forgotten past. He found that the so-called "Democracy” in America was really Plutocracy-a land ruled by money and greed, or perhaps a kleptocracy, ruled by criminals. Those with the money fiercely tried to keep the general public ignorant of how they had attained such wealth, by the blood, sweat, and toil of million of used and abused human beings.

Tim Janakos Personal Statement when applying for Soka University of America

(Tim Janakos was on the waiting list to get into SUA, until the very end. Perhaps this 7 page personal statement, when the SUA application said "should be only 2 pages" kept him from getting accepted early to SUA. Luckily, he was finally accepted and he went on to graduate with honors in the first class, 2005)


Dear Soka Faculty and Staff May 3rd, 2000

Happy May 3rd! I feel it is a great privilege to have been raised in Orange County and to be fortunate enough to live so close to Soka University, Aliso Viejo. As Soka University celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2001, I too will be celebrating my 30th year of life (this time around), along with my mother’s 30th year of practice with the Soka Gakkai.

I also feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to be at both groundbreaking ceremonies of SUA’s two previously planned California sites (San Diego and Los Angeles), along with the cornerstone laying ceremony of this campus’s Library. I still have fond memories of the tug-of-war matches and the other youth activities held in that open field between La Jolla and Scripps Ranch, back in the 80’s, to celebrate the 1st sight, which Soka University had just acquired in the US.

At that time I was in junior high school. I thought it would give me the perfect opportunity to attend SUA, San Diego. I remember chanting to be accepted there once it opened. I also recall my mother’s discouragement: “It’s probably going to be too expensive,” which was her favorite saying back then, and still is.

In addition, I still have cherished memories of the long days I spent with other SGI-USA youth members cleaning up the Calabasas campus, raking leaves and picking up branches in preparation for its opening ceremonies. I remember also thinking, “maybe I can go to the Calabasas campus, when it expands to a full four-year university.” However, the San Diego campus fell through. In addition, the Calabasas campus was never able to expand to become more than the graduate school it is now.

Once I realized these two schools weren’t going to be available to me when I graduated high school, I decided instead to first go to Palomar Junior College. Unfortunately, my parents weren’t willing to support me going to school full time. Furthermore, my mother insisted I get a full time job and move out on my own as soon as I was able. Despite this, during my first semester I tried to show my parents I could do it on my own, by both going to school fulltime and working fulltime. However, it started to seem impossible to concentrate on my growing sales responsibilities at my new fulltime job and my youth leadership responsibilities in the Soka Gakkai, along with the tremendous amount of homework I had. Completely overburdened, I finally had to drop some of my classes.

Over the last ten years, due to job changes and other challenges, I’ve moved around quite a bit and have found that one class per semester is about all I could fit into my busy schedule. This has brought me to study at Palomar College, Mesa College, Orange Coast College, Santiago Canyon College, Golden West College, Irvine Valley College, and Santa Ana College. However, since my goal has always been to be a writer of music, novels, and poetry and to be a musician, I’ve taken mostly music classes over the years and have only recently started taking general education classes. Seeing how most of my favorite writers (Daisaku Ikeda in particular) didn’t pursue a formal education, and they didn’t gain their wisdom from an academic institution, I decided to spend most of my time educating myself through my avid love of reading and musically through playing with many bands.

I have read many books. My favorite subjects have been history, science, philosophy, religion, peace studies, and politics. I prefer reading nonfiction. My favorite author has always been Daisaku Ikeda, for whom I’ve read most of the books he’s had translated into English. My favorites of those have always been his dialogues. I am so glad Soka University has donated many of his books to the Aliso Viejo Library. Now I am finally able to start finishing the few, which I didn’t get a chance to read completely in the past. I am overjoyed, as well, to hear that SUA is considering keeping its library opened twenty-four hours a day. Therefore, I will be able to read until my hearts content. In addition, I am glad to know the library will include a large section of rare books. It seems many of the books I’ve enjoyed the most, which I’ve learned the most from, were books I could never find in those growing chain bookstores. Many of these rare books, which I’ve preferred, were hard to locate in most libraries as well.

Although I have taken many music classes in college, my greatest musical education has been outside of school. I have played in so many types of bands. Those bands have included marching bands, symphonic bands, jazz bands, salsa bands, funk bands, acoustic bands, and rock bands. Over the years I have sang and played trumpet, French horn, saxophone, piano, and guitar. I am now halfway through recording my first 20-song CD, which will be released this year. My previous demo tape sold many copies at my shows. One of the songs on the tape, “Song of Triumph” was featured on the “Local Artist Spotlight” show on KSBR radio, from Saddleback College.

In junior college I found, once I did start taking general education classes that many of the teachers, whom I hoped would further enlighten me, seemed ill prepared to teach me more than I could easily have learned on my own from reading books. In addition, I felt few had any in-depth grasp of any other subject, except for the narrow specialization of their select field of study. Even their knowledge of that select field of study, as well, seemed lacking. I have used most of my writings in these few academic classes as a desperate attempt to open the minds of these teachers. I also felt the professors didn’t give me enough opportunities to write about the subjects they were teaching me. Rather they spent most of the time having me memorize information, that I was expected to blindly except as fact. However, they gave me little opportunity to dispute this information or to offer more cogent information on the subjects.

Fortunately, this educational experience in junior college motivated me to finally finish my first novel. It was not only a therapeutic exercise in venting my frustration with the condition of education in the West, but it was also a critical look at what our culture calls “information,” “knowledge,” and “wisdom.” In the forward to the novel I wrote, “Many feel that what has been termed the “Information Era,” is in fact an “Era of Misinformation.”

I enjoyed reading both books available in English on Mr. Makaguchi, and on his Value Creation Pedagogue. The main character, Debussy in my novel, Myth Shattering stumbles upon Mr. Makaguchi’s educational philosophies. Makaguchi expresses the need to have education rooted in everyday life, and for students to have a well-rounded grasp of many different subjects-not to focus so much on specialization, which is the direction education seems obsessively driven toward in this country and elsewhere. It appears people are learning more and more about less and less. I feel this approach breeds extreme near-sightedness. A broadminded approach to education is what I hope a liberal arts degree at Soka University will entail.

There are many things that disturb me about Western culture-many things that I believe Makaguchi’s broadminded ideas can help ameliorate. Among those are the growing prison industrial complex, which is locking up my fellow youths at alarming rates-many for non-violent acts and many for mental conditions, which are in part being aggravated by our cultures growing materialism, commercialism, and our further estrangement from the natural world. Another is this country’s growing militarism and our country’s leaders continued use of force in trying to solve global conflicts and their complete lack of willingness to use real dialogue. (The Rambuellet Accords with Yugoslavia is but one comedic example.) Still another is the incredible lack of democracy in global policies, being pushed upon the world by the business leaders of this country, who hold the purse strings of their talking heads in Washington, through such undemocratic and hierarchical institutions as the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund-most of these policies being increasingly decided behind closed doors, by non-elected officials, who are completely unaccountable to the people, for whom their decisions drastically effect. And if that sentence seems overly convoluted and verbose, it’s only because I chose to use the type of wording the corporate lawyers and trade bureaucrats, who are holding our democracy hostage, love to confuse people with. This kind of recondite language demonstrates how convoluted our system of democracy has become, thanks to the greedy concerns of those who do not care about the health of the system, only what they can steel from it.

Although these are only a few of the problems that bother me, I feel at the heart of these problems and others is a complete lack of respect for the well being of individual human beings, along with a total disregard for the sanctity of all life-two things that Mr. Makaguchi’s education philosophy addresses. Along with this is the need for fostering mutual-coexistence, and changing our society into a win-win society, as opposed to the “winner take all” state we currently live under.

It is true, as one scholar having a dialogue with Daisaku Ikeda said, “Education is the slowest means to social change. But it is the only lasting means.” However, it also seems from my experience, much of what universities try to pass as “education” in this country could be better defined as “miseducation,” and in some cases outright propaganda. Two simple examples of this are in the fields of medicine and economics. Here pharmaceutical companies and “neoliberal,” capitalist think tanks have such a tremendous strangle hold over academic research. This hijacking of the educational establishments by moneyed and self-serving interests has caused students hoping to become doctors to instead become little more than drug dealers. In addition, it has made those who wish to become economists to instead become no more than cheerleaders of corporate “free market” globalization.

The more I have dialogues with my friends who went to the “prestigious institutes of higher learning,” and the more I read what the “experts” have to teach me, the more I understand Socrates disgust with those who profess to be wise. He admitted he didn’t know all there was to know. Therefore, with his knowledge of his own ignorance, he had to be wiser than those who profess to know everything, when in most cases they are the least informed about the real needs of the common people.

Unfortunately, if we as a species don’t change the course we are on, and if our knowledge doesn’t make us wise, we won’t survive much longer. There are far too many problems in this world to stand by and remain ignorant and apathetic, while the profiteers of Wall Street are quickly extinguishing the world’s last resources to make their shareholders richer and richer, while the average people of the world become poorer and more ignorant of the true causes of their plight. In this regard, I feel it is absolutely paramount that the wisdom of Mr. Makaguchi be shared with the world, and a new approach to education be offered to the twenty first century. If we are to live up to the “self chosen title of Homo Sapient,” as Einstein says, we must start learning to tap into our own inherent wisdom, which lies deeply covered by folly, hostility, and greed. Then we must learn how to eliminate those poisons before they consume us.

I believe that each person has the ability to positively change the world. Additionally, I believe it is the youth of the twenty first century who will be at the forefront of this struggle. It is for this reason that I wish to study at the institute Daisaku Ikeda has founded, on the principles Mr. Makaguchi outlined in his Value Creation Pedagogy-not simply for my own self-aggrandizement, but rather to be a part of raising the next generation of world leaders, who will help us steer Planet Earth back on a sustainable course.

I’ve dedicated much of the last ten years to raising young people to be compassionate leaders, within and outside the Soka Gakkai. I started practicing Buddhism strongly when I was ten years old. Although, I must admit that I first started for selfish reasons, once I turned eighteen and moved out on my own, I started reading Daisaku Ikeda’s writings on a daily basis, which has drastically changed me. I have been able to find no greater leader and educator than he in all my studies. I have seen how much his writings have changed my intentions and have transformed my ways of thinking. Therefore, I know that my writings will also have the same effects on many young people, helping them to become more concerned with other people and the world at large. In this regard, I will continue to imbue my writings, both my song writings and my books, with an impassioned cry for the youth of the world to rise up to the challenges they will inevitably be confronted with in this turbulent and chaotic world. I plan to continue raising the youth even at Soka University, by being a big brother to all my fellow schoolmates and by helping them in their studies. I believe that in order for this school to succeed, all the students have to succeed. For this, I will not only be concerned with my own grades, but I will help tutor those who are struggling the most. I will also continue writing my second novel there, on my free time. In addition, I will fill the air of Soka University with my fragrant music and continue writing music that motivates the youth to never give up.

Along with this, I hope to take Spanish at Soka University, and if possible study abroad in Cuba. I feel our country owes so much to the people of Cuba, in reparation for the barbaric embargo our government has forced them to try to survive under. I hope that in some small way my connection to Cuba during my studies abroad can open doors of dialogue between our countries and help in putting an end to the dreadful Helms-Burton Act, which is causing untold suffering to our Cuban neighbors. To prepare myself for this, I will take introductory Spanish next semester at Orange Coast College.

In closing, I would like to offer congratulations to the entire faculty and staff of Soka University, whose hard work have brought this school this much closer to opening. As a tribute to all your hard work, I would like to dedicate to all of you a poem I wrote about spring. I have driven by Soka University’s budding campus many times this year and last. And each time I see it, the buildings slowly seem to be springing from the ground, like plants and trees in springtime. Soon those beautiful buildings will bear plentiful fruit. And you all will be to thank for that. Only one more year left! Keep up the great work.

Spring From the Soiled Ground

The seed sinks deep
Into the fecund soil.
Rain falls down
So sweet,
Imbuing love into the earth,
Until life within it creeps.
Breaking through its padded shell
A new life has begun.
Extending arms through dampened ground
To greet the morning sun

“Here I go.
I will come of age.
I will show what I can be,
When I open up my cage.”

Deeper down, its roots descend
To embrace its mothers womb,
So the plant may climb so high above
And smile at the evening moon.
Where once were dormant fields of snow
Asleep in winter’s freeze,
Soon branches spout and flowers spring
To dance in the summer breeze

“Yes I know,
There must come a time,
When we shall live in harmony,
And not begrudge our lives.”

Happy buzzing bees do come
To kiss the budding tree,
To spread its fragrance all around
To other plants in need.
They know their honored duty calls
And flap their wings so load.
For nature gives them all they need
And always makes them proud.

“I will show
That others can embrace,
A life of giving and of living,
And darkness we can erase!”

Thank you for your kind consideration, Tim Janakos

A speech Tim gave at a Soka Gakkai meeting (2006) about his life time struggle to become a song writer.

(Please email Tim if you would like the Japanese translation of this speech)

Good afternoon everyone, my name is Tim. I’m from Orange County, California. I graduated last year from Soka University of America. Sorry, I am not yet able to read or speak much in Japanese. Therefore, I will give my speech today in English, while someone reads it in Japanese.

My mother started chanting Nam Myo-ho Ren-ge Kyo, when I was an 11 month old baby. I started to chant and learn Gongyo at about the age of 5, in a young boys and girls group, in the SGI-USA, called “The Junior Pioneers.”

In the “Junior Pioneers”, I learned to sing such songs as “Ningen Kakumei No Uta”. And I learned to play the recorder. I also performed in many general meetings in Los Angeles. However, at home my practice of Buddhism was only an occasional occurrence.

My mom became a single parent, from the time I was 2 years old and my older brother was 4 years old. She left my dad, due to his abusiveness and his use of drugs. However, she only gained the courage to leave him after chanting for a couple of years and only after he had first destroyed our Butsudan and tore up our first gohanzon.

She gave birth to my older brother, when she was only 18 years old and gave birth to me when she was only 20. So at the time she left my dad to become a single mother with two kids, she was only 22 years old. Because I was just a baby, I only have vague recollections of my father and I have never seen or talked to him again ever since my mom left him. Just this last month, however, my older brother did locate my father after 35 years of separation (we had been chanting to locate him for many years, he was also looking for us).

The most vivid memories, as a child were going with my mother every night to SGI meetings. Because she worked two jobs all day long, in order to raise my brother and I, I was only able to see her at nights. Therefore, the half hour drive to the nightly SGI meetings were our special time together in her car.

She loved to sing classic rock music to the radio, while she drove. Therefore, I loved singing with her to the Beatles and to the Rolling Stones. She was also very crazy about David Bowie. Therefore, I naturally loved all of his music as well.

The first thing I can remember chanting about as a child was to become a singer and song writer like David Bowie. Because my mom had so many posters of him on the walls in our apartment, and no pictures of my dad, I often pretended that David Bowie was my father. Sometimes I would even joke to my friends, if they asked me who my father was, that it was David Bowie.

Do you know who David Bowie is?

He’s still singing and writing even though he’s getting pretty old.

However, my chanting didn't became a daily activity, until I turned 10 years old and I was able to graduate from the Junior Pioneers and enter the brass band. In the brass band, I was able to march in my first parade, when I was 11 years old in 1982.

It was at the SGI-USA (At that time called NSA) World Peace Culture Festival in Washington CD, where Tina Turner and Herbie Hancock first performed together. It was at this time, when I first read, "President Ikeda’s Precepts for Brass Band”, that I first decided to start practicing Buddhism everyday.

Even though I was only 10 years old, I felt he had written this writing directly to me. In it, President Ikeda wrote, “Music is a language common to the entire world. It is a thing of beauty sought by all people.” “You must develop a mammoth musical movement for the sake of Kosen Rufu (World Peace).” “Through your performance, you must inspire people to attain their human revolution (a transformation of their lives).”

It was this writing that pierced through my life and became my life’s mission. Therefore, I started learning the trumpet, the saxophone, the guitar, the piano, and the French horn.

I performed in one World Peace Culture festival after another. In San Diego in 1984, in Hawaii in 1986, in Seattle, Washington in 1988 and in many parades and general meetings throughout Southern California. I also joined my school marching band, symphonic band, jazz band, and chorus. Music became my life and my mission.

Ever since this time, I chanted and did gongyo everyday, and joined Soka Han and Gajokai at a young age. I also became a district young men’s division leader, then a chapter leader, before I turned 20. However, my mother didn't support my goals in music and she often tried to discourage me from following them.

One of my goals in high school was to go to Berkeley School of Music or another big music school. However, my mother thought I should just get a job and get a career, which would allow me to support myself, because she didn't believe I would ever amount to anything with my music.

In frustration, I decided to move out, when I was 20 and pursue my dreams on my own. At that time, I was taking night classes in community college and I had a pretty good job in health club sales. However, because of the struggle of supporting myself and the time required for my college classes and my work, my music really suffered.

Over the years, even though my success in music has been very limited, my greatest struggle was learning how to write my own music. I chanted ever since I was about 10 to be a songwriter, and even though I learned how to play many musical instruments, I was still struggling to write my first complete song.

I had kept a journal of incomplete song lyrics and poetry, ever since my teenage years, but somehow I struggled to put music to those lyrics. I would often drive down to the beach and spend all day on my days off work with my guitar, trying to complete a song.

However, I would end up not getting much accomplished and by the end of the day, I would go back home frustrated and chant and cry that I could someday be able to break through whatever was preventing me from doing what I knew I was born to do, write music.

Although I had many great benefits in human relations and in my finances from chanting, It wasn't until I was 24 year old that I finally broke through my karma and wrote my first complete song.

However, it was only after I had been in a terrible car accident and almost lost my left hand. I had fallen asleep, while driving my car back from an SGI youth meeting in Los Angeles. I was thoroughly exhaustion from my long work schedule, my night college classes, and my many youth leadership responsibilities.

At this time, I was also performing in a few bands, and I was running my own marketing company, so I wasn't sleeping enough. When I fell asleep on the freeway, my car flipped over off the freeway, and my left hand went out the window and hit the ground.

Luckily, though, my hand saved my head from hitting the ground, so I’m still alive today.

After this accident, because my hand was so torn up, I was unable to play the saxophone, guitar, and piano for a few months and I was unable to run the marketing business a had started on my own, because I needed a car to do the job and my car was totally destroyed. At the time, I didn't have insurance, because I was investing all my money in my new company and just barely staying a float.

It was during this time, right after the accident, that I started chanting 2 hours everyday and I decided I would read President Ikeda's Human Revolution, volume 1 – 8 (which was all that had been translated into English at the time.)

I would take the bus everyday to look for a new job. On the bus, between reading the Human Revolution, I started to write my first complete song. After 3 months of looking for a job and being turned down, because I only had one usable hand, I finally finished reading all 8 volumes of the Human Revolution and I finally finished my first song and performed it at a district meeting when my hand healed.

Fortunately, my hand healed quite well and there are only small scars all over my left hand now, so I was eventually able to start playing the saxophone, the guitar, and piano again.

Most importantly, however, after 14 years of chanting and telling everyone I would someday become a song writer, I had finally broken through the karma that was stopping me from writing my own music.

Although now I am still struggling as a songwriter and a musician, and I often have writers block and I have not yet gained the success I know I someday will, I still have never given up on my dreams in music

In addition, over the last 10 years, I have now written about 30 original songs, I have 4 CDs now on my website and I had one of my songs played on a local college radio station in Southern California.

Although, I have not yet performed all over the world, which is my future goal, I have performed all over southern California. In addition, 2 years ago, on my first stay in Japan, I did my first concert in Niigata, Japan. Now in Sendai for the past year, I have been performing concerts every week, now with 2 different bands, one band focuses mostly on cover songs and my newest band, Southern California Sunshine, features my original music.

I chanted recently to find a lead guitar player for my new original band and I was fortunate enough to find a great lead guitar player who used to also be the lead guitar player in one of Ozaki Yutaka's bands.

In addition, 2 of my original songs played on radio stations in Sendai. I had one of my original songs played February of the year on Date FM, and I had another one of my original songs played in September of this year on NHK FM. Although the concerts I have done so far have been relatively small performances, they are the beginning of my dream to share my music with the whole world. My dream is to teach Buddhism through my music and contribute to Kosen Rufu (World Peace) with my songs.

A Speech Tim Gave at a Few SGI Meetings in Sendai 2007 - About His 17-Year Struggle to Get into Soka University of America

I will wait no longer (Please email Tim if you would like the Japanese translation of this speech)

Hello, my name is Tim Janakos. You can call me Tim. I’m from Orange County, California in the U.S.

My mother started chanting Nam Myo-ho Ren-ge Kyo, when I was an 11-month-old baby. I started to chant and learn Gongyo at about the age of 5, in a young boys and girls group, in the SGI-USA, called “The Junior Pioneers.”

However, my chanting didn't become a daily activity, until I turned 10 years old and I was able to graduate from the Junior Pioneers and enter the brass band. In the brass band, I was able to march in my first parade, when I was 11 years old in 1982. Ever since this time, I chanted and did gongyo everyday, and joined Soka Han and Gajokai at a young age. I also became a district young men’s division leader, then a chapter leader, before I turned 20.

I made a determination twice to go to Soka University of America (SUA) in the 1980s, when I attended both groundbreaking ceremonies of SUA’s two previously planned California sites (San Diego and Los Angeles). I was in junior high school in the early 1980s, when Soka University first bought a site in San Diego, California.

To commemorate the groundbreaking of this new location, I attended an SGI Youth Sports Festival in an empty field where they planned to eventually build Soka University of America, San Diego. However, a few years later, after much struggle for approval to build the San Diego campus, it became apparent that many opposing forces would prevent Soka University from building this hoped for San Diego campus.

Eventually, I was happy to hear that Soka University instead bought a new site in Los Angeles, California, where they planned to construct this same four year university that they had hoped to first build in San Diego. I was more pleased with this new project, because by this time I was in high school, and Los Angeles was even closer to my hometown in Orange County, California. In addition, if this campus was built and opened by its original target date, I would likely be able to be part of the first class at Soka University, Los Angeles (SULA).

Unfortunately, a few years later I heard that construction of this new four year university in Los Angeles would likely not happen anytime soon, as once again many opposing forces were blocking Soka University from following through with their hoped for project.

Finally, after graduating high school and taking many music classes part-time at many different junior colleges (I went to 7 different junior colleges over a 10 year period), I eventually forgot about my dream to go to Soka University of America and instead struggled in various sales jobs, while trying to pursue my dreams as a singer, songwriter, and musician at night.

I read almost every dialogue published in English by President Ikeda and those dialogues caused me to read many other books on related subjects. Even though I had given up on the idea to attend Soka University of America, I still had the goal to someday go to a university full-time.

Then in the mid 1990s, I heard that Soka University was once again planning to build a four-year university in California. By this third time, I was honestly tired of hearing about Soka University’s plans to open a campus in California. I thought, “OK maybe in the year 2050 they will finally open it and I wish them luck.”

However, even if it did eventually open, I did not think of going to this new school in Orange County, California, even though I was living in Orange County and had lived their most of my life. Nevertheless, when they finally really started construction on the Orange County campus in the late 1990s, I started to chant for the successful completion of this campus. Because I was a YMD area leader, then a vice regional YMD leader in Orange County, I had great pride in this new SUA project.

Nevertheless, I still did not think of going there. It wasn't until I Shakubukued a friend of mine, who later became my girlfriend, and she made a goal to go to Soka University of America, that I started to remember that once 15 years earlier I had a goal to attend Soka University of America.

As my girlfriend got excited about going to SUA, and as the buildings slowly became more complete and the campus more beautiful, my old forgotten dream started to come back to life. Finally, I told my girlfriend about my old dream to attend SUA in the 1980s, and I told her, “I’m going to finally do it! However, shortly after I started to chant again for that goal, my girlfriend and I broke up.

In 2001, as Soka University in Japan celebrated its 30th anniversary, I too celebrated my 30th year of life (this time around of course), along with my mother’s 30th year of practice with the SGI. On May 3rd, 2000, the first day they accepted applications, I turned in my application and a 7 page personal statement.

Then the day came, March 16th, 2001. I got a letter in the mail right before going to the March 16th commemorative youth SGI meeting. However, the letter said, in effect, ‘thank you for applying, but you didn't get accepted.’ However, it did say that I was put on a waiting list.

I then made an even stronger determination that I would attend SUA, no matter what. I increased my hour a day daimoku campaign to 2 hours, and I decided even if I do not get accepted during the first year, I would keep applying until I eventually got accepted and I would never give up. I thought, “I had waited now over 17 years to go to SUA, so I could wait a few more years if need be.”

While I was in the middle of one of my many daimoku tosos, I remembered that this was not my first time I was put on a waiting list. I recalled that I was on the waiting list to go to the 1985 SGI-SUA (then NSA) Hawaii convention, up until the day the airplanes left Los Angeles.

In fact, my brass band leaders told me to keep chanting and not give up, until I got on one of the planes. I was only 14 years old at the time, but I followed my leader‘s advice and I chanted up until the last day and I was still on the waiting list the day the flights were to leave. I remember sitting in the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), as all my brass band friends were getting onto the planes, and I was still on the waiting list. We had chartered so many flights to Hawaii that the only people in the airport that I could see were all SGI members, so I was chanting out loud in the lobby of the airport.

Finally, after all the other SGI members were on their respective flights and the airport lobbies were almost empty, I almost felt like I wanted to give up; but I kept chanting. Then a Soka group leader came up the ramp from the plane and walked over to me, and the couple of other people on the waiting list, and said, “Get on the planes." I was so happy, I started to cry.

It was remembering this great youthful experience that kept me chanting until classes had almost started at Soka University of America. The waiting list was scheduled to last until end of May 2001, but I had still not received word from SUA and May was almost over.

Finally during the last week of May, Eric Hauber, the vice president of SUA came up to me at the SGI-USA Santa Ana Community Center and said, “Sit down; I need to talk to you.” He told me that the waiting list was over. Everyone who was accepted already paid their down payment and had agreed to attend, and there was little chance that anything would change from now until classes started in mid-August. I looked at him with a smile and said, “No problem; I will apply again for next year.”

I went home that day and I chanted even harder than before. This time, however, I chanted to fulfill my mission in music, no matter what. Why I wanted to go to SUA, even though my dreams are in music, I still can’t explain, but I kept chanting for what ever was right for my mission in life and for Kosen Rufu.

One day in June, after a long daimoku toso, my phone rang and once again it was Eric Hauber, the vice president of Soka University of America. At this point, I had been invited to so many events at SUA: the cornerstone laying ceremony, the grand opening, the opening of Pauline Hall, the opening of Gandhi Hall, etc. Therefore, when Eric Hauber told me, “something came up, and we want you to attend SUA,” I said, “what do you want me to attend this time?” He said, “No, we want you to be a student!" I almost fainted.

However, once I got accepted, the real challenge begun. Just like we say to new members with the SGI practice, “it’s easy to accept Buddhism, but hard to continue,” I was not ready for 4 years of what became to me “homework hell,” not to mention the financial struggle that it would entail to stay at SUA all four years.

I decided to get a second job on top of my full-time banking job at night and weekends for the couple months before school started. I saved up a good amount to make a good down payment to the school. However, the rest of the tuition that I had to pay, even when broken into 10 months, seemed overwhelming to me.

I had lived on my own for the past 10 years, working full-time, but I never had such a large monthly payment to pay, and once school started, I knew I couldn't continue working full-time. How would I pay for school on a part time salary? Logically it did not make any sense to me, but I just decided to have faith and I knew my daimoku would get me through this struggle. I was lucky that my bank employer allowed me to continue working part-time in a position that was normally only a full-time position.

The first year at SUA was almost unbearable. Every weekday I worked off campus 4 hours and with the drive, it took up about 5 hour of my day. I often got off too late to get dinner in the cafeteria. Still I had to pay for my dinner, whether I ate it or not. With the amount of homework in my classes, I could never quite finish much of the readings and I was always tired going to class in the morning from staying up too late studying at night.

In addition, I could never quite afford the whole monthly tuition payments, so my student account kept getting more delinquent each month. Then when summer vacation came, I was terrified to learn that SUA did not allow students to live in the dorms over summer, even though they required students to live there during the school year. Luckily, I found someone who was willing to take me in for a few months and not charge me that much rent. In addition, my work let me pick up a few more hours each week, and I started performing my music in coffee houses on the weekends, which made me a little money selling my CDs and getting tips.

Even though I was still paying off my delinquent student account that whole summer vacation, I was not completely paid off before the next school year began. Unfortunately, SUA said I could not move back on campus, until I paid up to date for last year’s tuition balances. So I was stuck; I had already told the people I was living with that I would only live there for 2 months, but I did not have the money to move back to SUA. I chanted feverishly, and luckily a loyal family member loaned me the money.

What sustained me that first year and the 3 years to come was the twice a week morning daimoku tosos at my regional leader, John Marzullo’s house. Because I was so busy with homework and working at night, I could not attend that many SGI activities.

From then on, things slowly got better; each year my financial aid was based on my previous year’s income, and due to working part-time half the first year, my second year’s financial aid was better. In addition, because I worked part-time most of my second year, my financial aid got even better my 3rd year. By my junior year, I cut back my hours at work to 10-15 hours per week, almost inline with SUA’s recommendation that students should not work more than 12 hours per week.

Then I went on my study abroad in Japan, where I was not allowed to work, so by my senior year, without working the previous year on my study abroad, I was able to get a full scholarship. I had chanted all three years that I would be able to eventually not have to work, so I could just concentrate on my studies and get more involved in student activities. Luckily as my courses got more demanding in my upper-class years, I was able to work less to keep up with the homework load.

During my junior year study abroad and my summer internship teaching English in Japan, I had already decided I wanted to live in Japan and teach there for the Japan Exchange Teaching (JET) program (a program to teach English in public schools through the Japanese Consulate) when I graduated from SUA.

So to make money the first semester of my senior year, I decided to sell everything I owned, which I knew I would not be able to take with me to Japan, when I moved after graduation. Slowly I sold my very nice professional Yamaha piano keyboard, my professional concert sound system, one of my guitars, and many other things I had accumulated over the years living on my own in Orange County.

This winter vacation trip was my third trip to Japan in a year’s time, and the third time I was invited to a headquarters’ leaders meeting with sensei in Tokyo. I struggle so hard chanting to finally go back to Japan this third time that when I came back from the meeting with sensei in January 2005, my financial karma turned around drastically.

During my senior year, I applied for the JET program to teach English in Japan and I was one of three SUA students of the first class at SUA to get granted an interview with the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles. By the end of March, 2005, just like with my first letter from SUA, I received a notice that I was on the waiting list to teach in Japan for the JET program. Of the five students at SUA who applied for the JET program, and the three that were granted interviews, one person got accepted and two of us got on the waiting list.

Therefore, during the hard days of writing my 100 page senior thesis, my daimoku was so powerful. I wrote out a daimoku chart that read, “Accepted to the JET program by May 3rd, 2005."

On the afternoon of May 2nd, 2005, which is the morning of May 3rd in Japan, I received an email while I was in the library working on the last draft of my senior thesis. It was a message from the JET program to call them as soon as possible. I rushed to the phone in the library and I was told I would be a teacher in Japan.

I enjoyed teaching English so much in Japan when I did my summer internship in Niigata, and I still get emails from some of my students. Over the previous 15 years in sales, I never felt I was contributing to the world in a positive way. I felt I was just a piece of a big capitalist machine. However, during that 2 month internship teaching in Niigata, Japan, everyday I felt my job had so much meaning in the lives of my many students. I felt I was touching their lives in such a great way and contributing to the future of Japan and the world.

When I finally finished my senior thesis, I not only graduated from Soka University of America, but I graduated with honors.

A Speech Tim Gave at Two Large Soka Gakkai Youth Gatherings in Niigata and Sendai About his Life at Soka University of America

My life at Soka University of America

(Email Tim if you would like a Japanese translation of this speech)

Soka University of America (SUA) was the hardest four year challenge of my life. The homework was extremely difficult. At times I wanted to quit, but after graduating, I felt the challenge was all worth it.

The greatest thing about Soka University was the variety of ethnicities and differing ideas represented by the students from over 30 countries around the world. Because they all brought with them to SUA their different cultures and perspectives, one could experience the whole world in this one place. There were so many different clubs at SUA.

Even during the first year, when there were only 120 students, the students created about 30 clubs, everything from a Latin dance club and a Hawaiian hula dance club to an organic gardening club and a political protest club. By my senior year (4th year) with over 400 students, there were so many clubs to join. One could join the Indian club and learn traditional dances of India. One could learn to do salsa or tango dancing in the Latin dance club. One could learn to do kanji calligraphy, in the Japanese calligraphy club, Kendo, marshal arts or even taiko drumming.

There were also many sports teams and activities. I personally enjoyed yoga classes during my senior year (4th year) and wish I were still in them. My most memorable experiences at Soka were my involvement in student club activities. During my freshman (first) year, I started a club with 5 other students and teachers called AWARE (A World Awakening Requires Education). Our goal was to bring progressive ideas to the school and to encourage political activism amongst the students. We hosted many education lectures and educational movie screenings about international events and politics on campus, which were attended by many people from the Aliso Viejo community and many students and their families.

During my sophomore year (2nd year) 2002, the AWARE club hosted a protest march from Soka University of America to the federal building in Aliso Viejo against President Bush's planned invasion of Iraq. I was the main organizer for the march. Before the march, we held a large anti-war (peace) rally in front of Peace Fountain by Founder's Hall at SUA. In attendance at the rally was the mayor of Aliso Viejo, who gave a speech against the war and in praise of the student's fight against it. Along with the over 200 people who attended the rally and march, there were reporters from 5 local newspapers, who ran leading stories about the success of the march in their papers.

After this 1st successful march in Orange County against the war, many other organizations decided to hold their own marches against the war throughout Orange County. Each march kept bringing more and more people, until there was the largest peace march in Orange County's history of about 2000 people. (Mind you, Orange County is a very concervative area in Southern Califoria). As the movement began to grow against the planned war on Iraq, much larger marches were organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC and in many cities around the world. The AWARE club organized two different 6 ½ hour bus trips each way to these large international marches in San Francisco.

At the first march our club attended in San Francisco, we chartered a large tour bus that sat over 150 people, half of which were people from the Aliso Viejo community; some were librarians, mothers, grandmothers, and their children and grand children. The other half were SUA students from around the world, most of whom had never attended a anti-war march in their lives. At the first march in San Francisco in 2002, there were about 200,000 people in attendance. At the second march, which had over 500,000 people marching in San Francisco, our club organized two large vans to drive 6 ½ hours to San Francisco and 6 ½ hours back. I switched off driving one of the vans with a few other students.

What I will always remember about my years at SUA, is the bonds of friendship I created with my fellow activist students from around the world, who were courageous enough to challenge the US government's illegal and immoral war on Iraq.

We had so many dialogues at SUA with so many people from different countries in class and into the late hours of the night in the dorm rooms. This I think is for many students the greatest thing about SUA-that the student's opinions are voiced and listened to, and that the students have a strong voice in creating the future of the school and with their education, creating the future of the world.

Many students of SUA will be the future presidents of countries and of universities and they will change those countries through their actions to inspire cross cultural dialogues with other people in other countries. I feel what I learned from the other students and from the professors will help me in every area of my life. I learned that I should never give up on my dreams.

My dream is to be a singer/songwriter and musician, who uses my music to do Kosen Rufu.

Nichiren Daishonin

Nichiren, The Buddha of Japan
by Timothy Harada

Buddhism in Japan has been marked by both the most famous and most infamous of Buddhists. It has many different sects, from the most orthodox to the extremely bizarre and esoteric. Some so-called Buddhist priests, especially during Japan’s Kamakura period acted more like warlords than holymen. In addition, other peaceful Japanese priests were among the most persecuted of priest in the history of Buddhism. One such priest (for some the most hated and for other the most loved) was Nichiren Daishonin. Though he is often the most misunderstood of Buddhist teachers in Japan, his revolutionary legacy is perhaps the greatest proof of the power of Japanese Buddhism.

Nichiren's courage in the face of incredibly violent opposition showed no end. Under intense persecution, he led a philosophical revolution, a "human revolution" that centered on the transformation of an individual's life, which in-turn would transform society. The opposition he faced was tremendous; the fact that he survived this opposition, unlike many other such revolutionaries (as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, and Jesus of Nazareth) is one of the many things that makes his revolution so noteworthy. In addition, his philosophy of life was also unparalleled by any other revolutionary-a philosophy that brought to light the unlimited potential of the individual human being.

Born in 1222, Nichiren Daishonin lived during a time of great tragedy and turmoil in Japan. For example:

On the sixth day of the eighth month of 1256, gale force winds and torrential rains caused floods and landslides, destroying crops and devastating much of Kamakura. In the ninth month of the same year, an epidemic swept through the city, taking the lives of the shogun and other important officials. During the fifth, eighth, and eleventh months of 1257, violent earthquakes rocked the city. And the sixth and seventh months witnessed a disastrous drought. The eighth month of the next year, 1258, saw storms destroy crops throughout the nation and floods in Kamakura drowned numerous people. On the sixteenth day of the tenth month, of the same year, Kamakura was visited by heavy rains and severe floods. In the first month of 1258, fires consumed the Jufuku-ji and the Hachiman shrine at Tsurugaoka, and in the eighth month of 1259, a violent rainstorm decimated crops. Throughout this year and the following, 1260, famine and frequent plagues devastated the country. (From Watson’s introduction, Selected Writings… 11)

Not only were there natural disasters plaguing the nation, but the government was also in a state of chaos.

Japan was ruled by the Bakufu, or military government. This government-also known as the Shogunate-consisting almost entirely of samurai, or members of the warrior class, was characterized by factionalism and was rife with plots and schemes. (The Life of.... vii)

With a government that was unprotective and unresponsive to the people, the peoples’ only choice was to be to turn to religion for comfort in trying times. Unfortunately, the state of Buddhism during this time had so deteriorated that it could not offer the people much hope.
One sect's only hope was to promise its practitioner rebirth in the "Pure Land of Bliss" after their death (much like the claims of Catholicism.) Honen (Genku) founded this sect, known as the “pure land” or Jodo sect. "However, it was essentially pessimistic and escapist, in that it taught its adherents to hate the actual world as impure and aspire to the Pure Land after death. History records that a wave of suicides appeared for a time under its influence." (Outline of... 23) (This pessimistic outlook is actually the antithesis of Shakyamuni’s optimistic philosophy.)

Nichiren wrote about this sect, saying, “All the people throughout Japan have been led astray by the wild assertions of Honen, who tells them to ‘discard, close, ignore and abandon’ [all sutras other than the sutras of his sect]” (Nichiren, Letters... 293)

The teachers of Buddhism, in thirteenth century Japan, no longer relied on the Buddhist sutras. They instead relied on commentaries on the sutras. Worse still, they relied on the commentaries of commentaries, which further distanced the practitioners from Shakyamuni’s original teachings.

One such school was the Sanron (Three Writings) Sect, "a Madhyamika school based on the three treatises Chu Ron, Junimon Ron, and Hyaku Ron; it was systematized by Chi-tsang." (Nichiren, Letters... 544)

The Zen Sect went as far as claiming that the true teachings of the Buddha, Shakyamuni were not at all found in the sutras. Instead, Zen claimed that the true teachings had somehow been handed down secretly through the centuries. Nichiren, in one of his letters, later titled "The Selection of the Time," wrote of the Zen sect:

The sect called Zen claims to represent a "special transmission outside the sutras," which was not revealed by the Buddha in the numerous sutras preached during his lifetime, but was whispered in secret to the Venerable Mahakasyapa. (Nichiren, Selected... 218)

Zen used meditations similar to those perfected by the great Buddhist master of China, T'ien-t'ai. However, T'ien-t’ai’s main emphasis in meditation was meditating on the Wonderful Law of The Lotus Blossom Sutra (a.k.a.: the Lotus Sutra), especially on the title: Myo-ho Ren-ge Kyo. This T’ien-t’ai claimed is the source of the Buddha’s wisdom and compassion. In losing site of this focus of meditative practice, the Zen sect lost site of the true purpose of meditating, which was to focus on and manifest the law of life (Myo-ho Ren-ge Kyo), which is implicit in the Lotus Sutra. Zen had also become an isolationist religion, which had lost the Buddha’s spirit of sharing enlightenment with all people. The aristocracy and the samurai class instead kept Zen almost entirely to themselves.

Other sects reduced Buddhism to a form of idol worship (much like many in the west have done with Catholicism) they worshiped Buddha statues and build elaborate pagodas and temples. (Shakyamuni would likely be much appalled to see people worshiping him after his death, as perhaps Jesus would.) In a sense, the chant of the Nembutsu (Chanting the name of a fictitious character from a sutra parable, Amida Buddha) by the Jodo Sect, was a form of Buddha worshiping.

Nichiren however, like the historical Buddha, didn’t have a temple, nor did he have a permanent home. He instead traveled all over Japan on foot helping suffering people, the same way Shakyamuni did in India (after Shakyamuni abandoned his family’s royal luxuries). At a very young age, Nichiren, with concern for the people of his country who were suffering intensely, decided to search the Buddhist sutras for an answer, as to why there were so many problems confronting Japan. Having a great fluency in both Japanese and classical Chinese, Nichiren read both Chinese and Japanese translations of a great number of sutras, which were housed at a few of the largest temples near Kamakura. He also spent many years on Mt. Hiei, the center of Buddhism in Japan for centuries, to study their extensive sutra libraries.

As Nichiren studied, he soon came to understand the time he was living in, as predicted in the sutras. In the Lotus Sutra, the Nirvana Sutra, the Sutra of Immeasurable Meaning (these three sutras known collectively as the Three-Fold Lotus Sutra), as well as in other Mahayana (Greater Vehicle) scriptures (those scriptures taught during the second half of Shakyamuni’s fifty years of teachings), Shakyamuni outlined how his teachings would spread over the coming centuries, how they would be practiced, and what affects they would have on society. Shakyamuni predicted a division of time after his passing into three periods: respectively, the "Former Day, the Middle Day, and the Latter Day of the Law."

He predicted that the final stage of development, "the Latter Day of the Law," would last some ten thousand years and more. The sutras predict that during this period, the developmental Buddhism of Shakyamuni, or Shakyamuni’s "Expedient Means" teachings would no longer have any beneficial value for the people of the Latter Day of the Law. In fact, so-called priests would have by this time so misinterpreted these sutras that these teaching would actually cause great misfortune to the people who incorrectly practiced them.

Buddhist scholars of the Daishonin's day held that the Latter Day of the Law had begun in 1052. In any event, the world into which Nichiren Daishonin was born in 1222 accorded well with the Sutra's descriptions of an impure and evil-ridden age. Japan was being torn by armed strife and ravaged by successive natural disasters, and people had nowhere to turn for relief from their suffering. The dreaded Latter Day was not simply an idea to them but a reality they were experiencing daily. (Outline of.... 78)

After years of analyzing all the sutras, Nichiren Daishonin came to the same conclusion as many of the greatest Buddhist scholars in history (such as Kumarajiva4 [344-413] of India, T'ien-t'ai' [538-597]of China, and Dengyo [767-822]of Japan). He concluded that the Lotus Sutra, represented not only the highest teachings of Buddhism, but was also the true intent of Shakyamuni's fifty or so years of teaching. Nichiren realized that this was the only teaching, which Shakyamuni intended people to practice during the Latter Day of the Law, when society would finally be able to understand and accept this final teaching, and when the karma of the people and society would be so “muddied” that no other medicine would be strong enough to cure them.

Daisaku Ikeda points out that,

...schisms and opposition have usually arisen over differences in choice of a scripture to regard as fundamental or in interpretation of the same scripture. Nichiren Daishonin shows that, if we trace these issues back to the original teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha himself, all such differences resolve themselves. Nonetheless, dissension continues today because some people persist in being more attached to their own authority and advantage than to the truth. (Ikeda-Derbolav 149-150)

In weighing a Buddhist sutra’s superiority or inferiority to all other sutras, Nichiren said one must rely on the “Three Proofs.” Those three proofs are, “Documentary Proof,” “Theoretical Proof,” and most important, “Actual Proof.”

In reviewing the multitude of “Documentary Proof” of the Lotus Sutra’s preeminence, Nichiren quoted the many eminent Buddhist scholars, such as Kumarajiva, T’ien-t’ai, and Dengyo. As T’ien-t’ai stated: “After the Thus Come One attained enlightenment, for forty years and more he did not reveal the truth. With the Lotus Sutra, he for the first time revealed the truth.” (Nichiren, Writings of… 57) Nichiren states, “Among all the sacred teachings expounded by the Buddha in the course of his lifetime, the Lotus Sutra alone holds the position of absolute superiority. It is the guidepost that points the way to the immediate attainment of perfect wisdom, the carriage that takes us at once to the place of enlightenment.” (Nichiren, Writings of… 55)

Of course, anyone can make such verbose claims of a sutra’s superiority. However, this alone does not constitute “Documentary Proof.” Nichiren relied on the same criteria as T’ien-t’ai in determining “Documentary Proof.” As T’ien-t’ai wrote, “all assertions that lack scriptural proof are to be branded as false.” (Nichiren, Writings of… 64) Therefore, both Nichiren and T’ien-t’ai claimed that one could only gain real “Documentary Proof” from the sutras themselves.

In some sutras prior to the Lotus Sutra, one could read phases such as, “this is the greatest sutra yet preached.” In others, one will find, “I have not yet revealed the truth.” Here is a classic example from the Sutra of Immeasurable Meaning,

Because people’s natures and desires are not alike, I preached the Law in various different ways. Preaching the Law in various different ways, I made use of the power of expedient means. But in these more than forty years, I have not yet revealed the truth. (Nichiren, Writings of… 55)

Though some sutras claim to be greater than previously preached sutras, in no other can one read such sweeping statements that it alone is greater than any sutra from the past, present, or future, as the following passages form the Lotus Sutra:

The sutras I have preached number immeasurable thousands, ten thousands, millions. Among the sutras I have preached, now preach, and will preach, this Lotus Sutra is the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand…this sutra is the storehouse of the secret crux of the Buddha…. It has been guarded by the Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones… (Lotus Sutra 207)

This Lotus Sutra is foremost among all that is preached by the Thus Come One. Among all that is preached it is the most profound. And it is given at the very last…this Lotus Sutra is the secret storehouse of the Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones. Among the sutras, it holds the highest place. Through the long night I have guarded and protected it and have never recklessly propagated it. But today for the first time I expound it for your sake. (Lotus Sutra 207)

To put it briefly, all the doctrines possessed by the Thus Come One, and the freely exercised supernatural powers of the Thus Come One, the storehouse of all the secret essentials of the Thus Come One-all these are proclaimed, revealed, and clearly expounded in this sutra. (Lotus Sutra 273)


This Sutra, however, was far too progressive for the time of Shakyamuni. Therefore, he did not let his disciples spread it widely. He instead left it for the time he called “The Latter Day of The Law,” when the capacity of the people would be great enough to understand such egalitarian ideals as “the complete equality of all people,” which this sutra preaches. As Shakyamuni predicted, many would go against this teaching after he passed away, because it would be too difficult for them to fathom. However, he predicted that the “Bodhisattvas of the Earth” would arise during the Latter Day of the Law to propagate this sutra widely, eventually ‘transforming the muddy swamp of the Latter Day, into a land of beautiful lotus blossoms.’

What was it that made this sutra so great? Where is the great “Theoretical Proof?” T’ien-t’ai and Nichiren both detailed many things that made it greater than all other previously preached Buddhist sutras. In the Lotus Sutra, for the first time in his fifty or so years of preaching, Shakyamuni reveals that all people and all living beings are in fact Buddhas, or rather; everyone and everything in the universe possesses a “Buddha nature”-an enlightened quality.

The Lotus Sutra makes the assertion that the goal of Buddhism is to make everyone become a Buddha, by manifesting his or her own latent Buddha nature. Although now many people understand this as a common assertion of Buddhism, one will not find this claim made in any other sutra but the Lotus Sutra.

It was never Shakyamuni’s desire to start a fan club of people who worshiped him. (Nor did any other religious founder wish for this, though those fan clubs are all too prevalent in all religions today.) He instead wanted to make everyone equal to him. As he stated “This is my constant thought: how I can cause all living beings to gain entry to the highest Way and quickly attain Buddhahood.” (Lectures on the Sutra 144 [From the Expedient Means Chapter of the Lotus Sutra])

The Lotus Sutra also debunks many of the misconceptions other sutras perpetuated. One of these is that Shakyamuni first attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree, fifty years or so before preaching the Lotus Sutra. In the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni stated that he became enlightened many billions of kalpas before, in fact, many light years before this planet was even in existence. As he stated, ‘On a mundane planet much like the one we live on today.’

In the “Life Span” chapter, Shakyamuni gives a great analogy to demonstrate the incredible amount of time since he first attained enlightenment. To abbreviate, suppose you take the following enormous amount “T” (T = 10 x 100 x 1,000 x 10,000 x [10 to the 51st power] “nayuta” x [10 to the 64th power] “asogi”.) of “Major World Systems” and crush them to dust.

Now with this enormous pile of dust, travel east and drop one dust particle every time you pass the aforementioned enormous amount “T” of major world systems. Continue in this way, dropping one particle every “T” major world systems, until you have extinguished all the dust particles. After extinguishing all the dust particles, go back and collect every world you passed (both ones that received a dust particle and ones that you bypassed, which did not receive a dust particle.)

Now crush all these bazillions of worlds to dust and let each particle of dust equal a Kalpa. Shakyamuni said, ‘this is when I in-fact first attained enlightenment.’ This, the time of his original enlightenment, became known in Japanese as Go-hyaku Jin-Tengo (not to be confused with Kuan Ganjo, which means “time without beginning”).

Another myth that the Lotus Sutra destroyed is that the purpose of Buddhism was for the practitioners to reach “Nirvana”-a fictitious state, which Shakyamuni created as a resting point for those who could not see themselves ever making it all the way to enlightenment.

Shakyamuni said in verse to one of his top followers:

Shariputra, listen carefully
for the Law the Buddhas have attained,
through the power of countless expedient means
they preach for the benefit of living beings.
The thoughts that are in the minds of living beings,
the different types of paths they follow,
their various desires and natures,
the good and bad deeds they have done in previous existences
-all these the Buddha takes cognizance of,
and then he employs causes, similes, and parables,
words that embody the power of expedient means,
in order to gladden and please them all.
Sometimes he preaches sutras, verses,
stories of the previous lives of disciples,
stories of the previous lives of the Buddha,
of unheard-of things.
At other times he preaches regarding cause and conditions,
uses similes, parables, passages of poetry
or discourses.
For those of dull capacities who delight in a little Law,
who greedily cling to birth and death,
who, despite the innumerable Buddhas,
fail to practice the profound and wonderful way
but are perplexed and confused by a host of troubles-
for these I preach nirvana.
I devise these expedient means
and so cause them to enter into the Buddha wisdom.(Lotus Sutra 34)

This was one of the many “Expedient Means,” which Shakyamuni used to lure ignorant followers, who could not possibly believe they too could ever become Buddhas, or for those who did not have the strength to persevere all the way to enlightenment. As he explained in the above excerpt from the “Expedient Means” Chapter, he used many expedient means in his “Preparatory Teachings” (Which are all of his teachings prior to the Lotus Sutra.) However, he explained that after one is able to understand the Lotus Sutra, one should discard the preparatory teaching.

He said in the Lotus Sutra, “Honestly discarding the provisional, I will now reveal the truth (Nichiren, Writings of… 660).”

Shakyamuni taught the sutras in a progressive order from elementary to more difficult-from inferior to superior. Ending shortly before his death with the Lotus Sutra, which is by far the greatest sutra of all Buddhist sutras. Due to the fact that Shakyamuni taught for 50 or so years, in many places, to many different people, and not all of those people stayed with him during the entire progression, many people thought they had learned the essence of Buddhism, when they in-fact only learned the most rudimentary teachings of Buddhism, such as the “four noble truths.” In addition, these teachings were only applicable to the time periods he called the “Former Day of the Law,” and the “Middle Day of the Law.”

Shakyamuni explained that in the “Latter Day of the Law” all of his preparatory teachings would be worthless, and would in-fact, cause more harm than good.

There are many other things, which Shakyamuni revealed only in the Lotus Sutra, such as the “Ten Factors of life,” the “Ten Worlds,” and a few other major theories, which would take a whole book to explain fully.

What was the “truth” that Shakyamuni was now revealing in the Lotus Sutra? The Law, or Dharma, to which Shakyamuni became enlightened, was a law of life that permeates all life and the entire universe. That law, which is represented in the title of the Lotus Sutra, "Nam Myo-ho Ren-ge Kyo", is the unchanging reality behind all changing phenomena. This law manifests itself both physically and spiritually as the phenomenal universe, or all that we see and experience as reality. This law of life, or if you will, “life itself” is inherently all-powerful and all-knowing. One who is awakened to this law is a Buddha, or in English, an "enlightened one."

A Buddha is an ordinary human being, who has realized that his or her very life, in its truest essence, is by nature omniscient and omnipotent. He or she is one who develops the capacity to manifest that unlimited life-force on a consistent basis, so as to overcome all hardships and obstacles and to help lead others to happiness.

Though some Buddhists have had the false notion that this is a state one can achieve, and they will stay enlightened forever. However, enlightenment is not a destination, it is a constant journey. Like fitness, for example, if one does not keep exercising, their fitness will be lost.

Therefore, enlightenment is a constant process of continuing to manifest the highest human potential through Buddhist practice. Enlightenment is a state of life like happiness or sadness. For example, a “happily” married couple can only stay happy together by each person making efforts to nurture the relationship. Similarly, a Buddha can only stay a Buddha by continuing to manifest his or her Buddha nature, through the continuous practice of a Bodhisattva, which is the compassionate act of leading others to enlightenment, by teaching them how to bring forth their own Buddha nature.

Shakyamuni realized that it would take a long time to get his disciples to understand this idea, to except it, and put it into practice. In fact, it would take many centuries. As he said to one of his head disciples (recorded in the 2nd “Expedient Means” chapter of the Lotus Sutra): "Shariputra, I will say no more, because that which the Buddha has achieved is the rarest and most difficult Law to comprehend." (Lectures on.... 56)

It is for this reason that (in the "treasure tower" chapter of the Lotus Sutra), when asked by his disciples (who wanted to inherit the responsibility of spreading the Lotus Sutra's teachings) if they could be the "votaries of the Lotus Sutra," he refuses their request. He instead gave the task to the millions of "Bodhisattvas of the Earth" in the "Latter Day of the Law."

The Yujutsu [15th-“Emerging from the Earth”] chapter of the Lotus Sutra describes the appearance of an innumerable host of bodhisattvas who well up from the space below the earth and to whom Shakyamuni entrusts the propagation of the Lotus Sutra [in the Latter Day of the Law]. (From Watson’s notes, Letters... 530)

In Shakyamuni’s time, people were so attached to the physical world that they could not possibly understand something being more real than their own shallow perceptions of reality. For this reason, Shakyamuni first had to break them of their attachment to fleeting, transient reality (physical reality). He first taught them (only as an expedient) that attachment caused them suffering. In addition, he had to emphasize that all reality was empty of inherent existence. However, later in the Lotus Sutra (once his top disciples had advanced in their thinking), he refutes this idea.

Daisaku Ikeda describes these two opposing views in his dialogue with Josef Derbolav.

In its attempts to crush the worldly Epicureanism prevailing in India in its time, Hinayana [Vajrayana] insisted that everything was ephemeral, composed of suffering, impure and devoid of a persisting identity or self. While agreeing about the ephemeral nature of the phenomenal world and the individual self, Mahayana Buddhism perceives a greater, lasting self in the world of the law, which is a pure realm filled with joy. While manifesting the changes called life and death, this universal self is immutable and persists through transmigrations.... The teachings of Nichiren Daishonin are concerned with the permanent, immutable Law-the greater self-and with its nature and ways of perceiving it. (Ikeda-Derbolav 153-154)

Because the people of Shakyamuni’s time were suffering so much in their lives, Shakyamuni had to lure them with a temporary resting place on their journey toward enlightenment, which he called "Nirvana."

He says in one parable, in essence, that in order to lead a drunk to a higher path, you must first offer to get drunk with them, (only as an expedient) to get them to follow you down the right path.

However, keeping people drunk on “Nirvana” was never his real aim.

Having people meditate on top of mountains, separated from daily life in society was never his intention. Each stage of the five stages of Shakyamuni’s teachings (outlined by T'ien-t'ai in the Maka Shikan “Great Concentration and Insight”) was designed to break his disciples of their attachments. As his disciples lost their attachment to physical reality or desire, they soon became attached to the idea of emptiness; or some became attached to their quest for Nirvana. Then he had to teach them the "middle way" and then the three paths: "learning, realization, and bodhisattva," as a way to get them to break their attachment to their own selfish pursuit of enlightenment, and eventually to get them to be concerned with helping others-the state of altruism, the path of a bodhisattva.

He says in the "expedient means" chapter of the Lotus Sutra,

...ever since I attained Buddhahood, I have widely expounded my teachings through many stories of past relationships and many parables, and by countless means have led the people to renounce all their attachments." (Lectures on... 44)

However, this was all to lead them to the one path of enlightenment or "Buddhahood."

Nichiren claimed that more important though than the extensive theoretical proof or the extensive documentary proof, which the Lotus Sutra has to offer for its superiority, the “Actual Proof” should be the very determinate of a sutra’s greatness.

Both T’ien-t’ai and Nichiren demonstrated the historical record of how this Sutra, when practiced correctly, had drastically transformed the societies in which it was practiced. This is the main purpose of Buddhism. If Buddhism is to be true to its purpose, it must first transform a person’s life to the point where that person can overcome all of their obstacles, and they must be able to lead an indestructibly happy life. Then from there, it should foster a very peaceful society of happy self-empowered individuals.

For instance, if we look back over the history of Buddhism, we will see in the Buddhist countries where there was a long period of peace and the people led happy lives, there you will find that the Lotus Sutra was the prominent Buddhist scripture.

The many disasters that were occurring in Japan during the Kamakura period were also a form of actual proof. Because many people in Japan at this time were practicing incorrect forms of Buddhism (as Nichiren called them “heretical” forms of Buddhism), they were experiencing the consequences of incorrect Buddhist practice.

It is because of this, that Nichiren led a revolution to correct the mistaken views of the people of Japan, especially those who claimed to be Buddhist scholars.

Nichiren Daishonin, in his lengthy research of the sutras, realized that the suffering and disasters in Japan were being caused by the people’s attachment to “inferior teachings,” teaching that only contained partial truths. "When we try to view the whole in terms of the part, we are bound to arrive at an incomplete and distorted view." (Outline of... 79)

Shakyamuni predicted in the sutras, that when the Buddhist Law (Dharma) was on the verge of disappearing, the people who slandered and distorted that law would experience the "Three Calamities and Seven Disasters" one after another.
The three lesser calamities of high grain prices or inflation (especially that caused by famine), warfare, and pestilence. The seven disasters differ with the Sutra. The Yakushi Sutra [The Medicine Master Sutra] lists them as pestilence, foreign invasion, internal strife, unnatural changes in the heavens, solar and lunar eclipses, unseasonable storms and typhoons, and drought. (From Watson’s notes, Selected…473)

In Nichiren Daishonin's time, as well as the aforementioned natural disasters, there were also many unusual astronomical occurrences, which are well detailed in the book Buddhism and the Cosmos. One, which I will discuss latter, caused such a disturbance in much of Asia that many people committed suicide.

Nichiren Daishonin pointed out that the "Three Calamities" were caused, respectively, by what Buddhism calls the "Three Poisons" (Greed, Anger, and Ignorance).

At the time when Nichiren began teaching his unique teaching, only two of the seven disasters had yet to occur. These were internal strife and foreign invasion. It was for this reason that Nichiren Daishonin decided to start a religious revolution. He believed that if the people of his country did not give up their beliefs in "heretical" teachings, and confess the superiority of the Lotus Sutra, the country was doomed to political disaster and would surely, as the sutras predict, be overrun by foreign invaders.

Japan, prior to this, had not been overrun by foreign invaders for many centuries, perhaps millennia. Therefore, to many people, this seemed to be highly unlikely. However, mystically, eight years after Nichiren submitted a protest letter to leading religious and government leaders (entitled: "Risho Ankoku Ron", or "On Securing the Peace of the Land Through the Propagation of a Correct Teaching"), in which he predicted that the last two disasters would occur (if the government did not correct their mistaken views of Buddhism), the Mongol Empire sent a delegation to Japan demanding Japan's subjugation to Mongol rule. Before this time, Nichiren had already converted many people to his teachings. However, once his prediction had begun to materialize, he gained even more followers, including people within the government.

In the beginning of the Risho Ankoku Ron (On Securing the Peace of the Land Through the Practice of True Buddhism), Nichiren writes,

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. (Nichiren, Writings of… 7)

Following a tradition in both China and Japan of having open debates, as a way of determining the correctness of one form of Buddhism over another, Nichiren began to have open debates with leaders of other sects of Buddhism. Repeatedly he proved false their teachings. Nichiren writes about the practice of Buddhist debate in his letter, later entitled "Repaying Debts of Gratitude":

In China, in the time of the Ch'en emperor [Shu-pao], the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai defeated in debate the Buddhist leaders of northern and southern China, and was honored with the title of Great Teacher while still alive.... In Japan, the Great Teacher Dengyo defeated in debate the leaders of the six sects and became the founder and first leader of the Tendai sect in Japan. (Nichiren, Selected... 282)

“The leaders of established schools of Buddhism were unable to refute his arguments and began plotting in collusion with those in power to persecute the Daishonin both privately and openly (Outline of.... 80).” A few months after he sent his first letters of protest, Nembutsu believers (member of the Jodo sect, who chant the Nembutsu, or the name of Amida Buddha) attacked him in his small makeshift cottage. In addition, a half year latter, after much protest by other sects, the government exiled him from Kamakura to the remote Izu Peninsula for two years. There he continued his propagation efforts and converted many believers to his teachings.

The aggressive behavior of the other sects of Buddhism-which by their claims of being Buddhist should have made them non-violent and considerate of other's beliefs-was very consistent with the predictions in the sutras, about those who would claim to be Buddhists in the Latter Day of the Law, and how distorted their practice of Buddhism would become. It was predicted in the 13th Kanji “Encouraging Devotion” chapter of the Lotus Sutra that the "Votary of the Lotus Sutra" would be beaten with swords and staffs, would be banished, and would face numerous persecutions for attempting to propagate a pure teaching in an impure age.

Ironically, while he was studying this very chapter, Nichiren was attacked in his hut by swordsmen of the government, who took his scroll containing the Kanji chapter and beat him with it. These swordsmen also cut his forehead with a sword.

The sutras predict that in the Latter Days of the Law, "Bodhisattva Jogyo" would appear, the "Votary of the Lotus Sutra". This votary would be able to actualize the teaching of the Lotus Sutra with his life and make them accessible to all people. He would prove the validity of the teachings by overcoming incredible hardships, as the Kanji chapter states.

This is one of the many symbolisms of the lotus blossom, which blooms in a muddy swamp. Nichiren Daishonin's life bloomed in the "muddy swamp" of the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law. Another symbolism is that the lotus releases its seeds at the same time that it blooms.

This symbolizes that when someone awakens to their inherent Buddha nature, they simultaneously plant seeds for others, to awaken them to the same nature. In the Lotus Sutra, the millions of “Bodhisattvas of the Earth” are said to spring up from the earth like millions of lotus blossoms.

Nichiren first realized he was the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, or Bodhisattva Jogyo as predicted in the sutra, who would actualize the teaching of the Lotus Sutra, when he was taken one night down to the beach at Tatsunokuchi to be executed. It was in the middle of the night, but just as the executioner was raising his sword to behead the Daishonin, the sky lit up by a big yellow orb.

(Astronomers latter trace this day in 1271 to when Halley's Comet was in its closest orbit to the Earth, and it is believed that some debris or a projectile from the comet could have skimmed the Earth’s atmosphere, causing the sky to light up as it did [Buddhism and the Cosmos].)

This was but one of the many unusual astrological occurrences (one of the seven calamities predicted in the sutras) that happened during Nichiren's life. (In China, it is recorded that this event caused a great scare and many committed suicide-when the night's sky was lit as if it were daylight.)

Needless to say, the executioner was a little frightened by this event, dropped to his knees, and began to pray to the Daishonin. Burton Watson writes that here is where he reveals his true identity as Bodhisattva Jogyo:

[The leader of the "Bodhisattvas of the Earth"] is Jogyo (Visistacarita, Superior Conduct). The other leaders are Muhengyo (Anantacarita, Limitless Conduct), Jyogyo (Visuddhacarita, Pure Conduct) and Anryugyo (Supratisthitacarita, Conduct of Standing Firm)...Nichiren identifies himself with the bodhisattva Jogyo, the leader of the four. (From Watson’s notes, Letters... 530)

Giving up on killing Nichiren, the government instead decided to exile him to Sado Island. On this second exile, he wrote one after another of his major works, "The Opening of the Eyes", where he claimed to be the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, or Bodhisattva Jogyo, the "leader of the leaders of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth." Here, on a snow-covered island, a place the government sent enemies of the state to die, he wrote:

This I will state.... Let all persecutions assail me still I will give my life for the sake of the Law.... Whether tempted by good or threatened by evil, if one casts aside the Lotus Sutra, he destines himself for hell. Here I will make a great vow. Though I might be offered the rulership of Japan if I will only abandon the Lotus Sutra...Though I might be told that my father and mother will have their heads cut off if I do not recite the Nembutsu-whatever obstacles I might encounter, so long as men of wisdom do not prove my teachings to be false, I will never yield! All other troubles are no more to me than dust before the wind. I will be the Pillar of Japan. I will be the Eyes of Japan. I will be the Great Ship of Japan. This is my vow, and I will never forsake it! (Nichiren, Letter… 137-138)

In these last few lines he alludes to the three qualities of a Buddha, the "Parent, Teacher, and Sovereign" of the people.

Even on the island of Sado, where few exiles returned alive, he actively wrote to his disciples on the mainland. In addition, they sent him offerings that kept him alive. He also converted many of the islanders to his sect of Buddhism. However, other Buddhist leaders felt he was still a threat, even in exile, so much so that many were extremely violent toward him and his followers, while he was in exile.

Never the less, after his prediction of foreign invasion began to materialize, the Kamakura government urged the other Buddhist groups not to hurt him, for fear of retribution. They instead requested that all of the other competing sects should have a open debate with the Daishonin.

The debate took place on January 16 and 17, 1272, and it pitted the Daishonin against several hundred priests of the other sects.... The priests proceeded to cite the doctrines of their various sects-Nembutsu, Zen, Shingon and Ritsu. The Daishonin replied in turn, confirming the meaning of what each had said, and then asked questions. Very quickly, he was able to expose their contradictory assertions and scriptural incompatibilities. The priests were speechless, no match for the Daishonin's penetrating understanding of the Sutras. Several of their followers professed belief in the Daishonin's teaching on the spot. (The life of... 64)

After the Mongols finally attacked two islands off Japan, destroying them, the government decided to pardon Nichiren and allow him to establish his own school at Mt Minobu, (Near Mt. Fuji) for fear if they did not, the Mongols may wiped out the entire country. In the end, (shortly after the Kamakura government pardoned the Daishonin from his two and a half year Sado exile) a great storm wiped out most of the Mongol forces.

Many of the Daishonin’s followers and others believed that because the government finally recognized the Daishonin's teachings, Japan was temporarily protected from the seventh disaster.

Even though for a time, during the Daishonin’s life the government finally recognized Nichiren’s Buddhism as an official sect of Buddhism, the leaders of other Buddhist schools were and are still vehemently apposed to the Daishonin's teachings and have used every opportunity until today to openly attack followers of Nichiren Daishonin.

After Nichiren's passing, for some seven hundred years, in collusion with the government, many Buddhist leaders have been persecuting people who practice the Daishonin's Buddhism.

The Hiei sohei…although they were briefly allied with the Nichiren sect against the Pure Land schools, …burned every one of that sect’s [Nichiren's] temples in Kyoto to the ground, in the process slaughtering every Nichiren adherent they could lay their hands on. The Nichiren sect in Kyoto never recovered from that blown (Stevens 37)

In addition, the Japanese Government, not learning it’s lesson in history, once again banned the Daishonin’s Buddhism in the 1930’s and jailed the top leaders of the Soka Gakkai (one of the largest organizations in Japan that practices the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin) for refusing to give up their practice and propagation efforts and for their opposition to Japan's militarism in World War II.

It was only then that the seventh disaster as predicted in the Lotus Sutra finally occurred at the end of World War II, when the US invaded and occupied Japan.

Despite having their founding president die in prison during World War II, the Soka Gakkai finally began to grow after Japan’s new constitution allowed freedom of religion in 1946. Today, the Soka Gakkai has grown to over ten million members in Japan. In addition, along with the Soka Gakkai, most the other Buddhist organizations that grew after World War II also regarded the Lotus Sutra as their main text.

As Stuart Picken writes in his book, Buddhism: Japan’s Cultural Identity, in the section about the growth of new Buddhist groups after World War II, “The three principal Buddhist groups, whose impact has been felt nationwide, share their ancestry in the tradition founded by Nichiren, a tradition that stresses the primacy of the Lotus Sutra.” (73)

Since then, needless to say, we have seen a country grow from a completely demolished country, to an economic world power in less than 50 years. Not only that, it has since not maintained an active military industrial complex, unlike other superpowers.

In addition, Japan is now an aggressor to no other country, which we cannot say for any other superpower.

Nevertheless, despite the tremendous growth of the Soka Gakkai, many Japanese newspapers, out of jealousy perhaps, still regularly criticize the Soka Gakkai. In addition, great jealousy abounds in the other older sect of Buddhism, toward the tremendous growth and prosperity of the Soka Gakkai.

Hilariously though, the most common newspaper articles written about the Soka Gakkai in the post war days read, ‘the Soka Gakkai is an organization for the sick and poor.’ In contrast, today’s critic lament that, ‘the Soka Gakkai is an organization of the rich and powerful.’

It was true that most of the members who joined the Soka Gakkai after the war were sick and poor. Now however, those same people, after practicing the Daishonin’s Buddhism for half a century are among some of the most successful people in Japan. This would appear to be “actual proof” that Nichiren’s Buddhism is working.

Some wonder, however, if it is just coincidence that ever since the early 90’s, Japan has endured much financial and political hardship and now there is much talk in the government about Japan creating nuclear weapons and developing its military. Is it a coincidence, that this has coincided with a period of the greatest persecution against the Soka Gakkai since World War II, especially by the corrupt Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, under the high priest Nikken?

In the early 90s, Nikken in collusion with many rightwing political figures attempted to destroy the Soka Gakkai. They drastically failed however, so instead, Nikken excommunicated the Soka Gakkai’s millions of members from the Temple (Nichiren Shoshu).

This attack and others in the last 10 plus years have included bogus lawsuits, media propaganda, and a host of other unrelenting tactics.

Even though the Soka Gakkai has still continued to grow during the 1990’s and beyond, it unfortunately has been Japan and the Japanese people who have suffered the most, not the Soka Gakkai because of the baseless attacks against the Soka Gakkai.

To truly see how true the prophesies of the sutras are, however, one may need to look at Japan in twenty to fifty years, once the Soka Gakkai has spread perhaps to over a third of the population. One then may be able to see Nichiren’s real lasting impact on Japan.

By then, perhaps, the Japanese economy may experience another big turn around. Whether Japan becomes an aggressor nation again, like the US, Great Britain, Russia and other economically powerful countries, will likely be determined by whether the Lotus Sutra’s teachings spread or diminish in popularity.

The only other large and prosperous, non-aggressor nation in history that one is likely to find is India during the latter years of King Ashoka’s reign, when he converted to Buddhism. This was also a time when the Indian government and most of its citizens revered the Lotus Sutra as the highest teaching of Buddhism.

However, once the Lotus Sutra lost its popularity there, the peace of the land slowly diminished as well.

Daisaku Ikeda, the current president of the Soka Gakkai said this about Shakyamuni and Nichiren,

I think we could say that Nichiren Daishonin and Shakyamuni were revolutionaries of the most radical and fundamental kind. Shakyamuni toppled the prevalent notion that ‘people exist for the sake of the gods,’ teaching instead that ‘the gods exist for the sake of the people.’ At the same time, he rejected the Brahman caste, which arrogantly took advantage of people’s belief, and the caste system itself. Proclaiming that all people are equal, he proceeded to put that assertion into practice…. But in later times, the adherents of Buddhism forgot Shakyamuni’s spirit, and consequently Buddhism ceased to be a humanistic teaching. It was then that Nichiren Daishonin appeared, declaring that people don’t exist for the sake of the Buddha; rather, the Buddha exists for the sake of the people…. Since religion is the very foundation of society, it is a revolution in the realm of religion that will rectify all of society’s ills on a fundamental level. (Ikeda, Wisdom of…)

Many other religions make prophecies of what will come in the future, however many are forced to change their story lines once history contradicts the intended outcome. The superiority of the Lotus Sutra to other religious works is that so far the story has gone exactly as planned.

Nichiren Daishonin fulfilled all the prophecies of the “votary of the Lotus Sutra,” when he survived three attempts by the government to kill him. In addition, his teachings are slowly spreading throughout Japan and the world as was predicted in the Lotus Sutra, thanks to the the Millions of “Boddhisatvas of the Earth” who are practicing the Buddhism of Nichiren within the Soka Gakkai International in over 190 countries around the world.

BIBLIOGRAPHY


Daishonin, Nichiren. Selected Writings of Nichiren. Trans. By Burton Watson. Columbia University Press. New York. 1990.

Daishonin, Nichiren. Letters of Nichiren. Trans. By Burton Watson. Columbia University Press. New York, 1996

Daishonin, Nichiren. Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, The. Ed-trans. By The Gosho Translation Committee, Soka Gakkai. Japan. 1999.

Derbolav, Josef, and Daisaku Ikeda. Search For A New Humanity Weatherhill. New York. 1992

Ikeda, Daisaku. Buddhism the First Millennium. Trans. By Burton Watson. Kodansha International Ltd.. Tokyo. 1977.

Ikeda, Daisaku, Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Volume 1

Lectures on the Sutra: The Hoben and Juryo Chapters Trans. Editorial Department. Nichiren Shoshu International Center. Tokyo. 1984

Life of Nichiren Daishonin, The. Nichiren Shoshu International Center. Tokyo. 1980.

Lotus Sutra, The. Trans. By Burton Watson. Columbia University Press, New York, 1993.

Outline of Buddhism. Nichiren Shoshu International Center. Tokyo. 1981.

Picken, Stuart D.B.. Buddhism: Japan’s Cultural Identity. Kodansha International, Tokyo, 1982.

Stevens, John. The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei. Shambhala, Boston, 1988.

A speech Tim gave recently in Japan. - Jiyu no Bosattsu

More Powerful Than Nuclear Weapons

By Tim Janakos

The religion, Buddhism originated from the desire of one person to understand why people were suffering and how they could overcome their sufferings and create value in their lives. The historical Buddha was a prince in India, who left his kingdom, giving up his father’s wish for him to become king. He made this decision during his youth, when he discovered that people all around his kingdom were suffering, from things such as sickness, old age and death. He searched everywhere for answers to why people suffered and how he could help them overcome those sufferings. What he discovered after many years is that all the answers to all of life’s problems come from within a person’s own life.

In the 1200s in Japan, Nichiren Daishonin, at a very young age, was also deeply troubled by why there were so many people suffering in Japan. He wanted to know why there were so many problems occurring all over the country. It was this desire to solve the problems people faced that led him to study at many temples in Japan, to see if he could find the solution in the teachings of Buddhism. What he found by studying the Buddhist sutras is that all of the problems he was witnessing in Japan, where exactly as predicted in the Buddhist sutras. He found that because people were unaware of the truth about Buddhist teachings, they were actually causing all of the problems that were occurring. Nichiren set out, after many years of study, to correct the problems of Japanese society, so that people could overcome their own sufferings.

In a writing of protest he sent to the Kamakura government entitled, Risho On Koku Ron, Nichiren outlined, based on the teachings of Buddhism, why each problem had occurred in Japanese society. He demonstrated that it was what Buddhism called the 3 poisons (Greed, Hostility and Ignorance) that were at the root of all environmental problems (such as droughts and earthquakes), social problems (such as in-family fighting and wars between different people) and internal problems (such as sickness and suffering). He said that only by ridding people of these poisons, by practicing the highest teachings of Buddhism, would Japanese society be cured of its many problems. In order to teach people the truth, it was also important that Nichiren also pointed out the many falsehoods that had been perpetrated in the name of Buddhism by priests that were not interesting in helping people become happy, but were only interested in Buddhism to gain social and political power.

Nichiren found, when he tried to teach people about the truth, that many people in power resented him for educating others, and they wielded their powers to try to stop him. For his selfless desire to save all people from their sufferings, he was first exiled from the capital of Kamakura to the Izu Peninsula, and later taken to Tatsunokuchi Beach to have his head cut off. However, when the government’s executioners failed to kill him at Tatsunokuchi, they instead exiled him to Sado Island, off of Niigata, hoping he would either die there or be killed by the many people living there who were opposed to his teachings. Despite all of these challenges, Nichiren realized, at the very place of his failed execution and during his exiles, that a person who is awakened to the fundamental law of life, which Buddhism teaches, is unstoppable, and that person can never fail to be victorious in life. No matter what challenges they face, they will become happy and help others become happy.

On Sado Island, Nichiren only grew stronger in his conviction to be the only hope for the Japanese people, at a time in Japan’s history of unprecedented famine, drought, natural disasters and soon an invasion of Japan by Mongol Forces. Because the government finally came to accept the fact that what Nichiren was teaching was true, and his many predictions, based on the Sutras, were actually manifesting, they finally pardoned him and allowed him to establish his own school of Buddhism. Shortly after this, the Mongol Forces that were invading Japan were almost all wiped out by storm waves and the rest fled.

Almost 700 years later, shortly before World War II, two educators were trying to reform the educational establishment in Japan, to make it a cause for the happiness of students, rather than using students as instruments of the state authorities. These two educators came upon the Buddhist philosophy of Nichiren and decided that this philosophy was the only hope at saving the people of Japan, who were being forced to take part as pawns in a war machine, which was threatening to invade many other countries. Like Nichiren, these two educators Mr. Makiguchi and Toda were persecuted harshly by the military government of Japan and were sent to prison as thought criminals for their opposition to the war. Though the first president of the Soka Gakkai, Mr. Makiguchi died in prison, and the second president, Mr. Toda’s health was severely damaged in prison, after the war ended, Toda was released from prison, and he vowed to create of movement of self-empowered people who would change Japan’s history through the practice of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. He thus reconstructed the Soka Gakkai that Makiguchi had first established and decided that it would be a religious society open to all people.

When Daisaku Ikeda, at the age of 19 was invited to a lecture by the 2nd president of the Soka Gakkai, Josei Toda, he was searching desperately (like Shakyamuni, Nichiren, Makiguchi and Toda had previously done) for the answers to why life was so full of suffering and what he could do to change it. At this time, young Daisaku was suffering from childhood tuberculosis and his older brother had been killed in the war. The whole country was devastated by war. He found, through following the advise of his mentor, Mr. Toda, that like Shakyamuni and Nichiren had taught, the source of all solutions to life’s problems comes from within one’s own life. He learned that the title of the final sutra of Buddhism, the Lotus Sutra, contained a secret formula that was shared by all Buddhas in history and it was the source of all Buddhas’ enlightenment. It was a source of light that could lighten any darkness.

Like the 5 part formula, “E equals M C Squared,” which was utilized to split an atom and unleash an extremely powerful energy, unknown to people throughout history, this 5 part formula, “Nam Myo-ho Ren-ge Kyo” was able to unleash an even more powerful energy that existed in the consciousness of all people. Daisaku Ikeda has dedicated his life to fulfilling his mentor’s wish, and shortly after Toda passed away, Daisaku Ikeda, as the 3rd president of the Soka Gakkai began traveling the world to spread the wisdom of Nichiren Buddhism, which he learned from his mentor, Toda, to people all over the world.

My mother first heard about this Nichiren Buddhism, through the Soka Gakkai, when she was only 21 years old and I was almost a year old. Like many young people in the US at the time, she and my father were very disgusted with the US government’s war against the people of Vietnam and they were searching for the answers to why there were so many suffering people in the world. Like many hippies in the late 60s and early 70s, my father was sure he had found the answer to life’s problems in drugs and in a hippy life style of disassociating with normal American society.

My mother on the other hand was not satisfied with that life style and she searched for happiness in many different religions, until she eventually found the Soka Gakkai. She had grown up in a Catholic family, but she did not see any solution in the Christian faith to her parent’s constant fighting. As she began practicing this Buddhism with the Soka Gakkai in Orange County, Southern California, in the early 70s, she saw that her father’s abusiveness toward her mother was a form of family karma that she too shared with her husband, my father. The more she tried to become happy by practicing Buddhism, the more abusive my father became. Like the Kamakura government who tried to stop Nichiren from becoming happy and from teaching others to become happy, and like the militarist government of the early 1930s that came down upon Makiguchi and Toda, and like the government of Japan that falsely imprisoned President Ikeda in the summer of 1957, my father came down hard on my mother, beating her and even ripping up her first Gohonzon and destroying her first Butsudan. Luckily, however, after my mom was so desperate, she had the police arrest my father for drug dealing and she was able to finally escape his abuse.

She ran away, with my older brother and I, to another part of Southern California, and she changed our names, so my father couldn't find us for over 30 years. Despite having to work a few jobs to keep my brother and I alive, my mother managed to survive for almost 6 years as a single parent, raising two very wild boys. Luckily, she found a new husband in the Soka Gakkai, who was willing to help her raise my older brother and I. She was able with his help and her Buddhist practice with the SGI to have 3 more children and to raise a happy and healthy family.

Although I was raised in the Soka Gakkai, I didn't really start practicing Buddhism strongly, until I realized that it could help me accomplish my dreams, and with it, I could change the world. I was an angry child who fought a lot with my stepfather. He being from a military upbringing with strict rules, and I being raised by a hippy mother, who didn't have any rules, it was inevitable that our opposing values would clash. We both had a lot of anger that we were able to expiate on each other, and this time my mom was saved. I also had a lot of anger for US society, US culture and the US government, which I felt was very unfair and corrupt. I was a very poor child raised in a somewhat rich community. However, I always lived in the poorest part of that community, with mostly immigrant families that didn't speak English, so along with being mad at the inequalities of society, I was also picked on for being one of the only Caucasian kids in my apartments. I also had an older brother who was, like I, a punk rocker, who with his friends used to love beating me up. By getting in many fights with the Mexican children in my neighborhood, I learned only the bad words of Spanish. However, I never became racist, and although I fought with them, I also had many Spanish-speaking friends, and I felt they were victims just like I was for being different and for being poor.

I, like many poor kids in my neighborhood, got involved in many bad things, like shoplifting, drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, throughout my junior high school days. Even though I never listened to my teachers at school or my stepfather, for some reason I always liked reading the guidance of Daisaku Ikeda and listening to my youth leaders in the Soka Gakkai. It was through one of Daisaku Ikeda’s writings, which I read many times during my junior high school days that I was able to drastically change my life. In this writing, President Ikeda wrote, “…modern music is slowly deteriorating. It has lost the spirit of humanism and no longer has the power to inspire vitality and hope for the future. How unfortunate that the level of modern music has led youth on the path to delinquency. When music plays such a role, its function must be called evil.”

I really loved music, and even though I listened to a lot of very angry and anti-socially, punk rock music, I also still loved the music my mom raised me on, much of which was music from the 60s and 70s about love and peace. I was forced through this writing by President Ikeda to look at my life and at the influences that were effecting my actions. Through learning about the law of cause and effect, I realized that I had to reform my own actions. I couldn't just chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo to improve my karma and hope for positive results, if I also continued shoplifting and doing many other bad things. One positive action would simply be cancelled out by another negative action. I also realized that being involved in drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana wouldn't help me escape the suffering of my life. Over time, I realized that in fact it was actually intensified my own suffering.

I realized at this very young age that I wanted to be a singer, a songwriter, and a writer of books. I decided to tap into my own unique potential and channel my anger and sadness into learning how to play music and eventually learning how to write my own music. Also from reading President Ikeda’s writings, I realized that if I wanted to be a great writer, I had to read many great books and I had to study many things about the world. Therefore, I made a concerted effort to do better in school and to studied many subjects. I also started chanting that my parents would move out of our very rundown apartment and into a house, which after a few years, they did. This move also allowed me to disassociate with many of the bad kids I had previously hung around with.

Though early forms of Buddhism teach that karma is a negative thing people have to endure, because they made many bad causes in past existences, the final teachings of Buddhism, which are contained in the Lotus Sutra, teach that in fact, Bodhisattvas of the Earth, (those people who were prophesied in the Lotus Sutra to be born during the present day, to transform this world into a peaceful place) chose their respective karma out of compassion to save people on Earth from their sufferings. Therefore, I believe I chose in my past existences to be born poor and to be born in such an environment that would allow me to see through many of the lies of our current world and to have empathy for those who are suffering from injustice and inequality.

I realized that the story of my life could be a lesson for many young rebellious kids, to help them learn a way out of their delinquency. With this realization, I decided I needed to write about the story of my life. I decided to write the story of my life as a novel, because many of the things I was involved in during my junior high school days were things that many people would be too shocked to believe really occurred in a junior high school kid’s life. I also decided to place the characters in my novel in high school, because for many people, it would seem more realistic. Though my novel isn't 100% autobiographical, it does cover the story of many stages of my life all compacted into the first year of a high school student’s life.

Along with writing this book and others, I have also learned through my practice of Buddhism to tap into my innate ability to write music, and I have thus far written over 30 original songs and I have recorded about 20 of those songs, some of which have been played on radio stations in Sendai and in my home town of Orange County, California. Though my success in writing and music is still very limited, and I have to instead teach English in junior high schools, for the time being to make a living, I know that through the practice of this Buddhism with the Soka Gakkai that all of my dreams will eventually be accomplished.

Though I still have a lot of anger, especially for the many injustices in the world, I have seen that my song writing over the years has drastically changed, so has my writing of books and poems. I was a very lonely person growing up and many of the first songs I wrote were very sad and dark songs. Now however, along with writing songs and books about many problems in the world, I have also written many very happy songs that express my hope for humanity. This is because my practice of Buddhism over the years has shown me that every problem that comes my way is actually a benefit in disguise. Every obstacle is really an opportunity for me to grow more and to strengthen my own life. Though my problems have been varied and many, I have still not been exile or been sent to a beach to have my head cut off, like Nichiren Daishonin. And even though I did go to jail once, unlike President Toda and President Makiguchi, my life wasn’t greatly threatened there, and I unlike the 3 presidents of the Soka Gakkai, who were all falsely imprisoned, I was put in jail due to my own negligence.

I think the greatest thing I have learned from Buddhism over the years is a quote that president Ikeda often quotes from the Lotus Sutra. I also used this quote in my novel. In this quote the historical Buddha of India, Shakyamuni said to one of his top disciples, “Shariputra, you should know that at the start I took a vow, hoping to make all persons equal to me, without any distinction between us.” The reason why I chose at a very young age to make Daisaku Ikeda my mentor in life is because he teaches that all people are equal, and through his tremendous actions and his seemingly impossible victories, he shows me that my own potential as a human being is also unlimited.

I hope that you will all learn from the writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Makiguchi, Toda and Ikeda that you too all have infinite potential to realize all your dreams and to overcome all of your problems and sufferings. I hope that you discover that through chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, that you can uses your own unique personality and your unique circumstances as an opportunity to transform your life and eventually transform the world. I would like to end with a quote from President Ikeda’s novel, the Human Revolution.

“A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation, and further, can even enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.” - Daisaku Ikeda

Why do I seem to openly promote SGI in my music and my writings.

In the US, I never had to say "I'm a member of the Soka Gakkai" and that my music is about Soka Gakkai ideals. I always said, "I'm a Buddhist and my music is about Buddhist philosophy."

However, in Japan, where people are constantly lied to on internet blogs and in yellow journalist reports about the Soka Gakkai, I feel it is crucial that I be as open as possible about my affiliation with the Soka Gakkai and about my belief in the greatness of the Soka Gakkai and the SGI President, Daisaku Ikeda, whom I consider to be my mentor in Life.

It was Daisaku Ikeda's continued encouragement over the past 20 some years, that has given me the strength to continue following my dreams in music, despite numerous set backs and many failures.

Because many Japanese people and people in Japan are constantly misinformed about the Soka Gakkai, I feel it is my responsibility to give the Japanese public a correct picture of the Soka Gakkai and a true picture of a life-long member of the Soka Gakkai, which I am.

From this honest picture of myself and my practice of Buddhism in the Soka Gakkai, which I have been doing ever since I was a baby, people will learn that we (SGI members) aren't any different than other people, except that, through reading the writings of Nichiren Daishonin, we have learned that all human beings are precious and that all life has infinite worth and infinite power to transform this world into a peaceful place for all people and all life (both animate life and inanimate life.)

Also, through the great guidance we are able to read from our SGI President, Daisaku Ikeda, we have learned to follow seemingly impossible dreams, and we have learned to never give up on those dreams, no matter how hard they may seem to be to accomplish.

If the Japanese public, wasn't constantly lied to about the Soka Gakkai, I wouldn't have to continue openly disputing those endless lies. In the US, most people don't know anything about the Soka Gakkai, even though there are hundreds of thousands of SGI members in the US and growing. In the US, we have a much stronger legal system (though in no way perfect) that protects people against lies in the media and against false defamation.

Therefore, people in the US can't make up the kind of outrageous lies about the Soka Gakkai (without facing harsh legal retribution) that Japanese yellow journalist make up on a daily basis in Japan about the Soka Gakkai.

In Japan, if you have power, or if you remain anonymous, as many do in anti-Gakkai chat rooms, you can lie about people and organizations, and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

If you try to take some powerful person to court for lying, the judge can't do much about it, or often won't even take up your case. If they do take the case, and they find out that the person has lied, they will only ask for a public apology, which many papers have already had to give, after their lies about the Soka Gakkai have been proven false.

For this reason, in my daily life in Japan and in my music life in Japan, I have to be open about the truth, so that Japanese people don't continue to harbor misconceptions about the Soka Gakkai and about it's membership.

I wish everyone were more educated about the reality of the Soka Gakkai in Japan, so I wouldn't have to help them overcome their miseducation.

- Ask Not What Your Country Has Done To Latin America

Ask Not What Your Country Has Done to Latin America, by Tim Janakos

The new title for the Pacific Ocean, the “American Lake,” engenders the same bloody legacies of domination over the Pacific Basin as its previous names, the “Spanish Lake” and the “British Lake.” The US Empire is almost as dominant now over the Pacific Basin as the Roman Empire once was over the Mediterranean Basin. That domination however, in part brought about the ruin of the Roman Empire, and it will do the same for the US Empire, when we have to reap what we sow, or as Malcolm X says, “the chickens come home to roost.” This legacy of domination must end if we are to survive as a world. However, the US’s control in many cases is so covert, that unfortunately even many scholars either do not see its grip over the area, or they choose to ignore it, because it is too uncomfortable to admit. Changes in the US Empire often have drastic effects on the entire region. So far those changes have been mostly negative. But it’s time for a positive change to come from the US, from out of, as some say, “the belly of the beast.”

Since explaining the legacy of US domination in relationship to the entire Pacific Basin would be a feet of massive proportion, I will instead limit my writing to only that of Latin America. And only give the briefest of synopsizes. As someone once said, “When the US sneezes Latin America gets the flu.” As a stone cast into a lake often causes ripples, the policies of the US (the caster of the largest stones) have often the largest ripple effects on the entire Pacific Basin. That being the case, it is not surprising that the largest waves often hit Central and South America, our closest neighbors down stream.

This brutal legacy of domination over most of Latin America has included military and economic sanctions, the censoring and twisting of media and information, the overthrow of governments (often democratically elected,) the complete domination of markets, the corporatization of culture, the assassination of leaders, the training of death squads, the bombing of counties that don’t cooperate (as in Panama and others), and the list goes on. This new legacy is best summed up by the phrases “Neocolonialism” or “Neoimperialism.” Dr. Michael Parenti explains this new legacy quite succinct as follows:


As a relative latecomer to the practice of colonialism, the United States could not match the older European powers in the acquisition of overseas territories. But the United Sates was the earliest and most consummate practitioner of neoimperialism or neocolonialism, the process of dominating the politico-economic life of a nation without benefit of direct possession. Almost half a century before the British thought to give a colonized land its nominal independence, as in India-while continuing to exploit its labor and resources, and dominate its markets and trade-the United States had perfected this practice in Cuba and elsewhere. (56)

Commenting on US and Cuban relations, MIT Professor Noam Chomsky refers to the many failed years in which the US has tried to gain complete control over Cuba, as a case of “David vs. Goliath.” In his book, Rogue States, he details the legacy of the US’s desire to control Cuba as dating back to even the American Revolution (82). To the Secretary of State at the time, John Quincy Adams “[the taking of] Cuba is ‘of transcendent importance’ to the political and commercial future of the United States.” (82) Every president since, from both wings of the ruling Republicrat Party has believed this in one-way or another. As Professor Chomsky writes:

Cuba and the United States have quite a curious-in fact, unique-status in international relations. There is no similar case of such a sustained assault by one power against another-in this case the greatest superpower against a poor, Third World country-for 40 years of terror and economic warfare. (82)

Chomsky goes on to explain that the US sanctions against Cuba are even harsher than those against Iraq, which have been in part responsible for the over 500 thousand deaths in Iraq children since the Gulf War ended, and as many or more adults. (See Ramsey Clark’s report: “The Children are Dieing”) As Chomsky writes, the food and medicine sanctions have “been condemned by every relevant body,” (82) even by the Organization of American States (OAS), which as he says is usually quite compliant with its bosses in Washington. (82)

The control and manipulation of information has been a great tool in maintaining the US’s domination over these regions. Not only does the US keep people in Latin America ignorant of US influence over the area, they do more to keep the North American public ignorant of their exploits. Award-winning journalist, Mumia Abu-Jamal, gives one example of US media censorship in Latin America-in the case of the US supported former President of Peru, Alberto Fujimori, who was run out of Peru because of his extreme corruption, often at the assistance of so-called US “intelligence.”

The Rampant government torture, intimation of lawyers, banning of the Bar Association, and clandestine “trials” by hooded nonjudges are happening today in Peru, but you wouldn’t know it from the silence of the U.S. news reporters and journalists. After portraying the election of President Alberto Fujimori as the best thing since sushi, the U.S. media has been remarkably silent on the remarkable events happening in Peru, many at the express direction of the U.S. military and intelligence services. (All Things… 255)

The overthrow of too many democratically elected governments in Latin America and elsewhere in the Pacific Basin by the US, or by US trained and backed military leaders is all too common an occurrence. One can write about Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti, or Salvador Allende in Chile. In fact, one can write many books to give the history of military intervention in other countries’ political affairs by the US. The easiest to detail again would be that of Latin America. One strong instrument of the US to aid in this has been the “Army School of the Americas (SOA)” in Fort Benning, GA.

Thanks to the research of Father Roy Bourgeois, a courageous Maryknoll priest, and others in the human rights organization, School of the Americas Watch (SOAW), the corruption of the SOA has been fully documented. Father Roy was assigned to Bolivia shortly after an SOA graduate and member of the SOA’s “Wall of Fame” Hugo Banzer overthrew the democratically elected government and began targeting religious leaders who opposed his rule. Luckily Father Roy survived his stay there, but many other religious leaders like him didn’t.

The school’s connection to torture, rape, military overthrows, and death squads, (financed annually by 20 million dollars of US taxpayers’ money) has been thoroughly detailed by SOAW. (See: www.soaw.org) Their work has uncovered the facts that during the time of El Salvador’s US supported, so-called “Civil War,” (like the so-called “civil war” we are now financing in Colombia) two thirds of the officers named in UN Truth Commission Reports on El Salvador for the worst atrocities committed during that time were trained at SOA. Also two of the three officers cited for assassinating Archbishop Oscar Romero “beloved champion of the poor,” while he celebrated mass were SOA trained. All three members of the Salvadoran National Guard cited for the assassination of three labor union leaders at the Hotel Sheraton in San Salvador were SOA alumni. Five linked to a case of four raped and murdered churchwomen were SOA trained. Another was a guest speaker at the SOA. Two were granted residence in the US by the State Department. Nineteen of the twenty six cited for massacring six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her teenage daughter at the priests’ residence at the University of Central America in San Salvador were SOA trained. Ten of the twelve officers cited for the murder of 900 unarmed civilians in what became known as the El Mozote Massacre were SOA graduates-their bodies mutilated and burned or left to rot. (See: www.soaw.org) These are of course only the cases of SOA trained involvements in one country. As the SOAW website details:

Among the SOA's nearly 60,000 graduates are notorious dictators Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, [and] Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador. (Websites Home Page)

As Professor Howard Zinn points out, “Six of the graduates [of SOA]…were in the Chilean military junta that overthrew the democratically elected Allende government in 1973. (557)” One can go on and on detailing the bloody evidence of SOA involvement in other Latin American Countries, which could be the subject of a doctoral thesis, but far too lengthy for a term paper. Let it suffice to say here that the school’s main purpose has been to protect American capitalism abroad, and insure that US neocolonialism isn’t hindered in its so-called “progress.”

Other instruments that have been used to perpetuate this system of neocolonialism have been the uneven drafting of laws, otherwise called treaties, which are more beneficial to US domination than any other state, and encourage a “client state” relationship, which the US so favors. Some such treaties include NAFTA, GATT, and soon the MIA, if it’s not defeated. A system to keep Latin American countries in a state of constant dependency is supported by such US dominated institutions as the World Bank and The International Monetary Fund (IMF). Commenting on this continued relationship of dependency perpetuated by these organizations, Professor Howard Zinn writes:

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, both dominated by the United States adopted a hard-nosed banker’s approach to debt-ridden Third World countries. They insisted that these poor nations allocate a good part of their meager resources to repaying their loans to the rich countries, at the cost of cutting social services to their already desperate populations. (631)

Some people say that we can reform the United States system of capitalistic, neo-colonialism. Some people think we can reform the World Bank and IMF. Some people believe we can reform the Army School of the Americas. But window dressing won’t help. That’s like saying we could have reformed Apartheid in South Africa, or we could have reformed slavery in the US’s early south. But as the late, great Mario Savio said,

There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you’ve got to make it stop. (OC Register, 8)

I think now is such a time we must free ourselves from this neocolonial legacy-when the machine has “become so odious”-when, like people who have lived too long next to a sewage dumb, we no longer smell it’s stench-when we have become as a country so desensitized to living amongst the corruption that it no longer appears fraudulent to us-when as Dr. Cornell West writes, “our capitalist ‘civilization’ is killing our minds, bodies, and souls in the name of the American Dream (Death Blossoms, Forward).” It not a time for reform; it’s a time as Tears For Fears sings, to “Break It Down.”

People in America seem to no longer get “sick at heart.” People no longer care that the Bush Coup has thrown what little resemblance we had of democracy, in the way of voting, out the door. When on April 20th, 2002 one hundred thousand anti-war activist staged massive protests in Washington DC to call an end to the US funding of the Colombian military, the end to the slaughter of Palestine by the US funded Israeli military, the end to bombing of Afghanistan, an end to brutal sanctions on Iraq and Cuba, and an end to the institutions of US neocolonialism, yet the US corporate media didn’t even bother to report one word on it. (See: www.webactive.com) This is the time to stop the machine. We must ask as Dr. West does, “What does it profit a nation to conquer the whole world and lose its soul? (Death Blossoms, Forward)

When substitutes for the words neocolonialism and neoimperialism by Dr. Michael Parenti and others become: “Corporate-Colonialism” or “Corporate-Imperialism”, as the US government becomes more corporatized than ever before. When the largest political scandal in history, the Enron Scandal doesn’t even make headline news, because the corporate news know it would call the entire system of “Corporatization” into question. And neither “Democan” nor “Republicrat” wants to touch it with a ten-foot poll, because it would drag both sides of the two headed “duopoly” into question. When neocolonialism is given a more pleasant sounding euphemism such as “Free Market Globalization.” It is time to “stop the machine.” When many “Corporate Globalists” have for so long been lauding the wonders of the “free market” system, and using example like Argentina as poster countries of success. Now, however, since years of US style privatization and corporatization and the mass profiteering that accompanies it, has helped bring the national economy of Argentina to its knees, these propagandists are instead of admitting the failure of the “free market” neocolonial system, as they should, are instead singing, “Don’t cry for me Argentina.”

Its time to shut off the TV. Its time to vote our conscious, instead of voting our fear-voting for a second party candidate like Ralph Nader instead of a “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb” candidate of the capitalist party duopoly. Its time to stop shopping at Wal-Mart, and other transnational corporate warehouses. Its time to join the War Tax Resisters, and stop paying the excise tax on our phone bills, which goes straight to the war machine. Its time to stop calling that dictator “King George” in the white house, “our president”, when he was selected by the Supreme Court, not elected by vote. Its time to join the marches in the street that are shutting down entrance into the WTO, the World Bank and IMF meetings. Here in the US is the only place a true change in the system of corruption can come. Here at Soka University of America is a great place to start. It’s going to take a long time to wake people up, but it’s time to start. In any way we can, we have to refuse to take part in any way in a system that must end, if we are to survive as a human race.


References

Abu-Jamal, Mumia. All Things Censored. Seven Stories Press. New York. 2000.

Abu-Jamal, Mumia. Death Blossoms. Plough Publishing House. Farmington, PA. 1996.

“Berserkely and the Bubble.” Gary A. Warner. The Orange County Register, Oct. 21, 2001. (Travel) Cover. (http://infoweb1.newsbank.com)

Chomsky, Noam. Rogue States. South End Press. Cambridge MA. 2000.

Parenti, Michael. Dirty Truths. City Light Books. San Francisco. 1996.

www.soaw.org

www.webactive.com

Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present. Harper Perennial. New York. 1995.

War the Ultimate Form of Terrorism

What is Terrorism? What is this so- called "War" we have been fighting ever since the 80s, when President Regan realized the so-called, "War on Communism" had become an over-exposed lie that no one was willing to continue stomaching? (Yes the "War on Terrorism" started in the 80s, not after 9/11, as those who hope we ignore history would like us to believe.)

Never do the corporate TV channels that sell us lies ever dare define the "War" they say we are fighting.

My Google search browser says that terrorism: "is defined by the US Department of Defense (a euphemism for the War Machine) as 'the unlawful use of -- or threatened use of -- force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives.' "

Wait, isn't that the history of the United States of America? The U.S. government exercised the "unlawful use of force" against the natives and their "property to coerce or intimidate" their native "governments" and the native "societies," to "achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives." Ever since then, it used the same terrorist tactics on Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, the Kingdom of Hawaii, and many other nations and societies in this hemisphere and the other, to expand it's empire, which it still hopes to continue expanding.

This has been the continued foreign policy from the inception of the U.S. up through the current Bush regime/cabal in Washington, which is now one of the greatest overt terrorist regimes in history.

This definition of terrorism is identical to the definition of WAR itself?

But we need to look for the real definition of Terrorism. Wikipedia correctly describes the true definition of terrorism when it says, "The term "terrorism" comes from the French word terrorisme, which is based on the Latin verb terrere (to cause to tremble), [24] It dates back to 1795 when it was used to describe the actions of the Jacobin Club in their rule of post-Revolutionary France, the so-called "Reign of Terror". Jacobins are rumored to have coined the term "terrorists" to refer to themselves."

Terrorism has always meant state sponsored acts of violence against civilians for political and religious reasons.

Yet in the 1980s, when US president Ronald Regan started the so-called "War on Terrorism" the definition of the word was completely overthrown to mean it's opposite, instead of meaning state acts of terror against civilians, it was used to describe the actions of civilians against states, in reprisal for state acts of terror.

Everyday, the unelected oil man from Texas "threatens" the "unlawful use" of "force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives" otherwise known as terrorism. He does this to people in the media, who have exposed his lies and his illegal actions. And he does this to other states that don't comply with his Christo-fascist terrorist agenda.

Terrorism and the promotion of terrorism is what the Bush administration has been doing in Afghanistan and Iraq for the last few years (killing thousand of innocent civilians to try to force them to do what he wants) and they continue doing, in the case of "threats", against Syria, Iran and North Korea for the last 5 years.

Geneva Conventions, say that it's perfectly justified for civilians to fight against the occupation of their country by foreign armies, as Tito and his liberation army fought against and won over the Nazi army's occupation of Yugoslavia.

All the acts of liberation armies in Lebanon (against continued illegal Israeli occupation), Palestine (against continued illegal Israeli occupation) in Iraq (against continued illegal US occupation) are completely legal under international law.

We can include a whole host of other liberation armies in hundreds of other countries who are now labeled by the US government and other compliant governments as "Terrorists".

They should correctly be called "Counter Terrorists" since they are innocent civilians, who are trying to fight against the terrorism of foreign occupying armies.

Israel, the US's most paid for partner in the Middle East has been practicing "'the unlawful use of -- or threatened use of -- force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives", otherwise known as terrorism, for over 50 years.

The current aerial bombardment of the entire civilian infrastructure of Lebanon by the terrorist, US backed Israeli state is not the first time in Israel's history that it has carried out such atrocities and war crimes. In the early 80s, the Israeli terrorist invasion of Lebanon killed over 17,000 people (and that wasn't the first or last illegal invasion of that country by Israel); that is about 4 times the killing of terrorist acts of 9/11 in the US (No, the US media didn't spend much time on this massive act of terrorism as they won't the current massive acts of terrorism against the innocent people of Lebanon and Palestine by the Israeli government).

If we (world citizens and other governments) continue to use the word "Terrorism" as bastardized by the US government and we continue to spread the lie about the US's "War on Terrorism" we only help to spread more terrorism.

If we are really interested in fighting terrorism in the US, why don't we first start with the terrorism we are responsible for, the terrorism of the US government and its partners, which is only breading more and more terrorism around the world?

The bombs that are blowing away women and children in Lebanon are U.S. bombs, dropped by US jets given to the terrorist state of Israel by the terrorist Bush administration.

How can a government fight against something it has been involved in since it's inception, both in the US and Israel, both expansionist, terrorist states since their inceptions (This is no condemnation of the innocent US and Israeli citizens, who I am one of, who live under such terrorist governments)?

It's time to correct the propaganda that spews out of Washington, and their corporate media friends: WAR IS THE GREATEST BREEDER OF TERRORISM. War itself is the ultimate form of terrorism. There is no greater form of terrorism than war itself. Anyone who wants to end terrorism must first end all wars.

You can't fight terrorism with terrorism.

You can only fight evil (War) with good (compassion or Love), the way Jesus fought against the Roman Empire, with compassionate words and deeds (until that terrorist state killed Jesus).

Individual acts of terrorism have always been the retaliation of state acts of terrorism. Until we address the underlying cause, (war and state sponsored terrorism), we can never hope to fight the effects (individual acts of terrorism, in retaliation against terrorist states).

Until Bush, Blair, and all the other leaders of terrorist states are put in jail for their war crimes, we can never hope to end terrorism.