Beyond Atheism, Humanism, and God

The battle between science and religion – between, on the one hand, the worldview of atheists, humanists, agnostics and others who see this universe as devoid of any God, and entrenched believers on the other hand, whether Christian, Jew, or Muslim – seems only to be growing more strident as time goes by.

Actually, from all reports, the ranks of the unbelievers seem to be increasing, especially among the younger generation.  Many of these are people who may have grown up in Christianity or Islam, but are turning their backs on religion in general because of the dogma and authoritarianism which they find no longer believable or palatable and which serve no useful function in their daily lives.

Atheists and humanists will point emphatically to the destruction that science has wrought upon religious beliefs during the past four hundred years, turning our worldview upside down.

But at the same time, since the turn into the twentieth century, the old world of classical science and physics has also been turned upside down with the advent of quantum theory and physics.

This is the world of electrons and atoms, quarks, bosons, strings and dark matter.  This world exists and underlies and comprises everything we see.  And it underlies everything we ourselves are also, mind and body, we are bound by the same immutable laws.

This is a world that behaves with its own laws – one that seems to turn our usual concepts of laws upside down.  Nothing can quite be pinpointed here; we are dealing with a world of “uncertainty” – with electrons, for instance, on different sides of the universe seemingly being able to communicate with each other instantaneously – faster than the speed of light.

One of the great physicists of that time, John Wheeler, once wrote:

“Nothing is more important about the quantum principle than this, that it destroys the concept of the world as ‘sitting out there’….One has to cross out the old word ‘observer’, and put in its place the new word ‘participator’.  In some strange sense, the universe is a participatory universe.”

In other words, our own lives and the universe around us are in truth deeply interconnected in more ways that we can even imagine.  This is what science is revealing to us.

So how are these conflicting views to be finally reconciled?

There are other ways of looking at these problems, and in a recent talk given at the Humanist Community in San Jose, California, author James Hilgendorf presented a Buddhist perspective.

Including ideas and commentary from a wide range of famous people, including Arnold Toynbee, Albert Einstein, physicist John Wheeler, near-death researchers Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Dr. Kenneth Ring, Leo Tolstoy, and others, as well as insights from Buddhism, Hilgendorf offered a vision of our relationship to the world and universe around us that combines, yet transcends, both science and religion as we commonly know them.

Hilgendorf has been practicing Buddhism for forty-three years with the Soka Gakkai International, the largest Buddhist lay organization in the world now, with 12,000,000 members in 192 countries and territories around the globe.

His complete talk is recorded on the YouTube video below.

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James Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books opening up a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, and a new religion for the world.

To arrange speaking engagements, contact him directly.

The Battle Over Science and Religion

The conflict between science and religion is on the forefront of so many peoples’ minds today.

A few months ago, I had a brief conversation with a woman who held no “religious” beliefs at all, and did not want to hear anything whatsoever to do with religion.  She kept telling me in quite strident tones: “Don’t you know – over the past four hundred years, science has gotten rid of all that.”

Of course, by “all that” she meant some of the institutionalized dogma and authoritarianism and myth-making that has characterized our major religions over the past few thousand years.

Certainly, during the past four centuries, our worldview has been turned upside down by science.

But at the same time, since the turn into the twentieth century, the old world of classical science and physics has also been turned upside down with the advent of quantum theory and physics.

This is the world of electrons and atoms, quarks, bosons, strings and dark matter.  This world exists and underlies and comprises everything we see.  And it underlies everything we ourselves are also, mind and body, we are bound by the same immutable laws.

This is a world that behaves with its own laws – one that seems to turn our usual concepts of laws upside down.  Nothing can quite be pinpointed here; we are dealing with a world of “uncertainty” – with electrons, for instance, on different sides of the universe seemingly being able to communicate with each other instantaneously – faster than the speed of light.

One of the great physicists of that time, John Wheeler, once wrote:

“Nothing is more important about the quantum principle than this, that it destroys the concept of the world as ‘sitting out there’….One has to cross out the old word ‘observer’, and put in its place the new word ‘participator’.  In some strange sense, the universe is a participatory universe.”

In other words, our own lives and the universe around us are in truth deeply interconnected in more ways that we can even imagine.  This is what science is revealing to us.

Actually, if there are deep truths and laws governing our universe, then both religion and science should ultimately reveal those self-same truths and be able to deepen our perspective not only of how those truths and laws operate in our own individual lives, but also of how, as human beings, we fit into the larger scheme of things.

Buddhism sees no conflict between science and religion in this regard.  They both elucidate the world in which we live, and both strive to uncover the operations of the laws of Life and the universe.

If there are Truths about Life, their search should lead to similar revelations.

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Maybe We Need a New ReligionJames HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, poet, speaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books, including “Maybe We Need A New Religion”.

To arrange speaking engagements, contact the author.

New Year Offer/Free e-book/iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, kobobooks

James HilgendorfThis month, I am offering a free digital copy of one of my books, “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”.

“Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age” contains some of my own short pieces, as well as passages of encouragement from famous people throughout history on the achieving of dreams, overcoming obstacles, believing in yourself, and contributing to a better world.

I wrote and compiled the book as an encouragement for young people, whom I love, but the book is also addressed to youth of all ages.  The book is non-sectarian, drawing on many different sources.

Handbook for Youth in a Muddied AgeThe e-book can be downloaded for free through iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Kobobooks, and Smashwords. (Amazon.com, unfortunately, is still listing the book at 99 cents). The offer will be open for this month of January, 2016.  Just go to these sites and search for my name, James Hilgendorf, and when my books come up, select “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age” and download it.

I am also offering the free e-book as a means of introducing my books and talks.  I am a filmmaker, speaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books.  More information about myself and my books is available on my website.

I give talks to a widely diverse group of audiences.  If you are interested in scheduling me as a speaker for your group, you can contact me directly.

My best wishes for a wonderful year – and life – ahead.

James Hilgendorf

Buddhism & The Dream of America

A new America, and a new American Renaissance Movement, based upon the ideals of Buddhism – these are the subjects of a new speaker series by author James Hilgendorf.

We commonly think of the foundation of America as originating with the Founding Fathers, and many of us – especially Christian fundamentalists – associate this with a Christian beginning.

But actually the real roots of America reach back to different beginnings argues James Hilgendorf in his books and talks – to the original American Renaissance of our great writers and poets, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman, and to a philosophy and system of thought and ideals that underlay their work and intent which resonated deeply with the ideals of  Buddhism.

In the January 1844 issue of the Dial magazine, the publication of the New England Transcendentalist Club, a translation of the “Parable of the Medicinal Herbs” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, was introduced to the American public.

The Lotus Sutra was the greatest of the Buddhist scriptures, and its very intent and ideals resonated deeply with Thoreau and Emerson and Whitman – the sanctity of all life, the equality of all people, the greatness of both ordinary men and women, the empowerment of the individual, and the existence in daily, down-to-earth life of eternity.

The dream of these great American writers was of an America filled with great individuals, grounded in the realities of the here and now, yet connected to the larger life of the world around them and to the very heart of the universe itself.  They foresaw a great dream for this land of America, a new start in history, and a grand stage upon which the age-old dream of justice and equality and respect of all cultures and people could find its final realization.

Hilgendorf has been practicing Buddhism for forty-three years with the Soka Gakkai International, the largest Buddhist lay organization in the world now, with 12,000,000 members in 192 countries and territories around the globe.  He finds in the Soka Gakkai and its members the embodiment of the same great ideals and dreams for America that was so brilliantly and beautifully expressed by Thoreau, Emerson and Whitman.

A New Myth for America, by James HilgendorfJames HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books, including “A New Myth for America.”

To arrange speaking engagements, contact the author direct.

Wars & Religions: The Roots of the Matter

Judaism, Christianity and Islam – three religions that play out across the globe.

Three religions that espouse peace and brotherhood, yet are locked – and have been locked for centuries – in confrontation and mistrust.  You have to go no farther than the Mideast today, which is being ravaged and torn apart by religious factions to see the truth of this.

What is at the root of these religions that they promote peace and love, yet end up being the catalysts for war and destruction?

It is a small, exclusive vision – one that recognizes anyone outside their exclusive club as the “other”.  There is no vision of humanity that goes directly to the heart of who we are.

Who are we?  We are human beings, first and foremost.  At the deepest roots lies our common humanity.  Distinctions of race, nationality, gender, sexual preference, and ethnicity are surface distinctions.

Our religions are also surface distinctions.  They are camps of people who have gathered together in a certain camp under a certain flag.  It is all on the surface; because if the adherents of these religions truly believed in the sanctity of life, and in the potential of every individual on the face of this planet, then we would never go to war over these surface differences.  But we have gone to war for millennia, and we are still going to war, and the fever for war seems to only be growing around the world.

War over these surface distinctions has gone on forever.  Christianity spread across the Americas through the instrument of war, decimating the indigenous populations of North and South America.  Islam spread in many times and places by the sword, brutally decimating, for instance, the inhabitants of India. Wars and distinction have been at the roots of these religions ever since they came into being.

These three religions are still at war, labeling each other according to their ancient, outmoded beliefs, and shutting out anyone who does not adhere to those beliefs.

It is madness, and this is the mad world we live in.

We need a new religion, one that goes to the very root of the problem, and severs and yanks up those roots of difference once and for all.

Such a religion is the Buddhism of the Soka Gakkai International, or SGI – now the largest Buddhist lay organization in the world, with 12,000,000 members in 192 countries and territories around the globe.  Peace, not war, is – and always has been – at the heart of this religion, both in theory and in practice.

The Soka Gakkai was founded in 1930 by two great Japanese educators, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda.  By the beginning of the Second World War, the Soka Gakkai had grown to about 3000 households.  At this point, the Japanese military government, which was allied with the State Shinto religion, put enormous pressure on all religious organizations to conform to Shinto.  Makiguchi and Toda refused to support the military government, and for this they were both imprisoned as thought criminals.  A year and a half later, the first president Makiguchi died in prison.  Toda was released near the end of the war, his health shattered.  Slowly, he began to rebuild the Soka Gakkai, which had been destroyed during the war.  By 1958, the year in which he died, the Soka Gakkai had grown to 780,000 households.  His closest disciple, Daisaku Ikeda, became the third president in 1960, and under his leadership the Soka Gakkai has developed into a world religion.

Daisaku Ikeda is a prolific writer, poet, educator and founder of a number of cultural, educational and peace research institutions around the world.  He has received over 350 honorary doctorates and degrees from universities and colleges around the world, a number unprecedented in history.

At the heart of the Soka Gakkai is the Lotus Sutra, the greatest of teachings of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni.  And at the heart of the Lotus Sutra is the recognition of the sanctity of all life, and of the enormous potential and great life state residing within each individual’s life.  This state of life is called Buddhahood.  Through chanting the title of the Lotus Sutra – Nam Myoho Renge Kyo – members are able to activate the life force within their own life, and begin the process of transforming every aspect of their life in the direction of happiness.

In other words, the Buddha is not some god or supernatural being.  The Buddha is the ordinary human being.  This was the message the original Buddha, Shakyamuni, tried to share.

The roots of the Soka Gakkai were grounded, from the very beginning in peace, dialogue, and non-violence.  It remains so today.

This is a religion that has now taken its place on the world stage – a religion transcending those surface distinctions of race, culture, gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, and nationality; a religion rooted in people, not authoritarianism and power; a religion honoring women equally with men; a religion dedicated to happiness in this world, in the here and now, yet a religion connecting each individual to the universe within their own life, and to eternity.

The Buddhism of the Soka Gakkai is a religion that is spearheading a new global civilization.

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James HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books, including “A New Myth for the World”.

To schedule him for speaking engagements, contact him directly.



Love, Marriage & Relationships: The Buddha Next Door

So many men and women long for that perfect match – the perfect partner and love of their dreams.  They go to great lengths to find that person; and even when they believe they have found Mr. Right or Ms. Wonderful, often their perfect world later comes unraveled, leading to deep and unexpected suffering.

Marriage is another minefield of broken hearts.

What is the key to relationships?

In a new series of talks, author and speaker James Hilgendorf delves into the deeper aspects of relationships in general, with insights gained from his marriage of forty-four years and his practice of Soka Gakkai Buddhism.

Today, he and his wife Elizabeth celebrate a very happy marriage, but it was not always so.  They met while living next door to each other in a boarding house in Boulder, Colorado.  Both of their lives were in a state of disarray.  The story of their marriage, its struggles and gradual transformation, is set against the deeper, karmic patterns underlying their relationship.  Buddhism, as Hilgendorf relates, provided the means of positively transforming those patterns, and, as a result, his marriage.

Both Hilgendorf and his wife have been practicing Buddhism for forty-three years with the Soka Gakkai International, the largest Buddhist lay organization in the world now, with 12,000,000 members in 192 countries and territories around the globe.

Hilgendorf is a speaker, filmmaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books, including “Forever Here”, a collection of short pieces about love, life and death, and the treasures of the heart.

Of another of his books, “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”, two reviewers wrote:

“If I were to teach a basic college-level course in religion, philosophy, or metaphysics – call it Spirituality 101 – this book would be required reading.  In fact, it would be the first week’s assignment.  Having read all or parts of nearly a thousand books dealing with spiritual matters, I cannot recall another that so simply and effectively blends the fundamentals of religion and science.” – Michael E. Tymn, Journal of Religion and Psychical Research.

“A must-read!  I am serious when I say that reading James Hilgendorf’s ‘Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective’ was a life-changing experience.  It has changed the way I will live the rest of my life.” – Lisbeth Gant-Britton, author of “African American History” and UCLA adjunct professor in African-American Studies.

James Hilgendorf is available as a speaker for small or large groups and organizations worldwide, either in person or via Skype.  For more information on the author and his books, visit his website at: http://www.jameshilgendorf.org

Karma, and my Experience in Real Estate: The Secrets of Utterly Transforming the Deepest Part of Your Life

Karma.  What is it?  People, in general, associate it with something negative – Oh, that’s my karma.

Time after time, in his earlier years, author James Hilgendorf experienced failure with the various jobs he held.  He would do well to begin, then meet a wall of resistance that he could not get past, which ended up in his quitting the job.  Eventually this same pattern came to a head in a large real estate transaction he was working on, and it was then that he really became aware of the deeper meaning of karma.

Karma shows up in our own life as patterns of behavior.  There are certain patterns in our life that keep repeating.  We try to change these patterns on the outside, but actually they are deeply held patterns of thought and action within us that keep producing the effects we experience on the outside – like a motion picture camera projecting a film onto a screen.

How to change these patterns?

This is the subject of the author’s new series of speaking presentations.

Hilgendorf is a Buddhist, practicing Buddhism for over forty years with the Soka Gakkai International, the largest Buddhist lay organization in the world now, with 12,000,000 members in 192 countries and territories around the globe, and in his talk he shares how Buddhist insights helped him understand and tackle the problem he was experiencing.  These insights can be applied to anyone with a problem area of their life that never seems to change.  The deepest karma can be changed and transformed.

James Hilgendorf is the author of “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”, as well as nine other non-fiction books.

Of “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”, one reviewer wrote:

“If I were to teach a basic college-level course in religion, philosophy, or metaphysics – call it Spirituality 101 – this book would be required reading.  In fact, it would be the first week’s assignment.  Having read all or parts of nearly a thousand books dealing with spiritual matters, I cannot recall another that so simply and effectively blends the fundamentals of religion and science.” – Michael E. Tymn, Journal of Religion and Psychical Research.

“A must-read!  I am serious when I say that reading James Hilgendorf’s ‘Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective’ was a life-changing experience.  It has changed the way I will live the rest of my life.” – Lisbeth Gant-Britton, author of “African American History” and UCLA adjunct professor in African-American Studies.

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James HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is available as a speaker for small or large groups and organizations worldwide, either in person or via Skype.  For more information on the author, visit his website at: http://www.jameshilgendorf.org

The Crux of the Matter

There is an essential point for achieving victory in one’s life, and we could call it the crux of the matter.

A reading from “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”.

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James HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is a speaker, filmmaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books, including “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”.  His other titles include “The Buddha and the Dream of America”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”; “The Great New Emerging Civilization”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”; “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective; “A New Myth for the World”; “Forever Here”; “A New Myth for America”, and “The New Superpower”.  His books are available in paperback or e-book format through bookstores, Amazon.comBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsScribd, and other online booksellers.

To arrange speaking engagementscontact the author.

Christianity, Islam, and the New Religion

Look out into the world.  What do you see?

Gathering chaos, a breakdown of whole societies – especially in the Middle East.

This is the world of our religions’ roots – Christianity, Islam, Judaism.  This is where we came from, this is our ancestral home.

And this home is being torn apart, desecrated, bombed to oblivion; and ripples of this destruction are spreading throughout the world.  Our old foothold in the heavens is lost, although we continue on as though nothing had happened.

Our religions have reached an impasse.  They defined who we were for centuries and millennia, but now we have lost that identity.  We say we are Christians, we say we are Muslims, we say we are Jews; but in the new emerging world and civilization that is struggling to be born, these identities no longer have any relevance.

Our religious identities are too small to fit the new emerging world.

Who are we?  This is the question for the new and coming age.  At its root, who are we?

Christians, Jews and Muslims are at each others’ throats.  The age demands a new and larger identity if we are to survive.  The age requires a new way of looking at ourselves and our relation to the universe around us, a new vision of reality in the here and now.

The age is looking for a new religion.

This religion and philosophy has already appeared.  It is being spearheaded by the Soka Gakkai International, the largest Buddhist lay organization in the world now, with 12,000,000 members in 192 countries and territories around the globe.  It is a religion and philosophy beyond all borders, beyond all nationalities, gender, ethnicity, race, sexual preferences.  It is a religion grounded and manifesting itself in daily life, here and now, sowing seeds of overcoming and happiness in ordinary peoples’ lives.  It is a religion totally supportive of and consistent with science and reason, yet revealing the profundity and interconnectedness of life itself.  It is a religion of eternity, revealed in the here and now.

It is a religion grounded in a new identity, that of human being, with roots extending to eternity.

It is a religion opening up the path to the new world.

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James HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is a speaker, filmmaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books, including “A New Myth for the World”.  His other titles include “The Buddha and the Dream of America”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”; “The Great New Emerging Civilization”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”; “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective; “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”; “Forever Here”; “A New Myth for America”, and “The New Superpower”.  His books are available in paperback or e-book format through bookstores, Amazon.comBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsScribd, and other online booksellers.

To arrange speaking engagementscontact the author.

Dinosaurs

The dinosaurs that once roamed and terrorized the Earth – did somebody plan them?

Did God, sitting and pondering on his throne, envision them in his lordly plan?

There were no thoughts of peace and brotherhood coursing through tyrannosaurus rex’s brain, only the ferocious gnashing of jaws and teeth, and insatiable hunger – a penchant for blood and gore.

This perfect biting machine – who masterminded him?

If God’s work, then why not put a gentle heart into such a beast?  Why not thoughts of praising the Maker of the heavens?

And why so long?  Why this beast chomping on prey for millions of years.  What kind of fodder had to be prepared?

Set amid an incomprehensibly vast universe of moons and suns and stars, why did this villain have to be?

Did God create him in the image of Himself?

Then sitting out the aeons, decide a mistake, and try again?

—-From “A New Myth for the World”.

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James HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is a speaker, filmmaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books, including “A New Myth for the World”.  His other titles include “The Buddha and the Dream of America”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”; “The Great New Emerging Civilization”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”; “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective; “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”; “Forever Here”; “A New Myth for America”, and “The New Superpower”.  His books are available in paperback or e-book format through bookstores, Amazon.comBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsScribd, and other online booksellers.

To arrange speaking engagementscontact the author.

The Turning Point of a Miracle

Miracles come out of your own life when you realize who you really are, and bank everything on it, and move ahead with utter determination.

A reading from “A New Dream For America”, by author and speaker James Hilgendorf.

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A New Myth for America, by James HilgendorfJames HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books, including “A New Myth for America”.   His other titles include “Forever Here”; “A New Myth for the World”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”; “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”; “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”; “The Great New Emerging Civilization”; “The Buddha and the Dream of America”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”, and “The New Superpower”.  His books are available in paperback or e-book format through bookstores, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, Scribd, and other online booksellers.

Contact the author directly to arrange talks.

The Dream of America – You Are The Center

We talk about the American Dream and usually we mean the opportunity to start a business or get a job or buy a home.

But the deeper meaning of America is something beyond all of these things.

A reading from “The Buddha and the Dream of America”, by author and speaker James Hilgendorf.

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James HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books, including “The Buddha and the Dream of America”.   His other titles include “Forever Here”; “A New Myth for the World”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”; “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”; “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”; “The Great New Emerging Civilization”; “A New Myth for America”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”, and “The New Superpower”.  His books are available in paperback or e-book format through bookstores, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, Scribd, and other online booksellers.

Contact the author directly to arrange talks.

Wars, Identity & A New Name For Our World

Who are we?  A crisis of identity underlies many of the world’s conflicts and wars.

Nationality, race, ethnicity, religion – all of these cut us off from a larger sense of identity – one that will be necessary for the flowering of a new global civilization.

Author, filmmaker, and speaker James Hilgendorf, reading from his books, “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”.

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James HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books, including “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”.   His other titles include “Forever Here”; “A New Myth for the World”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”; “The Buddha and the Dream of America”; “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”; “The Great New Emerging Civilization”; “A New Myth for America”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”, and “The New Superpower”.  His books are available in paperback or e-book format through bookstores, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, Scribd, and other online booksellers.

Contact the author directly to arrange talks.

Buddhism & Economics – Small is Beautiful & People Matter

E. F. Schumacher, the author of the landmark book “Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered”, once wrote an essay titled Buddhist Economics.

Fellow economists asked: “What does Buddhism have to do with economics?”  To which Schumacher replied:

“Economics without Buddhism – without spiritual, human, and ecological values – is like sex without love.”

In his book, he called for an economics based on human values and the sustainable use of natural resources.

Of the modern economist, Schumacher wrote:

“He is used to measuring the ‘standard of living’ by the amount of annual consumption, assuming all the time that a man who consumes more is ‘better off’ than a man who consumes less.  A Buddhist economist would consider this approach excessively irrational; since consumption is merely a means to human well-being, the aim should be to obtain the maximum of well-being with the minimum of consumption.

“Modern economics, on the other hand, considers consumption to be the sole end and purpose of all economic activity.”

To many people, this notion of maximum consumption goes hand in hand with being American.  We are all prompted to strive for it.

I knew a young man once, though, who, you might say, achieved the American dream.  He was a young black youth, raised in a black ghetto in one of America’s major cities.  He was handsome, debonair, and when I first met him he was making $20,000 a week.  He was part of gang, and he intimated that his gang “did everything”.  He had the money, he had the girls and cars, he apparently had it all.

He later told me, though, that what he did not have was happiness.  It was a great shock to him.  He thought if he had all these things, all this money, he would be happy.  But he was not.

He later went through an enormous transformation.  He turned his back completely on his old life, and got a job making minimum wage.  He struggled with himself, and pulled himself back up again, but with a different foundation and vision this time, one centered on the more important treasures of the heart.

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James HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books, including “The Great New Emerging Civilization”.   His other titles include “Forever Here”; “A New Myth for the World”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”; “The Buddha and the Dream of America”; “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”; “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”; “A New Myth for America”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”, and “The New Superpower”.  His books are available in paperback or e-book format through bookstores, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, Scribd, and other online booksellers.

Contact the author directly to arrange talks.

Karma, Evolution, Morality & Buddhism/Speaker Series

Science, during the last four hundred years, has deeply undermined belief in our mainline religions.

Atheism and secular humanism are everywhere on the rise.

Without religion, without God, how do we find a basis for morality in today’s world?

Science, evolution, and Buddhism’s solution: karma, and the law of cause and effect.

A brief commentary by author and speaker James Hilgendorf.

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Book on Buddhism, Life and DeathJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books, including “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”.   His other titles include “Forever Here”; “A New Myth for the World”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”; “The Buddha and the Dream of America”; “The Great New Emerging Civilization”; “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”; “A New Myth for America”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”, and “The New Superpower”.  His books are available in paperback or e-book format through bookstores, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, Scribd, and other online booksellers.

Contact the author directly to arrange talks.

Walt Whitman/Poems of Death/Speaker Series

In 1871, in his great work “Democratic Vistas”, Walt Whitman wrote:

“In the future of these States must arise poets immenser far; and make great poems of death.”

By ‘poems of death”, Whitman was referring not simply to poetry about death, but to a broader awakening to the eternity of life itself.

He was calling forth a greater, truer Dream of America.

James Hilgendorf, reading a passage from his book “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”.

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James Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, and the author of ten non-fiction books, including “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”.   His other titles include “Forever Here”; “A New Myth for the World”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”; “The Buddha and the Dream of America”; “The Great New Emerging Civilization”; “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”; “A New Myth for America”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”, and “The New Superpower”.  His books are available in paperback or e-book format through bookstores, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, Scribd, and other online booksellers.

Contact the author directly to arrange talks.

What Do Our Religions Say About Women? / Empowerment – Speaker Series

Women, and their empowerment – a major topic for our world today.

Any religion, philosophy, or mode of thinking that denigrates women, that treats women disrespectfully and unequally, has no place in the world’s future.

Comparing attitudes toward women, from the perspective of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam is one of the topics covered in James Hilgendorf’s Speaker Series of talks.

But empowerment – particularly self-empowerment – is a problem for all people, both women and men.

A short reading from one of his books, “Forever Here”, by the author.

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Forever Here, a Book about Buddhism and Life's ChallengesJames Hilgendorf is the author of ten non-fiction books, including “Forever Here”.   His other titles include “Maybe We Need A New Religion”; “A New Myth for the World”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”; “The Buddha and the Dream of America”; “The Great New Emerging Civilization”; “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”; “A New Myth for America”; “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”, and “The New Superpower”.  His books are available in paperback or e-book format through bookstores, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, Scribd, and other online booksellers.

Contact the author directly to arrange talks.

Our Life in the Mirror

As telescopes peer farther and farther into the almost inconceivable vastness of time and space of our universe, our own Earth appears as an enormously inconsequential speck in the scheme of things.

Where is life in all the vast reach of the cosmos?  Is there nothing moving?  Is there nothing breathing?

How strange.  Our mind cannot even fathom the enormity of the room we inhabit.  And Life – why only here?

In the 13th century, Nichiren, whose life and writings, along with the Lotus Sutra, are the foundation of the Soka Gakkai International – now the largest lay Buddhist lay organization in the world – wrote:

“Ultimately, all phenomena are contained within one’s life, down to the last particle of dust.  The nine mountains and the eight seas are encompassed in one’s body, and the sun, moon, and myriad stars are found in one’s life.  We, however, are like a blind person who is incapable of seeing the images reflected in a mirror”.

What we are perceiving, in other words, is our own life, yet we look out into the heavens and see only nothingness, an enormous landscape utterly devoid of  life.

This is the way we look at things.

Back in the 1600′s, Descartes, the great French philosopher and mathematician, was the one who, you might say, set the mindset under which much of the present world still operates.  It was the view of a vast, soulless, inanimate, mechanistic universe lying outside ourselves – sitting out there, beyond ourselves.  For Descartes, our mind, or soul, was nonmaterial, but everything external to our mind or soul, even our own body, was inanimate, soulless, like a machine.

This is how we look at things.  We are separate from our environment.

But, of course, we are not separate.  Science itself, with the development of quantum physics, has shown that we are deeply interconnected in more ways than we may even imagine.  Science is telling us that the mindset that sees a distinction between oneself and the world and the universe that seems out there and beyond oneself is an illusion.  Buddhism views things from a similar perspective.

So the universe we see out there is ourselves.  The universe is full of life.  But we are unable to truly see our life because of the mindset, or religion, or philosophy, or whatever you want to call it that we have inherited since time immemorial.

Our vision is what needs to change.

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Maybe We Need a New ReligionJames HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is the author of ten non-fiction books, including “Maybe We Need A New Religion”.   His other titles include “Forever Here”; “A New Myth for the World”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”; “The Buddha and the Dream of America”; “The Great New Emerging Civilization”; “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”; “A New Myth for America”; “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”, and “The New Superpower”.  His books are available in paperback or e-book format through bookstores, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, Scribd, and other online booksellers.

Contact the author directly to arrange talks.

Student Debt & Elections in America

James HilgendorfStudents in America are loaded down with debt.

I talked to one student recently who just graduated from a major university, and her debt load is close to $100,000.  Another young woman I know has just finished medical school at a prestigious school, and her debt is $300,000.

The average debt for graduating students in America is now about $35,000.  And roughly 70% of our students are carrying debt to some degree.

These figures point to an extraordinarily shameful aspect of American life.  We are mortgaging our children’s future, we are mortgaging America’s future.  We are mortgaging both to the enrichment of banks and other financial institutions.  Education in America is big money.

This is not the case in many other countries, notably universities in Europe, where education is free.

We have decided here in America that money matters more than our children’s future.  Our laws were written to guarantee this.  For instance, student loans can never be exempted or written off in bankruptcy.  In other words, the banks are guaranteed, one way or another, to get their money.  These laws were passed by our politicians, whose tenure, more and more, is being underwritten by our financial and corporate interests.

Why not initiate a campaign now to enlist the voting power of our youth to end this outrageous situation.  Have our youth let the politicians of all parties know that they will only vote for those candidates who pledge to revamp the laws to begin to support higher education in this country.  Let’s take some of the obscene monies being poured into the military-industrial complex to make college and university education free to all those who qualify academically.  Let’s work to totally forgive the debt we have already burdened our young people with.

This is totally doable.  Just one small instance:  We have spent trillions constructing and maintaining our grossly inflated and obscene stockpile of nuclear weapons – weapons geared to wiping out not only the world’s youth, but everyone and everything else besides.

We have the means.  What is lacking is the will and the vision.

Youth – awaken your own power!  Grasp the means you have within your hands already.  You can influence our elections in a big way.

Vote not only for yourselves, but for the future of generations of youth to come.

Vote for the future of America

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James Hilgendorf is the author of nine non-fiction books, including “The Buddha and the Dream of America”.   His other titles include “Forever Here”; “A New Myth for the World”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”; “The Great New Emerging Civilization”; “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”; “A New Myth for America”; “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”, and “The New Superpower”.  His books are available in paperback or e-book format through bookstores, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, Scribd, Oyster, and other online booksellers.

Contact the author directly to arrange talks.

The Real, True Dream of America/Speaker Series, author James Hilgendorf

The still unfulfilled dream of America.

Youth are the protagonists.

A reading from “The New Superpower”, by author James Hilgendorf

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James Hilgendorf is the author of ten non-fiction books.