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.

Denial of the Self

The struggle to bring forth the true self.  Obstacles to self-empowerment.

Reading from “Forever Here”, by author James Hilgendorf.

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

The Boat of Dreams

The tiny boat, the boat of our dreams, amid storms and high waves.

A reading by author James Hilgendorf, from his book “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age.”

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

Another Dimension of Life

The Secret Door.  Beyond Common Goals and Dreams.

A reading from his books, by author James Hilgendorf.

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A New Vision of Ourselves.  A New Dream of America.  A New Religion for the World.

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

When You Come Up Against A Wall

Encountering a wall, is proof of your progress.  Keep going.

Author, James Hilgendorf, reading from his books.

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

 

Making Friends & Allies of Problems

Obstacles.  Problems.  We all face them from time to time.

What is the key to overcoming them?

–From “A New Myth for America.” by James Hilgendorf.

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

To schedule talks, contact him directly.

The Omnipresent Urge

The universe is built in such a way that one person mirrors the universe.  Inconceivable in its potential and power, all people together mirror countless inconceivable universes, powers infinitely surpassing galactic sun-storms and the nuclear fusion of stars.

But we languish here, on this blue planet, mired down in suffering.

Seven billion of us struggling and starving and clawing and hating and fighting for everything to be solely our own.  Resisting the omnipresent urge within us to become as large as the universe itself.

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James HilgendorfJames 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.

A Way Of Looking At Things

What is the true way of looking at things?

The way we look at things has consequences.  As we see things, so do we act; and if we see things in a distorted manner, then actions based on that vision lead us inevitably into suffering.

Religion is a way of looking at things.

Maybe We Need a New ReligionAncients in Mexico saw the world and the universe revolving in giant epochs of time, of birth and death and rebirth.  They saw the sun mount each morning in the sky, and sink into death each evening, and this cycle and the cycles of all the other heavenly bodies were cast into a vast panoply of life and death laid out by priests and scribes sitting atop pyramids of the sun and moon, removed from the sweat and toil of their peoples.  They knew nothing of common hours and fears and dreams, but built a scheme of the heavens that moved like clockwork, astrologers of time they were; and they believed that to keep the universe ticking and the sun rising each morning, shedding down warmth and light, the sun needed nourishment, food, replenishment, and what was this food to be?  Human hearts.  Human living, bleeding hearts.  So they built pyramids to reach to the sky, then dragged multitudes  – thousands, hundreds of thousands  – to the top and laid each one in turn down on a hard stone, and raising the obsidian knife, cut through breast and bone to grab the still beating heart from man or woman or child, and offering heart upon heart to the heavens and the sun, to the hungry sun, rolled bloody bodies down tiers of hard stone steps into piles of death below.

This was religion in action.  A whole nation beat to its rhythm.  Bound to an insane wheel of belief, lives were cast away, blossoms of manhood and womanhood blighted, a whole people dragged into a night of suffering and pain.

Of course, we like to say we are modern.  But our beliefs have been as bloody.

Rivers of children slaughtered in the Crusades.  The continents of the Americas emptied of native peoples, exterminated by conquistadors with throngs of priests carrying crosses of salvation.  The lands of Ireland decimated by conflicts of Protestants and Catholics.  Iraq and Iran piling up bodies in the millions, trading inch by inch in their bloody ground war of Islamic dogmas.  Jews and Palestinians, flying proud banners, bombarding each other to oblivion.  Muslims and Hindus stockpiling nuclear weapons for the next round of war.

And on and on.  Religion at the heart of it all.

Warped religion, with no heart at all.  False visions of reality.

Where is the ground of the common human being in all this mayhem?

What is the key to unlocking who we truly are?

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James HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is the author of nine 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, Oyster, and other online booksellers.

Contact the author directly to arrange talks.

Happiness. To Win.

Our dreams are painted each day on silver screens, on magazine ads, circulars in the mail, television stories of love and fame, on walls in subways, visions of tanning in the sun, drink in hand, sprawled out in luxury on coral-blue beaches, our life a wisp of loveliness under a trouble-free sky.

We long for serenity, for green traffic lights all the way, for things going easily and directly the way we wish, money and love and leisure, transported anytime to lovely foreign care-free lands.

This is the goal, the grail, the prize.

But life is topsy-turvy.  It will not play a scripted tune.

The treasure hides lurking out of sight.  It is for us to find.  Search through all the baubles and tinseled dreams, and nothing, in the end, shows.  A panoply of mirrors reflecting more mirrors, nothing real.

And our heart is tested.  Our blood is drained.

Life is a struggle, unceasing as we live. This is the essence and the core.  A battle to grow new worlds of invincibility.

So facing this, how move ahead?

The challenge, the answer, and the key:  To win.

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

To arrange speaking engagements, contact the author.

Buddhist Spreading the Word to Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists & Others

Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists, Secularists – in general, those nonbelievers and others who profess no affiliation with any religious denomination – now make up about 25% of the total U.S. population, and their influence and numbers are growing each year.

Many of these people were born and raised in our mainline religious traditions, taught from childhood to believe in an array of theologies and myths and dogma, which they later outgrew.

James Hilgendorf is a writer and Buddhist, whose books and cross-country talks are attempting to convey to people a broader and deeper vision of themselves – one in sync with the most cutting-edge discoveries of science and reason, yet revealing also the deeper, more profound connections with the vast universe we live in.

“Many people,” Hilgendorf says, “have thrown overboard outdated religious ideas and concepts, dogma and authoritarianism that simply do not work for them anymore.  In many instances, this is a good thing.  It frees people of baggage weighing down their lives.  Yet there is in most people a hunger for answers to the age-old questions, such as “Who am I?  Why am I here?  What is this life all about?

One of Hilgendorf’s most popular books is “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”, a wide-ranging overview of Buddhist insights into life and death, featuring insights from science, psychology, near-death experience research, quantum physics, and excerpts from writers like Carl Jung, Leo Tolstoy, Albert Einstein, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Arnold Toynbee and others.

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

“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.

Hilgendorf enjoys talking to groups whose members espouse atheism, agnosticism, secular humanism, or to groups such as Unitarian Universalists, whose membership is open to those who hold a broad range of beliefs or non-beliefs.

“We are becoming a globalized world,” Hilgendorf says, “and we need a religion  today that embraces everyone on the planet – one that empowers people and recognizes their greatness and potential; a religion in harmony with reason and science also.  We need a new myth or story about who we really are – one bolted down to the here and now, to our daily, mundane lives, yet connected to the sun and moon and stars.

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Hilgendorf finds the most cutting-edge expression of this new religion in the Buddhism of 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.  The Soka Gakkai has been called not only the most dynamic and empowering Buddhist movement in history, but one also that is changing our very concepts of religion itself.

The transition away from our traditional, orthodox religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, towards a new vision of our lives upon this planet Earth, amid an inconceivably vast universe, represented by the emergence of the Soka Gakkai, is the theme of his latest book, “A New Myth for the World.

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James Hilgendorf has been a practicing member of the Soka Gakkai for over forty years.  His ten non-fiction books are laying out a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, and a call for a new religion for the world.

More information on his life and books is available on his website.

To schedule James Hilgendorf as a speaker for your group or event, send an email to jameshilgendorf1 (at) comcast.net

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James HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker and the author of ten non-fiction books.

America Reborn

The old dreams of America are dying.

These were white-washed fences, and movies where you never saw anyone with a different looking face.  Flags waving in the wind, sweetness everywhere, good guys and bad guys, America forever, blessed by God on high, and dreams of onward and upward, forever and ever.

Our dreams have died the death of the old America.

They were only for a moment anyway.  Blotches upon the canvas of a tribal mentality, visions of superiority and dominion.

America is reborn in black ghettoes, on Indian reservations, in Nigerian enclaves, tides of Russian emigres, turbaned Sikhs and Arab tunics, Vietnamese restaurants, Chinese fish shops, and Mexican burritos. They come from out of the four corners of the universe.  Nowhere has there ever been such a gathering.

We thought they would all meld into a big pot, American as apple pie, learning the old ways, speaking sparkling English, and merging their identity into the identity of the great white way.  But, no, they are their own sort of blooms.  They carry with them strains of melodies and rhythms of words that forge a cacophony of sounds and visions and feelings unheralded by the narrow concepts of our ancestors.

They have come from out of all eternity.

They are here for one reason: to bring to fruition the true dream of America.  They appear now, all over America.

And with them, in their midst, the Buddha appears.  The Buddha of eternal life, opening the way.

He appears now on a busy corner, a hawker selling morning newspapers, replete with the good news.

Or coiling the hair of beauty shop customers, the Buddha spreads the word face to face, woman to woman, block by block, their gossip traveling just under the speed of light.

The time has come.

Opening each heart, opening the heart of the universe itself, one by one, person to person.  Caring for one person, spreading rings of compassion, opening up time and space.

Not presidents, not movie stars, not moguls and magnates, but ordinary men and women, you and I, the unknowns, the undiscovered, the unrecognized, now taking the stage and the limelight of history.

What we extend to the hearts of others rebounds in silent ripples to Uranus and Pluto and unknown planets beyond.

The true dream of America is emerging.

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A New Myth for America, by James HilgendorfJames HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is 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”; “The Great New Emerging Civilization”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”; “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective; “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”; “The Buddha and the Dream of America”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”, 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.

To arrange speaking engagements, contact the author.

A New Myth for the World – New e-book on Apple iBooks

The world is in turmoil, and the foundations of our millennia-old religions have crumbled.  Daily, the eye of science reaches farther out into the cosmos, and deeper into the world of sub-atomic matter, and yet we seem to be alone in an uncaring universe.

The old myths are shattered, but the old questions remain.  Who are we?  What are we doing here?

From out of the very heart of the universe itself, a new myth emerges now, tied to the vastness of the cosmos, yet bolted down to everyday facts and living, to the very here and now.

It is eternity come to fruition and bloom.

So reads “A New Myth for the World”, the latest and tenth book to be published by author James Hilgendorf, now available in e-book format through Apple iBooks.

It is a book about the stories and myths we live under – which we have lived under for millennia – and the religious roots of our three great Western religious traditions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Science, from Galileo to Newton to Descartes to Darwin, has destroyed the old foundations of our religions; yet science has opened up to us the mystery and grandeur of our relationship to the universe around us in ways that we never before even imagined.  Science is showing us the interconnectedness of all life.

A new myth and direction is being born – has already come into being -  perfectly adapted to the emerging global civilization we find all around us.  This new direction is most clearly exemplified today 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.

At the heart of the Soka Gakkai is the Lotus Sutra, with its message of personal empowerment and a vision of life and eternity that extends to all people and to the farthest reaches of the cosmos itself.

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James HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is the author of nine non-fiction books, including his latest, “A New Myth for the World”.   His other titles include “Forever Here”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”; “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, Oyster, and other online booksellers.

Contact the author directly to arrange talks.

“Nones” on the Rise – What’s Next

Surveys recently are pointing to an astonishing rise of the “Nones” – those disaffected people, young and old, who more and more are joining the ranks of those who profess no allegiance to any of our mainline religions.

On the other hand, atheism, agnosticism, and humanism are boldly gaining adherents right and left.

The old myths, the old stories, do not hold weight anymore – especially with the younger generation.

So what’s next?

In his tenth and latest book – “A New Myth for the World” – James Hilgendorf writes of a relatively unknown Buddhist movement that has been experiencing phenomenal growth in recent decades, and is now beginning to emerge upon the world stage as the next great world religion.

This is the SGI, or Soka Gakkai International, now the largest Buddhist lay organization in the world, with 12,000,000 members in 192 countries and territories around the world.

The Soka Gakkai has been called not only the most dynamic and empowering Buddhist movement in history, but one that is even beginning to change our very notions of religion itself.

This is religion down on the ground.

Hilgendorf writes:

“All the theory, all the theology, all the priests and all the ayatollahs, have not stopped the hemorrhaging of the world’s wounds.  They have never forged a dream and myth that translated into lasting peace and prosperity, that became a reality and a fortress against hatred and anger and the foul urgings of the human heart.”

The problem, Hilgendorf argues, is the way we perceive ourselves, and the way we perceive our relationship to the universe around us. Our religions – Christianity and Islam – tell us there is something wrong with us from the very beginning of our life on Earth, or that salvation is only to be achieved by submission to a power and authority outside ourselves.  In either case, the real power and potential of individual men and women is distorted and usurped by orthodoxy.

The new myth he writes about is the story of the utter empowerment of the individual, and of a vision of the deep interconnectedness of all our lives with one another, and with the sun and stars and universe around us.

It is religion completely in alignment with the revelations of modern day science.  It is religion imparting meaning to the farthest reaches of the vast cosmos, yet bolted down to the most mundane occurrences of everyday life.

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James HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is the author of nine non-fiction books, including his latest, “A New Myth for the World”.   His other titles include “Forever Here”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”; “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, Oyster, and other online booksellers.

Contact the author directly to arrange talks.

Why Do Our Prayers Go Unanswered?

Sometimes our prayers go unanswered because we think too small.

Life, looking out through our own eyes, imagines vast worlds, immense suns and galaxies that spread out into ever-receding voids and spaces.

Gazing through our own eyes, though, into the same mirror, we see only baby steps we have taken, and hear the voices of limitation.

It seems too vast, our dreams, the visions we have of our unfolding.

Be bold!  Fear nothing! Life cries. I am with you.

But tenuous, holding back, half-hearted, we hesitate.  We pause.

And Life, urging ever onward, looks elsewhere, for other eyes through which to imagine vaster worlds.

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Maybe We Need a New ReligionJames HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is the author of nine non-fiction books, including “Maybe We Need A New Religion”.   His other titles include “Forever Here”; “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, Oyster, and other online booksellers.

Contact the author directly to arrange talks.

The Great Person

In the centuries to come, the Great Person will emerge.

This Person emerges in the lives of ordinary men and women, people of laughter and tears, people of sunlight and darkness, people of hope and despair.  From within these ordinary lives, emerges the Great Person, the very life of the universe itself, speaking through ordinary voices, ordinary lives, spreading kindness and compassion and unbelievable perseverance.

This Person emerges in your mother, your father, all those who have nourished and embraced your existence from time without beginning with incredible love and commitment.

It is the Person down the street, the mechanic, the housewife, the factory worker bending over machines to feed his brood; the sick, the diabetic whose feet have turned to mush and yet who complains not but brings forth a smile and encouragement to all around.  It is the clerk at the store, dying from unfulfilled dreams, who says Have a good day.

Amid their pain and struggles, they are thinking of You.

There is no mistaking.  They emerge, these Great People, they are the forerunners of a Great Age, a future we cannot presently even imagine.

Believe in yourself.  Keep the stars in your eyes.  Never give in, never give up.  We usher in a New Age.

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"The Buddha and the Dream of America" by James Hilgendorf

James HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is the author of nine non-fiction books, including “The Buddha and the Dream of America”.   His other titles include “Forever Here”; “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.

Speaker Series: “Maybe We Need A New Religion”

Maybe We Need a New Religion“Maybe We Need A New Religion”, the latest book by author James Hilgendorf, provides the basis for one of his continuing series of talks given to all kinds of interested groups around the United States.

People are increasingly turning away from mainline religions, and the reasons are many.  Many people cannot believe anymore in the dogma and authoritarianism of established churches.  This goes for Christianity, Judaism, Islam and others.  Especially, this applies to young people, who are searching for deeper meaning in their lives, but cannot subscribe to the outdated teachings of the mainline religious orthodoxy.

Atheists, agnostics and humanists are attracting more people to their ranks.  These groups are looking to find answers to their questions also of how to lead a meaningful and moral life without resorting to notions of a personal God, or canons of ritual and submission and sin.

The notion for the book, “Maybe We Need A New Religion”, and the talks on this subject, came when the author heard a news report about a 10 year old boy, who, after watching a great many television reports about the fighting going on in the Middle East between Christians, Muslims and Jews, commented: “Maybe we need a new religion.”

Hilgendorf is a forty-year practicing Buddhist, with the Soka Gakkai International, the largest Buddhist movement in the world today, with 12,000,000 members in 192 countries and territories around the globe.

One point of his book was to introduce readers and audiences to the Soka Gakkai, but also to shake up peoples’ notions about religion in general.

We are heading towards a globalized world.  We are already heading in that direction economically.  What is missing today is a mindset or religion or philosophy, or whatever you want to call it, that recognizes the absolute sanctity of life, the common root of life of all people, and recognizes the worth and potential of every single individual on the planet.

We live in an interconnected world.  Science itself is showing us that.

What is demanded now is a philosophy or religion that can reach beyond the exclusive and divisive bounds of our current major religions, to embrace the world and all its people.

This is the subject of James Hilgendorf’s book and of his talks in this new series – “A New Religion for the World”.

James Hilgendorf is a filmmaker and author of nine non-fiction books.  His titles include “Maybe We Need A New Religion”; “A New Myth for America”; “Forever Here”; “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”; “The New Superpower”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”; “The Buddha and the Dream of America”; “The Great New Emerging Civilization”; and “Poems of Death: Time for Eternity”.

Of his book, “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 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.

James Hilgendorf

To arrange for a talk, or for interviews, contact the author directly.

We Need A Bigger Religion

Carl Sagan, the famous astronomer and author, once wrote:

“How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought!  The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant’?  Instead they say, ‘No, no, no!  My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that’.  A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.”

Our conventional faiths, as he notes – meaning Christianity, Islam and Judaism – are stuck, for many of their adherents, in a small world.  This world, this Earth, though, is part of an incredibly vast galaxy, amid millions of other galaxies in the universe, that demand religion to open up its arms and eyes and embrace the reality of this cosmos we live in and are part of.

Hundreds of millions of people in this world are convinced, on the basis of their sacred books, that the Earth and everything on it is only several thousand years old, and many of them are ready to battle or even die to defend this view.

Eastern religions – Hinduism and Buddhism – on the other hand, conceived thousands of years ago a vastly different universe, one whose parameters were immense, barely imaginable.  It was a cosmos so vast of space and time that modern science and physics is only now beginning to approximate its conception.

What’s more, Hinduism and Buddhism believed that this universe and everything in it that we see through our powerful telescopes was in actuality within each human being.  The single human being was the universe.

Science is validating this also.  Take holograms:

Holograms are three-dimensional light images illuminated by lasers.  You remember the cute little robot in the film Star Wars, U2D2.  U2D2 carried within its memory a picture of Princess Leia, which the robot would beam out in a plea for help.  This is a hologram.

There is a curious property of holograms.  If you take a hologram – say a picture of an apple – and cut the light image in half, each half stills shows a picture of the whole.  The whole apple is still there.  No matter how many times you slice up the hologram, the picture of the entire whole apple still appears.  The part, no matter how small, always contains the whole.

Holograms and science are telling us something about our lives.  In some strange way, each of us contains the entire universe.  Our life is separate, and yet it is the whole.

It’s time for a bigger-thinking religion, one which explores and gives credence to the fabulous universe we live in, or which we are a living part.

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Maybe We Need a New ReligionJames HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is the author of nine non-fiction books, including “Maybe We Need A New Religion”.   His other titles include “Forever Here”; “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, Oyster, and other online booksellers.

Contact the author directly to arrange talks.


Let Your Deeds Ring Out

The dream of America is to unfold the very heart of the universe itself, children and old men and women alike dancing to new tunes.  We emerge as the unheralded gods of a new era and time.

All of this has never come about before.

It is up to you.  You are the dreamer.  Each and every one of you.

The universe itself is a great magical gem you now hold in your hand.

Make a wish.  Bend your soul to the task.  Mold a new vision with the sweat of your back and your hands.

Nothing is impossible.  Let no one tell you something is impossible.  Simply bring it to birth with the force of your mind and heart.

Let your deeds ring out for others to witness in utter astonishment.

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James HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker and author of nine non-fiction books, including “The Buddha and the Dream of America”.

Joseph Campbell & A New Myth for the World

Joseph Campbell

In a dialogue he conducted toward the end of his life, Joseph Campbell, the great American authority on comparative mythology, and co-creator, along with Bill Moyers, of the television documentary “Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth“, remarked:

“When the world changes, then the religion has to be transformed…today there are no boundaries.  The only mythology that is valid today is the mythology of the planet – and we don’t have such a mythology.  The closest thing I know to a planetary mythology is Buddhism, which sees all beings as Buddha beings.  The only problem is to come to the recognition of that.”

In his book, ” The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, Campbell also wrote:

“Nor can the great world religions, as at present understood, meet the requirement.  The universal triumph of the secular state has thrown all religious organizations into such a definitely secondary, and finally ineffectual, position that religious pantomime is hardly more today than a sanctimonious exercise for Sunday morning, whereas business ethics and patriotism stand for the remainder of the week.  Such a monkey-holiness is not what the functioning world requires; rather, a transmutation of the whole social order is necessary, so that through every detail and act of secular life the vitalizing image of the universal god-man who is actually immanent and effective in all of us may be somehow made known to consciousness.”

Such a myth or religion  – one that can embrace and spiritually empower every single person on the face of the planet – is the great need for the world as we move inexorably into a global community.

The closest thing Campbell found to this was Buddhism, yet even then he doubted that Buddhism could effectively provide this transformational force, because, as he says, “the problem is to come to a recognition of that”, meaning how to enable men and women to broadly come to a realization of their own inherent power and Buddha nature.

Now there is a Buddhism – the Buddhism of the SGI, or Soka Gakkai International – that is doing just that.

The Soka Gakkai is still small in comparison to our mainline religions – 12,000,000 members in 192 countries and territories around the globe – but the Soka Gakkai, at present, is poised to become the next great world religion.

Clark Strand, a former Zen Buddhist monk, and contributing editor of the prominent magazine, “Tricycle: The Buddhist Review”, which is in many magazine racks in grocery stores, recently wrote a book titled “Waking the Buddha“.  Strand spent many months getting to know the SGI, its background and its members, and his conclusion was that the Soka Gakkai was at present the most dynamic and empowering Buddhist movement in history.  He added that the Soka Gakkai is even changing our concept of religion itself.

Varun Soni, Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California, states that “One of the great challenges that religions face is translating timeless wisdom into timely action for this day and age.  No Buddhist tradition has done this as successfully as the SGI.”

The SGI bases itself on the Lotus Sutra, the greatest of the teachings attributed to Shakyamuni Buddha, the historical Buddha in India.  The Lotus Sutra is a fantastic allegory and myth of cosmic life; but at its heart is the message that each and every person on the face of the Earth is himself or herself the Buddha.  The Soka Gakkai teaches that this truth can be actualized and realized through the chanting of the words Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, embodying the heart and title of the Lotus Sutra.

What strikes one about SGI members is that they are using their practice to challenge problems in their daily lives – problems we all face at one time or another, of jobs, finances, health, relationships, etc. – and to win over these problems, while at the same time taking their lives to a new level of spiritual understanding and growth.

The world needs a new myth – one that deeply empowers individuals, provides a meaningful and mythic connection to the great universe around, and at the same time gives them the hope and courage to tackle and win over their daily problems.

Such is the promise of the Soka Gakkai International.

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A New Myth for America, by James HilgendorfJames HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is the author of nine non-fiction books, including “A New Myth for America”.  His other titles include “Forever Here”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”; “The Great New Emerging Civilization”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”; “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective; “The Buddha and the Dream of 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 booksel

God or Atheism: How About Something New?

There is so much being written lately about conflicting religious beliefs.

One of the battlegrounds is the war of words and ideas surrounding God and atheism.

Atheists assault the age-old beliefs of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, especially the belief in an omniscient father-figure-like God, who rules and watches over the world.  Instead, they worship science and reason. Modern proponents of this movement are writers like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.

Certainly, religious beliefs, and the rallying around the different tribal gods of our mainline religions – whether Christian, Muslim, or Jewish – have been, and continue to be, perhaps the most divisive forces and causes of hatred and war and murder than any other factor on the face of the planet.

There is much to ridicule in religion.  We need to take stock and throw out antiquated, authoritarian ideas – the collective weight of dogma and ritual that many people, especially young people, find so repellent today.

At the same time, reason has left us with some shortcomings.  Can reason alone make sense of this world, and at the same time provide a moral basis for decency and humanity?

Nietzsche proclaimed that “God is Dead”, and it may be that our concepts of God are indeed dead and defunct; but this leaves us with the moral dilemma of a world without any basis to regulate our behavior and passions.  If God is dead, is anything allowed?

People yearn for a meaning to their lives.  Are we just insignificant blips in a cold and heartless and overwhelmingly expansive universe, or is there something that ties our lives to the very meaning and direction of the cosmos itself?

Buddhism has been called an atheistic religion, because it has no fatherly God figure in its makeup.  Yet Buddhism expounds an extraordinary connection between the individual and the cosmos.

Buddhism is also based on reason.  Buddhism sees a foundation for the ultimate morality in the concept of karma, which is expressed in the laws of science, but also in the workings of our own individual destinies.

The concept of karma rests on the law of cause and effect.  You make a cause, you get an effect.  Nothing arises by itself.  We are constantly making causes, through our thoughts, words and actions, that determine the effects we get in our lives.  We are the creators of our lives.

In the deepest sense, our religions are unaware of this law operating in our lives.  They may agree with this law on a superficial level, but how about on the deepest level – death, for instance.

Christians, Muslims and Jews all see this life we are in as marked off by two boundaries – birth and death.  Whatever happens within those markers is it.  Then, according to your behavior, or your belief and faith in God, you are assigned to heaven or hell.

Buddhism takes an infinitely broader perspective.  Why are some people born into this world rich and healthy, while others suffer poverty and illness.  Why is our fate parceled out in these divergent ways? Why is a person like Mozart playing great music almost from day one?  Where did that ability or talent come from?

From the perspective of our major religions, there is no answer.  There is no justice.  There is no answer to the question of Job.  It is merely chance.  But from the perspective of Buddhism, which posits the eternity of life, there is no lucky or unlucky toss of the dice involved.  Everything is based on the law of cause and effect – science, the universe, and our individual lives.  If Mozart is born with such talents, it is because there have been extraordinary efforts made – who knows where, or over how long a period of time – that led to his birth as a musical genius.  We create our own lives, lifetime after lifetime, always grounded upon the eternity of our own lives.  We are responsible for everything in our lives.  There is no escaping that responsibility, and Buddhism provides the insights and a road map for taking on that responsibility in order to create a more meaningful and happy life.

We need a new religion – one that ties us to the cosmos, yet helps us down in the trenches, in our everyday lives.

We can get beyond God or atheism and still be happy.

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Maybe We Need a New ReligionJames HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is the author of nine non-fiction books, including “Maybe We Need A New Religion”.   His other titles include “Forever Here”; “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, Oyster, and other online booksellers.

Contact the author directly to arrange talks.