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.

American Sniper: Case of Karma

So the killing of American Sniper Chris Kyle is officially announced as murder, and the killer, Eddie Ray Routh, is sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The family of Kyle, and much of the American public, are happy that justice has been served, as indeed it has.

Looking a little deeper into this drama, though, one can see a higher and stricter justice being played out.

Kyle was a trained killer.  He was a sniper par excellence.  He is reported to have killed something like 160 people during his stint in the military.

Normally if someone killed 160 people we would label it a case of mass murder, and there would be no question about the sentence.  But Kyle was in the military, and we make – and have always made – exceptions for murder in the case of war.

From the perspective of the law of cause and effect, though, which is always operating in all of our lives, there are no exceptions.  Killing is killing.  What you put out, in the way of thoughts, words or actions, rebound inevitably to your own person.  If you make a cause, you get an effect.  If you steal from someone, Life will steal from you.  If you cause violence, you will suffer violence.  This law is immutable.  The effect may be some time in coming, but once you make the cause, the effect is already there, lodged in your life.

Once you realize this truth, it is liberating, because you come to see that you create your own life and your life’s circumstances.  No one else is responsible.  The power of Buddhism is that it enables you to begin to turn all of the cause and effect relationships in your life in a positive direction, towards happiness.

Eddie Ray Routh was justly sentenced.  But, at the same time, sniper Chris Kyle, even though legally innocent of any killing, suffered the same fate as he had dealt to others.

If humanity really came to a realization of the law of karma, of cause and effect operating in their lives, the world would be a much different place.  Murder and war would be seen for what they really are: insanity.

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Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective

James HilgendorfJames Hilgendorf is the author of nine non-fiction books, including “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”.   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”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”; “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.

Life & Death: The Great Mysteries

Life and Death are the great mysteries.

Why do trees lose their leaves?  Why does the day wane?  Why do we move inexorably from birth to death?

Even the great suns, the stars vast in breadth of light years, cannot escape their own demise.

Where does it come from, and why?

Some would not even question.  Some see this orb of Earth as simply an aberration.  Live this life, and that’s it.

But the human heart has always cried out for more.

Pharaohs were buried and entombed with gold and tiny ships to make the voyage from darkness to light once again.  Monuments have been built to immortality.

The human eye strains to see beyond this life, beyond appearances, to something that never changes.  To eternity.  And to a notion of humankind as perennial as the grass and orchids and leaves.

Time will swing in its destined arc, its scythe of death; but humanity reaches for a meaning, a rock of permanence, a forever.

There is something that never changes.  It has always been grasped by the soul, in innumerable ways, innumerable songs, innumerable fleeting images.

It is something that cannot be contained.  It is so simple, and yet so grand.  It is forever changing, filled with good and evil, yet nothing to do with either good nor evil.  Filled with life and death, yet beyond either life or death.  Filled with immense immeasurable spaces and galaxies and black holes sucking in universes upon universes into lost corridors of time; yet exhibiting itself as the simple picture of a young girl smelling a flower, whose image warps past us in infinite milliseconds of present, never-ending, forever-here-and-now time.

This is the time, this is the reality we are destined to uncover here in America.

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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 “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”; “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”; “Forever Here”; “The Great New Emerging Civilization”; “Maybe We Need A New Religion”; “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.

Revolution

What is happening to me is happening to the world.

If I can flower within, with rare, exotic, original blooms, the world will flower without, seeding millions of acres with my thoughts and heart.

As I change, demolishing barriers of the mind, mountains are leveled, the suns revolve anew.

A revolution is coming.  We have it in our power to transform the world.

I am the one.  You are the one.

Thunder and lightning, the rain refreshes the air.

I feel immense power coming from the sun.  My heart becomes the sun.

I could spew magnetic storms, I could breathe stellar storms.  My tongue ranges throughout the galaxy.

The universe speaks through you and me.

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

Reason, Evolution, and A New Universal Religion

An alliance with reason is one of the prerequisites of a truly universal religion for the 21st century and beyond.

We see the opposite playing out in many of the religious discussions taking place in our time.  One of the topics is evolution.

The scientific evidence – based upon reason – overwhelmingly supports a long history of evolution, not only of our human species, but of the universe itself – in the latter case, billions of years.

Yet many adherents of our mainline religions adamantly refuse the evidence of the eyes and mind, basing, instead, their claims of a once-and-for-all creation of the world six or so thousand years ago upon a book compiled a few millennia ago.

Science and reason have no place in their worldview.

The world of the 21st century has, in turn, no place for their worldview.  Science is here to stay; and if a religion cannot co-exist and corroborate science and reason, it has no relevance to the future of the human race.

Buddhism is an extremely rational religion.  It is so rational that many people wonder if it can be even classed as a religion since it does not teach the existence of a supreme being in the image of humanity.

Looking at the universe around us, Buddhism uncovers the laws operating within the lives of ordinary men and women, and finds these laws, in every way, compatible with the discoveries of science.

Cause and effect operate in the world of scientific research.  For every cause, there is an effect.  The same operates in the life of the individual.  Buddhism calls this law the workings of karma.  Why do people suffer?  Why are they born into this world with certain gifts or liabilities?  Is it mere chance?  From a Buddhist perspective – and from the perspective of the basic laws of science – chance is not the operative factor here.  The law of cause and effect is what we observe.

This law is what is operating within the universe and within the lives of every single individual at all times.  There is no escaping this law.  With our thoughts, words and deeds, we are continually shaping our lives.  There is no one or nothing else to blame.  We create our own lives.

Buddhism expands the implications of this law to include the whole panorama of life and death.  Why is one person born rich and healthy, while another is born in poverty and ill-health?  What accounts for these discrepancies at birth?  Our mainline religions have no answers.  It is up to chance, or a toss of the dice.  Buddhism delves deeper into these mysteries – with the use of reason, and a knowledge of the laws of existence – to postulate the eternity of life.  In other words, we are born into this world in such and such a situation because we have made causes in the past to experience these effects.  Life and death are merely two phases of Eternal Life, and our lives partake of this eternity.

How to overcome suffering.  How to become absolutely happy.  This is the challenge of Buddhism.

There are others – a growing chorus today – who set up reason and science as the final arbiter of human existence.  These people and movements justly decry the outworn dogma and superstition of our religious past, but with no deep, abiding insights into how to alleviate the age-old sufferings of human beings – the sufferings which the original Buddha set out to tackle – the sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death itself.

Reason, or science, without the workings and wisdom of the heart, can lead to a cold, heartless world, as the past century of war and mayhem proved.

Today, Buddhism – especially the Buddhism of the SGI, or Soka Gakkai International – offers that unique combination of reason and human wisdom that can transform individual lives as a whole, as well as the societies of our world.

Combining rationality and wisdom, Buddhism represents the type of universal religion needed for today’s world and for the future.

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


Dream Big

Power invests in the self.

As long as you navigate the circumference, who you are and who you dream to be remain unexpressed.

The center of the circle is at the center.

Unleashing this self requires courage and boldness.  It requires faith.  We are here to unleash the genius and power of the our universe.

It requires not one cent.

You need no one to help you.

Everything is within your life, waiting to be summoned and expressed.

Who are you?

You are the impassioned dream within your heart.

No one can chart the course for you.

You are the only one who knows the way.

You are as big as the universe.  The universe is your ally.

Recognize who you are.

Dream big.  Let the dream come forth.

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

Religion At The Crossroads

The world’s religions are ablaze in confrontation.

Charlie Hebdo is the flame that set them off, and now they stare at each other in the mirror, with foreboding, with mistrust, with hatred and denial.  Real feelings have been brought to the fore, seemingly intractable differences – and where do we go from here?

It is a deadend.  It is two warring camps, set opposite one another, pledged to their own flag, their own God.

It is an identity crisis of monumental order.

Who are we?  This is the great question.

Are we Christian, or Muslim, or Jew?  Three prominent faiths, born of the same root, the same Book, set at each other’s throats.  Which is the real one?  Who has the correct relation with their same God?  Who is the Chosen?

While we wait for Someone to lead us out of this quagmire of a world, to end our suffering, to lead us into Paradise, murder and mayhem are the order of the day.  Kill the ‘other’, the infidel, the blasphemer, root out the Devil.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the very great German Poet, Novelist, Dramatist and Playwright, once wrote:

“We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.”

The time has come when people everywhere are being forced to look at themselves, whether they like it or not.  There is no escape.

Who Are We? – this is the question.

Are we Jewish, Muslim, Christian, or are we something else?

All of these faiths look to the God beyond.  But what about the God within?  What about people?  What about ordinary human beings?  What about mothers and fathers all over the planet who care for their children, who work hard, who sacrifice everything for their children, for a future they hope will bring peace and prosperity and a realm of humane behavior for themselves and their offspring?

The madness is there.  One culprit is insane religion, that looks beyond to allegiance to a certain shade and type of God, shrouded in dogma and ritual and arcane definitions and narrow, outdated, constricted identities too small to cover the two-year old girl in Iraq, the farmer in Russia, the schoolboy in South Africa, the plowman in India, the camel driver in Kyrgyzstan, the secretary in Chicago, the rice grower in Bangkok, the poor in Rio’s favelas.

We need to be recognized.  We are people. We are brothers and sisters.  We are human beings.

Who can call us who we really are?

What religion is big enough for that?

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Maybe We Need a New Religion

James Hilgendorf

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

Do All Paths Lead To The Mountaintop?

As regards the differences between religions, there is a saying that “All paths lead to the mountaintop” (destination, salvation), meaning that it does not matter much what religion one practices, they all eventually lead to the same place.

Peace, brotherhood, right living, morality – these seem to be the common teachings of religions.  All religions more or less hold to these high ideals.

Yet, down in the trenches, it is a different story.  Our world’s religions, in many ways, both figuratively and actually, are at war with one another.  We only have to look at the sectarian animosity, war and bloodshed going on in many parts of the world to know this.

Countries, and the world, are divided by religious chasms.

If we go beyond the ideals, though, there is another yardstick by which we can measure the impact of religions upon the daily lives of people around the globe.

How do religions empower individuals? How do religions empower the infinite unfolding of peoples’ lives and individual happiness?

One way to look at this is by an external/internal yardstick. Where does the power lie?

In other words, through giving ourselves over to one religion or another, do we seek the answers within ourselves, or elsewhere.

For most people, practicing Christianity or Islam at least – a large proportion of the world’s peoples – the power lies outside ourselves.  People pray to an external God, where power lies, where answers lie, where wishes and miracles are granted.  The basic tenets of many of these faithful is rooted in the idea of an original sin, of which they all partake at birth.  Something is wrong with us.  Something is stained from the beginning.  Something has to be atoned.

All of these ideas rob people of their innate power.  The power lies outside of ourselves.

In contrast, in Buddhism – an indeed, in certain followers and groups of other religions as well – the answer is sought within.  The answer to every problem lies within the individual’s grasp and power.  And people are not damaged from the beginning.  People are wonderful, and the problem is how to make them aware of their own wonderfulness.

If we are always looking for the answer outside ourselves, or praying to an external source, then we can never bring forth our own unlimited power and development, because we have already given away that ability and power.  We must come to realize our own responsibility.

One way Buddhism talks about this is through the concept of karma.  What you sow, you reap.  With our thoughts, words and actions, we are continually creating our own lives.  If you have a certain problem, it is because of causes you made in the past, or are still making in the present.  You may look at it negatively or positively, but the fact is you have the power to change it.  This requires self-reflection, and the ability to tap the wisdom and life-force already inherent within yourself to create a change in your life.  Buddhism provides tools to accomplish this.

At bottom, we are all the same.  We have the same dreams and problems.

The guideline should be, not what creed or God we subscribe to, but how much we can help ourselves and others to become happy.

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Maybe We Need a New Religion

James Hilgendorf

James Hilgendorf is the author of nine non-fiction books, the latest being “Maybe We Need A New Religion.”



A New Wind Is Blowing Across America & The World

A new wind is blowing across America and the world.

A new vision of ourselves.  A new dream of America.  A new religion for the world.

The real roots of America are waiting to be uncovered.  It has nothing to do with the Founding Fathers, or Christianity, or Indians, or the pledge of allegiance, or Pilgrim Fathers.

The roots of America are to be found in the heart of everyone on the face of the planet.

It is an eternal home, a place where everyone can get back to and find himself or herself among friends.  It is the common, unadorned human being.  It is the place where you recognize yourself in all others.

America is a dream because we have not yet awakened  When we get back to our original roots, we awaken.  We see who we are.  We see who we have been all along.

Now a new dream appears.

They come on now, singing, dancing.  Their numbers broaden on the horizon.

Nameless men and women, young and old, carrying memories of all that has gone before, births and deaths, wars, tragedy and tears; now turning everything boldly to joy and laughter.  It is the dawn.

Jack of all trades, knife sharpener, insurance salesman or saleswoman, mother, teacher, garbage collector, professor, dishwasher, pole vaulter, house painter – Buddhas of a thousand faces and names – all forged in the fires of the universe, come to this mystic land, this America, finally, to tell all over once again the great stories, and to script them with happy endings.

It is forever.  It is Eternity.  It is this beautiful land.

America….

We have been wandering the universe, exploring galaxies and black holes and endless lives, without ever coming home – home to ourselves, home from the myriad of identities and poses.

America is where we all come home.

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A New Myth for America, by James Hilgendorf

James Hilgendorf

James Hilgendorf

James Hilgendorf is the author of nine non-fiction books, including “A New Myth for America”.

To arrange talks, contact the author.

What’s It All About?

The days pass by; triumphs and deceits, loss and gain; people, friends, a thousand, thousand faces of strangers passing by us on the streets; memories of childhood, of innocence; and volcanic eruptions, war, devastation, hungry children in the streets, money lost or won; the common, daily gestures; mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters; our struggles to win, to gain some sort of recognition; things said or left unsaid, things done or left undone; and the hurts, and the loves, and all those millions and millions of things that seemed so important; and then the end of days and looking back and suddenly seeing ourselves not there anymore, just the night and the stars shining over the silent city and realizing suddenly what it all meant, did my life mean anything, did it leave an impact; or is it like silent falling snow obliterating tiny footprints, then no trace at all?

What is important is how much compassion we carry with us into the dark.

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James Hilgendorf

James Hilgendorf

James Hilgendorf is the author of nine non-fiction books.  His books are paving the way to a new vision of ourselves on this planet, a new dream of America, and a new religion for the world.

Maybe We Need A New Religion/Speaker Series-James Hilgendorf

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

We live in an age when a new perspective on who we are and what our purpose is on this planet – in relation to the vast universe around us, to life and death itself – is required.

This is one of several audience-oriented talks given by author James Hilgendorf.

Contact him for details.

Click flyer to enlarge.


Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective/Speaker Series-James Hilgendorf

Life & Death – a fascinating subject, the heart of which lends meaning to all our lives – from a Buddhist perspective.

This is one of several audience-oriented talks given by author James Hilgendorf.  Contact him for details.

Click flyer to enlarge.

 

The America That Has Never Unfolded Before

Even if we lose everything here n America that we have known up to this moment in time – the vast economic superiority, the money, the arrogance of power, the thousands of nuclear weapons, the tanks, the submarines, the stealth bombers, the opulence, television and big sports games and mega shopping malls – America and Americans can still be the greatest in the world, we can be the stars of a new era, the forerunners of a vision of life and of the heart that has never unfolded before in history.

This is our true mission here in these fifty states.  We are here to give voice and presence to the great dream that has lain dormant and suppressed and buried and trod upon for ages and millennia in the heart of humanity – the dream of equality and justice and compassion, the dream of a New World, this world that has escaped our grasp from the dawn of time but which refuses to die because it is the only true world, and it is a world which is imminently realizeable.  This is the great dream of America which is ours to realize.

—- From “The New Superpower

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James Hilgendorf
James Hilgendorf

James Hilgendorf is the author of nine non-fiction books, including “The New Superpower”.

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

You and Your Environment:The Mirror of Buddhism

Look around you.  This is your environment.

Relationships.  People.  Work.  Nation.  Family.

What you see is what you get.  From the standpoint of Buddhism, there is no need to blame the environment for your problems, your suffering.  It is all inherent within your very own life.

Your environment is a mirror of your life, what is going on, and what has been going on, forever.

The world is caught up in looking outside for the solution to problems.  Maybe if we changed governments, or social systems, or political systems, things would be corrected. Maybe if we changed our wife or husband, or our boss, or other people we deal with, things would be fine.

But, at bottom, there is no way to change our own problems, as well as the world’s, than through a reformation from within – through a personal transformation that takes one to a higher state of life and being.

Everything comes out of one’s own life.  The mirror reflects only the person who is looking into the mirror.  You cannot change the mirror.  In order to see a different environment, we need to change the person.

This is an old truth, but one that is very difficult to personally realize and put into practice.

From the standpoint of Buddhism, though, everything in our life can be changed through an inner transformation of self.  This is the purpose of Buddhist practice.

And through changing ourselves, we can transform the world around us.

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James Hilgendorf

James Hilgendorf

James Hilgendorf if the author of nine non-fiction books.