D.H. Lawrence & Taos, New Mexico

D. H. Lawrence Ranch Taos New MexicoWhile giving a book reading recently in Taos, New Mexico, I drove one day about twenty miles north of Taos to the D. H. Lawrence Ranch.

Lawrence was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century – author of “Sons and Lovers”, “The Rainbow”, “Women in Love”, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”, and other numerous novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction.

He was British, but ended up traveling the world, and was himself world-renowned.

He was given a 160 acre ranch in 1924 north of Taos, and although, in total, he was able to spend only about a year at the ranch, New Mexico, of all the places he had traveled to in the world, made a very deep impression on him.  He wrote:

“But for a greatness of beauty I have never experienced anything like New Mexico.  All those mornings when I went with a hoe along the ditch to the Canyon, at the ranch, and stood, in the fierce, proud silence of the Rockies, on their foothills, to look far over the desert to the blue mountains away in Arizona, blue as chalcedony, with the sage-brush desert sweeping grey-blue in between, dotted with tiny cube-crystals of houses, the vast amphitheatre of lofty, indomitable desert, sweeping round to the ponderous Sangre de Christo mountains on the east, and coming up flush at the pine dotted foothills of the Rockies!  What splendor!  Only the gawny eagle could really sail out into the splendor of it all.  It had a splendid, silent, terror, and a vast far-and-wide magnificence…way beyond mere aesthetic appreciation.  Never is the light more pure and overweening than there, arching with a royalty almost cruel over the hollow uptilted world.  Those that have spent morning after morning alone there pitched among the pines above the great proud world of desert will know how unbearably beautiful it is, how clear and unquestioned is the might of the day.”

His books, of course, were a record of his life.  He was seeking all his life.  He moved restlessly around the planet, trying to find his home, the place where he could feel really connected; and the connection he was looking for, in the end, was not just a particular place, but rather a connection to all of life and to the universe itself.

It was in his striving in this regard that was so poignant. Everything that he ever wrote was filled with this passionate craving for a new world, a world grounded in facts and daily life, but imbued also with eternity.

His longing knew no end.  He felt the hollowness of our materialistic Western civilization, he knew it was over, was crashing, but there was nothing yet to take its place – no new vivid realm of life.

In his book, “Studies in Classical American Literature”, he wrote:

“Men are free when they are in a living homeland, not when they are straying and breaking away.  Men are free when they are obeying some deep, inward voice of religious belief.  Obeying from within.  Men are free when they belong to a living, organic, believing community; active in fulfilling some unfulfilled, perhaps unrealized purpose.  Not when they are escaping to some wild west.”

He searched for a door that might open up this homeland for him, but he found it only in deep personal relationships – the relationship of a man and a woman, and small groups of people, like a tiny ship floating upon the flood of life and death, awaiting the recession of waters, and the long awaited new land.

He thought that our civilization had really come to an end.  But he never lost faith in life itself.

“What man most passionately wants is his living wholeness and his living unison, not his own isolate salvation of his “soul.” Man wants his physical fulfillment first and foremost, since now, once and once only, he is in the flesh and potent. For man, the vast marvel is to be alive. For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive. Whatever the unborn and the dead may know, they cannot know the beauty, the marvel of being alive in the flesh. The dead may look after the afterwards. But the magnificent here and now of life in the flesh is ours, and ours alone, and ours only for a time. We ought to dance with rapture that we should be alive and in the flesh, and part of the living, incarnate cosmos. I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea. My soul knows that I am part of the human race, my soul is an organic part of the great human soul, as my spirit is part of my nation. In my own very self, I am part of my family. There is nothing of me that is alone and absolute except my mind, and we shall find that the mind has no existence by itself, it is only the glitter of the sun on the surface of the waters.”

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Traveling to a New AmericaJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people and holding readings and talks under the banner of “Traveling to a New America“.

Follow the journey on Facebook.

To arrange talks, contact the author.

Traveling to a New America – Taos, New Mexico

Taos, New Mexico.

This week, “Traveling to a New America” stopped in Taos, New Mexico, at SOMOS - the Society of the Muse of the Southwest – where I gave a reading from one of my books, “A New Myth for America“, and held a discussion afterwards with a small group from the audience about their views about America.

This was the conversation we had:

Discussion at SOMOS in Taos, New MexicoWhat are your feelings about America at this time?

Camille:

“I am the first generation of immigrants.  I came from Czechoslovakia.  My husband is native American.  I was 14 years old when the Berlin wall fell down.  I came here naive, with big dreams.  Now I’m crying, I’m disappointed.  I was thinking of maybe going to Canada or New Zealand or Australia.  I was giving up, but now I’m starting a business here, so the dream maybe continue, even with the hardship.  If you don’t do anything about yourself and crying about yourself, then nothing will happen, nothing will change.  It’s you who can make changes, and even with the troubles we have right now – I’m living here close to 20 years – I still believe it, I still have the dream.  I went back after 16 years to Prague, and I realized I’m not European anymore.  I proudly say I’m American.  When I go to Europe, I have claustrophobic feelings, and I said to myself, I’m proud to be an American.  Even if I struggle, even I’m crying sometimes, even if we have hardships, in the end, I’m American.”

What’s going to change all the divisiveness we’re experiencing in this country?

Linda:

“Well, I have to say, from my point of view, I was very distressed when Trump was elected.  I’m still distressed, because he’s much worse than I could possibly imagine, but I also realize he is the shadow of this country, and don’t believe we’re going anywhere without that shadow being dealt with.”

Lydia:

“I think also that we’re a very consumer oriented society, and I think that it’s necessary to stop this materialistic consumerism and simplify one’s lifestyle.”

Barbara:

“I think that it’s easier to say what’s wrong with America than what’s right with America.  I was like you, I was completely disturbed.  In fact, I wrote a piece about Trump being our shadow and mirror.  We have that zenophobia in us where we are afraid of the ‘other’, and he just brings it out and parades it for us.  People who aren’t ashamed of that voted for him.  People who still have vestiges of it, and are ashamed of it, and want to have those vestiges removed, don’t like him at all.  It’s easy to say what’s wrong with America, because there are forces that are actively sowing division.  Education is a good anecdote to the ignorance of following a propagandized message, and Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Breitbart, and even organizations on the left who aren’t concerned with the truth, but are only concerned with winning a point in their favor are extremely detrimental to our society.  Not to mention Capitalism.”

Sheree:

“I agree that we’re not going anywhere without our shadow side. Something you said just went straight to my heart tonight, it was about when things are just so bad and you don’t think you can go on, that’s the turning point  Because that’s the point at which we make a choice.  Do we lie down and die, or do we turn and go in a different direction.  I think Trump and what Mother Earth is doing right now is saying: I’ve had it with you people.  I’m from Texas.  I think that all of this is going to force a change, it’s going to force people to either lie down and die or turn and go in a different direction, and the things I’ve read about the younger generation, the millennials, they’re not going to take this lying down.  They’ve been compared to the Great Generation, they’re going to turn us in a different direction.  I have two sons, one is 25 and the other is 29, and they are very, very different.  I scratch my head when I hear them talk.  The 25 year old, when I talk about grand children, he says why do you even want them, there’s not going to be a planet left by the time they’re your age.  The other son is:  By God we’re going to take this challenge on and we’re going to fix what you screwed up.

“I traveled for six weeks in Europe, and I stayed in hostels with my older son, the ‘by God we’re going to change this one’, and conversations late at night with twenty somethings and some kids, there was even one girl there sixteen years old.  It renewed my hope, my hope in the future because just talking with those young people it took my heart and lifted it so high.  I think that God, the universe, whatever you want to call a higher power, is going to use, try if we let It, Him, She, use Trump and all to bring about a good change.”

Hannah:

“I don’t have my head in the sand, I’m not not looking at what’s bad about this country.  I think that there’s a fatal flaw woven into this country.  We were founded on this idea of human freedom and yet we used slaves to build that, so there’s a schism already there, and I think that’s our shadow that we are looking at now.  But I see that the change, the turnaround, is already taking place.  The fact that we’re sitting here and we’re sharing these ideas, it’s already happening. Your traveling around the country and your having this type of conversation all over the country, the change is already taking place.  I loved the way you described the small shoots coming up out of the devastation, the reawakening, the rebirth of the phoenix amidst the ashes.  I see it already taking place.  And the new myth – I don’t think there is a new myth – I think we each create our new story, and that has to do with raising consciousness.  We each have to turn inward and find that new myth from within ourselves.  I think it was interesting, the quote by Maya Angelo above your head as you were reading:  “There’s no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”, and so I think that for each of us to turn into that untold story, and tell it, create it, is where the new mythology will be born.”

Marianne:

“This is terribly banal, but the fact that Trump made a deal with Nancy Pelosi just blew my head apart.  It’s been so long since there was anything but partisanship in this country.  It may be that someone as crazy and as loose a cannon as he is… and the hurricanes – I mean the hurricanes are doing something to our country.  There’s going to have to be cooperation if those places are going to be rebuilt.  I, too, am an immigrant, I was five when I came here, and I went back to a country that I never knew, that I had just heard stories about, and every moment I wanted to be back home.  And I’m not home here either.  I think that once you’re an immigrant, we’re the new prototype of the new global citizen, because so many of us exist that we have to claim the planet as our home rather than a country.”

Bill:

“I was born and raised in the deep south and moved to Texas in my adulthood, and I just watch with great dismay events of recent months, Charlottesville being the one that got the most attention.  Tonight I remembered a quote that was part of a piece that former President Carter wrote, I guess two weeks ago.  He was speaking about the compassion that emerged along the Texas coast with hurricane Harvey, with people helping people.  He began his reflection by saying what he was seeing was reminding him of a time when he was a boy, of what neighbors really meant to each other.  He said something, like, when the waters rise, our better angels appear.  What he was saying was that when they came to your house to take you on the boat in the Houston area, they didn’t ask you where you were from originally, or what religious affiliation was important to you, they said get in the boat so that we can save you.  I don’t know how that will last, but the devastation that’s happening Florida will test that again.  Our younger son said, I hope the compassion that’s been shown to Texas will be shown to Florida.  In a two week span, two incredible storms and devastation.  If you’ve never lived through a flood, it is not easy.  We’ve got a long way to go but I hope it will pull some of us at least together.”

Lydia”

“I was thinking about the myth of self-sufficiency that’s been around in this country, you know, the Marlboro man, the cowboy, and I think this is really the turning point.  When you have a disaster, people have to come together, and really function as a unit, rather than as an independent entity, and I think that’s happening.  But we have to get rid of that myth, because it’s always, you’re on your own, and it’s a matter of survival and you gotta get ahead, and that’s the myth in this country.  It’s been around for a long time.”

Camille”

“May I add something.  In Czechoslavakia, , they still have a social system that sends children to a higher education for free.  The taxes are going to education, not to making wars.  America doesn’t need to be a policeman of the world.  That’s my big issue right now. Why are our children sitting home and shooting themselves with heroin and snorting cocaine or drinking?  It’s because they don’t have any future, we don’t give them the goals, saying go for a future education for free, like Mr. Sanders said.  I believe education is the goal of our country.  Look at Japan, Australia, New Zealand, wherever.  If we don’t have a higher education system, that country will suffocate themselves, because only the rich can afford it, or the people you’re sending to the army to be educated.”

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Traveling to a New AmericaJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way for a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people, giving talks, holding discussions, under the banner of “Traveling to a New America“.

Follow the journey on Facebook.

To arrange talks, readings and group discussions, contact the author.

Evangelicalism on Trial, For All to See

So more than 150 evangelical leaders across the country have just put themselves on record, in part as follows:

‘We affirm that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.”

“We deny that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.”

And so on, ad nauseum…..

This broad band of  Evangelicalism thus finally defines itself for us in stark and clear terms.  It is a philosophy or religion (a way of looking at our ourselves and our relation to the people around us and to the universe itself) which deserves unqualifiedly to be relegated to the trash bins of history.

It is neither human nor compassionate, nor has anything whatsoever to do with the humble and all-embracing thoughts and actions of Christianity’s founder.

Several of the co-signers of this document have either worked closely with President Donald Trump or serve on his evangelical advisory board, orchestrated by Vice President Mike Pence.

This is all good to see and hear.  No hiding, no equivocating.  Get it out in the open, educate the American people about this backward, hypocritical, self-serving brand of thought.

A few quotes, supposedly from Jesus, whom Evangelicals profess to follow:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“A new command I give you: Love one another.”

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.”

“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me’”.

“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.  They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.”

Trump, Pence, a distorted Evangelicalism – all coming to the fore, for all of us to see.  And what we see is increasingly clear and unsavory and discriminatory and frankly, evil, if we define evil as that which diminishes people, that divides people, that segregates people, that shuts off our hearts to people, that maligns people, that denigrates and abuses people.  Political power, and religious power, twined together into one.  We have seen it before, throughout history, and it is here now, here in America, for all of us to see.

Time to sweep the boards clear.  There is a new world coming.  There is a new America coming.

It has waited in the wings since the dawn of the first sun of the beginning of time.

It is the reason for the existence of the universe itself.

It is one person coming to fruition and bloom.

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Traveling to a New AmericaJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting and interviewing people and giving talks, under the banner of “Traveling to a New America“.

Follow the journey on Facebook.

To arrange talks, contact the author.


America – Drilling Down For Pay Dirt

Traveling to a New America
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PAY DIRT

What is needed is the blow of a hammer.

Cracking through age-old sediment, releasing hot plasma.

There is fire at the center of your life.  Let it come forth.

Now spin a tale with utter abandon.  Resurrect voices stifled and buried and abandoned down the well hole of known history, and of unknown history, tides of people we have never known, prehistoric cave people with large skulls and protruding jaws, talented cave painters of bison and elk, magic makers invoking chants of mystery and awe to the spreading dawn.

We hold everything within our lives.  Give credence to it all.

The bards have been waiting for aeons, sweating in the dark.  Now bring forth the dawn of America.  Sing aloud.

I am here.  I am America.  I have been here forever, waiting.

I step forth from eternity, wading in giant galoshes through  ponds and pools of gigantic ferns and carnivorous plants of the new world.  Steam rises off the dark, hissing, new-born waters.

Here was where creation was born.  This is where I take my stand.  I am America.

Our powers create vast worlds, unlimited universes spawning out of our minds and eyes.

Look around.  This is the new world.

This is the world Columbus sought, the fabled Indies; and Vasco da Gama, circumnavigating Africa, opening up dazzling routes to India; and Marco Polo, carrying back magical tales of China and Asia; and Hernando Cortes, destroying Aztec temples and civilizations for gold.

They and others expanded the reach of our eye, unearthing continents.

In our own day, physicists probe the moon and Mars, send emissaries to Saturn and beyond; then turn to explore mini-worlds within the atom, dissecting parallels of space and time.

But all these explorers never found the true world, the mythical Shangri-la, the answer to the quest of our heart.  There was always something missing.

They uncovered vast realms, yet never discovered the door to eternity.

It lay all around them.  They had only to drill two feet into the ground, mark off a four by four plot around their own body, and hit pay dirt.

It is this world that opens up now.  It exists everywhere upon the prairies and mountains and rivers of this fabled land of America.

It resides in the heart of each and every person.

Let it come forth now.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.
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Traveling to a New AmericaJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people and giving readings and talks, under the banner of “Traveling to a New America“.

Follow the journey on Facebook.

To arrange readings or talks, contact the author.

Jack London & The Iron Heel

Glen Ellen, Ca. Jack London State Park.This past weekend, Elizabeth and I stopped by Glen Ellen, California, a lovely small town north of the city of Sonoma, and the location of the Jack London State Historic Park.

Jack London was one of the most prolific and successful writers of the early 1900′s – author of “Call of the Wild”, “White Fang”, “The Sea Wolf”, and other novels and short stories.

By 1913, London and his wife Charmian had acquired 1400 acres of land near Glen Ellen and turned them into a working ranch.  In 1910 construction was begun on a 15,000 square foot lodge, with 26 rooms and 9 fireplaces, called Wolf House, that was to be the Londons’ dream home.   In 1913, just a few days before they were planning to move in, a fire broke out, completely gutting the interior of the home, leaving only the massive masonry walls standing.   Three years later, at age 40, London died.

Jack LondonMuch of his work is imbued with a sense of the awesome power of nature and the struggle and survival of the fittest that characterized all of life.

This was reflected in his grasp of the titanic social forces that were playing out during that era.

London himself experienced firsthand the grueling working conditions of the time, and it turned him into a passionate advocate of socialism and workers’ rights.

In his book, “The Iron Heel”, published in 1908, he predicted the rise in the United States of an oligarchy, or small group of corrupt and selfish people, who would seize control of the government and economic power, destroy the middle class, and maintain power by oppressing the people.  George Orwell, author of “1984″, the great portrait of a future totalitarian state, was influenced by “The Iron Heel”, and saw London’s book as “a very remarkable prophecy of the rise of Fascism”.

The themes of “The Iron Heel” seem eerily familiar today – the gathering of economic and political power into the hands of a very small group of people, the destruction of the middle class, the rise of a government increasingly amoral and more concerned with the centralization and co-opting of power and money than for the needs and welfare of the people.

Whither go we?

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A New Myth for America BuddhismJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people and giving talks, under the banner of “Traveling to a New America“.

Follow the journey on Facebook.

To arrange talks, contact the author.

Traveling to a New America – People Along the Way – Salinas, California

Traveling to a New America – People Along the Way
Chris.  Salinas, California.
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Traveling to a New America - Salinas, CaliforniaChris, what’s your take on America at this time?

“With America being built on immigration for hundreds of years, we’re all immigrants, but we’ve let the illegal immigration go on for so long, maybe it’s been a century or longer, but there’s always been a President saying we’ve got to stop it, but it never really happens.  And I don’t think that most Americans have problems even with illegal immigration, we like the people that are here, but it also opens the doors for other people that we don’t want here, and we do need to protect what we feel is our life and our liberty, and make sure people are getting here the right way.  They do have to go through the process, just like we all did, as our ancestors did when they came here.

“A lot people want to blame the people who are anti-immigration as racists, I don’t really think that’s it at all.  I don’t feel racist at all, I love to hang out with all types of people, I love to learn, I love to ask questions, whether they be hard questions or not, I like to learn, I like to understand where other people are coming from.  But I don’t think everybody’s that way.  Some people are just raised to be with their kind, only like their kind, only associate with their kind.  Those are the real racists, people who just aren’t open to understanding other people and their ways of life, because there’s so many different ways, and so many of them are good, if not better than the way we do things.”

Traveling to a New AmericaWhat’s going to change the divisiveness we’re experiencing in our country?

“I wish I had that answer.  I don’t think there’s any rule or law that’s ever going to change that.  I think it’s humanity, I think it’s who we are, from way back forever.  People want to fight for what they believe in, and not everyone believes in the same thing, so I think that everyone has to just try to get along, tolerate other people, accept others, that’s the only thing you can do, but you can’t make a law that enforces that, you have to be taught that from a young child. I try to teach my children to be courteous to the next person.  It doesn’t matter if they’re gay, black, Hispanic, it doesn’t matter, just be respectful, and you’ll have a good life.  If you can respect people and earn other peoples’ respect, you’re going to be fine.  And turn a shoulder to people who don’t do it that way.  Be humble, be accepting, that’s the way it should be, but everyone’s not going to be that way, you’re not going to make them be that way either.”

If you had a vision of a great America, what would it look like?

“I always picture the 50’s, the white picket fence, and the kids able to walk to school without fear of being kidnapped.  Less technology.  You didn’t have to take a phone call until you got home, and maybe you listened to your answering machine or there was a note on the door.  Those things are nice.  You go outside, grandpa whistles, you heard the whistle two blocks away, you knew it was time to come home to dinner before the streetlights came on.  That was great, that really was.  Those were the good days.  But just back to something simpler, less technology, family.  Family was first.  People these days they work so hard, they forget what’s important.  Just rewind to the 50’s.”

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A New Myth for America BuddhismJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting and talking with people, under the banner of “Traveling to a New America.”

Follow his journey on Facebook.

To arrange talks, contact the author.

August 6th, Again – Hiroshima

HiroshimaAnother year passes.  We come around again, remembering the horror of Hiroshima.

Meanwhile, on the horizon, pointed shapes sprout from the Earth, deadly black missiles mushrooming into sight here and there – North Korea, Russia, France, Great Britain, Pakistan, India, the United States, and other countries planning and secretly hoping to bring into bloom these grotesque projectiles of death.

This is our world.  We face megadeath.

So we once again pay homage to the memory of Hiroshima, yet these horrific weapons of death still remain on alert in our country’s arsenals – thousands of them, each with a capacity now many times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb.  We have already spent over a trillion dollars on the manufacture and upkeep of these weapons – weapons that are capable of totally obliterating entire cities and populations – indeed, of destroying the Earth itself.

Here in America, we hold these weapons at the ready.  Given the circumstances, there is no doubt we would use them.  Why else would we have them?

Harriet Beecher Stowe Uncle Tom's CabinJust prior to the American Civil War, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, the great book documenting in passionate and heart-rending detail the tragic breakup of black Kentucky families sold down the river to slavery.

She wrote:

“Up to this year, I have always felt that I had no particular call to meddle with this subject.  But I feel now that the time has come when even a woman or a child who can speak a word for freedom and humanity is bound to speak.”

The central theme of her book was that slavery and Christianity cannot co-exist.

What would Mrs. Stowe have to say about nuclear weapons?

I think she would say that they, too, are incompatible with Christianity, or with any other religion that advocates the sanctity of life.

To incinerate millions, or even hundreds of millions of men, women and children in the blink of an eye – to push those buttons – this is something totally incompatible with the words and intent of the founders of all the major religions.

And yet we hold them.

What it tells us, simply, is that we are not a Christian nation.  If we were a truly Christian nation, we would never hold these weapons, or even consider the possibility of using them against other human beings.

What it tells us also is that our current religions – Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism – stand helpless in the face of this demonic nuclear force within the human mind and psyche.

Our religions are separating us, not bringing us together.  Our religions are killing us even now, and threatening to annihilate everyone on the planet because of differences of dogma.

Where is the human being in all of this?

What is needed is a new religion – one that recognizes the sanctity of all life.

One that sees within the heart of every man, woman, and child on the face of the planet the common root of human being, with untold, untapped potential as great as the universe itself.

One that allows us to transcend and appreciate our differences, and expands our capacity for compassion to the edge of  known and unknown galaxies.

Does such a religion exist?  Yes.  It exists here and there, in the hearts of many people, of all backgrounds and faiths and non-faiths, a new paradigm of living and seeing and breathing.

A new spiritual civilization, beyond even age-old dreams, beyond anything we have yet imagined, is struggling to be born.  It is here and now.  It grows from the wreckage of despair, of lost hope, of pollution, greed, injustice, hatred and war.  It is the compassionate heart of the universe itself coming to fruition and bloom.

It is the Buddha emerging in America.

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Maybe We Need A New ReligionJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people and giving talks, under the banner of “Traveling to a New America.

Follow his journey on Facebook.

To arrange talks, contact the author.

America As It Is Unfolding

Donald Trump and his insular, vicious narcissism.

The Republican Health Care debacle, an attempt to pass a law that violates the health of tens of millions of Americans – for what? – for power, for prestige, for money, for an empty victory, for blatant ego – and seemingly no one in the corridors of power who cares for what’s happening down on the ground.

America, its image being tarnished around the world.

At this moment in history, who looks this way for answers, for light, for vision, for hope?  America, the dream, where have you gone?

And yet, this is the pivotal moment in our history.  This is a pivotal moment for America.  The true America is only now beginning to emerge.

We took a wrong turn long ago.  We worshipped money, we placed it on a pedestal.  We made it our goal.

Trump is the true, final revelation of our false American Dream.  He is the dream we have all followed, made finally manifest, the perfect embodiment.

It is winter and the Death of the old American Dream.

The true American Dream, though, has never died.  It has only lain in abeyance, awaiting a great springtime.

What will finally call it forth?

Only one person, standing at the heart of the center of the universe itself, abandoning everything else to be true to oneself, to one’s greater self, caring for nothing except the revelation of the Dream.

Each person now, creating the Dream.

Each person the Buddha, at the heart of everything.  Fashioning a new world.  Emanating compassion, embracing worlds.

Amid the destruction, tiny shoots of green amid a barren landscape.

A new America.

A great Dream.

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A New Myth for America BuddhismJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.  This year and next, he is meeting and talking to people on the streets and in small gatherings, in towns and cities all across America, under the banner of “Traveling to a New America.

Follow and be part of the journey on FacebookBuy and share his books.

To invite him to your town or city, contact him directly.


Maya Angelou & My Friend Joe

Joe MorhaimJoe Morhaim was my best friend.  He died in 2006, at age 79, from complications of heart surgery.

Joe had such a bright, brilliant manner.  He was a wonderful writer, and for twenty-five years he lived and wrote screenplays in Paris.

He loved France.  Even after he returned to Los Angeles with his French wife Framboise, and lived out his last fifteen years there, he used to tell me that he dreamt every night of being back at the cafes in Paris.

Joe was Jewish, and having suffered discrimination himself, he would not tolerate discrimination of others.

I could describe many things that I feel in my heart about Joe; but I want to relate just two stories about Joe that reflect what kind of person he was.

Just before his 50th high school reunion in Los Angeles, Joe found out that a large number of his classmates would not be there.  They were a large group of Japanese-Americans who had been interned in prison camps during the second world war.  As a result, these men and women had been unable to graduate from high school, and had never received their diplomas.

Joe went to work.

He called the TV stations, he called the newspapers and radio stations.  He contacted the school authorities.  He found out where these Japanese-American classmates of his were then living.  By himself, he created a PR campaign that aroused everyone in his old community, that ended with these classmates of his receiving – belatedly – their high school diplomas at the reunion.  The media covered the event and it was all over the news programs in Los Angeles.

Most moved by his efforts were the Japanese-Americans who had been so unjustly imprisoned during their high school years.  It was the closure of some deeply held wounds.

Maya AngelouThe second story involved the famous writer, Maya Angelou.

Maya had been turned down when trying to rent an apartment in Los Angeles because of her race.  It was an obvious case of discrimination.

Again, Joe – who happened to know Maya – went to work.

He applied for the apartment himself, and was promptly accepted.  Later in the day, he accompanied Maya, with her belongings, to the apartment.  The landlord was furious.  He swore at Joe, calling him everything in the book.

Joe, though, did not back down.  He countered with a verbal assault on the landlord, accusing him of being a fascist bastard, and threatening to take him to court.  The landlord was furious, but had to back down, and Maya moved into her new apartment.

The story is documented in one of Maya Angelou’s books.

In countries all over the world, how many ruthless dictators and monsters would not have come to power and committed their atrocities, if people like Joe – with his fearlessness in standing up to injustice – had been around?

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A New Myth for America BuddhismJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people and giving talks, under the banner of “Traveling to a New America“.

To arrange talks, contact the author.

Traveling to a New America – People Along the Way – Berkeley, California

Traveling to a New America – People Along the Way
Miles.   Berkeley, California
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Traveling to a New America  Berkeley, CaliforniaMiles, what’s your take on America at this time?

“My take on America is that we’re in a time when there seems to be a loss of hope among the American people.  There also seems to be a lot of mobilizations happening, both at the grassroots level and at the State level.  There are different ideologies moving very powerfully in opposite directions, and therefore I see my role as a graduating student to do what I can to put my knowledge to work to help those who need it.  I think it’s a time right now where there is a lot of opportunity to make significant change.”

You talk about diverging ideologies and divisiveness, and that’s a problem right now.  What’s going to change that?

“What’s going to change all this is true leadership, and by that I mean an individual or group of individuals who know how to move people, who know how to speak to people, who know how to get people excited and get people to want to do things, to move, to mobilize, to make change.  Someone who knows how to corral a crowd and get chills on their spine and get them to want to do what they can to assist this country and assist those who need it most.”

As I hear you say that, people on both sides of the ideological divides might say the same thing.  You talk about mobilizing towards something – what is that something?

“I think mobilizing towards a realization among the American people of what is really happening in our government, what is really happening at the federal level, and how are their lives truly impacted.  I think it’s this sense of what we need to do to educate ourselves.  We need to get more disadvantaged and underserved communities into college .  We need to help people re-envision what’s important to them, what’s important to the world, what’s at stake in the world, and to think about the world larger than themselves, instead of these sometimes quite irrelevant problems that are simply entertaining us along the path.”

If you had a vision of a great America, what would it look like?

“America standing up for the interests of the average person and not the interests of the billionaires and millionaires, not the interests of a particular population of people, but doing what’s right for the average person, no matter their ethnicity, no matter their class.  Working together to help those that need it, working to lift those out of poverty, working to help spread the message that race isn’t real, that it’s a social construct, working to get more minorities and under-served communities to college.  Working to unlearn racism, working to acknowledge climate change, and working also towards engaging arguments from a perspective where we don’t want to prove the person wrong, we don’t want a win, but we want to genuinely help understand the issues that are at stake, genuinely understand their side, genuinely understand the coal miners’ perspective, why coal is important to them and their community, and not just berate them, talk down to them and tell them what they’re doing is wrong, but learning to understand one another and learning to press forward as a nation with common interests and help everyone, not a particular population of people.

What’s your personal dream?

“I want to inspire people, I want to move people.  I want to inspire people and to propel them to want to do something with their own lives and to do something to make the world a better place.”

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A New Myth for America BuddhismJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people and giving talks, under the banner of “Traveling to a New America“.

To arrange talks, contact the author.