Black and White

Nelson MandelaNelson Mandela survived twenty-seven years in a jail cell.

Have you spent even one day and night in jail?  Twenty-seven years was truly an eternity.

The incomprehensible thing is how he managed to maintain his humanity amid this desert of timelessness.

He wielded a heavy hammer for years in the hot blazing South African sun cracking limestone blocks.  Those blocks were apartheid, ruled over by a white minority, given meaning and legitimacy by the Christian Church.

After twenty-seven years of cracking limestone blocks, the rock of apartheid itself cracked, and the tide turned.  Mandela himself became President of his country.

On the very day he was sworn into office, Mandela invited his jail keeper to the ceremonies.  Such was the magnanimity of his heart, such was his love of the people.  He embraced even his enemies.

A New Myth for America BuddhismRosa Parks, a simple, black woman, refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man.  She was tired.  She was tired physically, and she was tired spiritually of the degradation of herself and her people.  She refused to move; and a movement was born.  From this one woman’s courage, thousands followed.  A crack appeared in the edifice of white power and legitimacy.

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream; and streams of similar pent-up, previously obstructed dreams broke loose and flowed into his dream; and his dream became a mighty raging river which cracked the dam of racism and hatred and filled the future with innumerable dreams where they had not been possible before.

These were only three, but many followed.  They were black, and the world was white.

Where would we all be without these courageous black brothers and sisters?  What kind of people would we still be?

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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 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 – Hayward, California

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

“Personally, I think the country is unstable.  There’s not a lot of leadership in terms of right side, left side, Democrats, Republicans.  It’s scary, having two daughters, 21 and 14.  I think my 21 year old is more able to develop her own understanding of how America is going.   The 14 year old I think is concerned, worried, as myself.  I don’t know how to personally answer the question other than to say that I’m concerned, I’m frightened. I think racism still exists.  I think poverty, homelessness, there’s no cure for that at this point.”

What’s going to change all the division in this country?

“I don’t think it’s just about the economy getting better, in terms of jobs, jobs, jobs.  I can say it better like this, as a sports fan: It’s how it is with the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.  There’s just two teams that are competing right now, and that’s how it is.  There’s two teams, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and there’s no one else in the middle.  In the same way, it’s California and New York.  There’s no in between.  The other States really don’t matter it seems like.  Some people think Texas is a powerhouse also.  So the in-between is, where do you go?  Other states like Utah, Arizona, South Dakota, North Dakota, those type of states, it seems like they’re okay.  They might not see what I have to see every day, like dealing with poverty, like seeing homeless people, and no solutions.  Maybe there is a cure, maybe people should just migrate to other states.  Me, personally, I think people in America, like myself, should look at what’s going right in Canada.  I think that’s where people should start thinking about considering, like hey, maybe I should work there.  I don’t know enough about Canada other than that I know former President Obama and Canada’s prime minister Trudeau had a good relationship, and it seems they don’t have to deal with all these things we have to deal with every day in terms of poverty, homelessness, the violence.”

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

“I think it would be just bipartisan, in terms of  Democrats and Republicans being able to have a shared accord so that everything’s not him versus her, but be just more “Do we have a solution”?  There needs to be more people who are just asking these type of questions.  America does not have the solution right now.  America is at its wits end.  There’s too much racism, too much police brutality, too much poverty, too much homelessness.”

What’s your dream?

“My dream has always been to own a hot-dog stand.  I still want to own a hot-dog stand, but not in California, not in New York, not in Texas.  Somewhere in the Caribbean.  I don’t have experience, I don’t have an investor, I don’t have any money, I don’t have a business plan to do that, but that’s my dream.”

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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 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 – San Jose

Traveling to a New America – People Along the Way
Bonnie.  San Jose, California.
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Traveling to a New America - San Jose, CaliforniaBonnie, what’s your take on America at this time?

“I’m very concerned that America is so divided between the two main parties – Republicans and Democrats.  I’ve never seen the country in this kind of disarray, even in the sixties and seventies.  So I’m worried, and I hurt for it.”

All this division in America, what’s going to change it?

“I’d like to give a really good answer, but I haven’t got one.  I don’t know.  I hope it isn’t war.  I don’t know what it’s going to be.  It could be war.  It could be something catastrophic, that turns us to understanding each other’s humanity and how we are one, looking at each other’s hearts, instead of looking at our political roles and bickering.”

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

“There would be kindness, less competition, less negativity, more love and compassion, far more equality. The political disarray is one thing, but then the gap between the haves and the have-nots is another huge divider.  I’m sixty-three.  I have children in their forties, and I see how hard they work, for so little, and it kills me.  It’s just wrong, and something’s got to change.

“I’m thinking more like socialism.  I’m thinking of my trips to Slovenia last year, where they’re just coming out of forty years since Tito took a hike, but I look at that country and money’s not as big a deal, and you don’t see mansions next to little dumps.  Most of the homes look about the same.  People are focused on different things.  It doesn’t mean it won’t change with time, but right now they seem to be in a sweet spot, and it looks like a nice place, and I’d like to see us more like that.

“I have a friend who’s working in a multi-national pharmaceutical in Switzerland, and I met with her and the workaholism from America is pretty rampant there, but in general Europeans are more like small shops, they don’t focus nearly as much on the things and the status and the money, as they do on the experiences and relationships.  That’s my take on it.”

What’s your dream?

“My dream is that, as a race, the human race, that we could come together in a more loving, kind way throughout the world.”
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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, giving talks, interviewing people, all under the banner of “Traveling to a New America“.

To arrange talks, contact the author.

Traveling to a New America – People Along the Way – San Diego

Traveling to a New America – People Along the Way
John.  San Diego, California.
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Traveling to a New America - San Diego, CaliforniaJohn, what’s your take on America right now?

“It’s good and bad I guess.  I mean it’s America, so it’s intrinsically better than other places, but also horrible at the same time.  I’ve only been here for twenty years.  I just kind of keep to myself, and listen to what other people say, and kind of ignore what they say.”

There’s a great deal of division in America right now.  What’s going to change that?

“Older people dying.  That’s kind of grim, but it’s kind of true I think.  There are a lot of older ideologies still existing with older people and they only die with people dying or peoples’ ideologies dying.  That’s not easy to do.

“I’m going to be real honest.  I think that in the spiritual sense people are kind of like – you’re on a planet that’s floating through space and you’re inhabiting a body.  I don’t know if a lot of people think about that a lot but I think that’s a big part of what would change ideologies, having a different perspective on being human.  I think about the human body and how you’re not really a skeleton, you’re  not really muscles, but you still move your skeleton and muscles, and so you have a perspective of being human but you’re not at the same time.  You’re inhabiting a human body.  Personally I think there’s some kind of energy or something that’s very universal.”

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

“When I think of that, I think selfishly, about people doing what brings them joy, from a personal perspective.  I’m a young person, I’m a senior in college, so I’m on the verge of trying to do what I really enjoy, not going to do another crap task for people.  But in a world where I need money to live, sometimes it’s kind of hard to do.

“I like music.  I use a software called Maschine, it’s a little drum pad, I make little hip-hop beats, with a little music group with my friends that I met two years ago.  Very down to earth, I want to make an income off music so I can do what I like to do, and feed myself.  I want to make money off music.  It’s the only thing I’ve really enjoyed.  It’s how a lot of my friends and I know each other, and how we’ve maintained with each other.  I don’t have a lot of friends, but the friends I do have, we all have interest in either the same music or making music or just not doing weird, stupid jobs for other people.”
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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, giving talks, interviewing people, all under the banner of “Traveling to a New America.

To arrange talks, contact the author.

Traveling to a New America – People Along the Way – Hi-Tech Generation

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

“As a young person, I feel I haven’t gone through as many eras of political and social changes as many of the older people in my life, so it’s interesting to me to see what the difference in generations is.  From talking to my aunts and uncles and my parents who were baby boomers – they were coming of age in the late sixties and early seventies – they felt like there was a sort of hope and optimism when they were young that has sort of withered away; and people my age, and I’m in my mid-thirties, I think they didn’t ever have that sort of idealistic America kind of story in their head, and it seems like younger people now are kinda like ‘What future?’  Even somewhat more desolate than people my age are.

“I’ve worked in tech for ten years – I work in marketing and what I do is build communities.  I do that professionally around products, but I’ve also done a number of side projects building community spaces and artists’ collectives because I think that a lot of young people especially are isolated in using their electronic devices and software and they’re sort of driven to work 500 hours a week and commute two hours a day. Young peoples’ lives are really scheduled, everyone’s trying to make the most of their opportunity, whatever that is, however small that is, and for a lot of working class young people that means working an extra hour a day, walking an extra mile a day, and as I get older I’m realizing that there was sort of idea that you would come to this level of achievement wherein you would not have to walk the extra mile, or commute two and a half hours a day, and people my age are not reaching that level before they’re just sort of exhausted.  That’s definitely particular to the Bay Area, but it’s happening in other cities too, an acceleration that’s driving this isolation.”

You talk about creating communities, but is that only online?  Some people say that being online only tends to isolate people.

“I do it both ways.  I grew up on the East Coast in a big Italian family, we had multiple generations of people together all the time and I think that is beneficial.  I think older people really benefit from interacting with younger people.  Younger people having older mentors around that are there because they love them and not because they’re paid to be there, I think is very supportive and helps people to develop skills so that they don’t feel alone and isolated in the world.  I use online tools, and I think there is a space for online tools that allow marginalized communities and distributed communities to communicate with one another in a way that’s never been possible before, so if you are somebody that is living in a town and you don’t feel anybody’s like you or into the things that you’re into, you can probably find a community of people online that are into those same things.  That can be the thing that gets you through a particularly lonely period.  But I think that especially in the Bay Area, people have tried to supplant real life interactions, like meaningful relationships, with these online communities, and there’s sort of a level of superficiality, or a level of depth, that the online communities don’t offer.  I think sometimes young people can try to use the online communities in place of real relationships and they end up actually feeling more alone and isolated.”

A New Myth for America BuddhismIf you had a great vision of America, what would it look like?

“I’m a pretty active political leftist, so I would really like to see the government be designed around people thriving, and not corporations thriving.  I think a lot of decisions that are made, especially on a federal level, directly undermine the individual thriving in society.  The structures are beneficial to certain members of society and directly work against bringing the potential of every person to its greatest level.  In my sort of ideal neighborhood, I would like to see many generations of people living in walkable neighborhoods so they know their neighbors and having real life interactions and conversations that are local.  Then I think that what the government could do is serve those communities by creating structures that help people to thrive.  At this point we have a lot of research, we have a lot of data, we’ve done a lot of research, we know what makes people healthy, wealthy and wise, and we also know that a lot of things that we’re doing every day are doing quite the opposite.  And why?  Fundamentally the motivation of the political structures and people that we have in power are motivated towards a profit end instead of towards a people end.

“I’ve been working in tech, and I’m pro-business, I like businesses, but I feel that businesses should serve the people instead of the people serving the businesses.  I think that a lot of concessions were made early on in the twentieth century to bring more influence to capitalist power and give incentives toward businesses to be creative, but now I think those balances of power are so out of scope, in favor of businesses.  Even from the perspective within large corporations, they talk about people as resources to be exploited .  I think there could be a different way of looking at it, that corporations and the businesses were ultimately there to serve human thriving.”
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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, 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 – Soheila, Originally from Iran

Traveling to a New America – People Along the Way
Soheila.  Came to this country originally from Iran with her family when she was sixteen.

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Soheila - From Iran - Traveling to a New AmericaSoheila, what’s your take on America at this time?

“I think we are going through really hard times right now.  But at the same time, I think this is going to bring out the best of us in the long term.  It is going to put things in their true perspective, because the prejudice that has always existed in this country has resurfaced.  You can’t hide it anymore.  It is very obvious that it is still there.  I think black people are coming forward and fighting for their rights stronger than I have ever seen them make a statement.  And I think that the liberal people are realizing that just by sitting back, good things are not just going to happen just because this is America, and we are the most advanced country in the world.  That we really have to work hard and fight for our freedoms, for our liberation, for the choices that we make, and for moving forward in this world and being a pioneer in bringing peace and unity in this world.  We are the ones, it has always started from here, and this time it’s pushing us more and more in that direction.  I think we have become too materialistic and have forgotten that at the end of the day, we are all one.  It is all one.  And that is the key.  Beyond color, race, religion, to remember the unity and to have love and forgiveness be the face of everything we do.”

All this division that’s going on in our country.  What’s the answer or solution?

“I think the solution is to educate ourselves and our youth and to keep moving forward.  But moving forward not in an angry way, but moving forward in a determined, strong way.  With grace.  Because that is what Republicans and most of all Trump lacks right now. The things he did on this trip(to the Mideast and Europe) , the way he pushed himself ahead of other presidents, the way he stood in front of the Pope and took a picture, it just was so ridiculous, he had no grace.  He’s a child in an adult’s body, and we have chosen him, we have to take responsibility for that, so there is a lot of work that needs to be done.”

The Buddha & The Dream of AmericaIf you had a vision of a really great America, what would it look like?

“I think it would look like the way I thought about it when I was a kid and my oldest brother came here for higher education.  A place where there is freedom of thought and speech and that people respect one another.  That there is friendship, that there is true respect among people, and there is a sense of ease and comfort when you live here.  I think it comes down to respect.  Respect, and accepting that everyone is just as valuable as the next person, that there is no better or worse just because you are poor or rich or this color or that color, that we are all equal.  That would be what I want for this country.  And, of course, envirionmentally, I want us to move in the direction of saving the planet, and to have it stay as gorgeous and beautiful as it is because it is really a lovely country.  It’s just amazing.

“I also want you to know that I live with a husband who is very liberal, but my sister voted for Trump, and we are invited to go on vacation to their house, and he’s refusing to go.  It’s like there’s no way.  My best friend voted Republican and we can’t talk politics, but I still love her because she’s a wonderful person.  We all have blind spots, for whatever reasons, for our conditioning, for our fears, for our concerns.

“It’s going to take time.  It’s really going to take time.”

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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“.

To arrange talks, contact the author.

Traveling to a New America Stops at Berkeley Book Fair

Berkeley Book Fair, Berkeley, California

Traveling to a New America” appeared this past weekend at the Berkeley Book Fair in Berkeley, California.  I was there with my wife Elizabeth.  Each year, the event draws thousands of people interested in new books and ideas.

This year and next, I will be traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting and interviewing people and giving talks, under the banner of “Traveling to a New America.”

I was especially moved by one woman who stopped by our table.  She looked over my books, then picked up a copy of “A New Myth for America”, opened the book, and began crying.  I asked her immediately, “Why are you crying”.

She replied: “I feel that we need to go so much deeper.”

Berkeley Book Fair Traveling to a New AmericaI knew what she meant.  She was speaking to the fact that we need new answers to all the divisiveness and anger and war going on in our country and around the world.  We need to penetrate to a new level of our common collective being, to uncover a new identity that will bring us all together as human beings.

She was crying out for a new life for humanity.

I met another young man on the street in Fairfield, California last week, and I asked him what he thought about America and the world at this time.  He only had one thing to say, that he was scared of World War III.

It seems like we have lost our way.  Authoritarian leaders around the world.  The threat of wars.  Political leaders whose only concern seems to be money and power for themselves.  Here in America, a President, Donald Trump, and a Republican Party, whose obvious and naked intent is to, at whatever costs to ordinary men and women and children, strip away all hard-won government protections for people – Medicaid, Medicare, Health Care, Social Security – and replace them with tax cuts for the wealthy and the unbridled and unlimited expansion of greed.

A New Myth for America BuddhismBut beneath all the growing chaos and division, there is also a new world emerging.  This is the message of all my books and all my talks.

This is the message of “A New Myth for America”:

“Out of the gathering chaos will emerge a new world, a world of people tied to each other by bonds of the heart, beyond borders, beyond nations, beyond nationality and religion and race and ethnicity, a world and a people alive to who they are, brothers and sisters of the cosmos, appearing here and now in eternity.

“It is coming.  Make no mistake.

“The heart of the universe is coming to fruition.

“Here in America”.
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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.

Follow the journey on Facebook.

To arrange talks, contact the author.

Margaret Fuller – Great American Women’s Pioneer

Margaret Fuller

The name of Margaret Fuller may not register with many people, especially the younger generation; but her story needs to be updated and brought into the limelight once again; for she was an extraordinary woman and American pioneer – not only for the causes she fought for and the books she wrote, but for her life itself, which was a struggle to manifest all her hidden powers of a woman, in a time – the early part of the nineteenth century – when women’s roles were strictly defined and limited.

She wrote: “Very early, I knew that the only object in life was to grow.”

She had a brilliant mind.  Her early education was administered by her father, and it was not until she was about nine that she began her formal education.  By her early 30s, she had earned a reputation as the best-read person, male or female, in New England.  She was a close friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and for two years, beginning in 1840, she was the editor of the “The Dial”, the journal of the Transcendentalist Movement, among such compatriots as Henry David Thoreau, Emerson, Theodore Parker, Elizabeth Peabody, Louisa May Alcott, William Ellery Channing, and others.

In 1844 she joined Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune as a literary critic, and in 1846 became the publication’s first female editor.  She wrote about art and literature, politics, the slavery issue, and women’s rights.  In 1839, she began the first of a famous series of “conversations” among local women in Boston.  She wanted to compensate these women for the lack of women’s education, with discussions and debates on the fine arts, history, mythology, literature and nature.  She said she intended also to answer the “great questions” facing women: “What were we born to do?” and “How shall we do it?”

Her most famous work was “Woman in the Nineteenth Century”, which is considered the first major feminist work in the United States.

She wrote:  “We would have every arbitrary barrier thrown down. We would have every path laid open to Woman as freely as to Man.”

Born and raised in a climate where doors everywhere were closed to women, she carved out a life for herself and spent her great energy attempting to open those doors to other women as well.

Traveling to a New AmericaIn “Woman in the Nineteenth Century”, she commented on the state of life in America:

“My country is at present spoiled by prosperity, stupid with the lust of gain, soiled by crime in its willing perpetuation of slavery, shamed by an unjust war, noble sentiment much forgotten even by individuals, the aims of politicians selfish or petty, the literature frivolous and venal.

“We doubt not the destiny of our country — that she is to accomplish great things for human nature, and be the mother of a nobler race than the world has yet known. But she has been so false to the scheme made out at her nativity, that it is now hard to say which way that destiny points.”

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, two of the greatest American social reformers and women’s rights activists of the nineteenth century, wrote of Margaret Fuller:

“She possessed more influence on the thought of American women than any woman previous to her time.”

Margaret Fuller had a vision of America and of Americans that still adds to the vision of what America will eventually become and be.

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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 – Fairfield, California

Traveling to a New America – People Along the Way.

Demetrius.  Fairfield, California.

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Traveling to a New America - People Along the WayDemetrius, what’s your take on America at this time?

“I feel like it’s very divided.  For several reasons.  I feel that race is a big issue.  It’s dividing everything, and obviously the President is a big issue right now.  I feel like a lot of people aren’t coming up with their own opinions and ideas, they’re just following what everybody else is saying, what everybody else is doing. They’re not doing their own homework or research.

“The media plays a big role in pretty much everything.  Everything’s being recorded and you only see what’s being shown.  A lot of times you don’t actually know everything that happens.  It makes people pretty much one-sided, and it’s not okay.

“There’s a lot of division, race being the biggest one.  Everyone wants it black and white.  It’s 2017.  It’s not okay.  And with Trump being in, the President, it makes it even worse.”

This division – what’s going to solve it?

“People just need to start coming together.  People need to stop looking at black and white, and just start really looking at people as a whole.  And stop being so quick – like he’s white, or he’s black – having all these stereotypes.  Just automatically assuming they’re like this, or they’re like that, because of their race.  People just need to really start getting along.

“It takes time, but it also takes effort, and people wanting to make that change and make a difference, because it seems like everyone’s so stuck in their ways that they’re not even attempting to try to make peace and make things better.”

So with you, it has a lot to do with racism…

“My father was military, so I grew up in many different places, integrated with many different races.  I was the only black kid in my high school class, but it wasn’t an issue with me because there was no racism going on, everybody got along with everyone, and I feel like a lot of people have never had the opportunity to be around other cultures and see how other people operated. They’ve been where they are their whole lives, and that’s all they know, so it makes it hard to get them to see the bigger picture.”

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

“Everybody getting along.  Race wouldn’t be an issue at all, period.  If a white cop pulls over a black guy, it’s because he didn’t signal or he ran a light, not because of his race.  Just people would stop judging people so much because that’s huge too.  Just like Gandhi, everybody would just get along with everyone, be at peace.”

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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 talks, under the banner of “Traveling to a New America“.

To arrange talks, contact the author.

The Multiverse & The Human Heart

The Multiverse is the term being thrown around these days by physicists and astrophysicists and philosophers and what have you – an answer to where the universe we live in has originated – a gigantic hub or spawner of universes like our own, infinite in number, which we cannot observe even with powerful telescopes because it exists throughout different dimensions of time and space beyond even our human comprehension or imagination.

The Multiverse is being subscribed to as a distinct possibility by such luminaries of physics as Stephen Hawking, Brian Greene, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.  It’s fascinating to listen to all the convoluted, theoretical possibilities surrounding the hypothesis of the multiverse.  I’ve read the books, and I usually get bogged down by page ten.

Our own galaxy is composed of some two or three hundred billion stars; and there are another two or three hundred billion galaxies in our universe.  So how do we deal with a multiverse composed of an almost infinite number of universes like our own?

You could read dozens of books on the subject, or stay awake nights trying to figure it out; but, in the end, what’s the bottom line?

I know physicists and astrophysicists and philosophers revel in the mystery of the game; but one thing crosses my mind as I listen to any of them propound their theories and arguments.  How has it all helped one person overcome their daunting person problems.  How has it created happiness where there was none?  How has it given hope and courage to those suffering?

Traveling to a New AmericaBuddhism, through the Lotus Sutra, speaks also of the vastness of time and space, drawing a picture of the cosmos that, from the beginning, was always light years ahead of astrophysics.

The Lotus Sutra is the greatest of all the Buddha’s teachings, propounded in the last eight years of the Buddha’s – Shakyamuni’s, or Gautama’s – lifetime.

It is a fantastic story, revealed in a fantastic setting beyond space and time.  The setting is on a mountaintop in the kingdom of Magadha, India. The Buddha, Shakyamuni, tells a great crowd of his assembled disciples that during the forty prior years he has been teaching, he has not yet revealed the essential Truth to which he is enlightened, and now is about to do so.

The Buddha begins preaching, and  great Treasure Tower, one-third as large as the earth itself, adorned with precious jewels, appears and rises into the air.  An almost infinite number of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and other resplendent beings converge on the Treasure Tower from universes beyond imagining, beyond time and space, to lend credence to the Truth which Shakyamuni is about to expound.

The Buddha announces that contrary to what his followers believe – that he first attained enlightenment while meditating under the Bodhi tree when he was about thirty years of age – in fact, he first attained Buddhahood in the unimaginably remote past, numberless major world system dust particle kalpas ago, and has ever since then been in the world teaching the Law.

We are now entering the world of eternity.

A major world system dust particle kalpa is described in the Lotus Sutra as follows:

Suppose someone grinds a major world system into dust.  He then takes this dust with him and travels one thousand major world systems toward the east, where he drops one particle.  He proceeds another thousand major world systems eastward and drops the second particle.  He continues on in this manner, dropping another particle and then another until he has exhausted all the dust particles of the entire major world system.

Then he gathers up all the major world systems along the route he has taken, whether they have received a particle or not, and reduces them all to dust.  He places these dust particles in a row, allowing one entire kalpa (16,000,000 years) to pass for the placement of each.  When the first kalpa has passed, he places the second particle, and then the third, until as many kalpas have passed as there are particles of dust.  The total length of time represented by the passage of all these kalpas is referred to as major world system dust particle kalpas.

So we have entered a world of space and time that matches, or even dwarfs, the enormity of twenty-first century concepts of the cosmos.

What is the Lotus Sutra all about?  Did this fantastic Ceremony in the Air actually take place?

Yes, it did; and, again, it did not.

The Treasure Tower, with the assembled beings of all worlds throughout the universe, is a metaphor, a story, a myth of the Buddha’s life and enlightenment itself.  But it is also our own life.

The Treasure Tower, with all its splendor and magnificence, represents the great life state of the Buddha, overflowing with infinite life force, wisdom and compassion.  But it is also, without exception, our own life as well.

The Treasure Tower resides within all our lives.  It is our hidden, latent identity.  We are all Buddhas, unawakened to this fact.  Our lives are eternal.
The Buddha’s mission was to awaken all people to the Thus Come One residing within their very own hearts.

And to get back to the multiverse, what is the result of all this speculation about these windows upon space and time that we see beyond us?

Actually what Buddhism says about it is that these stupendous reaches of time and space are a perfect reflection in a mirror of our own individual lives – of the boundless potential for development and compassion for universes of beings that we capable of expanding into with our own mind and heart.

The multiverse and our own life are one.  This is the mystery, this is the astounding truth of our own being. We are here to expand and match our individual life to the vastness and mercy and life-state of the cosmos itself, embracing everyone and everything.

The heart is everything.

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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“.

To arrange talks, contact the author.