Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kate's Here!

This is our big week! 

Kate, my dear friend in faith is here from Los Angeles. She introduced me to this practice in 1985 when we were both volunteering for "The Great Peace March Across America" 
It was a grand vision we were a part of....hundreds of people were going to walk across America with support from various businesses and Hollywood stars. No one was going to have to carry their belongings...tents would arrive at your daily destination and be set up when you got there...food would be made by volunteers in the various cities. In the end...it was not a success...a small group did end up completing the walk on their own with no support, but most people gave up when the walkers got stranded in Barstow, California. The desert. And they realized the support was gone. 
Something about the vision, and the times, awakened a burning hope for peace in many people's hearts, and two of my life-long friendships were born at this time. I met Kate, and I met my dear friend Joan who lives in Emeryville, California...and who is brilliant and wonderful and insightful. 

Kate told me story after story about how her practice of Buddhism had changed her life. One of them really impressed me. She was already an actress at the time, and had met many famous people. She wasn't the type to be "star struck"...until she met Paul Newman. He had gotten behind the fundraising efforts for the walk, and she had some practical things to talk to him about as part of her volunteer role. She said she got in front of him, looked into those baby blues and her mind just melted. She couldn't communicate or think. She went home that night and chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for an hour...and from then on she was composed and could carry on a conversation with him. "WOW" I thought. Maybe I have found the thing I have been searching for...the practice that was PRACTICAL...where I could pick whatever problem I was having....focus my intentions in a direct way...and SOLVE those problems. I had been LOOKING for this solution for many years. I KNEW it had to exist. I looked for it everywhere...but had only uncovered the types of practices that truly annoyed me...ones where you had to be "initiated" or chosen, and ones that said your desires were the cause of your suffering. Kate told me that in THIS practice, your desires will lead you to happiness because they will make you chant and when you chant you change your karma. I started chanting and became a life-long Buddhist. 
Fast forward to today. Kate and I are giving a symposium on Friday at the American Alliance of Theater Educators Conference in Chicago. Our seminar is called "Reawakening the poetic Spirit" and is based on three things: Daisaku Ikeda's essay "The Poetic Spirit", The play "The Belle of Amherst" in which Kate BECOMES Emily Dickenson, and the book "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pink. This book is about how right brainers...those who see connections, can speak creatively and see the whole picture...those who didn't necessarily do well on their SATs...that their day has come...they are more needed and valuable than ever...and have a bright future. It's an amazing book. 

On Friday Kate will be presenting part of the play, and we'll bring the essay to life, and have people do exercises that reawaken their poetic spirits. 

We've been chanting about this for many months, and planning and writing and studying. On Friday it will all come together. 
Please send Daimoku for all the lives we can touch that day. We don't know the size of our audience....but we have been chanting to touch each and every one of them with our poetic spirits, and be by example, the essence and the spirit of Kosen Rufu in action. 

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