American Buddha: Past Becomes Present

This is a past page becoming present. Keep visiting it, and someday all the links will work.


Home     Site Map     Bulletin Board     Site Search





Book Reviews

Bulletin Board








Mission Statement

Planet on Fire


Reading List

Remarkable Persons


September 11


Spirit of Open Inquiry

Tsu-Do Zen

Whose Bread I Eat


So many people in this world look to America

Many people hate this country

Many people love this country

Many people would give their eyeteeth to live here

Many are ashamed to live here.


The world is a grinding globe of poverty

Some say.

America is the beginning of all that is wrong with this world,

Some say.


From K-Mart to WalMart,

From Ford to General Motors,

From IBM to Dupont,

From LA to New York

From black to white

From asian to latin

That's all right,

But it's not what I'm thinking about when I say American.


When I say American,

I mean the original vision of freedom of expression.

I don't mean all the excuses for stifling it that 200 years of political rule have elaborated.

I mean the love for freedom that people live for

Not the excuse for war that so many have made it.

I mean the America that each one would make for themselves and the ones they love,

Not the watered-down version that they would sell to others.


So many people know the name of Buddha.

Many people claim to own his teachings.

They have said that Buddha established followers.

They have made rules that they say others must follow.

Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan,

Korean, Burmese, Thai, so many Buddhists.

That's all right,

But it's not what I mean when I say Buddha.


When I say Buddha,

I mean the Buddha who sat on the dirt

Like the rest of the people,

Who ate leftovers

and made his bed where night found him.

I mean the Buddha who built no churches,

who taught in a park

and spoke to ease the suffering

that he found in his own heart

and to teach others to do the same.

That's the One.


So these are two good things to put together.

Original good impulses, plucked at their prime,

bringing together something that neither one had

all together.

For Buddha was raised a king

In a land where freedom and leisure

were the benefits of wealth,

and the ideas of free political speech and thought

had simply not arisen,

where tradition had more influence than science,

and knowledge was what the authorities had,

not what the inquisitive sought.

Thus Buddha's teaching became enshrined in traditions

like mummies, dry husks supposedly containing

the perfect wisdom of Buddha's mind,

But inside there is dust and decrepitude,

Small nourishment for those in real need.


And America is a promise that has never been fulfilled,

an ideal that has never been achieved,

A vital ideal that stimulates the flow of life in all people,

A place where everyone would live if they could.


So by proclaiming the path of the American Buddha,

We mean to join the American ideals of freedom of thought and speech,

grounded in mutual respect among equal human beings,

With the Buddha's insight that individual human beings

Are the deserving recipients

of respect, consideration, protection and concern,

And that the peace we hope for ourselves

Will be ours when our first effort

Is to establish it for others.


For those who seek to quarrel with American government policy,

there is room here to discuss these things,

because our nation's failure to strive to reach

the ideals established by the nation's founders

Is treason.


For those who wish to analyze

what is of value in the old traditions,

there is room here to discuss these things,

because the failure of these religions called Buddhist

to deliver the pure, energizing flow of Buddha's insight

Is what makes this proclamation necessary.


Yet most important is the search, today,

for the vital way, for the elixir that strengthens humankind

and is freely given,

For the light that illuminates and is never shuttered,

And this search,

Made without presumptions or restraints

That limit what may be found

to what has already been approved,

Must be conducted in an American spirit

of free inquiry,

So that our faculties will be open to perceive

what many believe the Buddha found

by his own free examination

of this same world that is ours.


American Buddha is an Oregon non-profit religious organization dedicated to spreading the word that the American tradition, and our Western cultural roots, provide abundant resources for spiritual inspiration, ethical guidance, and the expansion of human understanding.  The materials used in building this website have been drawn from hundreds of sources, and credit has been given wherever possible.  All of these literary, scientific and artistic works are offered here to give visitors as much access to these exciting resources as possible.  Any concerns about intellectual property issues, fair use policies, or appropriate attribution of artistic or authorial credit should be addressed to the webmaster at


A group of compact galaxies known as Stephan's Quintet. At least two of the galaxies have been involved in high-speed, hit-and-run accidents, which have ripped stars and gas from neighboring galaxies and tossed them into space. But the galactic carnage also has spawned new life. Arising from the wreckage are more than 100 star clusters and several dwarf galaxies.


The center of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1512, located 30 million light-years away, reveals a 2,400 light-year-wide circle of infant star clusters.  


The Whirlpool galaxy's spiral arms and dust clouds are the birth sites of massive and luminous stars. This galaxy is having a close encounter with a nearby galaxy, NGC 5195, just off the upper edge of this image.

A giant celestial "eye," known as planetary nebula NGC 6751. Glowing in the constellation Aquila, the nebula is a cloud of gas ejected several thousand years ago from the hot star visible in its center.


A curtain of glowing gas wrapped around Jupiter's north pole.


An intergalactic "pipeline" of material flowing between two battered galaxies that bumped into each other about 100 million years ago.  NGC 1410  and NGC 1409 are 300 million light-years from Earth.


The galaxy NGC 3310 is a starburst galaxy that is forming clusters of new stars at a prodigious rate.

The Stingray nebula (Hen-1357) is the youngest known planetary nebula.

A spiral galaxy that appears to be rotating clockwise.  Image shows NGC 4622 and its outer pair of winding arms full of new stars. 


A galaxy known as Circinus which belongs to a class of mostly spiral galaxies called Seyferts, which have compact centers and are believed to contain massive black holes.

This stellar swarm is M80 (NGC 6093), one of the densest of the 147 known globular star clusters in the Milky Way galaxy.

The spiral galaxy NGC 4414 whose central regions contain primarily older, yellow and red stars. The outer spiral arms are considerably bluer due to ongoing formation of young, blue stars.

A cluster of brilliant, massive stars, known as Hodge 301.  Seen in the lower right hand corner, Hodge 301 lives inside the Tarantula Nebula in our galactic neighbor, the Large Magellanic Cloud.

 This ESO 510-G13 galaxy is an unusual edge-on galaxy which has an unusual twisted disk structure.

A vibrant celestial photo album of some of NASA Hubble Space Telescope's most stunning views of the universe is being unveiled today on the Internet.

One of the intrinsically brightest stars in our galaxy which is glowing with the radiance of 10 million suns.  This star is 25,000 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.

This narrow, deep view of the universe reveals a plethora of galaxies.  Several distinctive types of galaxies can be seen in these views: blue dwarf galaxies, disk galaxies, and very red elliptical galaxies.

The spectacle of matter and antimatter propelled to near the speed of light by the Crab pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star the size of Manha