Where are we heading as individuals, as a country, as
an interconnected world and as a planet? Nobody knows! Life exists with
few certainties outside the awareness of our mortality and the paying
of our taxes. That is the superficial perspective, but what about the
philosophical question of how much control do we really have over our
"You are the history makers!" Yasuhiko Genku Kimura,
executive Director of the Twilight Club, assured an attentive group of
attendees at the clubs first Vision Summit, held in May at the Washington
"Making the commitment to history, making the commitment
to the transformation of the world, and making the commitment to the creation
of a New World may appear overly idealistic and naïve. But remember,"
he continued with emphasis, "to be idealistic and naive is, in truth,
a hallmark of integrity -- possible only for an intellect of real maturity
and a spirit of true wisdom."
A refreshing thought and encouraging for all would-be
idealists caught up in a world where the cynic is considered "cool." Perhaps
what Kimura is telling his audience has all been said before, but today,
in 2001, its the timing that counts. We are living in an age when
people are being called upon to search for answers within themselves.
Kimura is asking us to begin to take responsibility for that which lies
beyond the narrow focus of our ego driven world.
A few years ago -- as an author, former Zen Buddhist
priest, and integral thinker, who had studied the works of the great spiritual
master-artist Walter Russell -- Kimura says he came to the realization
that the angst of modern times called for something big, like the rekindling
of "The Twilight Club" and its vision of Ethical Transformation of the
World. In 1999, Yasuhiko Genku Kimura joined the University of Science
and Philosophy as Executive Director of the new Twilight Club, once again
connecting the University with its origin and history, and uniting it
with the philosophical heritage of the East.
The original Twilight Club was initiated over a
century ago by a group of visionary thinkers. It became one of the greatest
and most far-reaching ethical movements in recorded history. Founded in
the late 1870s by Herbert Spencer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman,
John Burroughs, Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie, Edith Markham, Oliver Wendell
Holmes and others, the Club was kept alive primarily by the efforts of
Walter Russell. Out of this movement came landmarks we take for granted
today: Andrew Carnegies nationwide building of libraries; organizations
like the Boy Scouts of England and America, the Rotary, the Kiwanis, Lions
Club, the Better Business Bureau; and inspirational writings like Mark
Twains Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Ralph Waldo
Trines In Tune with the Infinite, Edwin Markhams Children
in Bondage, and Alexis Carrels Man, the Unknown.
In 1949, Russell and his wife, Lao, founded the
University of Science and Philosophy, now located in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Throughout the turbulent years of the 20th-century,
and two devastating World Wars, many visionary thinkers and activists
both inside and outside the Twilight Club devoted their lives to the intent
and spirit of the ethical vision of the founders. At the dawn of the 21st-century,
a new group of visionaries led by Yasuhiko Kimura, in partnership with
Laara Lindo, President and Director of Education at the University of
Science and Philosophy and expert in the teachings of Russell, came together
to organize the Visionary Summit.
Kimura comically describes his own search for enlightenment,
recalling his early teenage years in Japan when he read the teachings
of Buddhism. He joined a Zen monastery at the age of 18 and left at 23.
"My first challenge was a week of intensive meditation
training. At the end of the week my head ached. Meditation is a major
part of being a monk, and you have to get it right. I kept going although
my mediations were always interrupted with hunger pangs. I had visions
of food and thoughts about my next dinner. After getting bored with those
thoughts, my thoughts drifted to women. Then that became boring too. I
was there a long time becoming ever more bored with my own thoughts. I
reached the age of 21, but I still was not enlightened, and so I got depressed.
I began to realize that there is no such thing as my own transformation
and enlightenment, it could never be complete unless every human was enlightened
and everyone free from suffering."
Elaborating on this thought, he says that we human
beings are not at our best when engaged in abstract solitary reflection,
nor in individual transformation for its own sake, but rather when in
the act of transforming the corners of the world in which we live -- in
the act of "history making." This is the pursuit of eternal and universal
truth, the act of generating ideas through thinking, and the sustained
engagement in the conversation of humankind which leads to powerful moral
In reality," he says, "there is no such phenomenon
as individual transformation apart from the world, but only a co-transformation
of the individual and the world, because the individual is
the world. To know that you are the world, that you are humanity, is to
have true compassion, and to act from this knowledge is to be moral in
the deepest sense of the word."
Kimura believes that through this "moral action"
individuality is integrated into universality, and universality is crystallized
into individuality. This should happen freely and spontaneously, without
coercion by external authorities, or God, or church, or state, or commandments
or precepts. To make such moral action a global reality is the paramount
moral challenge faced by the "history makers" of today.
He quotes a visionary thinker, inventor Buckminister
Fuller: "Whether humanity is to continue and comprehensively prosper on
spaceship earth depends entirely on the integrity of human individuals,
not on political and economic systems."
"So the challenge of history making lies entirely
with you," says Kimura. More specifically, it lies in whether you dare
to be idealistic and naïve, or whether you succumb to the conspiracy
of mediocrity which requires no great intellectual or spiritual strength
In looking back at the history of the Twilight Club,
it wasnt easy for Herbert Spencer, British philosopher and originator
of the Twilight Club in the 1870s. When he came to America, he openly
expressed his concerns for the human race and the dangers threatening
its very existence, but he was ridiculed.
Undaunted, he went to his friends Ralph Waldo
Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie
and other well known writers and leaders to propose the following:
"Let us have a moral code in which we can build
an enduring civilization that will bring peace and unity into this frightful
world of men who, in search of happiness for themselves, prey upon other
men. Let us have a code upon which the Baptists, the Episcopalians, the
Jews, the Gentiles, the Catholics, the Mohammedans and everyone else can
meet together on common ground. The brotherhood of man is not a system
of beliefs, but a system of ethical practices by means of which all people
serve each other with all that each person has to give. By doing so, the
law of equal action and reaction, which inexorably acts like a mirror
in Nature to re-give in the likeness of that which is given, will assert
itself in manifesting the good in Nature."
This concept, introduced in the 1870s, preceding
two world wars and the nuclear age, is basically what is being proposed
in the reinvigorated Twilight Club of 2001.
A large measure of the Twilight Clubs success
is the leaderships fostering of open minded, positive attitudes
which seemed to prevail among attendees from throughout the U.S. Some
were already students of Walter Russell. Many reflected the hunger for
meaning in an often meaningless society. A cosmic view of the world from
the aspects of nature and the limitations of science was presented by
a panel of philosophers and scientists. Keynote speaker Senator Melford
Okilo, from the fledgling democracy of Nigeria, was the surprise of the
Okilo told an amazing story of having escaped from
Nigeria as a boy and coming to the streets of New York in 1965. There
he stumbled upon Walter Russells book, The Man Who Tapped the
Secrets of the Universe, which became a guiding light along his path
of life. It even brought him to many meetings with Lao Russell. After
returning to Nigeria, he said the Russell teachings gave him the courage
and strength to face three years of political imprisonment after a sentence
of 105 years or death by firing squad.
"The mind is the Creator of the Universe, walk toward
your dream, everything is possible," was Okilos message at the summit
meeting. He has succeeded in fulfilling his own dream having brought a
branch of the University of Science and Philosophy to Nigeria where classes
in Character Building, have begun for young students.
After listening to Okilo, a living example of Kimuras
philosophy of "writing ones own history," it no longer sounded like
a far-fetched idea. In their search for meaning, the Twilight Club may
not provide answers for everyone, but it opens up new possibilities. In
the end, what resonated for me was the East-West fusion at work in interpreting
God as our partner; in happiness, in appreciating the beauty of the world,
and in healing the world. The meeting demonstrated the potential for developing
natural ethical behavior in union with the Light, which is God within
The next meeting of the Twilight Club will be
held in Los Angeles in September. For more information, visit the Twilight
Clubs website at www.twilightclub.org or at www.philosophy.org.