"You Are the History Makers"
Says the Twilight Club’s Yasuhiko G. Kimura

By Patricia Keegan

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 lives?

"You are the history makers!" Yasuhiko Genku Kimura, executive Director of the Twilight Club, assured an attentive group of attendees at the club’s first Vision Summit, held in May at the Washington Dulles Marriott.

"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, it’s 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 1870’s 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 Carnegie’s 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 Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Ralph Waldo Trine’s In Tune with the Infinite, Edwin Markham’s Children in Bondage, and Alexis Carrel’s 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 action.

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."

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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 nor integrity."

In looking back at the history of the Twilight Club, it wasn’t easy for Herbert Spencer, British philosopher and originator of the Twilight Club in the 1870’s. 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 1870’s, 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 Club’s success is the leadership’s 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 event.

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 Russell’s 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 Okilo’s 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 Kimura’s philosophy of "writing one’s 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 us all.

The next meeting of the Twilight Club will be held in Los Angeles in September. For more information, visit the Twilight Club’s website at www.twilightclub.org or at www.philosophy.org.