From Basketball to Buddhism: Jim’s journey

James B. Apple: Stairway to Atiśa (#149)

https://wisdomexperience.org/wisdom-podcast/149-james-b-apple/

James B. Apple: Stairway to Atiśa (#149)

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This episode of the Wisdom Podcast features James B. Apple, Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Calgary. James’ research focuses upon critical analysis of Mahāyāna sūtras and topics within Indian and Tibetan Buddhist scholasticism. His numerous books and articles include Stairway to NirvāṇaA Stairway taken by the LucidJewels of the Middle WayAtiśa Dīpaṃkara Illuminator of the Awakened Mind, and An Old Tibetan Dunhuang Manuscript of the Avaivartikacakrasūtra.

In this episode, host Daniel Aitken and James discuss

  • how college athletics set James on his path to Buddhism and academia;
  • his investigations into the root of suffering with teachers such as Bhante Gunaratana, Gelek Rinpoche, and Geshe Lhundub Sopa;
  • the unique lineage and views of the highly influential Indian master Atiśa Dīpankara Śrījñāna;
  • fine points of Atiśa’s contemplative Madhyamaka philosophy and emphasis on meditation;
  • Kadampa systems of Tantric practice and the Twenty-One Taras;
  • Atiśa’s Mahamudra lineage and interactions with some of the Mahasiddhas;
  • the secret stages of the path of Dromtonpa;
  • and much more

Descrating Sacred Mountains

Back in 1992, my husband and I took my elderly mother to see Mount Rushmore. It was a summer journey, mid-July. Mother and I drove to Burr Oak, Kansas in Jewell County to visit our relatives. We took Interstate 70 to Saint Louis, skirted around the stunning Kayoki Mound, and drove to Highway 36. When my grandfather traveled to Kansas from Louisville, Kentucky, he always took Highway 36 and told me it was the “best road.” Of course, his daughter and I followed instructions, even though he had been dead for 20 years by then. We stopped along the road in a forgotten town for the night and then drove on to Burr Oak the next day. In the mean time, Max had work tasks and could not leave for a week. He then took the train to Chicago from Indianapolis and transferred to the Zephyr [Amtrack: Chicago to San Francisco daily] for the trip to Nebraska. Unfortunately, he rode through tornado struck towns and high winds, making for a delayed and adventuresome ride. On the appointed night, I rose a 2:00 am and drove from the motel to my cousin Homer Lewis Grubbs’ home just outside of town. He was actually my mother’s cousin and is 9 years younger than she, so he was about 70 then.  He had graciously agreed to drive with me, saying it was too far and too late in the night for an unaccompanied woman. As we drove from his home to town, he was startled to see a man leaning against the bridge railing. “Now why is he there in the middle of the night??” Spooky. We never found out, but Burr Oak has less than 200 in population, so it was a worry. We took Highway 281 from Burr Oak to Hastings, a straight shoot of 60 miles. The clear sky was amazing with stars shining bright and a spectacular view of the Milky Way. The train was hours late, due to the storms, but Max finally arrived at 5:30 am.

My family’s homestead was only 20 miles from Red Cloud, Nebraska, home of Willa Cather. On our trip, we visited her home and I thought about her books and characters, set in the familiar prairies of our family stories. After a few more days of visiting cemeteries and driving the countryside looking for former family homes, we drove on through Hastings again to Grand Island, Nebraska and took the scenic Highway 2 through the Sand Hills of Nebraska. It was fascinating—dry, one cow per acre, windmills, gradually rising  small hills covered with sagebrush and sandy soil. We even saw the modern Stonehenge which someone had constructed to scale using old automobiles. Finally, we drove through Chadron where Max’s long-time friend Professor Paul Fowler was born. Max wanted to see where Paul came from—a long way from nowhere it turns out. We then drove to Custer, South Dakota in the Black Hills National Forest and found a motel.

In the next several days we drove through Wind Cave Natural Park, and the amazingly beautiful Custer State Park, as well as Badlands National Park and part of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Our visit to Mount Rushmore shocked me. First, the mountain is stunningly beautiful and the whole setting is gorgeous. I was stunned at the visceral reaction I had to the faces carved into the sacred mountain. I had to turn away, I was so nauseated. Yes, I know the presidents there are ones who had the vision to develop the country, to purchase the land, to expand the frontier, to open the West. I admire their wisdom and courage. But, oh, to carve on their sacred mountain the faces of the colonial forces that pushed the Native Americans back into the reservations. Beyond deplorable. Ikeda Sensai says, in The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Volume 1,

“… it is absolutely clear that nature is not something for human beings to use and exploit as they see fit,
solely for their own interests. Both nature and humanity are part and whole of the life of the universe.
Nature and humanity are one. To destroy the natural world is to destroy human life as well.” *

In our travels around the country, we have seen the evil tapestry of oppression and contempt in our treatment of Native Americans. When have the Native Americans ever been equal to the Whites, as in “All men are created equal?”  Our trip through Pine Ridge and our later trips to visit other reservations revealed the shocking poverty, the serene beauty of the bare and boneless land, the meager resources, the exile from the rest of the country. The Black Hills National Forest is rich and luscious with trees and grazing land. The Natives on Pine Ridge live on rock, sand, and dried sagebrush. It is the same on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations, as so many others.

After exploring the region, my mother flew home to Columbus, Ohio from ?? South Dakota, while Max and I drove on to Wyoming and Montana. One of the pleasures of a cross-country driving trip is the awesome beauty of America. Out in the natural world, the spacious skies are beautiful.

  • Ikeda, Daisaku, Katsuji Saito, Takanori Endo, Haruo Suda. 2000 by the Soka Gakkai.  The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Volume I. Santa Monica, CA. World Tribune Press. p. 198.

Reverend Benjamin Landis [1697-1781) and Maria Herr Weber (1695-1787)

Jacob’s son Benjamin [1700-1781], minister in Lancaster County, Mellinger District; progenitor of Lancaster County Landis line [ME III:281].

Reverend Benjamin Landis

It was from the vicinity of Manheim, Germany, that the three brothers, Benjamin, Felix, and John Landis, in 1717, emigrated to Pennsylvania. Benjamin, the eldest, settled in what is now Lancaster County, where in 1718, he received by patent from the London company, a tract of two hundred and forty acres of land situated in East Lampeter Township. He was a Mennonite minister and his house became a refuge for many of the Swiss emigrants who enjoyed his hospitality until they were able to secure homes of their own. [The Strassburger Family, p. 331]Benjamin Landis, the younger, of East Lampter.

Rev Benjamin Landis

Birth:  2 September 1697, Zurich Switzerland
Death: 1781 (aged 83-84), Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Burial: Mellinger Mennonite Cemetery, Lancaster, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Benjamin married Maria Herr Weber in 1729 in East Lampeter Township, Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania. She was also born in Zurich, Switzerland and immigrated to America during 1717 at the age of 15. This Mennonite couple had many children, some of whom are reported to be named: Benjamin, Maria, Jacob, Henry, Barbara, Ann and Abraham Landis. Benjamin was not only a farmer but was ordained as the Minister of the Mellingers Mennonite Church in Lancaster Co., PA.

Maria Herr Weber Landis

Birth: 1695, Switzerland
Death: 1787 (aged 91-92)
Burial: Mellinger Mennonite Cemetery, Lancaster, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Maria immigrated with her parents to America in 1710. The family relocated during 1717 to Lancaster Co., PA. She was raised on the Weber “Weizenthal” pioneer homestead. The house, built in 1735, still stands today at 1835 Pioneer Road, Lancaster Co., PA.

Maria married Benjamin Witmer Landis during 1729 in East Lampeter Township, Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania. He was also born in Zurich, Switzerland to Jacob Landis and Anna Witmer and immigrated to America during 1717 at the age of 19.

This Mennonite couple had many children some of whom are reported to be named: Benjamin, Maria, Jacob, Henry, Barbara, Ann and Abraham Landis. Maria’s farmer husband was ordained as the minister of the Mellingers Mennonite Church in Lancaster Co., Pa.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/64187031/maria-herr-landis

Maria Weber, daughter of Hans Anton Weber and Maria Margaretha. [Best, “Swiss Origins.” p. 18-18, according to Kendig, M.D. PMH, July 2005, p. 47]

Jacob Landis 1667-1730 and Anna Witmer Landis 1671-1725

 Hans Landis, last Anabaptist executed in Ct. Zurich, 1614.

Jacob Landus [1667-1730], emigrated with his brothers Benjamin, Felix, and Johannes, 1717 to Pennsylvania from Mannheim; brothers [ME III: 280-282; MC 202-203]

Jacob’s son Benjamin [1700-1781], minister in Lancaster County; progenitor of Lancaster County Landis line [ME III:281].

In 1717, three brothers, Rev. Benjamin, Felix, and John Landis, all Swiss Mennonites, came to American from the vicinity of Manheim on the Rhine, where they had been driven from Zurich, Switzerland, and purchased land from Penn and the Conestogoe Indians. p. 140–Oberholtzer Genealogy

Jacob Landis
Birth: 1667, Switzerland
Death: 1730 (aged 62-63), East Lampeter Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Burial: Mellinger Mennonite Cemetery, Lancaster, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Jacob was a descendant of the 1614 Martyr, Hans Landis of Canton, Zurich, Hirzel, Switzerland. At the time of his birth this part of Steinsfurt, Germany was actually part of Switzerland. The Mennonite Jacob Landis married Anna Witmer about 1688 in Zurich, Switzerland. Jacob knew her family growing up as he lived on a farm in the neighborhood. Jacob’s family immigrated during 1717 and then in 1722 they bought farm land in Lancaster Co., PA and relocated one last time. The rest of Anna & Jacob’s lives were spent on their farm of 200 acres on both sides of what is now know as “The Old Road”. Their son Benjamin was the first Mennonite preacher in the area and where they lived became the center of the Mellinger church activities.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/35906373/jacob-landis

Anna Witmer Landis

Birth: November 1671, Switzerland
Death: 1725 (aged 53-54), Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Burial: Mellinger Mennonite Cemetery, Lancaster, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Anna was the first born child of Ulrich Witmer (b.1633, d.1685) and Barbara Ebbe (b.1643, d.?). Her parents were an Anti-Baptist family. At the time of her birth this part of Steinsfurt, Germany was actually part of Switzerland. Some records suggest her ancestors used Widmer as their surname. Anna married the Mennonite Jacob Landis about 1688 in Zurich, Switzerland. Jacob knew her family growing up as he lived on a farm in the neighborhood. Jacob’s family immigrated during 1717 and then in 1722 they bought farm land in Lancaster Co., PA and relocated one last time. The rest of Anna & Jacob’s lives were spent on their farm of 200 acres on both sides of what is now know as “The Old Road.” Their son Benjamin was the first Mennonite preacher in the area and where they lived became the center of the Mellinger church activities.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/67090737/anna-landis

Durst Buckwalter and his wife Barbara Landis Buchwalter

Durst Buckwalter,  Lampeter Township.
June 6, 1773–April 17, 1782
Children: Francis, Abraham and Henry.
Ex.: Francis Buckwalter and John Witmer.

[Abstracts of Lancaster Co., PA, Wills, 1729 ­ 1819]

Lived on the land he owned in Lampter Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

All four of his sons are mentioned in Pennsylvania Archives, Vol VII.

Theodorus Yost “Durst” Buchwalter
BIRTH July 1701 Switzerland
DEATH 7 Jul 1782 (aged 80–81)Lampeter, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA
BURIAL Mellinger Mennonite Cemetery, Lancaster, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA

Husband to Barbara Landis Buchwalter, who was the mother of Abraham Buchwalter. The Mennonite farmer Theodorus Yost was the son of Francis Bough Buchwalter and Mary Durst Mellinger. He immigrated with his parents to America in 1717. He married Barbara Witmer Landis during 1724 in Lancaster Co., PA. She was also born in Canton, Zurich, Switzerland to Jacob Landis (b.1667, d.1730) and Anna Witmer (b.1671, d.1725).

Between 1725 and 1746 Theodorus & Barbara had 13 children which they named: Anlea “Ann”, Maria, Barbara, Frantz, Martha, Hans, Johannes, Lizzie, Abraham Landis, Joseph, Henrich, Henry and Veronica Buchwalter. They were all born in Lampeter Township, Lancaster Co., PA.
His parents, Francis and Mary Buchwalter are thought to have been buried in an old Indiana cemetery that is now under what is downtown of Phoenixville, PA.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/20169776/theodorus-yost-buchwalter

Deed Book 4, p. 389. Indenture dated 3 Feb 1777. Dores buckwalter transferred land to his son Abraham 68 3/4 acres [and other land] in Lampter Township. Indenture dated 24 Oct 1811. Abraham and his wife Barbara transferred this land, 68 3/4, acres to his oldest son John. [later sold to Abraham Herr]

Barbara Landis
Birth: 1702, Zürich, Switzerland
Death: 1782, Lampeter Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA

Barbara, a Mennonite, was the daughter of Jacob Landis and Anna Witmer. She immigrated with her parents through Germany in 1717.
The Landis family were descendants of the 1614 Martyr, Hans Landis of Canton, Zurich Hirzel, Switzerland.

At the age of 22 Barbara married the Mennonite farmer Theodorus Yost “Durst” Buchwalter in 1724 in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania. Between 1725 and 1746 Theodorus & Barbara had 13 children which they named: Anlea “Ann”, Maria, Barbara, Frantz, Martha, Hans, Johannes, Lizzie, Abraham Landis, Joseph, Henrich, Henry and Veronica Buchwalter. They were all born in Lampeter Township, Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania.

Family links on findagrave:
Parents:
Jacob Landis (1667 – 1730)
Anna Witmer Landis (1671 – 1725)

Spouse:
Theodorus Yost Buchwalter (1702 – 1782)*

Children:
Barberra Buchwalter Weber (1730 – 1796)*
Frantz Buchwalter (1731 – 1816)*
Hansli Johannes Buchwalter (1735 – 1808)*
Abraham Buchwalter (1740 – 1819)*
Henrich Buchwalter (1742 – 1805)*