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Lions Roar : July 2019
Live with Joe Zawinul and Weather Report in 1977. The band was always a powerhouse, but Shorter was becoming more determined to “put life ahead of music.” When the band broke up in the mid-80’s , he says, “we both knew it was time to go our own ways.” Shorter credits Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and Ikeda with having a tremendous influence in his life, but when I suggest that that influence runs on a two-way street—because he’s been a high-profile ambassador for Nichiren Buddhism since his very start with it—he’s almost too humble: “I think the thing I’ve contributed to SGI is not giving up.” "AWAKE, AWAKE" MUCH IS MADE, when people talk about SGI, about the idea that its practitioners chant “for material gain.” Indeed, initiates are often told that if they would like to chant with the motivation of improving their circum- stances, that’s fine: a better job, better health, a new car, even straight-up money and fame. But that’s not the whole story, and Shorter is happy to fill in some blanks. “When I talk to people out there, I tell them: this money, the fame, they’re teachers. These things are supposed to teach us something.” Chanters might start small, practicing with a “localized” motivation (often, themselves), but if they persevere, their vision and motivation can expand over time: the wish for a better “me” evolves into a wish to connect with oth- ers, to be of benefit to them, and to not miss the con- stant stream of opportunity that life throws at us. “I think everything around us, even the most devastating things, is saying, ‘Awake, awake,’” Shorter tells me. “And this awakening is done through our actions.” He’s seen it manifest in others: “I’ve met people who were self-destructing and then fifteen years later, after practicing this practice, the self-destruct- ing is not there any longer. I’m talking about people who were without meaning, who were on that real LION’S ROAR | JULY 2019 61