The first time I met Alex was in Cleveland at the West Side Market to sit with him in a public meditation.
It was such a cool idea, TTB ran with it and thus began our annual Day of Meditation. I had chatted with Alex online and he had submitted pieces, and then I realized he lived in Cleveland—about a 30 minute drive east of me. I remember navigating through the West Side Market, texting him about where we would meet, and then pushing a door to the outside and seeing him standing right around the corner with some of his friends he had brought for the meditation.
I stopped in my tracks because for a minute I wasn’t sure it was him. Seeing people online and actually meeting them in person are two different things and this man standing outside was much taller than the Alex I had imagined. But my hesitation was only a split second as he smiled right at me and stepped forward out stretching his hand in a welcoming handshake.
We talked for a bit about where he wanted to set up, his voice quiet but his smile infectious. Somewhat shy, yet purposeful in his mission that day we sat on some concrete steps outside the market in meditation. I often hear people refer to others as “down to earth” and this seems cliche but Alex truly is 100% genuine. He’s the type of guy you can just hang out with and also true to his word. He doesn’t own a car, but rather bikes everywhere. If you are familiar with Cleveland our weather sucks, so this alone may grant him sainthood.
He started a cause called Food Not Bombs, which was a food drive for peace. He became a Buddhist lay minister, has a green thumb, and regularly (pre-pandemic) held outside public meditations. He has unlimited patience, especially when he asks me five or six times to update his bio or fix a typo, and I forget yet again.
We have chatted with Alex Kakuyo a few times on our podcasts and Alex also writes for TTB as well as many other publications…including his own blog, The Same Old Zen. Recently Alex published a book, Perfectly Ordinary: Buddhist Teachings for Everyday Life so we asked him if he would chat with us again.
Alex tells us his feelings on Buddhism, how he was drawn to it, how he once gave up all of his possessions and worked on a farm for awhile, and what it’s like being perfectly ordinary and Buddhist everyday. I hope you enjoy.
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