The Men of TTB is a series where we focus on some of the men who helped get The Tattooed Buddha off and running and also continue to keep it growing! We sent out a few interview questions to some of these writers and artists so that we could find out more about them and highlight their many talents! We recently ran the series The Women of TTB if you’d like to see more of these amazing writers!
Tell me a little about yourself. Where do you live? What is your living arrangement like?
I live in Parkville, Missouri. It’s a charming college town just outside Kansas City, MO. I live with my wife, four kids, and two cats.
How did you get into the arts/writing?
I majored in English in college because I didn’t know what to major in and I was good at those classes. So, because of that I wrote a whole lot of essays. After college one day I just got inspired to write something about “why I’m a Buddhist” and I really haven’t stopped since then.
Do you meditate? What is your practice like?
I do. My practice is great and I love sharing it with people whenever I can. I have guided meditations on Insight Timer as well as a whole lot of writings and Youtube videos. I recently started leading practice at the One Mind Zen Hermitage on Zoom once a month. Prior to that I was working hard to create my own teaching opportunities. I like working for someone else.
How did you get into meditation?
My parents passed away when I was a teenager. I’m just sharing that with you to tell you that after they passed I had some horrendous anxiety problems. I was an anxious person before, but it really got substantially worse. Someone suggested meditation to me and when I tried it, it changed everything.
Do you identify with any specific spirituality? If so, how did that happen for you? What spirituality were you raised in?
I’m a Buddhist. I practice a Chan meditation style called Silent Illumination. But I study various forms of Buddhism, mostly in the Mahayana traditions. I don’t think it’s all that important to say, “I’m a Zen Buddhist, I’m a Chan Buddhist, I’m a Mahayana Buddhist”. I’m just on this path, trying to cultivate wisdom and compassion.
I learned about Buddhism in a college class and I was immediately drawn to it. I read a few books and I knew it was right. I was raised in a nominally Christian family, the sort of Christian that only goes to Church occasionally and never talks about religion at home. I think a lot of people are raised that way. I had decided I didn’t believe in Christianity a year or so before discovering Buddhism.
What do you do for a living?
I am a labor activist. I serve on the board of my local National Treasury Employees Union Chapter as Vice President. I advocate for better pay and benefits for federal workers. I argue on behalf of workers when they are mistreated and I sometimes travel to Washington DC to meet with members of Congress and argue for worker’s rights. I love standing up and speaking out for people that need help. It’s not a job, it’s a calling. People like me in this position because they can tell I really care.
How long have you done that?
I was elected to the Vice President position this year. I’ve been volunteering for the union for two years. Prior to that I was one of those employees that I now represent.
How did you get involved with TTB? How long have you been involved with TTB?
I believe I was one of the first writers recruited to write for TTB, so I’ve been involved since the beginning.
What would you like to see TTB do in the future?
I know this may not be a popular opinion, but I want more Buddhist content and less of anything else. If it were up to me, I’d like to see TTB evolve into a Buddhist Community.
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