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!
How did you get into the arts/writing?
I’ve been a writer for as long as I’ve been able to hold a pen. My mom used to buy notebooks for me to carry around, and I would scribble stories in them to keep myself occupied. As I got older, that turned into journaling, and I enjoyed chronicling events that took place during family reunions and summer vacations.
Do you meditate? What is your practice like?
I have a deep love for ritual and traditional Buddhist practice. I meditate for one hour each day, chant nembutsu, and light incense/candles at my altar. These observances keep me grounded amidst the chaos of daily life.
Do you identify with any specific spirituality? If so, how did that happen for you? What spirituality were you raised in?
I was raised in the evangelical, Christian church, but I serve my community as a Buddhist teacher and a breathwork facilitator. I can’t explain how this happened other than to say I love searching for knowledge. And when I find something that works, I enjoy sharing that information with others. I’m motivated by the Bodhisattva vow to, “save all beings from suffering.”
What are your goals in life? What do you hope to do some day? Do you have a bucket list?
I want to make canonical, Buddhist teachings available to the general public. Unfortunately, many people are unable to visit a traditional Buddhist temple due to either time or circumstance. I want to change that by making the practices available online. I envision a world where participants can sit retreats, study sutras, and engage with a teacher all from the comfort of their living room!
What is your most favorite memory?
My favorite memory is an experience I had during a three-day retreat with one of my teachers, Ven. Shih Ying-Fa, a Chan Buddhist monk. It was winter, and we were doing walking meditation outside. I stepped on a twig, and everything switched to high-definition.
The colors of the world around me became brighter, and I saw details that I had never noticed before; like how a tree has several shades of brown in its trunk, or how leaves have tiny hills and valleys etched into them.
After a few hours, the world returned to its normal, drab winter colors. But that experience showed me the beauty that resides in the world if we’re willing to pay attention.
That understanding led me to write a book, Perfectly Ordinary, Buddhist Teachings for Everyday Life, where I explain the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path using experiences I’ve had on farms, in temples, and in corporate America.
If you could meet anyone living or dead, who would it be?
I want to meet Vimalakirti. We’re working our way through the Vimalakirti Sutra in my meditation and sutra study class, which I livestream on YouTube. It’s incredible to see how the students respond to him.
This is impressive because he was a lay person with no monastic training, so his experience was not unlike most people who study the Dharma while working a job and paying bills.
I’d like to sit down with him and discuss the interplay between Buddhist teachings and daily life that he expounds in the sutra.
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