I was first introduced to the practice of meditation at age 8 by my father who had learned it through his own recovery from combat-related trauma. These themes–trauma and peace, family and service–are woven throughout my path of studying and practicing buddha-dharma. I picked up my own self-guided study and practice when I was in high school and carried on in this fashion through college until I later joined a community, Hai An Pagoda in New Britain, CT, in 2008.
At this time, I was also beginning a career in public policy as a legislative liaison for a state agency. I came to appreciate the practical application of calming the mind in order to clearly understand my own mental states and those of others. By applying this Buddhist practice to the work of promoting dialogue on public issues, I found success in building constructive relationships. This led to my enrollment in the Masters of Divinity program at Naropa University in Boulder, CO from 2011-2014. This education gave me a formal grounding in Buddhist doctrine, pastoral care and inter-faith dialogue.
During this period, I had my first encounter with Tendai through Rev. Doshin O’Brien with the Colorado Tendai Sangha. Doshin’s tenderness both as a Buddhist practitioner and father was an inspiration to commit to Tendai. His example further inspired me consider the path of becoming a Tendai priest. I began the process of formation as a doshu with the Tendai Buddhist Institute. Besides preparing me to be a priest, the sessions of Gyo that I attended have also shaped me as a professional, husband, father and friend. The ascetic practices reveal core attachments that keep one from liberation both in extreme circumstances and in daily life. Despite years of informal and formal study and training, the deepest learning has happened since receiving doshu ordination in 2014.
My wife and I moved to Saint Paul, MN in 2016 to be close to her family as we awaited the birth of our first child. We were happy to have him join us in our home that fall and be part of our new life here. I now work in local government supporting neighborhood organizations and promoting participatory democracy through consulting with residents, government employees and elected officials. I look forward to forming a sangha in the near future and completing Shido Kegyo in advance of receiving soryo ordination.