Seishin’s path to Soryo monk fulfills the old cliché, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” His first exposure to Buddhist and eastern thought and teachings came through course readings while studying art and psychology in college. The poetry of Gary Snyder, the writings of Jack Kerouac, Zen stories by Eugen Herrigel and others resonated with his own developing sense of self and the world.
After college he was introduced to an informal meditation group led by an American Soto Zen priest. The group soon fell apart as such groups do. In the ensuing years he continued a haphazard course of self-study, found from time-to-time other formal and informal Zen groups to practice with, and spent long periods of time as a solitary practitioner.
After a stretch of time practicing alone Seishin set his mind once again on finding a ‘real’ teacher. He didn’t have to search any further than the front page of the local weekly newspaper where an article announced that a dharma center was opening only 20 minutes away from where he was then living. He attended the second public meeting in the spring of 1995 and met Monshin Naamon. This was the teacher he was looking for. At that time, Tendai was just a vague word he had come across occasionally in his reading. It isn’t so much that Seishin chose Tendai, but that Tendai chose Seishin.
But what a good fit Tendai was. For one with a curious and wide ranging mind, a Buddhist school that sought to harmonize and integrate all the teachings and sutra rather than just focusing on one; that included all the practices of meditation, devotion, ritual, art and service woven into a tapestry, could be a source of nourishment without end.
In 1998 Seishin completed the first doshu gyo along with four others. Soon thereafter Monshin appointed him to lead the newly formed Higashi Tendai Buddhist Sangha in Great Barrington, MA. He received Soryo ordination from Monshin in 2003, and again in 2010 from Ven. Komori Sukei. In 2005, Seishin together with his wife Taff relocated to Indian Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York where in 2007 he opened Celestial Drum Tendai Buddhist Sangha as a branch of the New York Betsuin. Ten years at Canaan allowed him to experience the value of the “village temple” vision of Monshin and Shumon which provides the opportunity for people to practice together in their own community with mutual support and benefit. In 2017 Celestial Drum celebrated its tenth anniversary.
Seishin’s own practice and study is like Tendai itself—wide ranging and inclusive. He melds meditation, sutra chanting, exoteric and esoteric ritual, art and service. In his teaching, relying heavily on sutra and foundational Tendai and T’ien T’ai writings, his aim is to encourage the student to find their resonant practice and develop a Bodhisattva way of life in which ‘practice’ and ‘daily life’ become seamless. Going forward Seishin seeks to continue his own study and practice to be better able to assist others on their path both in Indian Lake and at the Betsuin, while keeping his eyes open for any unexpected opportunity to be of use.