My path to Buddhism, to Tendai, and to priesthood arose from a series of fortuitous events. While in graduate school, my student-teaching experience pushed me to start asking questions about the purpose of education and eventually led me to questions about the human condition. A comparative literature class focused on the interior journey represented in travel writing introduced me to spiritual seekers like Thomas Merton, Maura Soshin O’Halloran. Their journeys provided some answers and brought up more questions. And, fliers in the local health food store and a chance conversation at a diner near my home in the Berkshires sent me to Higashi Sangha (a branch of Tendai Buddhist Institute) and eventually to Karuna Tendai Dharma Center.
When I started training as a priest in 2000, I entered the training based on a leap of faith that this was the right next step in my practice, but without a clear vision of what that meant. Over the years, I’ve grown into the idea and practice of being a leader. I was ordained as a Betsuin Soryo in 2006 and as a Soryo in 2015. During each tokudo ceremony, we are reminded that becoming a priest isn’t about what you have already done or achieved. Tokudo is actually the beginning of a journey. This really resonates with my experience. Over the years, being a priest and a sangha leader has provided me with inspiration in my practice and a way of living the bodhisattva path.
I currently lead the Winding Path Tendai Sangha in Springfield, MA. The sangha’s honzon is Jizo Bodhisattva. The sangha currently meets in a breakout room at an Episcopal church, and we’re saving up money to purchase a more permanent home in the city.
In addition to leading a sangha, for the past couple years I have been studying and practicing pilgrimage. In 2016 I completed the Saigoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage. In 2017 I completed the Bando 33 Kannon Pilgrimage and the Chichibu Saitama 34 Kannon Pilgrimage. Those 3 pilgrimages together make up the 100 Kannon Pilgrimage. Recently I have been exploring more local pilgrimages both in rural nature areas and in cities. I’ve been doing some writing about these practices, and plan to publish a series of articles on my blog sometime this year.
I currently reside in Springfield, MA and work for an education nonprofit as a coach for teachers and school leaders. I see a meaningful intersection between this work and my role as a Tendai priest. My work with educators is another opportunity to alleviate dukkha and support people to deepen their compassion and equanimity.