My name is Joe Evans and I’ve been studying Buddhism with my teacher switching camp, which are very important for 17 or 18 years now, close to 18 years now. And, uh, yeah, I’ve, I’ve had a wonderful journey and I really, really am grateful for the practice that I have now. Um, so I live in Salt Lake City, Utah, and I’m a musician. I play violin in the Utah Symphony. And, uh, yeah, the, the way I got into Buddhism. Well, first of all, when I was young, I was I was interested in Zen. And, you know, interestingly, there’s a connection between music and Buddhism for me because my very first violin teacher, he was interested in Zen Buddhism. And, and so he would he would sometimes say a few things. He was really amazing guy just, you know, really talented in so many areas of, kind of kind of a genius type. Um, and, um, yeah. So, you know, based on that, I thought, oh yeah, that sounds like a really cool thing. So I explored a little bit, right, a little bit when I was young, you know, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I love that.
But I was about 15 I think, when I read that. Um, yeah, then I think, you know, in college I did, uh, a little bit of meditating in Zen Buddhism, and that was really wonderful. I was really into that. But at the same time I was getting more and more involved in music. So I kind of dropped that and really focused on my, my practicing studying music. Um, so, yeah, that’s my early experience with Buddhism. And then I came back here, I’m originally from the Salt Lake City area and came back here, uh, to, to audition for the Utah Symphony, which I won the audition and, and, um, yeah, so that was in 96. And, uh, I was experiencing some, uh, some shoulder problems and neck problems and, uh, some, some injuries there with playing violin. And so I started to practice yoga. My wife and I started to get interested in yoga to help with that. And, and, and it was just amazing. It was physically really good. Definitely. It was helping me physically. But then I started to feel like, well, there’s a lot more going on here. So I started to read more about yoga and I was just so fascinated with this whole whole world was opening up to me. And then I started to read some other books and especially about Buddhism and, and there’s one book by the Dalai Lama knows how to practice a kind of a small, short book. And I was just so impressed, uh, just, it was just so clear and so logical. Um, you know, I thought that that totally makes sense. And I think that’s. That’s for me, this is my path. Um, and I just, you know, I have so much respect for the Dalai Lama. I just so grateful to him because, you know, he’s he’s influenced so many beings in this world. I mean, I can’t imagine what this world would be like without the Dalai Lama. So I’m really, really glad to encounter that, that connection. And so then I said, Oh, I think maybe Tibetan Buddhism is the way to go, you know, because I really like the Dalai Lama approach. And so I started to read more and started to practice Tibetan Buddhism a little bit. And I, I, I read that it’s very important to have a teacher, to have a teacher that that can really guide you, not just give you information, but really guide you and to, um, you know, overcome all obstacles because, uh, you know, think things will arise that will give us difficulties. And really we have to have a teacher to point those, point out those difficulties and help us overcome them. Right? So, uh, so I made the aspiration, you know, may I find a teacher? And it’s been very short time. Within a few months, I think, um, I, I saw that there was going to be a teaching at the University of Utah, and I saw the flier, and I just really beautifully done. I think the title was single present awareness. So it’s really beautiful design. And I thought, Oh yeah, I think I want to check that out. So I went to that teaching and even before, uh, touch and care about your role in what you taught, some of the students talked a little bit before, and so you came a little bit later. And even before he arrived, I thought, this is really interesting, you know, because it’s just so great. You know, his students could describe the practice with such clarity and, um, with such love too. And so I was really impressed by that. Then he came and I was just like, Well, this is my teacher. Uh, you know, this, this is, this is somebody I definitely want to learn from so, you know, so powerful. Um, you know, like, it’s interesting, you know, really powerful presence. Like, you know, unmovable, kind of, you know, the way he sits, you know, and but at the same time, so kind. And then then the clarity which with which he was able to convey his teaching was just amazing. I have a stronger friend who describes seeing him for the first time, attending his teaching for the first time, and she said she had been studying Buddhism for more than three years. And she said, okay, in those 2 hours I learned more. Or let’s say he was able to condense the essence of what I’ve learned and more and just those 2 hours than you know, much you learned before.
Um, so, yeah, that, that’s, that’s the one amazing skill of complete yoga in which he’s an amazing scholar. And he, he’s able to, to condense, like many volumes of teachings into, you know, something that is easy to understand and easy to hold on to, easy to practice. Um, and that’s what he taught the first, the first day it was a, it was a teaching on some basic principles such as, and, you know, what is mind like, who am I, you know, which is present moment thinking that was the title of the teaching and then karma. What’s the relationship between thinking and karma and uh, uh, reincarnation? You talked about reincarnation somewhat, but most of all he really emphasized, uh, what he calls, you know, positive thinking. And that’s a really important, um, uh, principle in the, in Budapest lineage. And, and it’s, it’s really important to understand it and because it really, it really contains like all teachings within it. And, and furthermore, that that’s like that’s what we need to focus on as practitioners. Like what’s going on in my mind right now, do I have good thinking, you know, if I don’t have such good thinking, what can I do to let go of, you know, my negative emotions or negative states of mind? What what can I do about that? And and so the the teaching on positive thinking is really, really helpful. Like, you know, we were talking about how, you know, going beyond the Christian, as, you know, the title of your project is. And that’s a really, really helpful way to implement with his teachings in everyday life, right? So, you know, that was the teaching and um, on, on good thinking, which is essentially, you know, my love and my compassion. It’s a, essentially, that’s what it is. You know, I want others to be happy with my intention. I want to, I want to hold that intention, repeat that intention. I want others not to suffer. So that’s the compassion element, love and compassion. And then also for it to take care of oneself, to, you know, to to have compassion for yourself, too. So when I see, uh, things that I don’t like in my own mind, what can I do to reduce that self-compassion over annunciation and then and then also self-love, to like recognizing one’s good qualities and really holding onto that, cherishing that, increasing that. Um, so that was the, that was the experience I had meeting my teacher. You know, that was a really great moment, actually, on the way out of that teaching, um, I, I kind of stay late and talk to people. And then, so I was one of the last people to leave and so it was, I was, I was on my way out. And then I noticed that he was behind me. And I just felt like, you know, he’s he knows me. Like he’s you’re seeing through me a really interesting, uh, kind of sense sensation. Um, so I thought, oh, yeah, there’s something’s happening here. And, um, actually, that night I had a really, uh, auspicious dream. Um, but normally, uh, you know, actually, he doesn’t. It doesn’t encourage us to follow our dreams too much because, um, uh, it, uh, he says it’s the, you know, our dreams are the excrement of thinking. He doesn’t didn’t use the word excrement, but, uh, but, uh, yeah, it’s kind of a funny way to say it, but yeah, it does not. Not to attach too much importance to dreams. So I just wanted to say that first. But, but that the dream that I had that really, that really motivate motivated me to find out more and into practice. So that the dream was to simply, you know, just a really clear moment of, you know, I see I’m seeing him looking at me like like, oh, you know, he knows me really, really amazing experience, actually. Um, but as I said, you know, it’s, I don’t know how much importance to attach to it other than it was very helpful for me. So, so based on those experiences with teaching and, and, uh, the dream, I, I started to practice and I started to practice from the, the practice manual that actually was just published. So that was 2004. So it’s called the second edition of the Buddha Path. The Buddha path is the practice manual that that so she can put yoga in which I, uh, compiled and composed. It’s a, um, it’s a, it’s a, like a condensation of all the essential points we need for practice. And so that includes sutra teachings, it includes tantra, it includes exhaustion, and of course, the preliminaries of how to advance on those stages of the path. It’s all included in this daily practice manual. So and since then, I’ve been practicing out of that almost every day. Uh, which is really amazing for, you know, I’ve been interested in many various things in my life, many hobbies, interests, but, uh, I never get tired of that. I never, uh, it always, it always gives me more energy night when I practice from the Buddha path in particular. Um, but yeah, uh, the main practice is actually, you know, my good thinking, like I want to, I want to hold my good thinking at all times and then, then the, like, the formal aspect of practice, like sitting down and reading from the Buddha path or, or doing some other meditation or breathing exercises or reciting mantra. Uh, remember when doing serious meditation that definitely supports our practice in everyday life. But the main thing is, you know, can I hold, can I hold Dharma all the time, you know, uh, so yeah, without the seated practice, it is, it is difficult to maintain, but it’s important to remember that, you know, actually, the time to practice is right now, like always right now. It’s not okay, I’m going to practice. And when I get home from work or something, it’s that right? Right now, whatever’s happening right now, can I apply, Dharma?
© 2021 Jack Huynh | Orange Photography
Annual update on progress of project.