My name is Terry, and I live here in Galveston. And we’ve been here about 30 years. And we came moved down here from New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico, outside Santa Fe, up in the mountains outside Santa Fe, had an art gallery. And so we started an art gallery here. My wife and I did and used a lot of the artists that we were working with up in New Mexico down here. And so we had a nice entry into this community because we started the business and people liked what we had. And so we got to know the Galveston community, and that was great. It was very rich. But yeah, Galveston’s I don’t know if it’s the end of a long journey in terms of where I lived, but, you know, I moved to New Mexico, moved to Albuquerque from New York City, and lived there for a couple of years. My wife, my then wife was working at the New School of Social Research, and so I had a chance to I was working as a studio artist, then doing sculpture, and we had spent the previous year before moving there. There might. And I was able to do some quite a bit of research on structural systems, which was part of my sculptural work. And so getting New York was a great time just to, just to do studio work, but also while I was there, um, who came in contact with the Gurdjieff community and would sit with them. You know, they had an Upper East Side, they had weekly meetings and you’d go and sit in them in a dark, uh, kind of a dark room. That was, uh, about 90 degrees. They’d overheated and the chairs are really uncomfortable. And, and you’d listen to these, these talks by name. And I think his name was he was a student of Gurdjieff. And once, while he’d show up and play the piano, it was you know, it was part of spiritual work. I mean, it seems like pretty much everywhere I’ve been the kind of the one thing in common, it’s been the spiritual references are art and spiritual. The two things, um, um, so prior to, prior to going. So I came here from New Mexico prior to that in New York, prior to that. Cambridge.
Appeal of Dharma
Yeah. All of the above. I mean, the book is very engaging. It’s a beautifully written book. And, you know, even though I think some reviewer called it brutal light. Oh, it’s not at all. It’s quite it’s got a lot of depth and a lot of depth to it. It’s just not like scholarly, you know, it’s not written. And I’ve been reading all this scholarship stuff, you know. And it was just I was just sitting there talking to, you know, so I found it very engaging. He is he has an enormous sense of humor. I’m a serious he has a fabulous sense of humor with the Odyssey humor and everything. Just, you know, he nails and that was engaging. And certainly, you know, that there was a there was a lightness to it, but there was also a resonance that really a deep resonance to, you know, basically the book is is the Four Noble Truth or the Eightfold Path, I should say the Eightfold Path more accurate. And he goes through each of the each each each of the eight steps and, you know, gives you examples of his students and things that they’ve gone through. And we’re just telling stories. You know, he’s just really telling it very effectively, telling the story rather than getting this whole scholarly presentation of, you know, this is, you know, what you typically read. So I found that engaging enough so that I was interested in learning more and then what I found out that the retreats were so accessible. You know, just, you know, you just sign up, you go. You don’t have to, you know, have all this. You know, resumé or anything else to do that. So that but that that was good. When I first got to the retreat, it was in an old monastery, old stone monastery. There was a Natick, Massachusetts, outside Boston. And it was just all the monastic building and two things there when I first got there, very nervous, had no idea what I was getting into, you know, what the protocols are, you know, you know, how do you do it? You know? So I put a note on the board that said, you know, I’d like to talk to someone for the retreat start. So I got to know back to the Abbey Room, such and such such such a time. So we’re there. And here’s this absolutely gorgeous woman, Maggie, who was Lamassoure, is one of his assistants and an assistant, and she just was totally engaging. I said, You know, I’m really nervous about that. She said, You’re going to do fine. And really, I just believed her. I said, okay, so and so that happened. And the other thing that happened was I well, had several very wonderful experiences there. I mean, just, you know, just sitting, just the calm of it, just the piece of it, you know, was really just brought up. It was very beautiful. Very, very beautiful. So that captured me, you know? I mean, I’d yeah, I could use more of that, but I had some real nice insights about myself, particularly my, my whole attraction and aversion was probably the first hit. And I just I realized I was just making it all up, you know, or, you know, being attracted to this person or not attracted to that person or. Oh, isn’t this nice? Isn’t that you know? And I just was I just realized I was making all that up and it was so joyful to have that it was like during the city. And it just it just I was crystal clear. I mean, it was no, there was no reality to any of that, but there was reality. And I left the meditation hall. And when I was go back to my room, I started doing somersaults. So I was like, right, you know, just like, wow, you know? So, you know, that that all that’s pretty engaging. No, like when I was up on the mountain, you know, up in Santa, outside Santa Fe, up in the mountains. You know, when I was reading the book, I was every morning I would sit I had I had built these solar windows that looked at the Ortiz mountains. And so I would sit and I didn’t know really how to set. I just sat and stuff started happening just from reading the book. Things just started happening. I mean, just kind of seeing how it all fits together and how the mountain is more than the mountain. And I mean, just, you know, just kind of neat stuff and but no, I didn’t up to that point, I had spent a lot of time with, you know, in nature fishing, you know, hiking, skiing. And I’d spend I would always sit whenever I was in nature, I just would sit and I would find a rock and just sit and just, you know, look at things. But I was doing that there. But it was now with this kind of little there was a little bit of wisdom behind that. You know, it was kind of been and it had been informed by the text, you know, that, you know, there was okay, now the okay to do this. But the little bit about inside this kind of what it means to have inside. So yeah.
Yeah. Enlightenment is possible. You know? I mean, there’s the I think we all have that. We all we already have that. But we may just have a little peace here and a little peace there. Right. But like total somebody, somebody, you know, I mean, you know. Yeah, it’s possible. But, you know, that’s that’s that’s a pretty big commitment. I mean, you get guys like him out of Maharishi and, you know, who just like, like, you know, just have this kind of spontaneous awakening. But he spent years just meditating, deepening that, deepening that, deepening, deepening, you know, so there’s a commitment there. But I see it as maturity. You know, we mature, you know, there’s kind of different ways that we mature. We mature physically just by staying healthy, mentally, intellectually, by taking an interest in the world, you know, traveling, reading, studying, meeting people, whatever, you know, that break down old assumptions and, you know, we kind of recognize that, you know, our part and having an expectation and and then that leads to emotional maturity, which is, you know, being able to take responsibility for how we feel, you know, what we think and then how we feel, you know, take responsibility for that and see our part in whatever it is we’re experiencing in this spiritual maturity, which is seeing the way in which we’re all connected in causes and conditions, interdependence, you know, codependency or interdependence arising, you know, I mean, we just, you know, we get this sense of the kind of the wholeness, the completeness that we have and that exists in the world. You know, we’re whole, we’re complete. We’re just as we are. We’re, you know, we have everything we need to be happy just as we are. But, you know, it takes kind of those levels of maturity to reach that. So to me, it’s just the natural growth of being a human being, you know, fulfilling her potential. Our capacity as a human being, you know, within you, you know, you feed like a body cheetah into that, you know, the our true nature is body cheetah, not only enlightened, but also for the benefit of others. Right. Not just kind of gaining something here where, you know, we’ve got this thing that we can do and that we have or whatever how we see. But seeing that it’s it’s not just one person. It’s not just me who is being enlightened. It’s we’re all being enlightened by all of our efforts. Right. And, you know, that’s really the power of Saga is the fellowship. This is there’s this intermingling of glimpses of awakenings and realizations. You know, there’s this there’s this mutuality and the dissolving of assumptions, expectations, you know, delusions, delusions, confusion, you know, that’s going on. It’s co-mingling. There’s then the fellowship and that’s where the real power of it is. Yeah, that’s that’s that’s what we see. The fruit is, is in that dementia. But, and then we seek ways to, to manifest that in our world, in our, in our relationships and our businesses and or how we’re spending our time and how we’re who we relating to and how we’re relating, you know, so we’re all we’re all maturing at this together, you know, so then I think the Buddha, you know, is had his fellowship, didn’t he had his had his little group, right. And he immediately knew that he had to get this out there. He had to like, you know, this said. So that’s the spontaneous result of all that all all of our teachers have that I mean, all of our teachers, they’re out there engaged in the world. Right. Spreading spreading their their their fellowship is really what they’re doing.
Well, primarily personal relationships, you know, with family and friends. I mean, you know, really significantly deepening, you know, a deeper sense of commitment, a deeper sense of of recognition of who others are. I mean, I think that’s probably the thing that makes the biggest difference is that we, as we see ourselves in different light, we see others. You know, we start to recognize what’s going on with them, not just the stories or the image or this identity or, you know, but we we see deeper into each other, you know, who we are. And that makes a difference in everything, I mean. Well, like the little business that we have, I have done here the series that I was first introduced to that 15 years ago with two Songer mates up in Austin who were that had taken the kind of legacy technology that this is at that time and using it in their psychology, their psychology, psychological counseling practice in Austin. And they brought, you know, this brainwave optimization process into that. You know, Linda called me up one day and said, you’ve got to check this out. So I went up and and and the thing that I realized about it was it was like meditation. It was basically offering the same kind of glimpse that meditation offers. So, you know, my wife and I and I went out to Scottsdale and spent a month and learned how to do it and came back and opened a practice. So, you know that without not having that reference, you know, it would have been just a business thing. But it was I could see it as much more than just a business thing. It was something that, you know, could really be beneficial to people who didn’t have time to do what I did spend ten years running all over the country doing returns. So, yeah, so, you know, pretty much every aspect of your life is going to be influenced by it. No, nothing’s going to be. Everything’s going to shift.
Well, I mean, once you’ve done the intro, then it’s just a feast. You know, there’s just a feast of sadness, you know, counter-example and, you know, the the cleaning practices and, I mean, there’s just the truth, as you mentioned. And, you know, I mean, we were introduced to those some of those, you know, I mean, there’s there’s a lot there’s a huge amount. I mean, you know, of course, we’re looking how long our lineage is. And at that point, it just becomes what what is what’s your temperament? You know what I mean? I do. I do the ten Raziq every week, you know, and it’s the shortest simplest side in the practice, I think, on record. Only thing shorter is the ah, you know, but the you know, I do it every week and it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s powerful. Riverside Intro. I mean, I do that every day, not the full, not the full of our puja, but the real songs are the basic you know, framing of it. I do do that every day. That’s part of my everyday practice. So it’s just what you connect with and what’s what is what’s become sustaining, you know? I mean, first you just there’s a sense of connection. You know, you get introduced to a practice and you feel a connection with that or not or you feel connected. That connection can be done in terms of how it’s being introduced or who it’s being introduced by or where it’s being introduced. You know, there’s a lot of variables there, but it comes down to I really feel a connection with it and sometimes it takes a while. You know, you just do it. You know, you get introduced to it and you get empowered to practice it and it is you just do it. And, and a lot of these practices, I mean, I still do the mantras, you know, for most of the ones that I’ve introduced, uh, because there’s something there, you know, something coming up there, but to do the full practice, to do the full sadness, you have to have a pretty strong connection with it, right? So there’s that. But ultimately, does it further being right, this what we’re doing, further being, yeah, that’s kind of the measure in my mind. Well, being, being awareness, presence, you know, freedom, you know, is it furthering, is that practice significantly or or, you know, can we kind of count on that right to help, you know, day to day, every day, you know, just to deepen presence. I mean, that’s and that’s going to be different for everyone, you know, I mean, some people do the 21 Tara’s, you know, go through the whole thing. You know, that’s it for them. That’s what does it takes. You know, you get the whole landscape, you know, all the light, all the everything. You know, it’s all there, right? I mean, it’s beautiful. It’s it’s weird to me, too. Raiser Yeah. I mean, it is all monetary. All Yeah. So, you know, it’s going to be different for everyone and of course for our teachers, you know, like someone like Siri, I mean, who spent, you know, couple of decades, you know, studying with extraordinary teachers and doing these practices. Yeah. I mean, he, he had his favorite, but he also, you know, was able to teach them to, you know, you know, maybe some of the ones he did do every day, you know. But I mean, that’s that’s just kind of connection and being I mean, those are all about that.
ell, you know, when I was living in New Mexico, I was up in the mountains and it was a drive north to Santa Fe, about a half an hour drive and go right by the prison. And at the time, I was working in a program called Artisan Schools. It was a National Endowment program that was funded by the National Endowment, put into managed or administered by the state state agency. And where artists would go into schools and teach. You know, that was really cool. And I was teaching the like a built environment thing, kind of an architectural, you know, building kind of thing. And I would drive in to Santa Fe, you know, every week to get groceries and supplies or whatever and the drive by the prison. Think we need to take this in there? You know, go in there and have this this this built environment conversation with these guys, you know? I don’t know. I just had this sense of. Right. And then one day retreat, Syria called me in and he said, hey, I’m getting a lot of jail mail. You know, guys are, you know, in prison that are reading my book, you know, working the border with them. Can you handle that for me? So he he would send me, you know, a couple of times a month. He’d send me these letters the certain foundation was getting. And. And so I would I would respond to him. Of course, I had the bookstore then, and I so I could send out a book or I could send a book to the prison chapel, you know, the chaplain’s library. Right. And, uh, and then I got a letter from an inmate over in, uh, in Beaumont who says, Is there somebody come in and talk to us? Give us a Dharma talk. So I called Terry and I said, this guy and boom, I want somebody to come and give a dormitory. What do you think? Yeah. You know, you got to do that. That’s good. So. Okay, so, you know, the first time I’d ever given a dormitory, so, you know, I drove over and I’m sitting and, you know, here’s these, like, ten, 12 guys, you know, like, you know, all dressed in white, you know, waiting for their dorm. So I start talking. I don’t really know. You know, I did some chatting and, you know, we did some prayers. And, you know, I had a little, little talk and, um, and, but I don’t know, some point in the thing, there’s like two or three guys are crying. Uh, they were, why am I doing something I shouldn’t be doing here? I mean, as I listen to all this, first time you’ve ever heard the Dharma, so I started crying. So it was, I was just like, this joy is like it wasn’t sad, as it was just like joy. And so they nicknamed me a la materia. So but that was the beginning of it. You know, we’re just going in and giving talks, sponsoring that group. And then I kind of heard I did a survey with Huntsville. How many guys are Buddhists in Texas prison? And it came back and I got a list of all the guys that had the after on your what’s called your travel card. In other words, it’s your ID that stays with you wherever you are in the prison, in the system, what religion you are, you know. And so how many guys put down Buddhist? Well, there’s like about 80 guys. Oh, wow. And and so I found out there was a few like a three unit. There’s a few on the pack unit. There were some up in the hostel unit. And there’s like these different units. I said, I called the chap. I said, So who comes in and meets with these, the Buddhist. And he said, We are Buddhist. Are you? You’re most of the even though. And I said, Well, yeah, you know you do. Can I, can I come up and talk to them? And so I made a tour. I just started going around all these different units and talking to guys and and then that kind of got them in with the chaplain. The chaplain started giving them time to have weekly meetings where they could meditate, read a book or whatever. So that was the beginning of project were like, well, you know, basically teaching meditation just, you know, teaching how to meditate. I mean, that was my highest priority, you know, you know, kind of before you can do anything you need to how to meditate and and then when I show up, we oftentimes do a general sick practice or vice versa for practice was pretty strong, you know, as a means of confessing to ourselves, you know, taking responsibility for ourselves. You guys yourself was very powerful. So those were kind of at the core of it. I mean, and I started that first teaching I did was on the Stiles unit, and so I agreed to come back once a month. So I would go over there once a month and then spend, you know, the better part of a day, you know, the 2 hours there and 2 hours back and then like doing like a two hour session. Um, and, you know, the chaplain was a, was an evangelical Baptist, you know, pretty, but he and I hit it off. We just had a good personal connection. And so he, he he was very cooperative, very supportive of me first toward the end, he had a lot of pressure put on him by the other Baptists, and he had to take a little different stand. But so I got an inquiry one day from an inmate that was over in and I’d say, you know, which is the, is the lock up, you know, is the, uh, it’s the administrative segregation, you know, it’s the, it’s the jail within the jail where inmates are in there 24 hours a day with one hour of always shackled and solitary. It’s like solitary. It’s like the whole embodiment of the whole. And the in the storage unit had a huge ad seg portion of the had its own major its own rank. You know, it was huge, huge. A lot of guys in there. And I got it. I got it. There was a query, I guess he had heard from somebody that there was a Buddhist guy coming in and he, uh, he said, Can you come visit me? You know? And so I told the chaplain, I said, Hey, this guy wants me to go visit him. What do you think? He said, No, you can’t do it. I said, Really? So you as a chaplaincy volunteer, all you can do is come in and do your class, meet with your group here. For you to be able to go visit him, you’d have to be a certified volunteer chaplain’s assistant. I said, okay, what do I have to do to do that? So I did. I became the first Buddhist CVC, a certified volunteer chaplain’s assistant. And, um, you know, I had to train with these Baptists, you know, one of the guys after class where they said, So you’re not really a Buddhist. I like you say so. So. So they have to do that quick thing. I had to do a six month internship, so it meant coming over every week and spending the whole day. And I would like I was I could do basically anything a chaplain did. I could carry keys, I could do interviews, I could give death notices, I could, you know, facilitate other, other events. Right. So it allowed me to go and say so soon as I got my CV, okay, I went over and there’s like two or three guys over there and saying that. So that was a very interesting experience and I’d say that really changed my mind about what prisons really are. That’s pretty heavy. Pretty heavy. But anyway, they were open to it and so we started communication and I visit them like, you know, once a week. And did, you know, communication or whatever. But while I was doing that civic thing, the group, the Buddhist group over there, because I was going every week now. So they had regular weekly meetings. I spent all day Thursday over there, and so we had regular Buddhist. And so they came up with this idea of doing a, an ethics class. So that was a good idea. But for everybody, not just for Buddhists, for anybody to come in, the job is yeah. Okay. All right. So we use the Dalai Lama’s first book, Ethics for a New Millennium. And we wrote a study guide. And the guys were, you know, basically were writing the study guide. You know, we’re using a guide that had been offered by the Dalai Lama Foundation in California as a guide. But we changed it to make it more Buddhist, I mean, more prison centric. And so we did that. And we had a we had a waiting list for guys on the unit to come to this class. It was very popular class. It was packed every single day. It ran for eight weeks, no, 12 weeks a week for each chapter. And then the guys that were in the Buddhist group were the facilitators. You know, we break up into study groups and we have a facilitator at each table. And it was a great class to our class was fantastic. And it got so popular that then the Buddhist group started growing and I think that’s when the chaplain got the heads up from the other Baptists that this is like maybe this is going too far because I would have a service, I’d have a Thursday morning service in the in the sanctuary. And there was 80 people there. This could help think about the in fact, they said, okay, well, if you if you if you’re if you go to that group, then you can’t sing in the choir, you know, the Christian for the Christian. And that was a big deal. Guys singing in the choir was a huge thing. So music professional musicians that were in prison, I mean, the music at these services was like out of this world. The good being in the choir was like, huge. You just get up there and really get to. So there’s pressure started to come to bear and I could see the writing on the wall. So I was invited by the Huntsville Chaplaincy to start a faith based dorm. They said, What do you want to do it? Because I wanted to do a contemplative practice program, you know, meditation, ethics. I was just feeling, you know, so the, uh, I said, Well, Ramsey and it’s closer. And I’ve been there a few times to visit the Buddhist group over in Ramsey. I, I said, That’s closer to me. It’s only an hour away. So so we started the faith based dorm on the Ramsey unit. So that’s all the in prison stuff. Plus doing the visits to other prisons, you know, going around other prisons, doing well, you know, helping to facilitate. And in the meantime, there’s a Zen teacher in Houston. She got interested in the prison work. She had me come up and give a talk to the Zen group up in Houston. And so some people there, they started a prison group, the guy that does the nature fellowship up in Houston. She got interested in doing the prison work, so she’s doing it. There’s a guy named Dharma Dave here from Austin, and he would go around to different prisons and do well. So there’s people, you know, starting to get a little bit of a network of people doing the prison stuff. Yeah. I mean, yeah, I mean, like these other people that are doing it. Yeah, that’s what they’re doing. They’re teaching and doing meditation. Yeah. Teaching the Dharma. Yeah. Um, yeah, it was after his, after I became a, see that we did a survey of, we sent out a survey to every like that. I told you we got a list of everybody they said they were but and did see kind of who was who and kind of get it. I feel what tradition and how long you practice, you know, most of it and I was trying then at that point to see if we could start a Buddhist unit, a designated unit for these for Buddhist Hindus. Uh, where we’d have our own unit, like your own prison. Oh, there units. Each of them is a unit. There’s 108 units in the prison system. And, um, and there was a designated unit for Indian, for Native American. There’s one for Muslims and there was a couple for Christians. They didn’t do one for Jews because of the Jews were putting a lot of pressure on them. And, and then I put it in, but there’s only 80 Buddhists that we could document. They said, Well, there’s not that you don’t have the Buddhists. And, you know, we can’t we’re not even could consider it. So it never went anywhere. But so it was about that time that I had the idea doing the correspondence course. I’ve been teaching the lawyer this part of the weekly things that we’re doing on the storage unit. And so we started doing the location about 2008. Yeah, well, you know, without even singling them out, where, where do we from? Where does this urge to awaken come, you know, where did it come with you? Where did it come with me? Where does it. Yeah, we have this urge to awaken, you know, we want to know more. We want to understand better. We want to see clearer. Don’t worry. We all have that urge. And I didn’t find it in Christianity. My dad was a lay minister, you know, he was part of a group of men and women, mostly academics, but professionals, also professional and academic people who would go around these little rural churches in Montana that couldn’t afford to hire a full time minister. And they’d take turns going around my dad go on the West Coast on a different little spot. You know, a lot of times I’d ride with him and, you know, because people want they want the fellowship. They want the they want to awaken. They don’t want to do it alone, you know, they know that. So it’s our urge to mature, isn’t it? We all have this urge to mature, to grow up, to be adults. Right. And when we don’t, we you know, there’s a lot of, you know, what we what you say there’s a lot of neurosis, right? Because people either don’t recognize that or know how to honor it one or the other. So one of the things about people in prison is I have to take responsibility for how I got here. And I also do have to take responsibility for getting out. So it’s pretty obvious that the whatever got me in here is not going to get me out right there. You see that? You see the dialectic there that we have to work with both ends of this and so, you know, some of the guys I worked with knew about Buddhism before they went in. Other ones just talk to guys in there, you know, bulldozer or have you ever heard of him blows up human kindness foundation is part of he was with Ram Dass and they started the world the oh is it like the monastery behind bars. No, that’s that’s too clumsy. It was much, but it was that idea where they would saw the prisoner’s monastic situation where people could, you know, practice the dharma. And of course, with most of the Hindu because of Ram Dass but you know name Crowley Baba but later on in his life, Bo recognized himself more as a Christian. But I mean, he was just a mystic. I mean, he had it all and and of course, he had done a lot of work doing good. What is it doing time? No, don’t let your time do you right. He falling short here, not remembering the exact title of his book. But anyway, he did a lot of prison work all over the country and they started a thing where they the Human Kindness Foundation would take people. I think it was in North Carolina, take parolees, and they could come to their place and they would learn trade, learn pottery or carpentry or just they had these different trades that they would train people until something happened administratively. The state didn’t allow that anymore. But he put the word out a lot. I mean, he he sent out his book all over all over the country. And so and then like through his book, you know, got into, you know, God circulate. So, you know, it’s not like they’re totally shut off from the world.
Dharma in Prisons
Well, I mean, what I’m one things I say when I’m working with a group is meditation is good for confusion, concentration and constipation. And so there’s a health issue. There’s there’s a social issue and there’s a personal issue there, right. And the personal issue is kind of recognizing confusion. You know, there’s an expression, there’s a research and expression out of confusion. The Dharma Chi bloom’s fully formed. So, you know, recognizing confusion is a big deal and recognizing that, you know, that there is a lot of self grasping. And what I did to get me in here, you know, so cherishing of how I was thinking and the assumptions that I made or expectations that I had or, you know, whatever is a lot of immaturity. So like we talked about earlier, I think the biggest benefit is maturity, you know, and it comes taking more responsibility for your physicality, you know, not just where you are, but how you are physically, you know, doing yoga, you know, making effort to eat better, taking responsibility how you think, you know, not labeling and judging and comparing yourself which can lead to a confrontation. Right. And it lead to. So there’s a sense of unity there where I create a separation with you that doesn’t exist. The separation that I feel with you is not real. It’s just something I’m making up. And it’s coming from even to just life experiences. I’m just my conditioning. So being able to recognize the role, the part that my life has played and who I think I am now and how I’m interacting or how I did interact that got me criminal, you know, criminal thing. You know, that’s very direct. This is exactly what the Dharma is talking about. How do you reality, you know, what’s what’s real, you know? So the whole nature, the whole notion of being interdependent, interconnected with everything and everyone all the time, never. Not ever, never separate. Right? Not unique. Just having that just getting that glimpse changes the whole scope changes everything, doesn’t it? Right. I’m just not I don’t have to just be out for myself here, you know, just what I can get because I’m taking responsibility now for kind of how I think, how I feel. Right. And then getting that glimpse of the wholeness, you know, the interconnection, you know, and then from that, getting that glimpse of emptiness, everything’s just arising and dissolving. I don’t have to take this. So, you know, that has to be so extreme. Doesn’t have to. You don’t have to agree with me what I think, what I feel, how I believe my opinions. Yeah. I don’t have to agree with you. You don’t have to agree with me. It’s fine. Right. Huge of you can’t believe the fights that the guys get into over there over nothing but nothing. A spoonful of mashed potatoes. You know, some guy’s lying on the floor. Yeah. Ridiculous. Absolutely. Just tragic. Right. So that’s the biggest benefit, is just having that that that glimpse of maturity, that glimpse of reality, of how things are. Right. And, you know, that can happen in a Dharma talk or can happen doing a saw and a practice. But the way it really comes home is in our meditation. They have to know how to meditate. They have to be willing to do it. So the commitment for the wrong is you meditate an hour, twice a day for 14 months. That’s the lawyer on court. And then you’re getting these teachings every month and every two months you’re getting these teachings that are taking you deeper and deeper and deeper into that. Yeah. And it’s the testimonials I get on the lawyer on course are amazing. I mean, guys, it’s just it’s totally changed my life. It has totally transformed the way I see things. Yeah. Yeah, that’s pretty gratifying. Yeah. I mean, that makes it worthwhile, but that good, that can happen in a Dharma talk, you know, a guy just, boom. I went out to style year that last November. I went over to the storage unit. They had two guys sitting there that were at the very first dormitory. They were good. Two guys were sitting there this last November. Yeah, you know, Jack and David. And it was really cool because they’re like, I mean, Jack has become this poet, man. He’s like a music poet. So, yeah, super bright guy who just made a mistake or is 18 years old. It was an honor student at the college, but it was a very bad mistake. Well, I was using the little jargon, you know, because it’s such a nice progression. Oh, yeah. It starts with the four thoughts, right? What a perfect place to start. Yeah. And, you know, goes into the relative and absolute practices. It goes in how to work with difficulties. I mean, just goes right. You know, what are the five powers? I mean, this goes right through, you know, the Dharma, the very concise and very precise and concise way. Yeah. The books are is just is extraordinary. So, yeah, no, I was I was using the logical like on our weekly sessions, you know, as I was going over there and we’re doing, you know, working through the slogans, whatever, meditate it’d be part of the dormitory would be the logo. But yeah, it just, it kind of came together, bits and pieces, the, the course as a, as a course, you know, as a correspondence course. It came together. So what, what’s next for the Clear Life Project in terms of I mean, I mean, are you internally tired or you’ve tried to have as a session, what does this program for you look like in the next ten years? I don’t know. I don’t know. Yeah. God willing, I’ve got ten years. Right. But, uh, uh, I mean, the lotion keeps getting refined more and more. It used to be a seven month project. Now it’s a 14 month project because a month or two, each part just wasn’t enough. And there’s one other guy that’s helping me do it. And, uh, and Rhode Island of soccer buddy is, is. He’s very active, doing tremendous job. Uh, kid is, is, you know, and so he’s sharing the load on it and uh, you know, he’s younger than I am, so maybe he’ll inherit the whole thing. But, uh, I don’t know. I mean, you know, I’ve got ten letters sitting on my desk back there right now I need to be answering, and it’s, uh. It’s going pretty good. Yeah. And like I say, we, you know, I keep, like, we just put together in the meditation booklet, you know? You know, I would teach different meditation with each part, right? Introduce a different meditation practice with each part. And, um, so I put that into a booklet now and, you know, get a person in the shop that, uh, yeah, uh oh, you know, a natural meditation benefactor practice loving, caring moment. I mean, you have all these different practices we put in. And so I put that into a booklet. So that’s fairly new, you know, it just keeps getting more and more refined.
Well, I felt a very strong connection with him. I just, you know, find it very engaging. And, you know, he we do interviews, you know, at every retreat and have time to do a formal interview. And I would always make it a point to do an interview and which was very helpful. And then he had some other teachers, too, that were working with him. Charles You knew, which was an old friend of his from India. Charles was from Switzerland. And who’s he was? Charles I think he he trained. I came here to say I should know that, but I don’t the for and and then was became a student of the conservatory and Syria was also a student of different consider him very individual repertoire and tuku organ repertoire. And of course, his his one of his main teachers was me also temple and he even brought Joshua Campeau before I started going to retreats. He brought music composed to us and did a retreat in New York. That’s before I knew him, but he was very his devotion to his teachers was was, was, was sublime. I mean, he he expressed tremendous devotion. EXPRESS You know, both in his teachings and just in his manner, you know, the devotion he had to his teachers. So that’s inspiring. Um, so I came home and I would, you know, you know, back in the same room, I’m there pretty much in the same spot and I’m still sitting in. Didn’t have that little table there that was just sitting on the floor, uh, you know, every day, you know, I had a daily practice, you know, hour to two hour daily practice. And then, but during retreats, the other part of it was the group of people that Syria attracted tremendous people, you know, scholars, you know, country folk like me or, you know, you know, everything in between. You know, he he was he had some he attracted some some really wonderful people who I’m still friends with today, you know, consider to be my closest friends today or came from that. And um, so there wasn’t really a sangha here. There’s a group of, in Houston Don Mountain with and, and Harvey and Klein and uh, and there they have a wonderful sangha and tremendous, very authentic teachers, totally authentic teachers. And I’ve done things with them and done retreats with them and also add some who’s their main, uh, their main sponsor retreats with him and coach and saying, well, who was that again? And Harvey is both was their first teacher and they brought him over here and did some, some stuff there. So but my main sangha was really the people around Syria. And then Brendan Kennedy also was an old friend of Syria’s from India. And Brendan is, you know, American guy, um, Korean born in Korea but came here in high school, was adopted during the Korean War, adopted and came to the US, lived in Santa Fe. Uh, and had a real nice connection with, I mean, still, I mean, he and I knew like we had talked yesterday on the phone, we’re still in the very, very nice friendship. So that’s all that pretty, you know, that’s all really not so much around here. I mean, I have a little group that sit with me in the mornings and, you know, Zoom classes, but there’s not, you know, and there’s a Zen group here in town. Like I said, and I go sit with them, their teacher, they got out of Kentucky, though. He comes and does retreats. And so I like when he’s in town. I don’t like to go and sit with them. He’s quite wonderful. Well, at least for now, because he’d do one every season through. Would he do a major retreat? Every few. But then he would do like daylong or weekend. Like in Austin. He’d be doing a daylong or a weekend retreat. I’d go up to us and do that with him. And, um, you know, I mean, just, yeah, but definitely for, you know, for and then I started with Syria. I started helping with the, you know, like I built a bookstore, made a bookstore because it wasn’t, you know, it didn’t really have much services there. So people come to retreat, you know, could buy books and whatever. And that might have gotten a little bit out of hand because I have a retail bent, but it was fun, it was great. But then also what it allowed us to do was to create a kit, a parts for the for the retreat. So that all the talk paintings, all the authors, you know, all the all the stuff you need to put on the retreat, you know, about this with the Walmart and got these big, you know, black crates, plastic crates. And we pack everything, the office, everything we needed to run the office, the interview room, the sanctuary, you know, the llamas stuff, and then, you know, so we wouldn’t have to be kind of, well, do somebody have a Buddha? You know, somebody have a talk, you know, let’s, you know, put this because that’s kind of how it was in the beginning. And so we had this the kitten that like ten crates and I would FedEx those to wherever the retreat was and then I would get there like a day early and a few people would be there. We’d unpack and get everything set up, you know, put on the retreat. And then I was helping with the business of it too, doing the registration for the retreat. You know, Syria was yeah, he was then he did. He started doing 100 day retreats and I sponsored or I learned sponsor far totally wrong where I manage the first hundred day retreat that he did up in Austin and he had this but 1718 students that did that and Brennan was kind of the Campo, you know for the retreat and he was the campo. And then that’s His Holiness Drupal Rinpoche. They came over. He spent two weeks with us on the noon drill. The first retreat was an intro retreat. So that was, you know.
Well, of course, he taught from the gym teacher. And then the droop of His Holiness droop, remember? Say, taught from the gym to Sir. I don’t know. I mean, somebody was talking about an intro, I don’t know, a retreat somewhere. Someone was talking about New Road and somebody asked a question in the hall about an intro and and and so he said, well, you know, see John Love of John the classic. He went along with them. But, you know, he was, you know, one sort of senior students. And and he said, you know, talk what you guys want to do another a talk to John yeah so we’re riding back to the airport with I know two or three people from the retreat and so forth from Colorado was in the middle of doing the number. And I asked him, I said, well, you know what? How important is this an intro thing? He said, Oh, you have to do it like that. Oh, you have to do it. Oh, okay. So, so I talked to John and, you know, started doing the intro with him and then, you know, this, you know, Syria would during retreat, he’d have his formal sessions, you know, with the whole group, and then he’d have sessions with these more senior students and, you know, teaching sessions, you know, and that’s where things like Viser sort of, you know, were brought up and, you know, and, you know, kind of some of the deeper, more detailed research and teachings, you know, the ten year honors or nine year honors or 15 year honors. And and, you know, all of that is, you know, that he would he would talk about that then and and give us guidance. And we could ask questions and he’d give us things to do. And then we’d have interviews with him about where we were, you know, with what we’re doing, that I’d have interviews with John and I’d have interviews with Brandon. And, you know, so there was a lot of support for doing, for doing the practice. Um, but yeah, yeah, the dinner was wonderful, the other practice and I got engaged with it actually. That very first retreat we would walk out of the, of the meditation hall, there was a big, a poster on the wall framed poster on the wall of Trump parentheses logo on his his translation of the logo. I walk out of the hall and I would start studying that, you know, each part of seven, part, you know, part one. I’d kind of work on that for that day. And the next day I’d look at part two and it kind of spent the day reflecting on those. And then I take notes and then I those are still my main priorities. Like the course that we do for inmates is the lawyer on course. That’s our correspondents courses a lot, you know, so there’s plenty of opportunity. But then there was like, you know, some some very deep shadows, you know, that we were introduced to and, you know, given permission to practice and, um, low a bunch of stuff. Yeah, but I, I don’t know what I would be talking about that very much because that’s kind of more, you know, a teacher, student, you know, kind of stuff. But there’s a lot of guidance and there’s deeper practices and you know, it was very helpful. Yeah. And then there’s a lot of quite a few of us that were doing it. So there was a nice kind of a stronger support, like doing the intro such as that and like lama traditions commentary, you know, under an intro that was passed around. And yeah, I mean you don’t come across that every day. Yeah. So well there’s, yeah, there’s inside, I mean during the refuge, you know, you, you know, during those vigorous frustrations, you know, in the refuge and and, and then, you know, just getting a sense of what refuge is. And then the body heat, you know, uh, I, I mean, I felt, I would feel connected with every part of the intro that was really deepening, kind of the kind of clearing out the kind of, uh, you know, just the conceptual patterns, emotional patterns that were, you know, built on life experiences. It was, it was like creating a whole new vista to see the, you know, the ways of seeing life. But I mean, ultimately, the new intro is a yoga. I mean, that’s what it, you know, connecting with the guru, seeing the essence of the guru as as our essence. Right. It’s the same awareness. It’s the same wisdom. It’s the same compassion. Right? That’s already within us, you know. And that’s the big I think that’s the big point, is that everything we need is already present, fully present within us. It’s is veiled, you know, by adventitious life experiences that are, um, you know, of course wonderful and everything. But they’re not, they’re not how things really are. And the intro is give you this, the ground for that, you know, giving us a way to relate to that. That’s, that can be threatening at moments. I mean, it can be pretty challenging even in moments in terms of, you know, but you know, and then just the skill for me to, you know, I mean, the virus thought was so skillful. I mean, every single religious tradition has confession in some form or fashion and the virus out for discourse, you know, it just you know, that’s who we are, you know, gotta stop right there, you know? And we can confess that acknowledge that in ways that are totally non-judgmental, you know, not comparing, not judging, you know, not having the label or describe or tell the story, you know, just honoring exactly how it is and how it is is already fully present within us. So it’s these practices are deepening in that sense, you know, and serious to say that, you know, the secret practices aren’t secret. They’re self secret. Right. It’s there are already presidents already heard. It’s like in plain sight. But we don’t know how to recognize it. Right. So, you know, I mean, I remember hearing before I actually studied Zo Chan of hearing about the secret teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. Right. Well he explained that just been one, one little phrase there. Self secret. Yeah. It’s not like something’s being hidden or concealed, although there is a thing about it. A lot of the doctrine that, you know, people want to be careful, you know, you you want to have some preparation, you want to have some ground for kind of seeing things in that. You see the emptiness, nature in such a profound way. So that’s really important. So these foundational practices is it’s not that they’re being hidden from us, it’s that you have to have the guy be guided into it, you know, and of course, in some ways, some teachers and some lineages. And even now Westerners are very strict about that. You know, no, if you don’t have this and we can’t talk about that, you know, and I respect that. I totally respect that, sir. He was a little bit more gentle with it, but he was also quite generous with it. You know, I mean, he talked about the time that Neosho Temple left the we’re sorry, did the two, three year, three month, three day retreat with the actual temple as the as the temple. And, um, at one point he left the retreat center, you know, it was a retreat center, the do gym and, and, and there were concerns to holiness. It started in south of France and, um, and Neosho Kimball was the guiding teacher there and that he left, he left the retreat center during the under a part and of the retreat and nobody knew where he was saying know whatever, I’m sure. No. And then he showed up about a week or so later and sat down with everybody and with the group and said, you know, I’m walking around Paris and I’m sitting in the cafes and having coffee and, you know, just kind of he said, everybody’s got to it’s like that. Everybody has their you know, they’re all their world is waiting to get that. Yeah. So that was the draw, you know that that’s what an intro is offering. Those is is that’s the ability to do it, you know. Yeah, I know of several teachers who, who’ve done two or three full, you know, know start to finish in intros, you know, like takes nine months to a year or whatever and they yeah, I mean, I guess, I mean just to kind of share.
Prior to that. Eugene, Oregon. Uh, where we, uh, my wife, my then wife and I both got graduate degrees. Uh, I took a degree in art history and she took a degree in psychology, and one was living in Eugene. There was a, uh, there’s a good friend of mine there who was, he was a Ph.D. candidate in biochemistry, and he had a good friend that was a computer programmer. And Tom Lane and Tom was a, was a seeker and he, um, this I’m doing, I’m doing the story backwards. And so Tom was studying Tonka painting with a rubbish day in Berkeley who had escaped from Tibet and, uh, and the like. Right. Either with or shortly after the Dalai Lama, uh, and brought with him, smuggled out, I guess you would say, these ancient Tonka paintings. And so Tom said, Hey, you take photographs, I want you to go down to Berkeley. And so we went down there and they invited us in to his place and and he was working on a shelf. He had a he was creating building a shelf and he was trying to put screws into a plaster wall. And so the shelf was kind of hanging off of the screws are kind of hanging out. But it was like sitting there you it was like kind of just magically sitting there. We all had a good laugh over that. But, you know, it’s the first time I’d really seen Tonka paintings and had, you know, had direct contact with the Tibetan Buddhist and very, very just beautiful man, beautiful guy. We laughed and drank tea and took photographs and he opened his closet door in his bedroom and he had built a false wall. And in it was all these these little square, you know, kind of like, uh, oak cubbies. And each one of them had a talk of painting in them, and they were just magnificent. I mean, I was taking photographs and taking details, and I just like, oh, so, you know, that’s when I think I first realized that it was the Tibetan really had a really had a hold for me. So, you know, prior to that senior in high school, Bozeman, Montana, you know, my dad was a professor at the university. My mom was a schoolteacher. And, uh, um, my dad went, I guess I was like freshman or sophomore in high school. My dad made a couple of trips to Japan and brought back all this Japanese art and remodeled our house with a token Oma and a Shoji screen and, you know, just, you know, so I was very, very early, very captured by then.
Yeah. Enlightenment is possible... But, you know, that's that's that's a pretty big commitment.
Uh, this the esthetic, you know, the architecture, the art, the poetry, you know, just really held something. And, and so when I was asked to do an essay in senior English Lit, I wrote a paper on Buddhism, and it’s kind of the first time I’d actually studied, you know, I’d just been exposed to images and whatever and poems. But the first time I actually did a little bit of research like, you know, what is Buddhism? What, what’s that about? And the result of that was a poem, uh, dig you dog. Your bone of being is buried deep. So I guess I got something out of that, right? So I didn’t really realize it, but, um, so anyway, it, uh, we had traveled, uh, to Europe and my, as I said, my dad was a, was a art history professor and he took my sister and I, my mom and sister and I, we went to Europe, bought a little car in Paris or similar in Paris, and spent the next three months just driving around Europe. I was like an art history tour. He was he wanted a photograph for his for his classes, seminars. He wanted to have his own images, his own photographs. So so we had every museum, every church, every I mean, it was like a graduate seminar in art history. It was fantastic. And we got to I’m in Cathedral in northern France, in northern French Gothic Cathedral. And, um, my dad kind of prepped us about it, you know, he said, you know, this, this place, this is maybe one of the most incredible achievements of mankind. The name was like 152 feet up to the peak of the six partite vault. And he said, all without, without, uh, it’s all masonry, without mortar, too. It’s all, you know, cut to fit, you know. So I remember walking in there and, and of course, you know, you’ve got these enormous windows, you know, because of the of the, uh, uh, of the, of the supports that go on the outside supporting the walls or the windows. You know, the walls can be, you know, that was the whole idea of the Gothic was to the flying buttresses, took the all the load and all that weight of the vaults and took it out like that so that the walls themselves were basically holding themselves up. You know, there was sort of some structural point, but it allowed them to be very open. So there was like a lot of light. So you’re walking into this this ancient stone building that’s filled with light. And I looked up and the next thing I know, I’m laying on the floor. I mean, it was like a spiritual experience. It just it was just powerful, just the spirit of that place, you know, it’s just overwhelming on the scale of it. Just so that stayed with me. That definitely stayed with me. And, uh, and then, you know, as I said after, I mean, I didn’t really wasn’t much to follow up with that, you know, going to college and getting a degree and going to graduate school. Then that’s when I met Tom Blum and um, or, you know, he introduced me to Ricochet. So I’m in, we’re in Cambridge and I’m doing research on structural systems at MIT. And I started doing yoga. I didn’t even know yoga. I didn’t know what it really very much about it. But I’d heard about the what’s it called, sun, sun, sun salute in the morning or you know, you know, yeah, yeah, yeah. And so I started doing that and I started sitting and I’d heard about when I started graduate school, first in Montana and then in Oregon, I started getting migraine really incredibly painful migraine headaches. And, uh, I, I would be pretty much debilitated for up to 24, 30 hours. I mean, not able to move, not able to, you know, light those smells just, you know, like there’s a knife embedded in your head, you know? And, and, uh, so when I was, when I was working in Cambridge there, you know, doing research at MIT, we were working on structural systems. And, um, I got a migraine that led me down for two days. It was like it, I was immobile for literally two days. The pain was just and never experienced anything like it. And that whole image of the I’m in Cathedral came up REM pictures Tarkas came up the, you know, the sun silhouettes that I was doing that came, you know, you know, it’s kind of doing those, you know, kind of visualizing those. And, um, and, um, I, I don’t know exactly what it was, but I, I didn’t have any fear and I’d had a lot of fear up to that point in my life. It just kind of, you know, uneasiness about stuff, you know, and kind of worry and little fearful. And and in that two days of just being in mobile, there was I realized all the immaturity, all my emotional immaturity, you know, ways that I had been kind of out of integrity with, you know, being a good person, so to speak, you know, just attitude wise, you know, just kind of ways. I was thinking so like fear and and and a lot of immaturity just disappeared. And it was it really I really felt like I was a different person at that point. I continue to have migraines, but within about two months, um, I had a migraine where the visual, you had the visual with the distortion, the, all the, the geometries and whatever started to happen and which was really had up to the previous. It just terrified me. As soon as that visual thing happened, it was like I felt like a sense of panic. The visual thing happened. I was washing dishes. The visual thing happened. I didn’t have any I didn’t react to it. I just observed it. And it went on for maybe ten, 15, 20 minutes and was gone. And there was no pain. And I’ve never had a painful migraine since. I still get the visual sometimes when I’m tired or eat too much sugar or something. But, um, there’s no pain with it. So it changed me somehow. It changed me. That experience changed my chemistry, you know, really mentally and emotionally. I felt a huge shift. And shortly after that, my wife and I separated. And because we realized that, you know, we had different goals in our life, was perfectly amicable and we moved to New Mexico and uh, uh, she went on to teach at the University of New Mexico. And I became, um, kind of a, a mountain. What about a property in an old ghost town outside of Santa Fe? And it was like the coal company had been mining up there for, you know, a couple of generations. And the thing had been shut down for 20 years. And finally, the coal company said, I would love to sell this place. So they sold a lot by a lot of house by house. So I bought a place there and, and, uh, started working as a studio, you know, which is what I always really wanted to. And, uh, so became a studio artist at that point. So, um, I don’t know, that was an interesting growth period, being a kind of a mountain hippie, not really hippie, but there was a lot of hippies around and uh, and then, uh, you know, doing commissions in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, I did a big commission in Albuquerque, uh, across Route 66 is Nob Hill Gateways and Route 66 going through. And we went, we were up there last June and, and uh, with Albuquerque and they’re still there. They look great, you know, that’s all going on. And so that was part of the history. But, um, I, uh, we moved, we moved to Galveston and we had a business here. I had a studio, had a big warehouse over here, had a studio, did a lot of work here, a lot of work in Houston. And my wife started a yoga studio and it was first yoga studio in Galveston and people loved it. You Tube, you know, the the docks over here, a lot of them had heard of it and med students and then just people in the community. And and, you know, she had become pretty well known just because of her business or her clothing business and jewelry business. And, um, so, uh, she started a yoga studio and there was a couple that came, we went out to dinner and after dinner we went back over the yoga studio and the guy went over to the little bookshop. My wife had a little bookshelf there for books for sale, pulled out a copy of Awakening the Buddha Within My Love of Syria and said, You need to read this. Oh, okay. So I took it home and I did. I read it. In fact, I was I still had a studio up in New Mexico, had some property up there, and I’d built a studio up there. And so shortly after that, I went back up to spend some time in the studio up there, and I took the book with me where I ended up the whole time reading that book and learning to meditate. And there was a at the end of the book, there was a thing about who he was, whose emissary was, and and there was a name, you know, the Zo Chin Foundation. So I look that up and I found a phone number and I called up and I said, you know, what do you guys do? You know it? And they said, well, we’re we’ve got a retreat that’s starting in two weeks in Massachusetts. Um, I said, Well, how can I come to that? You know, I mean, what do you have to do? Is it you’re dumb? No problem. And so I went I left New Mexico and went to Massachusetts and had a two week silent retreat with llamas. Sorry. What was that? That was 19 or 2096. 2096, I think it was. And so over the next ten years, I’m going to every retreat that he did all over the country and practicing and.