|Jason and his big smile.|
Jason was a monk for a few years. He was resident in Providence Zen Center and Empty Gate Zen Center in San Francisco, CA. He is currently the abbot of PZC. He returned their votes, and now married and has a son.
BZ:You're from California and went to Seattle to live by music? But I never saw you playing any instrument. Did you give up the music?
When I moved to the Providence Zen Center before, I played guitar and table (percussion instrument)Eventually I realized I did not have enough time to play. Now I still play guitar once in a while.
BZ:You were the kitchen master in many retreats. What did this activity teach you?
Many people at the retreats needed energy to support their practice so I helped to feed them. Right now my wife is hungry, so I make her noodles.
BZ:You lived a long time in a Zen center and continues to live. Why?
When I first starting practicing Zen, I tried to practice everyday in the apartment I lived in. I couldn't commit to a steady schedule so I moved into a zen center. Also, when practicing alone, it is very easy just to follow your own karma or strong ideas. When living in a community, it is like a mirror for your own mind, so it is very difficult to hold on to these strong ideas.
BZ: What is your current job?
Currently the abbot at the Providence Zen center, Husband and Dad!!
BZ:You are very beloved and playful. This helps in your work?
I didn't know that I was! I think what helps the best is being sincere, honest, and looking out for other people.....that is what people respond to.
BZ: For a long time his only job were practice and help the Zen center. Now you are a father and husband. How do you feel with new responsibilities?
More tired!! Seriously though, essentially it feels the same. Even though all of our lives seems different, the job is the same, which means taking care of what is in front of us in this very moment.
BZ:You did a solo retreat. Tell us how was past 90 days away from civilization and how was your retreat routine?
It was the one of the most important things I have ever done. One thing that stands out was the schedule was exactly the same everyday. The food was the same and the weather was generally the same. However, some days I wanted to stay at the retreat forever, some days I could not wait to leave. Sometimes it was the most peaceful retreat and other times it was hell. It clearly showed me that our mind makes good and bad, like and dislike, easy and hard.
The schedule was from 4:45am - 8:30pm and 11:00pm - 1:00am. Daily practice included 1,000 bows, sitting and chanting.
BZ: Monks usually spend three years in the monastery in Korea. Why you have not had this training in Korea?
I became a monk in the Kwan Um School of Zen, not thorough the Chogye Order. In the Kwan Um School of Zen, a person would train as Haeng Ja ( postulant) either at our Head Temple, The Providence Zen Center, or at Mu Sang Sa in Korea. Because PZC need a housemaster at the time, I decided to train there. I only went to Korea to sit two 3 month retreats.
BZ: When you were abbot at Empty Gate Zen Center in Barkley, CA you used to do once a week, the formal practice in Ustream. Do you think is it important that teachers use new tools to teach, such as, online TV or Skype?
I think it is important to reach people in all parts of the world who want to practice and understand their true self. I think meeting and practicing with people in person is the best, but there are those who do not live near a meditation center and want to practice. Today's