This is Soryu.
Soryu is the head teacher at the Monastic Academy. He is an American-born economist who has spent several decades of his life doing intensive contemplative practice across Asia, and founded the Monastic Academy in 2013 as a training ground to bring together traditional contemplative wisdom with effective worldly action.
Soryu is the reason I keep coming back here.
I’m not really one for idols or mentors. I want them, but it’s rare that I find someone whom I actively look up to, or whose advice I actively and repeatedly desire. Somehow Soryu has become that person.
I don’t agree with everything he says, nor do I wish to follow in his footsteps and renounce the pleasures of everyday life and become a monk. But there is an intensity and care and intentionality to everything he does, on a level I have never seen before. He was the only person able to provide satisfying answers to my skepticisms about meditation. He is able to cut through to the core of conversations, able to give direct and harsh feedback while beaming with kindness, able to push people hard, relentlessly, unyieldingly, while holding them up with love and compassion. I have never met someone so dedicated to human growth.
Soryu has been on a solo cabin retreat for the past few weeks. This means that he is doing his own intensive practice, away from the rest of the residents and guests. I saw him once, as he cross-country-ski’d across the grounds back to his cabin during an exercise period, but aside from that I have had no exposure to him during this stay so far.
Yesterday morning I got to participate in the ceremony to bring him out of retreat.
I wrote the following shortly after the ceremony, and as such it is mostly written in present tense.
At 8:30am, when we have finished with the morning schedule, we meet in front of the main building and prepare to walk to the cabin. It is bitingly cold, but …