2011 Twenty Questions Interviews : Kaspalita
20 Questions Interview
Buddhist Priest, Counsellor
1. What's your name?
I was given the name 'Kaspalita' when I ordained in 2007, almost everyone calls me 'Kaspa' now.
2. Where are you from?
I'm living in Malvern at the moment (in the UK), famous for its hills and spring water. When he was 7 years old Franklin D. Roosevelt visited to try Malvern's famous cold-water therapy.
We've only been here just over a year, so I'm not sure if I can say I'm 'from' here yet. My roots are just over the border, in Wales.
3. Who are you today?
Here's a question that I could meditate on for a long time! 18 months ago I was a celibate Buddhist monk, living in a Buddhist community. Now I live with my wife and our three cats and I'm creating my identity from many different parts: writer, therapist, Buddhist priest, social care worker, and other things that I'm only just discovering. My faith is still at the heart of everything that I do, but the form has changed a little bit.
4. What do you do? (Elevator speech)
I'm a Buddhist priest. I'm a writer. I'm a husband (to Fiona Robyn). Fiona and I run Writing Our Way Home together. Our mission statement answers this question pretty well, I think... "Helping people slow down and fall in love with the world through writing."
Some days I work from home, sitting at my desk, either writing or helping people to write from their hearts. Some days I work supporting people with learning disabilities, once a week I run a Buddhist service... I'm just about to start seeing clients as a counsellor.
5. What's your story (how did you get here)?
So many stepping stones. I loved creating things as a child. Making stories. I loved reading stories too. I studied Drama at university and revelled in the words of the play-texts. I discovered Carl Rogers there too, and my Buddhist practice deepened to the extent that I started calling myself a Buddhist.
Sometimes I was happy. Lots of the time I wasn't. I had a feeling I needed to immerse myself in something that would change the core of me. To discover whatever was blocking my energy (that's how I was feeling) and do something about it. I moved into a Pureland Buddhist community in 2006 and stayed there for four years. I learnt to look deeply into my own heart, and to reach out beyond my self-concerns, to reach out to something transcendent.
In 2010 I followed my heart out of the community I had loved, and still love, and into the world, and to Fiona.
I feel like I'm starting to root here now, but there is more rooting to do and more learning about what it means to be here. I suspect the learning will never end.
6. Why is creativity important to you?
Jacob Moreno called the creative act a divine act. For him the spontaneous, creative, act was God at work in the world. I might not use those words exactly, but I have some sympathy for that view.
The creative act uncovers what is true. It is eye opening.
7. When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
In my childhood I made plays. As I grew up I soon realised that when I wasn't creating I was keeping my soul deadened. I think that being on stage also gave me the chance to experiment with being, rather than doing...
8. How did you embrace it?
I joined the drama group at school. I joined adult theatre groups when I grew up. I wrote, poems and short stories (mercifully lost). I went to study drama because I had tried living in the world in a non-creative career and it felt awful.
9. How did that feel?
Wonderful. Challenging. I met parts of myself I hadn't dreamed existed and those parts of other people too.
10. Where has your journey taken you?
It has brought me a measure of peace that I couldn't have had before. It has brought me into relationships with interesting people and it has kept me alive. (I used the word as a metaphor, but I dread to think what paths my life might have taken, without being able to create.)
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