I am a lay minister and sensei with the Bright Dawn Institute of Oneness Buddhism. Lay in this sense simply means 'householder'. If the question becomes "Are you a minister or not?" the answer is yes and I am authorized to perform Tisirana, weddings, funerals and other blessings or rights of passage. My Dharma name is Daiyo, which means "Big Sun", a reminder to myself to not lose sight of the Big Picture nor all the little details of which it is made.
Since discovering Buddhism in 2006, I have been involved in our local sangha which includes an assortment of Buddhists and seekers. I regularly attend Buddha Heart Village in Auburn AL as well as hosting the Alabama Buddhist Fellowship.
I am also chair person of the First Universalist Church of Camp Hill AL, the oldest UU congregation in the Mid-South District where I occasionally guest speak. Recently, working with others, the First UU partnered the First Universalist with the East Alabama Food Bank to provide food and assistance to the needy in the area on a monthly basis. If you religion doesn't help those in need, you are doing it wrong.
Before coming to Bright Dawn, I studied with the Prajna Institute, and received the ten Bodhisattva Precepts from that institution as a novice Zen priest in an Americanized Korean Zen Lineage. Before that, in 2010, I was fortunate enough to attend a retreat in Los Angeles and take official refuge in the Jodo Shu, the Pure Land school founded by Honen Shonin.
While my personal practice remains dedicated to the Pure Land Way, my approach to Buddhism remains ecumenical. I believe that to be meaningful, each person must find her or his own approach to the Dharma. Also coming from an Neo-Pagan background, I regard Buddhism as an earth based religion in which everyday life is inseparable from awakening or enlightenment.
My basic values are based on the ideas of simplicity, compassion and gratitude. I live with my spouse in the backwoods of rural Alabama, together with an extended network of family including one grandson, friends and fellow wayfarers.
My Sensei is Rev. Koyo Kubose whose father and teacher was Rev. Gyomay Kubose who founded the Buddhist Temple of Chicago in 1944 with the vision of creating an "American Buddhism" independant of the organizational structures of Japan. Rev. Gyomay Kubose was himself a student of Akegarasu Haya who was a prominent and influential Shin Buddhist scholar and former head of the Higashi Hogon-ji.
Akegarasu in turn studied with Kiyozawa Manshi (1863-1903), a Shin Buddhist reformer whose short life had a profound impact in Japanese Buddhism. Rev. Gyomay Kubose and Rev. Koyo Kubose have carried on that legacy. What has impressed the most about my teacher has been the humble and authentic manner in which he and his wife Adrienne simply live their life.