Where did you grow up? In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, next to the Miller Brewery and the Harley-Davidson shop.
When did you become a Buddhist and why? After I graduated college I traveled to Nepal and took refuge with Lama Zopa Rinpoche. I had tried everything else, I suppose; I was grinding my teeth for years over the relationship between relativity and meaning, and it turned out Nagarjuna had the only good answer I could find.
Is your family Buddhist? No, but if you cross Catholics and Protestants you get Buddhists—or Ireland, depending.
What’s your daily practice? Trying to relax into play mind with my 3-year-old. Beyond that I mumble in Tibetan, burn things for invisible beings, and try not to get distracted.
Favorite aphorism? “Mind, there is no mind, mind’s nature is luminous clarity” from the Prajnaparamitas.
Favorite musician? I seem to be married to Sarasvati.
What’s the longest you’ve gone without meditating? How do you get back on track? I became a husband and father a few years ago. I lost track of meditation somewhere around then. Open to suggestions.
Book on your nightstand? The Tantra Without Syllables.
What do you like to do in your free time? Fire pujas.
What non-Buddhist do you look to for guidance? My mom, Shakyamuni.
What were you voted in high school? Nothing. But I ran for vice president with the slogan “¿Quién es el más macho de todos?” (Sp., “Who is the most macho of all?”) and lost.
What was your first job? Cleaning the bathrooms at home for $5 a week. Then I was an usher, a school bus driver, a delivery guy, a bartender . . .
Most used emoji? 🔱
What would you do if you weren’t a Buddhist teacher? Confidence tricks.
Lama Karma’s four-part audio teaching on “Open Mindfulness” will be available in May.