September 28, 2016

Vidyuddeva’s Corner

Vidyuddeva is a member of the Wisdom Council of the Center for World Spirituality and a contributor to our blog, Spirit’s Next Move.

Vidyuddeva Biography

Vidyuddeva is a Zen priest in the Soto lineage who has facilitated meditation workshops in prisons and alternative learning centers for violent youth. He has offered various classes and workshops on integral transformative practice in his hometown of Minneapolis, and has been a consultant and guest speaker at various high schools, colleges, and religious organizations throughout the Midwest.

A highly precocious child, Deva recalls talking to his mother about his theories of suffering. Insatiably inquisitive yet afraid of “just about everything,” he later made a practice of transforming his fear by “going to the scariest places I could find and just sitting there with a totally surrendering heart of love.”

Describing his experience in school as “irresistible force vs. immovable object equals fireworks,” Deva was not cut from the same cloth as the educational system. At age four, after being asked to draw five-pointed stars and not knowing how, he instead drew a series of circles. Upon being confronted about his failure to follow directions, he retorted that he had drawn stars by drawing suns, inquiring of his teacher whether she was aware that all stars were in fact suns that were orbs in space and not five-pointed objects. In high school, this same interpretive fluidity and innovative practicality brought his teacher to tears when he demonstrated Newton’s laws of motion to his class by breaking concrete bricks with his hands.

Enrolled his junior year at The Minneapolis Center for Arts Education where he studied theater and lived independently in dormitories with other students, Deva wandered freely among his peers, belonging to no circle or clique. This made him the object of a tremendous amount of wild speculation, with rumors circulating that he was an atheist or a missionary. He was neither, though in his senior year he studied Chinese with the full intention of purchasing a one-way ticket to China after graduation to beg acceptance as a shaolin monk, determined he would starve to death on the steps of the monastery if turned away. This plan was waylaid when his “unrestrained exploration” found him perilously close to having his feet amputated after running in nothing but his underwear in sub-zero weather in an effort to experiment with his own awareness.

Always drawn to the ideal of the warrior, Deva found no model approximating this ideal that was distinguishable from “thug” until he learned of Shambhala and the Sacred Path of the Warrior. By recognizing the warrior as one who enters violence, difficulty, and war without reservation or resistance as an act of love and surrender, Deva realized that it was not so much the outward behavior of the warrior he identified with, but the heart. From here, this issue of such great concern simply “dried up and blew away.”

Though Deva began investigating Buddhism in 1994, it was not until 1997 that he began studying at Dharma Fields Meditation and Learning Center with his teacher, Hagen Sensei, who he formally parted ways with in 2004. Deva describes his study of Zen as “collateral damage in the radius of my sincerity. I was simply following my heart’s dance. I did not care what love or wisdom was called. People used the name of Zen, but I was never partial to it.” Ordained a Zen priest in 1999, Deva describes his practice orientation as “transcending the human limitation—including the human condition,” and views the path of monasticism as one of spiritual community and friendship, explaining, in the words of the late Brother Wayne Teasdale, “intimacy with the divine and availability to others are one and the same activity.”

Studying martial arts since the fifth grade and having practiced carpentry for the last seven years, Deva has a particular appreciation and interest in the integration of sensory and motor function. Presently enrolled in the Comprehensive Integrated Program at CenterPoint to study bodywork and shiatsu, Deva characterizes his faith in the Dharma as “trusting the heartmind,” and though he does not regard himself as a teacher, his current course of study reflects the intention to teach this trust through the hands of the trained therapist he is becoming.

Putting his feelings of having a biography written about him to poetry, he expresses:

Writing my name with urine in water through this river of us.

The Enlightenment Conference 2012 Dialogues

Enlightenment Conference audio to go here.

Vidyuddeva/Gafni 2006 Audio Series

Vidyuddeva Talks with Marc Gafni, Part 12

Vidyuddeva Talks with Marc Gafni, Part 11

Vidyuddeva Talks with Marc Gafni, Part 10

Vidyuddeva Talks with Marc Gafni, Part 9

Vidyuddeva Talks with Marc Gafni, Part 8

Vidyuddeva Talks with Marc Gafni, Part 7

Vidyuddeva Talks with Marc Gafni, Part 6

Vidyuddeva Talks with Marc Gafni, Part 5

Vidyuddeva Talks with Marc Gafni, Part 4

Vidyuddeva Talks with Marc Gafni, Part 3

Vidyuddeva Talks with Marc Gafni, Part 2

Vidyuddeva Talks with Marc Gafni, Part 1

Discover More…

Visit Vidyuddeva’s Author Page on Spirit’s Next Move