More Philosophy, Less Religion

Don Socha is an English professor, nature lover, writer, and husband. He is also a Buddhist. For Socha Buddhism is the philosophy that grounds and guides him.

“Buddhism is more philosophy than religion,” said Socha.

When he was 16, Socha had a job at A&W and the cook was Buddhist. The cook introduced Socha to readings and poetry about Buddhism. He started reading about the wisdom held by old men living off in the woods. Being called “nature boy” all his life this really struck home with Socha, but it wasn’t until 2000 that he became really serious in his practice of Buddhism.

Socha met a traveling Zen monk, Dale Hartmeyer, who taught him the formal ways of meditation. In 2002 Socha became an ordained Bodhisattva where he made a commitment to dedicate his life to Buddhism. He attended a meditation retreat in Montreal that was run by french monks.

“We would meditate six to seven hours a day,” explained Socha.

For the past six years Socha has made a Zen-do out of his garage. He and his wife, who is also a Bodhisattva, hold sittings Thursday nights and Sunday afternoon.

Professor Don Socha lectures during his Intro to English Literature class. Socha is an English professor at Central Michigan University; he teaches four classes a week.

Don Socha, James Stern, and Brigitte Bechtold, Socha's wife, mediate during the sitting hour Socha holds in the Zendo made in his garage. Sittings are held every Thursday night and Sunday afternoon and anyone is welcome.

Brigitte Bechtold and Don Socha do the Kusen reading after meditation. "My wife and I will switch off who runs the sitting," said Socha. Both have be ordained Bodhisattvas.

Socha made his rakusu by hand during his meditation retreat in 2002 in Montreal. Every day Socha takes the rakusu and taps it to his head three times before wearing it.

Don Socha listens to James Stern talk about his views on Buddhism. Stern is just beginning formally practicing Buddhism.

It is common practice during meditation to sit up right facing the wall and focus on a spot on the wall. "Buddhism is more philosophy than religion," said Socha.

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4 thoughts on “More Philosophy, Less Religion

  1. Katie!
    Love your story! Reminds me of my dad in the sense that he meditates like CRAZY! lol. You have some great images of his every day life, and his “meditating life”. You really have told the story well with your pictures! I like the choice of black and white also. Really adds to the ‘tranquility’ feeling 🙂 Good job!!

  2. Great story. I love the shot of them in the kitchen. You can really see the connection that they have and that is just a nice shot composition and exposure are right on. Nice story.

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