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By Dr. Lora-Ellen McKinney Mark Jones is a large man. He’d be imposing if you did not notice his yoga pants, surprising and tiny ponytail and quietly smiling eyes. So, after a minute, you realize that this big guy is a teddy bear; which absolutely suits the man he has become. He has a number of formal titles in the Sunyata Group ( ), an organization that promises to be an enlightening presence in the world. A trained engineer, Mark is a “strategic thinking partner” and “systems architect” “specializing in the optimization of individual and organizational value, performance, and contribution to increase: social and economic effectiveness and efficiency” for a variety of non-profits and companies. This is very fancy language for his basic goal, which is to create healthy organizations and a peaceful world. Mark comes to this blend of business and the spiritual quite naturally. His father was a college educated engineer, psychologist and musician; his mother was a professional fashion model and musician. They raised him to be independent and thoughtful. As a small child, he was raised in Jewish neighborhoods and attended a private Catholic academy. However, he also attended schools where punishment was meted out for shows of excessive “colored” intelligence. Mark learned important lessons from his parent’s responses from the country’s changing social and political landscape. “When I was a child, my family transplanted itself from the womb of the east coast to the canvas of the Northwest. A very “practical” America — cities with many vacancies, but no houses to live in. (This was) a world of limited vocabulary: "We're sorry, this house is no longer for sale" (due to steering / blockbusting / redlining). As a child I watched in wonder the true manifestation of “equal protection of the law”. I learned the difference between “values” and “ideals” (values-in-action).” “My parents refused to be “redlined”, so we ended up living thirty miles from the city in a heavily forested area called a rural suburb in unincorporated Snohomish County adjacent to the city of Lynnwood. No people of color; no people of Semitic heritage; no people of Asian background. A "yoga practicing Native American" family, an "Irish" family, and now a "colored" family in a newly developing "white neighborhood". As a result, today, Mark lives on his own Walden Pond (, on ten acres surrounded by trees, ponds, eagles, hawks, herons, ducks, deer, horses, cows, coyotes, and bobcats. A Buddhist by personal choice and study since he was eight years old, Mark, born in 1958, grew up in a very supportive family. “My parents and spiritual teachers were my most important influences. My parents encouraged me to really explore and engage the world and my inner experience. And they trusted themselves and other teachers to provide me with a practical action-oriented spiritual foundation. I discovered my “purpose-driven” life at an early age — to reduce suffering in the world. And my parents accepted and supported my calling. They even accepted my statement someday I would become vegetarian, a life practice that would last the rest of my life — which I did in 1972. I feel that I have been blessed by parents who loved me unconditionally, trusted me to become me, provided the environment and tools that I needed to thrive in the world; taught me how to attract, discern, and learn from great teachers!” 20

Our Anniversary Issue - October 2009  

Celebrating our first year in circulation.

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