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AT A BUDDHIST MONASTERY IN THE SHADOW OF MOUNT SHASTA, A GROUP OF MONKS LOOK INWARD, AND SEEK ENLIGHTENMENT TEXT BY CAMERON WALKER PHOTOS BY JONI KABANA

spend hours on the phone with monks. He deepened his commitment to Buddhism and became certified as a lay minister. No one single event made Olson realize he needed to be a monk. Seattle was full of loving friends and family, avocations such as tennis and classical guitar and satisfying work. “I was happy at one level,” he says, but he also felt his life energy wasn’t focused where it was needed. “I could see that being a monk was going to address that longing.” So he spent more than three years paying off his student loans and raising a $10,000 stipend to cover his health insurance before entering the monastery in 1990. He says he needed every moment. “Saying goodbye to most of what I thought was my life was really intense.” Becoming a monk means shedding much of one’s former life. While not all traditions require celibacy, monks entering the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives—to which the abbey belongs—must end romantic relationships. They undergo other transformations, too. Olson once had blond hair and a full beard and was known as Craig. Now he is Rev. Berthold, and his head and face, like those of all the monks, are shaved clean. September 20 10

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Columns - September 2010  

New in Columns, the University of Washington Alumni Magazine: Off the gridiron with Jake Locker, one of the country’s highest-rated college...

Columns - September 2010  

New in Columns, the University of Washington Alumni Magazine: Off the gridiron with Jake Locker, one of the country’s highest-rated college...

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