About Michael Cerpok Sensei (the Mobile Monk)
Born in Illinois (US), Michael Cerpok (pronounced chair-pok) left the mid-west in 1978 to explore creative pursuits of music and writing in California. It was also at that time that he began a study of World Religion and Philosophy. In 1980, he became involved with martial arts and after thousands of hours of study in several martial disciplines he opened his first training hall (dojo) in Washington State in 1989. It was also at that time that he began to develop and implement myriad public school programs that focused on social skills building, conflict resolution, and self defense.
With the success of these programs, Cerpok Sensei became a prolific speaker addressing groups that ranged from church organizations to government agencies, and from elementary schools to universities. Through these experiences, Cerpok Sensei has had the opportunity to work with hundreds of people ranging from 5 years old to 85 years old, from disadvantaged to gifted, those who were experts in their own field to those who were starting from square-one, those who “know the answer” and those who are searching. And for all of them Cerpok Sensei has a message that is universal. Any one in any walk of life will come away from a session with him feeling good and seeing things from a new perspective. His lessons in effortless living and the practice of Zazen can enhance anyone’s life. It stands alone, as well as enhancing an already-holistic lifestyle.
In 2006 Cerpok Sensei was diagnosed with an incurable form of leukemia. His already-unique perspective on life and life-changing events is due not only to his unyielding pursuit toward effortless living through contemplation and observation, but also through personal experience. Because of this, he has been able to guide many people, and the loved-ones affected, in similar situations toward finding their own peace of mind and easefulness in the face of serious life events.
As his teachings continued to evolve, so did Cerpok Sensei's personal philosophy of living and in 2006 his first book was released. The Gentle Ravings of an Egomaniacal Master introduces Mr. Cerpok’s personal philosophy and is intended as a guide towards a more simplified and satisfying way of living. His second book, The Mobile Monk; A Zen Tale was released in 2008. This collection of original short stories (and somewhat autobiographical) follows the adventures of Sute Inu, a wandering monk who inspires others through his tales.
Mr. Cerpok continues to offer his instruction and insight through Mobile Monk Wellness, a community outreach program based in Fountain Hills, Arizona and made possible through donations to Personal Development Center Inc. (an Arizona 501c3 non-profit organization). Donations and referrals keep this program available, and are greatly appreciated!
"Zazen, or sitting Zen, is a practice. There should be no goal, no measurement of success. You do not master Zazen, you only practice Zazen. Further, while many people refer to Zazen as a meditation I prefer to think of it as a discipline. A discipline of the body that leads to a discipline of mind. A discipline of mind that leads to effortless action, and effortless action that leads to effortless thought. In the moment of effortless thought we may recognize the corners of the circle, or the very subtle moments that may escape our notice but do truly define our lives." - Michael Cerpok Sensei
In Zazen the practitioner sits in a simple and easily-learned posture. This can be modified for any person, for any reason, without effecting the practice. Some people will actually practice Zazen sitting at their kitchen table! Along with focus on a proper posture is a focus on proper breathing. Zazen sessions with Cerpok Sensei conclude with a short discussion or question-and-answer period during which time the practitioner may ask for clarification on the discipline, on life events, or on their personal search for effortless living.
"I am thought of as the mobile monk because I have traveled from place to place enjoying the company of any who wish to spend a small amount of their time with me. Wherever I go, I sit and breathe and sometimes tell stories. And because people often times find deep meanings in my stories I am thought of as a monk, even though I am just a man plain and simple!" - Michael Cerpok Sensei
Traditionally, a Zen monk would separate the day into times of meditation, of work, of meals, of alms (donations), and of exercise (typically martial arts). In that sense it is easy to understand why people think of Cerpok Sensei as a monk. He began meditation practice and a study of the major religions and philosophies while a teenager and began a thirty-five year career in the study and teaching of martial arts as a young adult. He would also spend hours upon hours out in the public eye sitting, breathing, teaching, and sharing, while asking for nothing in return but accepting donations placed into his little "magic box."
In these modern times Cerpok Sensei sits on the board of a 501c3 nonprofit organization so that donations made in gratitude of his instruction can be tax deductible to the donor. Just like the ancient tradition, we are able to support the teachings that he offers only through the generosity of others. Donations and referrals allow for students, whether one-time or long-term, to Pay Forward the benefit they receive from Sensei to others who could benefit from his time as well. Selfless service (or karma) can be found in many forms.