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Rev. Yao Feng Shakya

Born in Boise, Scott Hill grew up in Renton, Washington. He got into trouble, was expelled from seventh grade when his parents divorced, and joined his mom in Alaska at age 14, after his father died. He dropped out of high school, moved to Arizona on his own at 17, and fell into addiction, homelessness, and crime. He followed a friend to Salem, then, still homeless, moved to Eugene 17 years ago. Two years later, he met Rhonda Martinez, who changed his life and became his wife. Together, they took up drawing, began making comic books, and traveled to comic book shows from Seattle to San Diego. "I was checking into religions," he says. "I had messed up so much, and Buddhism seemed accepting." He studied Buddhism online and took up the meditative practice of Zen painting. In 2006, he was ordained as a priest in the Zen Buddhist order of Hsu Yun and given the name Yao Feng Shakya. Calling himself the Sad Monk, he posted his paintings online and found admirers worldwide hoping to purchase them. "I teach Zen Buddhism, taking the 'ism' out of it," says Yao, who has 35 students. "It's about loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity." Learn about his artwork and his weekly Zen painting class at "Zen paintings" on facebook.

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 20 January 2011

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