About

Sensei Derek

There are a lot of human conflicts and personal suffering in the world today. We all need healthy ways to prevent falling victims to this. For me, it’s a love of reading, a fulfilling spiritual life, martial arts and plant-based eating. My mother instilled a deep thirst for reading in me at an early age. My favorite areas of reading include philosophy, religion, theoretical scientific thought, spirituality and Consciousness. I was raised in the Southern Baptist Christian tradition. Though I left the tradition in early adulthood I maintain a deep love and respect for Jesus. My spiritual odyssey was driven by a deep curiosity about Consciousness. Ultimately, I found my “spiritual home” in Pure Land Buddhism. (a Chan/Mahayana tradition) I am a lay disciple of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order founded by Venerable Master Hsing Yun.

Educationally, my background is in speech communications, rhetoric and philosophy. (B.A. Speech Communications & Rhetoric)  My early thoughts were influenced by several western philosophical traditions. Among these influences: the ancient Greeks, Stoics, Existentialism and Transcendentalism (specifically Emerson & Thoreau). Cosmology, physics and phenomenology are other subjects of great interest to me. When it comes to fictional writing, I favor the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I am also a published author.

Though the West had captured my mind early on in life, my heart has always felt most at home with eastern traditions. Some of the eastern influences on my thinking include the writings of Yogananda, Vedanta philosophy, Miyomoto Musashi (the Japanese swordsmen), Lao Tzu (Chinese mystic, scholar & philosopher) and Sun Tzu (Chinese general, philosopher & strategist). The writings of Venerable Master Hsing Yun (founder of Fo Guang Shan) have a special place in my personal library. The Buddha’s life and wisdom have had an exceptionally profound impact on me.

I am a life long martial artist. At age 11, I was introduced to meditation through martial arts training. I became a black belt in karate at age 19 and am one of several black belts in my family. Meditation, and martial arts, have remained essential components of my daily life. Nutritionally, I follow a fully plant-based/vegan diet. (i.e. no eating any dairy products, fish or meat) My reasons for doing so are primarily spiritual, for the health benefits, the environment and its mind mastery value. No drugs or alcohol. Early to bed…early to rise.


“Sensei helped me navigate through the inner maze of fear, doubt and confusion. At a pace that served me at the moment, guided by Sensei, I was able to work through a lot of blocks created over the years and arrive at the point of clarity that helped me make the most important decision of my life. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Sensei and all of the unique techniques and insights he has to offer.”

Inna T.