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“Appalachian Perspective” Features Piano Performance by Zen Buddhist Priest

BOONE– Tozan Hardison, a Zen Buddhist priest and former concert pianist, appears on the latest “Appalachian Perspective” cable television program of Appalachian State University.

Hardison is a graduate of The Julliard School and worked as a teacher, concert pianist and AIDS nurse before pursuing the Buddhist priesthood. “To me, Tozan exemplifies lifelong learning,” says the program’s host, Frank Borkowski. “Through his careers, he has shown what it means to continually grow intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.”

The 30-minute program features Hardison discussing how he turned to Buddhism in a search for greater comfort and meaning in his life. He also performs Chopin’s “Etude No. 3 Opus 10 in E Major” and Debussy’s “Le plus que lente.”

For the past five years, Hardison has operated the Seidoan Soto Zen Temple located outside Boone.

“I think of Buddhism as a philosophy of living and not so much a religion,” says Hardison, a former Episcopalian. “I don’t think my Buddhism takes away from my Christianity. In fact, since turning to Buddhism I’ve come to better understand and appreciate the teachings of Christ.”

Buddhism is based on the teachings of Buddha, who lived about 2,500 years ago in what is now Nepal. He taught that humans create their own suffering through their needs. Major teachings of Buddhism include non-violence and one criterion in choosing an action: does that action benefit all beings?

The way out of suffering is thinking correctly and acting correctly, Hardison says.

Hardison says he believes people of all religions can benefit from the teachings of Buddha.

“When you embrace the Buddhist practice of non-violence and understanding of what causes all the suffering in the world, then whatever religion in the world you practice will be enhanced. We all need God in our lives. We are all searching for whatever God is,” he says. “We may have different names for God, but we all have to have it. It’s a human condition.”

On the wars against Iraq and terrorism, Hardison says, “It’s a sad time. We become what we fear. When we fear terrorism or violence, it’s a terrible way to live. It may behoove us to take the chance to really enjoy life and not be so destructive to others for fear that they’re going to hurt us.”

The episode titled “The Beauty of Life, Music and Buddhism” airs locally on Charter Communications’ Channel 21 at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. May 19-23 and at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. May 26-June 13. Channel 2 airs “Appalachian Perspective” at 7:30 p.m. each Tuesday, and Channel 18 airs the program Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.

“Appalachian Perspective” also airs in Raleigh, Newport, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Kannapolis, Hickory and Morganton.

For more information, visit

or contact Producer Linda Coutant at (828) 262-2342.