Summary: Teen Awakin Call With Brain Conroy
--Alakh Kapadia
3 minute read
Jul 17, 2021


This past Thursday, Katherine and I had the honor of hosting a Teen Awakin Call with Brian Conroy, one of the mentors for our internship this summer. This Teen Awakin Call was a project for the 2021 ServiceSpace summer internship. This Teen Awakin Call was structured similar to a regular Awakin Call, but was primarily for teens to listen and ask questions, as opposed to adults.

Brian Conroy, our guest, is a storyteller and the founder of the Buddhist Storytelling Circle, which is a collection of storytellers from the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery. He first encountered Venerable Master Hsuan Hua in 1976 and took refuge with the Master in 1994. Brian has also taught theater and public speaking in several public schools in San Jose, as well as performed his stories in various festivals.

Brian graciously answered around thirteen questions, from us interns and others who joined. He also shared a remarkable story with the group centered around the theme of contentment. Here are some highlights from his insightful stories and answers!

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  • Brian mentioned that his favorite stories to tell are Jataka tales, a collection of Buddhist morality stories.
  • Brian shared a Jataka tale about a king who hunted deer. Because the king hunted much more deer than he could possibly eat, the deer were starting to become scarce. At that time, there were two deer tribes, so the prince struck a deal with the deer tribes saying that the king would only kill one deer a day. One day, the deer that was supposed to be killed turned out to be a pregnant doe who asked if she could be sacrificed after her babies were born. She approached both leaders of the two tribes with this proposition. The first leader declined, but the second one (soon to be reincarnated as the Buddha), graciously accepted her offer, and went to sacrifice himself to the prince. The prince noticed the deer tribe leader's noble sacrifice and decided to spare him.
  • One of the main challenges that Brian faced during his journey of storytelling is opening the audience to create their own interpretations of the parables he shared. Instead of explaining the morals of the story, he left the interpretation to the audience members.
  • Brian prefers the term ‘performing’ rather than ‘acting’. This is because acting symbolizes putting on a mask and a fake persona rather than letting true nature shine through, unlike performing.
  • Brian’s love of storytelling came from his family. Ever since the age of 14, he was fascinated by the performing arts. He shared that his family inspired him into performance.
  • One noteworthy piece of advice that Brian also shared is that no matter the circumstances, following your passion will never fail.
  • Brian also shared another story, related to the theme of contentment. This story talked about a man who was fed up with everything in his life (his family, his job, his town) and set out to seek paradise. When he set out on his journey, he passed houses, stores, and farms. In the middle of his journey, he stopped under a tree to sleep. In order to remember the direction of paradise, he pointed his shoes in the direction he wished to travel. While he was sleeping, a spirit dwelling in the tree he slept under, switched the direction of his shoes to the same way he came. When he awoke, he put on his shoes and pursued the direction they were facing. After a while of walking, he saw farms, followed by stores, followed by houses. He thought to himself that he was in paradise. But when he kept walking, he noticed his house, and his beautiful family standing at the doorstep. All of a sudden, even upon recognizing his family and town, he lived life content, loving every moment.
We are so honored to have the chance to interview such a remarkable person and we are so inspired by his stories and personal experiences! We also hope to host more calls like these in the next few weeks of our internship. Thank you, Brian, for taking the time to answer our questions and we hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as we did!

Originally posted in Youth Internship 2021 Pod.

Posted by Alakh Kapadia on Jul 17, 2021

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