Full Interview Here // Excerpt Below
by Penelope Green
Green: You have designed two Trappist communities, as well as an abbey, a church and a private chapel in Europe, and I know you had thought to join a Buddhist order when you were in your 20s. I’d like to hear about your night in the monastery.
Pawson: I’d seen a documentary of Zen Buddhist monks practicing martial arts in a temple, so, of course, being 24, I thought, “Oh, I’ll go and be one of those.” I flew to Japan. It was a very pleasant flight. It was Christmas Eve, and snowing. And a friend, my Japanese contact, took me to a monastery in northern Japan at my request. I knocked on the door, they said: “Fine, come in. Here’s a mop. Polish the floor.” At 4 a.m.
I got a bowl of rice or something, and I suddenly woke up and left. Luckily, my friend was waiting for me in a hotel in the town. When he had dropped me off, he’d told me he’d wait. And I said: “Oh no, I’m here for a year. I’m waiting for enlightenment.”