|Born||1972, Berkeley, CA|
|Functions||Buddhist abbot and roshi|
Mel Hartman (Berkeley, 1972) is a California-born Lovian Buddhist abbot and guiding-teacher (roshi) for the Sofasi Zen Buddhist Temple in Hightech Valley, Sofasi. In the past, he has been a successful athlete and a guitarist in several alternative rock bands in the US and Lovia.
Early life Edit
Mel was born in 1972 in the US state of California and grew up in the town of Mill Valley, Marin County. His father was a teacher and war veteran, while his mother worked odd jobs as a barmaid, waitress, and house cleaner. Thomas experienced an abusive childhood, with his mother responsible for much of the physical abuse in his home, and his father emotionally distant. In one incident, his mother threw him down a flight of stairs, and in another, his father severely beat him. When he was 11, his parents separated. Thomas began studying Korean style Karate (Hapkido) at the age of 14. His teacher worked closely with Thomas, practicing a secular form of Zen that did not include the teachings of the Buddha. In school, Thomas was a competitive athlete, and was influenced by the warrior mentality he found on the playing field.
Thomas was offered an athletic scholarship to attend college, but turned it down. His father convinced him he wasn't ready for college and was afraid he would "flunk out". At the time, Thomas would often steal cars for joyriding and lived by his own rules. In 1990, he wanted to volunteer in the US Army, but withdrew due to poor health.
Music career Edit
In the early 1990s, Hartman began a music career with a brief stint as lead guitarist of Faith In Her. Keyboardist Rod Borman described the band as "democratic", saying that Hartman’s dominating personality did not fit in.
At 22, Mel Hartman moved to Lovia with musician Kat Penn, beginning a period in which he formed bands with Penn only to be ousted from each. The pair first formed a band in Noble City, with Andrew Finch, called Pepsi Sugar Kings. The band recorded a demo of four tracks, then ejected Hartman and renamed themselves Italian Cigarets. The band ceased in 1996.
Mel Hartman played in four different rock bands in the late 1990s, but was never successful.
Hartman, who had given up his athleticism and music, turned to religion in 1999. He joined the recently founded Sofasi Zen Buddhist Temple and became a dedicated Zen Buddhist. From 1999 to 2003 he was being tutored by Alan Senauke-Brooke, who now is the temple's head priest. Hartman became the temple's leading abbot and guiding teacher (roshi) in 2008.
He is known to have cut all ties connecting him with his family in the United States, with his musical friends and former partners, and with his athletic past.