My name is Jason Walz and I am the proprietor of the Custom Mala Shop. I consider myself a non-denominational Dharma Practitioner who follows no single teacher or lineage. I originally became interested in Dharma Practice through the Martial Arts and Taoism. While practicing martial arts I became much more interested in the "why" of the arts rather than the physical process (although really they are one and the same). So, I first started to investigate Taoism. That in turn led me to investigate Buddhism and the Buddha's teachings. The Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path resonated with me immediately. I had always been interested in religion in general (I have a BA in anthropology) but the Buddha's teachings seemed to transcend the rote scholarly approach to religion. They offered to me a way to approach life that simply "made sense".
Now, several years later, I no longer practice the martial arts but I focus a great deal of my time not only contemplating the Buddha's teachings but also hopefully living them partially through my effort of practicing Right Livelihood. Right Livelihood is of course the 5th step in the Eight Fold Path. It is through Right Livelihood that one attempts to earn a living while not harming others; while not acting selfishly; while contributing to the lessening of the suffering of others. I hope that the Malas I make help to accomplish this. Making Malas also allows me to express myself artistically. Although really it is the customer who comes up with the majority of the creativity involved I do get to play at "artist" as I put together the customer's creation. I get great satisfaction and peace from doing something as simple as watching a diamond tipped drill bit slowly sink into a lapis bead. I find it relaxing to sit and drop bead after bead onto a strand of cord and listen to the "clack-clack-clack".
A little more biographically speaking I am a single dad of two stunningly wonderful kids. I also have two Rhodesian Ridgebacks that help me make Malas by sleeping on the sofa all day (or under my feet!). I live in sunny Mesa Arizona and ride my mountain bike on the local trails daily. I recently (as of June 2011) left my regular 9-5 job in favor of making Malas full-time. The Custom Mala Shop is now my main source of income although I am still doing as little database management on a consulting basis.