Michael and his life-partner Kate McCandless are the resident priests of the Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver, British Columbia. Michael's interest in Buddhism grew from studying aikido and Chinese martial arts in his early teens in Calgary, Alberta. He practiced aikido in Japan for a year when he was twenty, and again several years later. He studied Japanese language and religion at the University of British Columbia and Tsukuba University in Japan.
He and Kate began to practice zazen at a beautiful, old Rinzai temple on Mount Tsukuba. Later they moved to Kyoto and practiced Soto Zen with Shohaku Okumura for three years. Since returning to Canada in 1987, they have practiced with Zoketsu Norman Fischer and were ordained by him in 2003. Michael teaches Asian studies, Japanese culture, and religious studies at Simon Fraser University. He enjoys tramping in the wild, gardening, and practicing Japanese calligraphy. He hopes to set up a pottery studio soon.