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Meditating in Class?
Hope Merrick
Antelope Staff
Courtesy Photo Mosig (right) demonstrates a flying side-kick (yoko tobi geri). The picture was taken at his dojo in Gainesville, Fla., in 1968. Mosig has a black belt in Okinawan karate and kobudo and has won five world championship titles in karate.

Psychology professor offers Zen classroom experience

It’s hard to know what to think of Professor Mosig on your first day of class. He stands straight and tall with an authoritative look that makes you squirm. His cane rests on the chalkboard edge, reminding everyone who sees it of Gregory “House.” He stands for a moment scanning, observing, and taking everything in before he speaks. The voice that comes out seems fitting and yet surprising, a familiar version of Sean Connery.  This is psychology professor Yozan Mosig.

Born in Germany during WWII, his family moved to Spain and then to Cordoba, Argentina in 1948. This was home for 15 years, and where his first year of college was disrupted by a motorcycle accident that left him in a cast for eight months.  

Mosig came to the U.S. in 1963, starting his college career anew at Eastern New Mexico University, where he was able to graduate with honors in two and a half years. He attended graduate school at the University of Florida in Gainesville, earning his M.A. in 1969 and a Ph.D. in psychology in 1974, while working at his first teaching job at Georgia
Southwestern College.

Mosig has earned a black belt in Okinawan karate and kobudo with over 50 years of training in martial arts. He has won five world championship titles at the United States Karate Association World Championship/Grand Nationals.

Mosig says he has always sought knowledge in his life. In 1980 Mosig met Zen Master Dainin Katagiri and in 1994 became a Zen Buddhist monk himself.

“I was greatly impressed with Zen Master Katagiri, under whose guidance I was privileged to practice meditation for 10 years. When he died in 1990, I decided to honor him by continuing my training and becoming a full-fledged Zen monk,” Mosig said. “What compelled me to become a monk was the same motivation, albeit in reverse, behind my competing in karate tournaments:  to honor my teacher. When karate grandmaster Robert Trias died in 1989, I stopped tournament competition, for I felt I no longer needed to demonstrate the excellence of his style,” Mosig said.  

Even though Mosig stopped competing he did not stop his daily practice of meditation. “I still meditate every day. With practice it becomes part of one’s life, nothing special. One brushes one’s teeth, takes a shower, meditates, eats breakfast... actually, if done with mindfulness, every activity becomes meditation.”

Mosig teaches Zen meditation as part of Eastern Psychology, a course offered every fall semester. “Students practice 20 minutes of meditation at the start of every class, and learn also walking meditation and much more,” he said.  “While it is best to practice meditation for its own sake, without seeking or expecting any benefit, I have found it transformative, and others have told me that my personality became more focused and compassionate as the result.”

Mosig has also accumulated books on different writers and historical figures for the last several decades. In 1977, when Mosig came to teach at UNK, he had a library of books on the famous horror writer H.P. Lovecraft.

Most of Lovecraft’s horror stories were based on his own dreams, which Mosig analyzed through the lens of psychology.

He is currently researching the Punic Wars and the life of Hannibal Barca, a military commander from Carthage who fought against the Roman Republic for over 16 years. His research on Hannibal has led to a home library with over 5,000 books based on Hannibal’s life. He writes about Hannibal for the British History Times and the International Journal of the Humanities and has also over a dozen psychology publications to his name and presents his research internationally.

 “I like teaching psychology because of the classroom interactions with students as well as the occasional
feedback— sometimes years later— that my students have found what they learned in my classes valuable in their lives,” Mosig said. “I love teaching, there is nothing I would rather be doing!”

Mosig is an inspirational man and an even more compelling speaker. It’s not hard to figure out why students ask to be in his classes.

“I love all of Mosig's stories,” says sophomore Ellen Thomas, an elementary education major from Omaha. “He’s lived through so much that you can’t wait to go to class and hear what he has to share.”


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