Shaila Catherine is the founder of Bodhi Courses (bodhicourses.org) an online Dhamma classroom, and Insight Meditation South Bay, a meditation center in Mountain View, California (imsb.org). She has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience, and has taught since 1996 in the USA, and internationally. Shaila has dedicated several years to studying with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand, completed a one year intensive meditation retreat with the focus on concentration and jhana, and authored Focused and Fearless: A Meditator's Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity, (Wisdom Publications, 2008). She has extensive experience practicing and teaching mindfulness, loving kindness, concentration, and a broad range of approaches to liberating insight. Since 2006, Shaila has continued her study of jhana and insight under the direction of Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw, and authored Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana (Wisdom Publications, 2011).
My focus in teaching is to provide the support that students need to turn their life to the dharma, to truth, and to find ways to come out of their pain and suffering. The retreat experience is an invaluable aid to this exploration; however, what matters more is how one integrates this under- standing into everyday life.
I care that students see through the illusory wall between formal meditation and their daily life. Then, what remains is a meditative attitude to all that occurs.
Vipassana practice helps us to become respectful and caring towards ourselves and others. This generates the conditions of mind and heart that allow us to awaken to the truth of who we are, rather than believing in our limited assumptions. As we see the impersonal nature of our own mind, we then experience a deep engagement with life that allows for a complete transformation of the heart. When we know this deeply, we can no longer unconsciously engage in actions that will lead to suffering and the ongoing destruction of our planet.
As a teacher, I am accessible and able to meet people at an intimate level. I am interested in how the language that we use can show where we are holding on. I look to the concepts about reality that people believe in as the key that unlocks the door to liberating insight. People can easily discount their experiences and forget that they hold the seeds to liberation, that the wisdom is already within them. As people speak what is in their hearts, affirmation brings about the confidence needed to take the next step, which can often seem confusing and daunting as one walks into the unknown territory of the mind.
Spring Washam is a well-known meditation and dharma teacher based in Oakland, California. She is a founding member and core teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center located in downtown Oakland. She is the founder of Lotus Vine Journeys an organization that blends indigenous healing practices with Buddhist wisdom. She is the author of, A Fierce Heart: Finding Strength, Courage and Wisdom in any Moment available in stores on November 7th. She was trained by Jack Kornfield and has studied numerous meditation practices and Buddhist philosophy since 1997. She is a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council. In addition to being a teacher she is also a healer, facilitator, spiritual activist and writer. Spring is considered a pioneer in bringing mindfulness based healing practices into diverse communities. She has studied indigenous healing practices and shamanic practices for over a decade. She has practiced and studied under some of the most preeminent meditation masters in both the Theravada and Tibetan schools of Buddhism. She currently travels and teaches workshops, classes and retreats worldwide.
In addition to being a teacher she also considers herself a healer, burgeoning writer, facilitator and spiritual activist. Spring has studied indigenous healing practices and works with students individually from around the world. She currently teaches workshops, large groups, compassion meditation and loving kindness retreats throughout the country. Her work includes earth based practices, awakening in the body, movement, dance and yoga.
Susan Moon is a writer and teacher and for many years was the editor of "Turning Wheel," the Journal of socially-engaged Buddhism. She is the author of The Life and Letters of Tofu Roshi, a humorous book about an imaginary Zen master, and editor of Not Turning Away: The Practice of Engaged Buddhism. Her most recent book is This Is Getting Old: Zen Thoughts on Aging with Dignity and Humor. Her short stories and essays have been published widely.
My greatest joy is giving the gift of love and hope through the dharma, knowing it is possible for humans to transform their hearts. These dharma gifts include paying attention, practicing clarity and kindness and addressing the suffering of the world--which, of course, includes ourselves.
Right now I'm most enthusiastic about the first gift, paying attention, because it makes every part of our lives better. Paying attention allows us to become more clear, and each moment of clarity is a gift to ourselves and those around us. Clarity keeps us from contributing to more suffering. The gift of clarity and kindness also supports a peaceful heart, which allows us to address the suffering in the world with love. When we practice clarity, we offer the possibility for humans to live in a different way. But a peaceful heart is only the beginning. We also have to take action, go out and directly address the suffering with peace in our hearts.
As a parent, grandparent and a psychotherapist, I teach out of the stories of my life and the lives of those around me. I am especially touched by personal narrative, accounts of spiritual journeys, and how these become vehicles for connecting with the dharma. I believe in revealing my own story so that others are more at ease to reveal theirs. Truth talking is a way out of suffering. Discovering how our hearts and minds work and creating a dialogue supports right speech practice. This is an on-going primary practice that we can do all the time. My hope is that I encourage people how to pay attention and to tell the truth by example.
Tempel Smith spent a year ordained as a monk in Burma and teaches Buddhist psychology and social activism in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently part of the IMS/Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program.
Vinny is a graduate of Spirit Rock Mediation Center’s Community Dharma Leader Program and is in the new SR teacher Training. He is training director of the Mind Body Awareness Project in Oakland, California, and a cast member of MTV’s If You Really Knew Me. He also has extensive experience training probation officers, teachers, and community leaders who work with at-risk youth, how to utilize mindfulness-based practices to deal with their own stress, anxiety, and secondary trauma.
Wes Nisker is a dharma teacher, author, radio commentator and performer. He is the founder and co-editor of Inquiring Mind and a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council. His latest book is Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again!