Ajahn Cunda grew up in Northern Chicago. His interests in Buddhism eventually led him to Abhayagiri Monastery in Northern California where he ordained as a Bhikkhu in 2008 and spent several years under the guidance of Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro. This training continued with Ajahn Viradhammo, Ajahn Sucitto and other teachers in several Ajahn Chah Branch monasteries. In 2020, he returned to assist with the leadership of Abhayagiri Monastery. Ajahn's talks spring from his personal experiences living in a monastic setting and the insights he gains from his formal practice.
As a monk, I bring a strong commitment, along with the renunciate flavor, to the classic Buddhist teachings. I play with ideas, with humor and a current way of expressing the teachings, but I don't dilute them.
Sitting in a field of fifty to eighty people really starts my mind sparking. Since I don't prepare my talks ahead of time, I find myself listening to what I'm saying along with everyone else. This leaves a lot of room for the Dhamma to come up. Just having eighty people listening to me is enough to engage me, stimulate me, and create a nice flow of energy. The actual process of teaching evokes ideas that even I did not realize were being held somewhere in my mind.
Different teaching situations offer their own unique value. In retreat, you are able to build a cohesive and comprehensive body of the teachings. When people are not on retreat and come for one session, it opens a different window. They are more spontaneous and I'm given the chance to contact them in ways that are closer to their "daily-life mind." This brings up surprises and interesting opportunities for me to learn even more.
I'm continually struck by how important it is to establish a foundation of morality, commitment, and a sense of personal values for the Vipassana teachings to rest upon. Personal values have to be more than ideas. They have to actually work for us, to be genuinely felt in our lives. We can't bluff our way into insight. The investigative path is an intimate experience that empowers our individuality in a way that is not egocentric. Vipassana encourages transpersonal individuality rather than ego enhancement. It allow for a spacious authenticity to replace a defended personality.
Bhante Bodhidhamma, as lay person practiced at Throssel Hole Zen Priory in north England, later with Sayadaw U Janaka in Burma and at various places with Sayadaw U Pandita. He ordained in 1986 and spent 8 years in Sri Lanka, returning to UK in 1998. He was the resident teacher at Gaia House, UK, 2001-2004. In 2007, he founded Satipanya Buddhist Retreat on the borders of Wales., devoted to vipassana in the tradition of the Mahasi Sayadaw.
Bhante Khippapanno, ordained a Buddhist monk in 1949, practiced vipassana in India and Burma with Dipa Ma, Mahasi Sayadaw and Shwe Oo Min Sayadaw. He founded Jetavana Vihara, Washington, DC, 1982, and Sakyamuni Meditation Center, CA, 1988. He helped establish Phuoc Son Meditation Center, Vietnam, 1994.
Born in Canada, Sayadaw U Jagara, originally named Martin Boisvert, embarked on his spiritual journey in the mid-1970s under the guidance of Robert H. Hover. In 1979 he received ordination as a monk from the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw in Burma. For the next 15 years, he resided in Sri Lanka, where he blended the practice of meditation with the study of Buddhist scriptures. He also made intermittent trips to India and Thailand for meditation retreats. During the 1980s, he assumed the role of a meditation guide, conducting retreats in the tradition of S.N. Goenka across India, North America, Europe, and Asia. In 1995, he began training under the esteemed Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, a revered Burmese meditation master known for his commitment to the Visuddhimagga. This text serves as both a practical roadmap to deep states of meditation (jhāna) and a meticulous guide to the direct analytical approaches of vipassanā. Sayadaw U Jagara began assisting Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw in teaching the dhamma in the early 2000s and sustained his support up to the early 2010s. In the past decade, he has independently shared his wisdom and experiences across North America, collaborating with various meditation teachers. His teachings focus on life as continuous meditation, guiding students toward liberation through observation, wisdom, and compassion.