Deborah Ratner Helzer has practiced with Western and Asian teachers in the Theravada tradition since 1995, including a year as a nun in Burma. She has been teaching in the Washington, DC area and assisting with retreats around the country since 2001.
devon hase loves long retreats. Cumulatively, she’s spent four years in silent practice in the Insight and Vajrayana traditions. Since discovering meditation in 2000, she has put dharma and community at the center of her life: she spent a decade bringing mindfulness to high school and college classrooms and now teaches at the Insight Meditation Society, Spirit Rock, and other centers around the world. She enjoys supporting practitioners with personal mentoring, and her friendly, conversational approach centers relational practice and the natural world. Along with her life partner nico, devon co-authored How Not to Be a Hot Mess: A Buddhist Survival Guide for Modern Life. She continues to spend a good part of the time in wilderness retreat in Oregon, Massachusetts, and elsewhere. For more, visit devonandnicohase.com
Gloria Taraniya Ambrosia has been offering instruction in Theravada Buddhist teachings and practices since 1990. She is a student of the Western forest sangha, the disciples of Ajahn Sumedho and Ajahn Chah, and is a Lay Buddhist Minister in association with Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in California. She has served as resident teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, taught many months at IMS's Forest Refuge, and served as a Core Faculty member at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. She co-authored Older and Wiser: Classical Buddhist Teachings on Aging, Sickness, and Death and has written numerous articles for the Insight Journal of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.
Greg Scharf has practiced with Western and Asian teachers in the Theravada tradition since 1992, and has been teaching residential retreats since 2007. His teaching emphasizes the confluence of love and wisdom on the path to liberation. If you feel drawn to donate to Greg on this website, he says, "Please consider making a donation to Dharma Seed instead - Dharma Seed needs your support!"
I have always enjoyed working with practitioners who are continuing to deepen their practice. In the many long retreats I teach at both IMS and Spirit Rock, I feel free to pass on the deepest pointings I’ve found in the teachings of the Buddha in the Pali Canon. Those are my guiding lights in practice and understanding.
It is fun for me to take the most difficult concepts and put them into accessible language, to unwrap the mystery. So I try to find ways to explore the breadth of concepts like "emptiness" -- to see how the entire path can be explained in terms of this synonym for nibbana. One of my aims is to bring the goal of freedom into the here and now. This way practitioners get a taste of freedom, so they know what they are heading toward on their journey to liberation.
The tools of mindfulness and lovingkindness can be picked up by anyone. They are easy to understand and they bring immediate benefit to our lives. The essence of vipassana is ideally suited to western society, especially to the resonance between our psychological turn of mind and our quest for spiritual understanding.
I try to convey that the wisdom and compassion we are looking for is already inside of us. I see practice as learning how to purify our mind and heart so we can hear the Buddha inside. In doing so, we naturally embody the dharma and help awaken that understanding and love in others we meet.
I try to use the formal teachings as a doorway for people to see the truth in themselves. I feel I'm doing my job when people look into themselves to come to their own deep understandings of the truth, access their own inner wisdom and trust in their "Buddha-knowing," as Ajahn Chah called it, which is different from their intellectual knowing.
The Buddha-knowing is a deeper place, underneath the concepts, which is in touch with the truth, with our seed of awakening. I want practitioners to have more and more confidence in, and familiarity with, that deeper place of knowing. It is accessing this dimension of our being that becomes the guide to cutting through the confusion caused by greed and fear. We have everything we need inside ourselves. We do not need to look to a teacher when we remember who we really are.
I have two main aims in teaching. The first is to spread the dharma as widely as possible, offering it to as many different people as I can. The second is to teach a smaller number of people over sustained periods of time. This in-depth teaching engages my tremendous love for intensive, long-term meditation practice, where people can immerse themselves in the retreat experience and see how it transforms their understanding.
Although deeply rooted in the Vipassana tradition of Theravada Buddhism, I enjoy working with various skillful means from different Buddhist schools to help convey the essence of all practice, the one dharma of liberation. This essential dharma includes the wisdom of non-clinging, the motivation of compassion to practice for the benefit of all beings, and the potential for liberation within us all.
Given the speed and complexity of our culture, the Buddha's teachings offer a much-needed means to slow down, a way to create some inner calm. We need to touch base with this place of tranquillity in order to allow our bodies and minds to unwind. We then have the chance to see more deeply and profoundly the nature of our lives, how we create suffering and how we can be free. The dharma begins with the development of calm and it carries us all the way to liberation.
It has long been important for me to offer the purity of the teachings of the Buddha in a way that connects with our common sense and compassion as human beings, which allows for the natural blossoming of wisdom.
Kittisaro, from Tennessee, a Rhodes Scholar and a Buddhist practitioner for over 35 years including 15 years as a Theravada monk in the Forest School of Ajahn Chah. He is also a practitioner of Pure Land and Chan Buddhism. He is co-founder, with Thanissara of Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat in South Africa and has completed two year long retreats. Kittisaro currently lives in the North Bay, California, teaches at IMS and Spirit Rock, and is co-author of Listening to the Heart, A Contemplative Journey to Engaged Buddhism. He lives in the North Bay CA, and is on the Teacher Council at Spirit Rock, and is a core teacher at IMS.