Kim Allen practiced with Gil Fronsdal for a dozen years, and now serves on the Teacher’s Council at Insight Santa Cruz. She has spent cumulative two years in silent retreat, and lived for another two years at the Insight Retreat Center. She has studied the suttas with Gil, Bhikkhu Bodhi, and Shaila Catherine, and offers classes for dedicated students. She has completed the Sati Center’s Buddhist Chaplaincy training program, and is the founder of the Buddhist Insight Network. Her teaching emphasizes the willingness to look truthfully at experience, and to soften in light of what is seen.
Margarita Loinaz, M.D. has been a Buddhist practitioner since 1977 in the Tibetan and Theravada traditions with an emphasis on Dzogchen practice for the past 10 years. She is a graduate of the first Community Dharma Leader's program at SRMC where she contributed to the initial stages of the diversity program and taught at the first POC retreat. She also trained in MBSR at the UMass Stress Reduction Clinic and is a student of the Diamond Approach. She is originally from Dominican Republic.
Lately, my own practice is moving more and more into the monastic world. As I teach out of that nourishment, I find people hungry for the traditional, solid forms of the Dharma. I see people's lives changing when they engage in these forms. Certainly, as I deepen my own Sutta study, I find the traditional ideas so helpful it encourages me to delve further.
In this, I am learning how to ride the edge of a question, instead of reaching for answers. When I let the question hang there, as a living presence, its very aliveness stimulates movement toward an answer, an opening.
Some key factors imprint my teaching. The fact that I'm a purely Western-produced Dharma teacher, without the influence of Eastern traveling, and that I'm a middle-aged Western woman with a psychological background. Also, my years in a Christian practice now translate into my engagement with such ideas as embodiment: how do we take the practice and live it? What is practical in the Dharma, a sort of Buddhist Householder Hints.
From my perspective, the world is in serious trouble. We have separated ourselves from all other beings, and in the process do a lot that keeps us from being present. It is so urgent that we learn to be present and see what is true about our being here, that we live with kindness and compassion for all beings. Vipassana supports these intentions and helps us all heal, no matter what the eventual outcome may be.
Mirka Knaster has practiced in the Theravada tradition since her first retreat in India in 1981. An independent scholar and freelance writer and editor, she has written "Living This Life Fully: Stories and Teachings of Munindra" (Shambhala), a book about the meditation master who first taught Dipa Ma, Joseph Goldstein, and many of our western dharma leaders. Munindra was a pivotal figure in the transmission of Dharma to the West and the resulting mindfulness movement. Her previous book is "Discovering the Body's Wisdom," which explores the benefits of Eastern and Western body-mind disciplines.
Mirka has been in the holistic health field since the 1970s as a practitioner, teacher, writer, editor, and speaker. Growing up in a European family in the U.S., living and traveling in diverse areas of the world, and studying the traditions of different peoples, she brings a cross-cultural perspective to her research on the body, healing, and spiritual practice. Mirka has a Ph.D. in Asian and Comparative Studies.