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.
Richard Shankman has been a meditator since 1970, and teaches at Dharma centers and groups internationally. He is guiding teacher of the Metta Dharma Foundation, and cofounder of the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies and of Mindful Schools. He practices and teaches meditation that integrates compassion, mindfulness, concentration and insight as one path of practice. Richard is the author of The Art and Skill of Buddhist Meditation and The Experience of Samadhi.
Robert Cusick trained at Stanford University in the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) and is a Stanford certified Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) instructor. He studied in the Soto Zen Tradition at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, in the Ridhwan School’s Diamond approach with A.H. Almaas (Hameed Ali) and in Spirit Rock’s multi-year Dedicated Practioner’s Program. He ordained in Burma under the world-renowned Burmese Meditation Master, Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, and studied there with him for a number of years. His practice is focused on recognizing and cultivating compassion through the application of mindfulness.
Shane Hill is a clinical psychologist, mindfulness teacher, and a community facilitator here at ISC. He has been practicing Vipassana/Insight Meditation for many years, has studied and trained in both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, has been trained by Bob Stahl, the guiding teacher at ISC, in MBSR and community facilitation, and is an on-going student of the Suttas, the Dharma, and of Life, the greatest moment to moment teacher of all.
Shantum Seth is a teacher and well-known guide to the sites associated with the Buddha in India. A Buddhist practitioner, he is an ordained teacher (Dharmacharya) in the Zen tradition of the Vietnamese Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. He teaches in India and other countries and has been leading pilgrimages under the name "In the Footsteps of the Buddha" since 1988. In the last few years he has been leading inter-faith, educational, cultural and spiritual journeys to diverse regions of India. At the same time, he has been deeply involved with social and ecological development issues for over 20 years. He has contributed to a number of books including Walking with the Buddha. He has also been a consultant on films including Life of the Buddha made by the BBC/Discovery and Michael Wood’s The Story of India by BBC/PBS.