Ajahn Metta was born 1953 in Germany. She became an Anagārikā in ‘93 at Amaravati and took higher ordination as a Sīladhāra in ‘96. During her monastic life she has been involved in many areas of the community. She is one of the group of senior nuns leading the Sīladhārā community. For the past few years she has been teaching meditation workshops and retreats. Prior to monastic life she worked as a secretary and office assistant. She is a mother of a grown-up son and was living a family life before entering the monastic path. She has been practising meditation since ‘84 and has experience of living in other spiritual communities in Europe and Thailand (Wat Suan Mokkh).
Ayya Anandabodhi is co-founder of Aloka Vihara, a training monastery for women near Placerville, CA, where she currently resides. She has practiced meditation since 1989, and lived as part of the Ajahn Chah lineage at Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries for 18 years. In 2009 she moved to the US and took full bhikkhuni ordination in 2011.
After being inspired by the presence & teachings of Ajahn Buddhadasa, i ordained 1993 at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, UK. In 2009 i co-founded Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery in the Sierra Foothills of California, where i enjoy creating sanctuary close to nature, practicing in community and bringing wisdom traditions to the environmental movement.
Ayya Santussika, in residence at Karuna Buddhist Vihara (Compassion Monastery), spent five years as an anagarika (eight-precept nun), then ordained as a samaneri (ten-precept nun) in 2010 and as a bhikkhuni (311 rules) in 2012 at Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara in Los Angeles.
Ayya Santussika was born in Illinos in 1954 and grew up on a farm in Indiana. While being a single mother, she received BS and MS degrees in computer science and moved with her two children to the San Francisco Bay Area. She worked as a software designer and developer for fifteen years. Her search for deeper meaning and ways to be of service led her to train as an interfaith minister in a four-year seminary program that culminated in an Masters of Divinity degree and a brief period of practice as a minister before ordaining as a Buddhist nun. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Buddhist Global Relief.
Ayya Sobhana is the Vice Abbess of Dhammadharini, the monastic women’s community located in Sonoma County. Together with Ayya Tathaaloka Theri, Ayya Sobhana has been deeply involved in restoring Bhikkhuni full ordination in the Theravada tradition. She meditated and trained with Bhante Henepola Gunaratana since 1989 and stayed at the Bhavaha Society in West Virginia from 200 to 2010. She ordained in 2003 and obtained full Bhikkhuni ordination in 2006. Her primary practice is the Eightfold Noble Path - i.e. integration of meditation with ethical living and compassionate relationships for the sake of liberation. During the past decade, Ayya Sobhana has been developing the crosswalk between the Buddha’s teachings and our western understanding of emotion, as it has been transformed by recent developments in neuroscience, evolutionary biology and philosophy of mind.
Bhikkhu Bodhi is an American Buddhist monk originally from New York City. He lived as a monk in Sri Lanka for 24 years and now lives at Chuang Yen Monastery in upstate New York. Ven. Bodhi has many important publications to his credit, either as author, translator or editor, including The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (Majjhima Nikaya, 1995) and The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Samyutta Nikaya, 2000). A full translation of the Anguttara Nikaya is due out in 2011. In 2008 he founded Buddhist Global Relief, a Buddhist organization dedicated to providing relief from poverty and hunger among impoverished communities worldwide.
Born in Canada, Ven. U Jagara was introduced to Buddhist practice in the early 1970’s by Robert Hover, and ordained as a monk under the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw in Burma in 1979. He spent 15 years in Sri Lanka combining meditation with the study of Buddhist texts and periodically traveled to India where he practiced in intense retreats with S. N. Goenka. For several years he conducted retreats in India, America, Europe and Asia in the S.N. Goenka tradition. Since 1995 U Jagara has trained under the guidance of Pa Auk Sayadaw, the Burmese master renowned for his faithful adherence to the Visuddhimagga as both a practical guide to jhana and a detailed exposition of direct analytical approaches to vipassana. U Jagara assists Pa Auk Sayadaw in the teaching.
Dharma practice is medicine for the mind -- something particularly needed in a culture like ours that actively creates mental illness in training us to be busy producers and avid consumers. As individuals, we become healthier through our Dharma practice, which in turn helps bring sanity to our society at large.
Giving dharma talks offers me the opportunity to express gratitude for my Thai teachers -- Ajahn Fuang Jotiko and Ajahn Suwat Suvaco -- in appreciation of the many years they spent training me, which came with the understanding that the teachings continue past me. Giving dharma talks also pushes me to articulate what I haven''t yet verbalized to myself in English. This in turn enriches my own practice. When you help a wide variety of people deal with their issues, it helps you practice with yours.
When giving a talk, I try to remain true to three things: my training, my study of the early Buddhist texts, and the needs of my listeners. The challenge is to find the point where all three meet -- not as a compromise, but in their genuine integrity.
For this, I play with analogy. Meditation is a skill, and our meeting point as people, whatever our culture, lies in our experience in mastering skills: how to sew clothes, cook a meal, or build a shelter. So I've found that one of the most effective ways of explaining subtle points in meditation is to find analogies with more mundane skills. Through the language of analogy we find common ground from which our practice can grow to meet our individual needs, and yet remain true to its universal roots.