Drew Oman's involvement with Buddhism began in the early 70s when he took a course in Buddhist Scriptures from Walpola Rahula (What the Buddha Taught) at Northwestern University, where Drew obtained a BA in psychology. His spiritual journey led him through years of rich study and practice with the Quakers, Self-Realization Fellowship, and while following Eknath Easwaran here in the Bay Area, an immersion in the Christian mystics. Drew returned to Buddhism, specifically to Vipassana practice, in the early 90s, and has established a consistent meditation practice, is an active member of IMSB, studies Buddhist scripture, and engages in retreat practice. Drew has taught English as a Second Language in community college and Stanford, and works as an English language coach in corporate settings.
Ed Haertel has maintained a daily meditation practice for over 20 years, and attends retreats with Shaila whenever he can. He has been active in IMSB since its beginning in 2006, and has served as IMSB's treasurer since 2008. For the past six years he has co-hosted the IMSB sutta study course in his home. Ed is a professor in the School of Education at Stanford University, and an expert in the field of educational testing and assessment
Elad Levinson LCSW has studied and practiced Buddhism since 1970. His practice has always been passionately interested in the integration of Buddhist philosophy and methods with the mundane worlds exigencies. He is the co-founder of Pounds for Poverty, whose mission is to bring Mindfulness and Altruism to the treatment of weight related illnesses. He has an active psychotherapy practice in Palo Alto and management consulting firm focused upon accelerating the solutions to environmental and social problems working with the entrepreneur- founder/investors or senior leaders. His firm is called Noble Purpose Consulting.
What has always engaged me is working with practitioners who are deepening their commitment to the Dharma and then seeing them take a quantum leap in their understanding. My contribution to this commitment is working towards conveying a Theravadan practice with a Mahayana spirit.
The Theravadan practice of vipassana provides simple, direct instructions that can be immediately understood and applied in daily life as well as retreat practice. The Mahayana spirit has the beautiful attitude that we practice not for ourselves alone, but for all sentient beings. Between the two, the unfolding of liberation for ourselves and others becomes a simple, down-to-earth practice that anyone can do.
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.
Ines Freedman first became interested in meditation through her yoga practice in 1970. She has been practicing Buddhist meditation since 1985, with Gil Fronsdal being her primary teacher since 1995. She is a graduate of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader Program and a past Managing Director of Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City. She is a retired chiropractor.
Jack Petranker, J.D. is the director of both the Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages and the Center for Creative Inquiry. He has taught meditation and Buddhist psychology for many years at the Nyingma Institute in Berkeley, and is the author of "When It Rains, Does Space Get Wet?" (Dharma Publishing 2006).
James R. Doty, M.D. is the Founder and Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neuroscience (SINTN) of which His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the founding benefactor. He collaborates with scientists from a number of disciplines examining the neural bases for compassion and altruism.
He is an inventor and entrepreneur as well as a Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University School of Medicine. As a philanthropist, Dr. Doty supports a number of charitable organizations supporting peace initiatives and providing healthcare throughout the world. He also supports a variety of research initiatives and has provided scholarships and endowed chairs at multiple universities.
He is on the Board of a number of non-profit organizations including the Dalai Lama Foundation of which he is Chairman and the Association of Medical Ethics. Dr. Doty is also on the Senior Advisory Board of the Council of the Parliament of the World's Religions
Janet Taylor began practicing vipassana meditation in early 2006 and is inspired by the possibility of complete liberation and by seeing the truth of the Buddha's teachings of impermanence, the suffering caused by attachment, and emptiness in her daily practice. Janet has attended 10 residential retreats, including three seven-day jhana retreats, completed a 35-week course on the practice of the 32 body parts meditation, and serves as a mentor for beginning meditators at IMSB. Janet received her BFA degree in sculpture, and enjoys nature and sea kayaking. She currently works as a technical writer and curriculum developer.