Doug is founder and guiding teacher of Empty Sky Vipasssa Sangha and a long time practioner of vipassana and zen. His teaching is strongly influenced by Vimala Thakar and J. Krishnamurti as he explores such questions as "After all these years of practice, why are we not free?" and "What happens that we do not immediately live the understanding we work so hard to gain, continuing to cling to the false when seeing clearly what is true?" He brings a strong committment and interest to the integration of formal practice and intimacy in relationship in the context of daily living.
Erin is Guiding Teacher at Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center in northern New Mexico and Resident Teacher at the Durango Dharma Center. Her approach to sharing the dharma is influenced by her love of wild nature, her ongoing experience as a student of the Diamond Approach by A.H. Almaas and by her decades of working with somatics and as a bodyworker.
I am intrigued by how we can live the 'holy life' as lay people. How do we erase the imaginary line between formal sitting practice and the rest of our lives? How can we bring full engagement to formal and informal practice? Is it possible to embody, in our lives, the understanding and insight that comes with intensive training? And can we live our lives in a way that expresses and continues to deepen our realization? These questions fuel my practice and my teaching.
I place a lot of emphasis on the Buddha's teaching about mindfulness of the body. The body is a powerful dharma gate. I encourage people to deeply investigate the body and use it as a place of recollection in daily life.
Our individual and cultural habits, our confusion, all require a sincere and ongoing commitment to spiritual life and practice. In order to mature our 'layastic' practice, we need to develop a palette of practices: mindfulness, loving-kindness, inquiry, reflection, precept practice, service, sutta study, etc.
I believe passionate engagement is the foundation of the spiritual path. Spiritual life blossoms when mindfulness is woven with a heartfelt sense of loving-kindness and compassion. With warm mindfulness as the basis of practice, our attachment to identity, roles and experience begins to loosen. As our experience and understanding matures, faith develops. This nourishes a devotion to practice which further deepens our insights.
It is precious to be born in the human realm and have an opportunity to practice and awaken. May we appreciate our inheritance and bring to life the teachings of the Buddha.
Fred von Allmen has studied and practiced under Tibetan and Theravada teachers since 1970 in Asia, Europe and the US. He has taught retreats worldwide for 25 years. The author of several Buddhist books in German, he is a co-founder of the Meditation Center Beatenberg in the Swiss Alps.