After decades of practice and teaching, what inspires me are those moments when I can see the habitual as if it were for the first time. If such moments occur while I'm giving a talk, then the teacher in me can hear its own words imbued with the freshness imparted by those who truly listen -- the multiple aspects of myself being part of the audience as well. Thanks for your participation in the process.
I have two main aims in teaching. The first is to spread the dharma as widely as possible, offering it to as many different people as I can. The second is to teach a smaller number of people over sustained periods of time. This in-depth teaching engages my tremendous love for intensive, long-term meditation practice, where people can immerse themselves in the retreat experience and see how it transforms their understanding.
Although deeply rooted in the Vipassana tradition of Theravada Buddhism, I enjoy working with various skillful means from different Buddhist schools to help convey the essence of all practice, the one dharma of liberation. This essential dharma includes the wisdom of non-clinging, the motivation of compassion to practice for the benefit of all beings, and the potential for liberation within us all.
Given the speed and complexity of our culture, the Buddha's teachings offer a much-needed means to slow down, a way to create some inner calm. We need to touch base with this place of tranquillity in order to allow our bodies and minds to unwind. We then have the chance to see more deeply and profoundly the nature of our lives, how we create suffering and how we can be free. The dharma begins with the development of calm and it carries us all the way to liberation.
From 1971-1991 Joseph Kappel lived as a Buddhist monk as Pabhakaro Bhikkhu, with Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Sumedho in Thailand and Great Britain. His initial interest in Buddhism was inspired by visits to Thailand from Vietnam where he was a Captain serving as a combat helicopter pilot in 1969-70. Since leaving monastic life in 1991, Joseph has taught MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) in Massachusetts’s prisons, received the degree of Master of Education from Harvard University, and worked with college athletes to facilitate “mental fitness” and the inner game. He currently teaches meditation retreats in various settings in the US. Additionally, he co-leads retreats with Ajahn Amaro at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in England. Joseph’s commitment is to encourage everyone to awaken in daily life by using life’s journey to cultivate deep understanding, virtuous conduct, along with wise effort & reflection.
Kaira Jewel Lingo is a Dharma teacher and lived as an ordained nun for 15 years in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing, and is now based in New York. She provides individual spiritual mentoring and leads retreats internationally, offering mindfulness programs for educators, parents and youth in schools, in addition to activists, people of color, artists and families. She mentors with the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program, was lead teacher for Mindful Schools’ year long training for educators, teaches teens and adults with Inward Bound Mindfulness Education, and is a guiding teacher for One Earth Sangha. She edited Thich Nhat Hanh’s Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children and has been published in numerous other books and magazines. She explores the interweaving of art, play, ecology and embodied mindfulness practice and is an InterPlay leader. Read her recent article, In Times of Crisis Call Upon the Strength of Peace, published in Lion’s Roar magazine.
It has long been important for me to offer the purity of the teachings of the Buddha in a way that connects with our common sense and compassion as human beings, which allows for the natural blossoming of wisdom.
Kate Munding is co-guiding teacher of IMCB. She has been practicing since 2002 and has done numerous 1-2 month intensive practice periods. Kate is currently in Spirit Rock's Teacher Training program. Kate has also trained approximately 2,000 educators, therapists, and parents in mindful awareness techniques and philosophy in the U.S. and abroad.
She is founder of The Heart-Mind Education Project, a consulting business focused on mindfulness in education.
Kittisaro, from Tennessee, a Rhodes Scholar and a Buddhist practitioner for over 35 years including 15 years as a Theravada monk in the Forest School of Ajahn Chah. He is also a practitioner of Pure Land and Chan Buddhism. He is co-founder, with Thanissara of Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat in South Africa and has completed two year long retreats. Kittisaro currently lives in the North Bay, California, teaches at IMS and Spirit Rock, and is co-author of Listening to the Heart, A Contemplative Journey to Engaged Buddhism. He lives in the North Bay CA, and is on the Teacher Council at Spirit Rock, and is a core teacher at IMS.
Kittisaro & Thanissara, both former monastics in the Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah, are married, teaching partners, and co-founders of Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat, in South Africa. They are co-authors of Listening to the Heart, A Contemplative Guide to Engaged Buddhism. They currently live in North Bay California where they are Guiding Teachers of Sacred Mountain Sangha, on the Spirit Rock Teacher Council, and are Core Teachers at IMS.
The method I use most in teaching is anapanasati or mindfulness with breathing. Breath awareness supports us while we investigate the entire mind-body process. It helps calm the mind and gives us a graceful entry into a state of choiceless awareness--a place without agendas, where we are not for or against whatever turns up in the moment.
In this state we relax into ourselves. We allow the mind to empty itself of its own content and take us into a realm of silence.
Choiceless awareness, with the transition into and out of silence, has fascinated me for a long time. What are the barriers to our minds becoming silent? How do we remain in silence long enough to receive its countless benefits? Can we learn to bring thought-free wakefulness into each aspect of our ordinary, daily living?
As lay people we need a practice that helps us learn how to live whole-heartedly, to do justice to the many challenges of lay life, and at the same time grow in the dharma. This includes moving gracefully back and forth between our daily life and intensive retreat practice.
Presently, I am deeply interested in using Buddha's Charter of Freedom of Inquiry, the Kalama Sutta, as a framework for my teaching. In this teaching, the Buddha invites us to question and doubt. It invites us to use personal experience to test and verify the truth of the teachings. This in turn encourages us to acknowledge life's greatest teacher: Life itself.
The challenge for us all is to question ourselves. Do we know how to live? If the answer, in any way, is no, then bring in the dharma and let's see how the teachings help us live in a wise and kind way.