Ayya Anandabodhi first encountered the Buddha’s teachings in her early teens, igniting a deep interest in the Buddha’s Path of Awakening. She lived and trained as a nun in the Forest Tradition at Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries in England from 1992 until 2009, when she moved to the US to help establish Aloka Vihara, a training monastery for women, where she now resides.
Her practice and teaching are guided by early Buddhist scriptures and through nature’s pure and immediate Dhamma. In 2011 she took full Bhikkhuni Ordination, joining the growing number of women who are reclaiming this path given by the Buddha.
Ayyā Medhānandī Bhikkhunī, is the founder and guiding teacher of Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage, a Canadian forest monastery for women in the Theravāda tradition. The daughter of Eastern European refugees who emigrated to Montreal after World War II, she began a spiritual quest in childhood that led her to India, Burma, England, New Zealand, Malaysia, Taiwan, and finally, back to Canada.
In 1988, at the Yangon Mahasi retreat centre in Burma, Ayyā requested ordination as a bhikkhunī from her teacher, the Venerable Sayādaw U Pandita Mahāthera. This was not yet possible for Theravāda Buddhist women. Instead, Sayādaw granted her ordination as a 10 precept nun on condition that she take her vows for life. Thus began her monastic training in the Burmese tradition. When the borders were closed to foreigners by a military coup, in 1990 Sayādaw blessed her to join the Ajahn Chah Thai Forest Saņgha at Amaravati, UK.
After ten years in their siladhāra community, Ayyā felt called to more seclusion and solitude in New Zealand and SE Asia. In 2007, having waited nearly 20 years, she received bhikkhunī ordination at Ling Quan Chan Monastery in Keelung, Taiwan and returned to her native Canada in 2008, on invitation from the Ottawa Buddhist Society and Toronto Theravāda Buddhist Community, to establish Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage.
Santacitta Bhikkhuni hails from Austria and trained as a nun in England & Asia from 1993 until 2009, primarily in the lineage of Ajahn Chah. Since 2002, she has also received teachings in the lineage of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. She is committed to our planet as a living being and resides at 'Aloka Earth Room', currently located in San Rafael, California. Santacitta Bhikkhuni stammt aus Österreich and begann ihre Nonnenausbildung 1993 in England & Asien, vor allem in der Traditionslinie von Ajahn Chah. Seit 2002 empfängt sie auch Unterweisungen in der Traditionslinie von Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Sie ist unserem Planeten als lebendes Wesen verpflichtet und lebt im 'Aloka Earth Room' in San Rafael, Kalifornien.
Bhante Buddharakkhita was born and raised in Uganda. Meditating since 1993, he was ordained as a Theravada Buddhist monk in 2002. Now residing at Bhavana Society in WV, he teaches worldwide and in 2005 founded the Uganda Buddhist Centre.
Bhante Henepola Gunaratana is the founding abbot of the Bhavana Society. Born in rural Sri Lanka, he has been a monk since age 12 and took full ordination at age 20 in 1947. He came to the United States in 1968. “Bhante G” (as he is fondly called by his students) has written a number of books, including the now-classic meditation manual Mindfulness In Plain English and its companion Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness. Bhante G regularly leads retreats on vipassana, mindfulness, metta (Loving-friendliness), concentration, and other topics both at the Bhavana Society and elsewhere.
Bhante Gunaratana is an internationally recognized author and meditation teacher. Prior to coming to the United States, he spent five years doing in missionary work with the Harijanas (Untouchables) of India and ten years in Malaysia. He has taught in a number of settings, including American University of Washington DC where he served as Buddhist chaplain and the Buddhist Vihara of Washington DC, where he served as president. Bhante G has a strong scholarly background and livelong commitment to dhamma.
In 1985 Bhante G co-founded the Bhavana Society and became its abbot. He continues to teach in the direct, compassionate style that characterizes his books and articles. Bhante G conveys a well-rounded approach to Buddhist Dhamma, touching on all aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path. He emphasizes metta bhavana (the cultivation of loving-friendliness) as a basis for samma-samadhi, or right concentration. As a teacher, he is known for his emphasis both on samadhi and on metta as part of spiritual training.
In 1996, Bhante G received the title of Chief Sangha Nayaka Thera for North America. This acknowledged his status as highest-ranking monk of his sect in the United States and Canada. In 2003, his autobiography, Journey to Mindfulness, was published. In 2005, the Sri Henepola Gunaratana Scholarship Trust was founded under his guidance. This trust provides educations for poverty stricken children in rural Sri Lanka.
Rather than teaching the theory of meditation through lectures and public forums alone, Bhanté’s teaching propels around the “Nirodha Retreat” making yogis benefit from a training of meditation lifestyle practice in a silent and secluded environment which many find as a life changing experience and immeasurable asset for self development.
In his quest for his own liberation, the layman Dhammaruwan took permanent ordination as a Buddhist monk on April 10, 2016. The ordination ceremony took place in the Bhavana Society’s Forest Monastery in West Virginia, USA before a large gathering of monks, lay devotees, his students and his friends
Born in Canada, Sayadaw U Jagara, originally named Martin Boisvert, embarked on his spiritual journey in the mid-1970s under the guidance of Robert H. Hover. In 1979 he received ordination as a monk from the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw in Burma. For the next 15 years, he resided in Sri Lanka, where he blended the practice of meditation with the study of Buddhist scriptures. He also made intermittent trips to India and Thailand for meditation retreats. During the 1980s, he assumed the role of a meditation guide, conducting retreats in the tradition of S.N. Goenka across India, North America, Europe, and Asia. In 1995, he began training under the esteemed Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, a revered Burmese meditation master known for his commitment to the Visuddhimagga. This text serves as both a practical roadmap to deep states of meditation (jhāna) and a meticulous guide to the direct analytical approaches of vipassanā. Sayadaw U Jagara began assisting Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw in teaching the dhamma in the early 2000s and sustained his support up to the early 2010s. In the past decade, he has independently shared his wisdom and experiences across North America, collaborating with various meditation teachers. His teachings focus on life as continuous meditation, guiding students toward liberation through observation, wisdom, and compassion.
Sayadaw U Tejaniya began his Buddhist training as a young teenager in Burma under the late Shwe Oo Min Sayadaw (1913–2002). After a career in business and life as a householder, he has become a permanent monk since 1996. He teaches meditation at Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya in Rangoon, Burma.
Sayadaw’s relaxed demeanor and easy sense of humor can belie a commitment to awareness he encourages his students to apply in every aspect of their lives. His earlier life as a householder gives him a rare insight into the challenges faced by his lay students. His book, “Don’t Look Down on the Defilements, They Will Laugh at You”, aptly characterizes his teaching style—accessible and true to the traditional teachings of the Buddha.