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.
Akincano Marc Weber (Switzerland) is a Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist. He learned to sit still in the early eighties as a Zen practitioner and later joined monastic life in Ajahn Chah’s tradition where he studied and practiced for 20 years in the Forest monasteries of Thailand and Europe. He has studied Pali and scriptures, holds a a degree in Buddhist psychotherapy and lives with his wife in Cologne, Germany from where he teaches Dhamma and meditation internationally.
Teaching is essentially translation. It means ferrying an authentic contemplative tradition across choppy waters into our psychological and cultural realities, losing neither the vision nor the truth of what we know to be our immediate experience.
Alan Clements is an author, performing artist, media activist, and founder of the World Dharma vision. As the first American to ordain as a Buddhist monk in Burma, he lived for nearly five years in a Rangoon monastery training in Buddhist psychology and mindfulness meditation under the guidance of two of the most respected meditation teachers of the modern era, the late Mahasi Sayadaw and his successor Sayadaw U Pandita. In 1984 he was forced to leave the country by the dictatorship, with no reason given. He has returned numerous times to witness and document the human rights violations in that country. Subsequently, he has been “blacklisted” from reentering the country by the regime.
He is the author of a number of books and films, including, “Burma: The Next Killing Fields?”, (co-author) “Burma’s Revolution of the Spirit,” “Natural Freedom — The Dharma Beyond Buddhism”, “Instinct for Freedom”, “Spiritually Incorrect - In Defense of Being Human,” “Swimming Through Stone,” and “The Voice of Hope — Conversations with Aung San Suu Kyi.”
He is the co-founder and director of the Burma Project USA, World Dharma Publications, and the World Dharma Online Institute (WDOI). Clements is also a political/spiritual satirist, and performs his acclaimed one-man show “Spiritually Incorrect: In Defense of Being Human,” to audiences around the world.
Alexis has practiced Insight Meditation in India, Burma and the US since 2001. He has been a long-time student of Sayadaw U Tejaniya, including several years of training as a Buddhist Monk under his guidance. Alexis’ teaching emphasizes knowing the mind through a natural and relaxed continuity. He brings a practical, intuitive and compassionate approach to the development of wisdom and qualities of the heart.
Amana Brembry Johnson has been a student and practitioner of multiple spiritual traditions throughout her life. Her journey of Vipassana practice and study began over 10 years ago as a result of the early People of Color Retreats offered at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. She completed the Community Dharma Leaders Program at Spirit Rock in 2017 and is currently a participant in the groundbreaking Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program (SRTT). Amana leads meditation and teaches contemplative yoga that interweaves the wisdom of the Dharma with movement. She mentors and coaches practitioners who wish to deepen their practice and understanding of the ancient wisdom teachings. An accomplished visual artist, Amana creates imagery that exposes emotional and spiritual barriers of the heart as gateways into kindness, compassion and self-love.
Amita Schmidt is a licensed clinical social worker with a focus on trauma and meditation. She was the resident teacher at Insight Meditation Society from 2000-2006. She is the author of "Dipa Ma: The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Master." She also has practiced with Adyashanti, a teacher of non-dual awareness.
Amma Ṭhanasanti is a California born spiritual teacher dedicated to serving all beings. Since she first encountered the Dharma in 1979, she has been committed to awakening. As a former Buddhist nun of 26 years, she combines the precision and rigor of the Ajahn Chah Forest Tradition, compassion, pure awareness practices and a passion for wholeness. Amma has been teaching intensive meditation retreats in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia since 1995. She invites an openness to pause and inquire into the truth of the present moment, integrating what is liberating at the core of our human condition.