Bonnie met the Dharma in 1982 at Kopan Monastery and in Bodh Gaya India. Since then she has practiced long and short retreats with Joseph Goldstein and other eastern and western monastics and lay teachers. She is a graduate of the IMS/SRMC teacher training programs and is also involved with Indigenous ceremonies and practices. She is currently a core teacher of the IMS teacher training program and the SRMC Dedicated Practitioners Program. Dr. Duran is a Professor of Social Work and Public Health at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Brian Lesage has practiced Buddhist meditation since 1988 and has taught meditation since 2000. He has studied in the Zen, Theravada and Tibetan schools of Buddhism. He was ordained in the Rinzai Zen tradition in 1996. His training in Vipassana Meditation includes doing extended meditation retreats in Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, and India as well as numerous retreats in the U.S. He leads retreats and teaches meditation courses nationwide.
Cara Lai started meditating over ten years ago, and began sitting long retreats regularly in 2011. Most of her practice has been in the IMS/Spirit Rock tradition, although she has walked many other avenues of self-discovery. She seeks to find freedom through her own intuitive process, however that may vary from the ways we normally think about Buddhism, and to help others do the same. Nature, intuition, and the body are all integral to her teaching. She teaches for Inward Bound Mindfulness Education and works as a mindfulness-based psychotherapist, artist, and occasional wilderness guide. She has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Vermont; and in the past has worked in a therapeutic high school, an adoption agency, and various outdoor education settings. In 2020 she will complete the Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program. In her spare time she enjoys walking and watching plants grow.
What I most love in my teaching practice is seeing students become dedicated to their own liberation. As their spiritual practice matures, people light up from within when they begin to understand that personal freedom is possible. This commitment to freedom on the part of the student inspires me to find ways to express my deepest understanding and enthusiasm for liberation.
The mindfulness teachings of the Buddha are among the more direct, practical meditation techiques that we can cultivate. My focus is on sharing these practices in an accessable, down-to-earth way. How can we disengage from our habits of responding to the world through veils of confusion, greed, and hatred?
Mindfulness practice helps us recognize when we are responding to the world from the mental and emotional habits that obscure our true home, our radiant nature, which manifests as compassion and love. The Buddha's teachings show us that we are not isolated individuals who need to live defensive lives. Rather, we can learn to trust and live from our full potential as compassionate members of a connected planet.
Chas DiCapua is currently the Insight Meditation Society's Resident Teacher, and has offered meditation since 1998. He is interested in how each person can fully and uniquely manifest the dharma. He teaches regularly at sitting groups and centers close to IMS.
Chris Cullen has practiced and studied BuddhaDharma since 1994 and has been teaching insight meditation retreats since 2008. He teaches for Oxford University’s Mindfulness Centre, running mindfulness courses for MPs in Parliament in London.
What I teach is a reflection of the constantly changing nature of my own practice. When I give a talk it is not a set agenda, but something that I've been reflecting about. The talks tend to be in rhythm with my own practice.
At the moment, I'm reflecting on the interplay of the personal and the non-personal, on aloneness and intimacy, on emptiness and embodiment. This process of reflection is a slow one. I hold a question in the background of my consciousness and then prepare to be surprised, to see what actually arises.
I enjoy the dharma a great deal. I try to convey that meditation practice is not a pathway of endlessly overcoming obstacles, but also a path of tremendous joy. It brings a great deal of profound truth to people's ability to find happiness. I have great faith in the Dharma, and a bottomless faith in people's capacity to be wise.
The ancient traditions of Buddhism are as relevant today as they were 2,500 years ago because people's capacity for getting themselves into trouble, for confusion, alienation and separation is not so different from Buddha's time. Vipassana, then and now, offers people an opportunity to transform themselves, and in so doing, transform the world around them.
My engagement in teaching the dharma, to point to a free and liberated life, has remained the same since the first day I started. It is my unwavering commitment to inspire people that such a life is accessible to us all, here and now. This is what sustains me and gives me enthusiasm.
With contemporary language, I endeavor to address the depth of the Dharma, to go into the inner experience by using one of the contributions to the great wheel of the dharma, insight meditation. Insight meditation is a respectful and healthy practice. It gives us meditation techniques which, when practiced, lead to real insight into the whole of existence as well as our life in particular. It speaks to what it means for us to be a part of this world.
I also pay attention to the breadth of the Dharma by attempting to address every possible life endeavor, leaving no stone unturned: materialism, consumer culture, livelihood, environmental resources, love and respect for sentient beings, relationships, all the issues of daily life.
Most important for me is to keep the priority and focus on striving to live the awakened and liberated life and not be sidetracked by any particular feature, no matter how noble its contribution. A liberated and awake life is the center of the Dharma, and I find that I am simply unable to settle for anything else.