What has always engaged me is working with practitioners who are deepening their commitment to the Dharma and then seeing them take a quantum leap in their understanding. My contribution to this commitment is working towards conveying a Theravadan practice with a Mahayana spirit.
The Theravadan practice of vipassana provides simple, direct instructions that can be immediately understood and applied in daily life as well as retreat practice. The Mahayana spirit has the beautiful attitude that we practice not for ourselves alone, but for all sentient beings. Between the two, the unfolding of liberation for ourselves and others becomes a simple, down-to-earth practice that anyone can do.
It is fun for me to take the most difficult concepts and put them into accessible language, to unwrap the mystery. So I try to find ways to explore the breadth of concepts like "emptiness" -- to see how the entire path can be explained in terms of this synonym for nibbana. One of my aims is to bring the goal of freedom into the here and now. This way practitioners get a taste of freedom, so they know what they are heading toward on their journey to liberation.
The tools of mindfulness and lovingkindness can be picked up by anyone. They are easy to understand and they bring immediate benefit to our lives. The essence of vipassana is ideally suited to western society, especially to the resonance between our psychological turn of mind and our quest for spiritual understanding.
Jan Willis (BA and MA in Philosophy, Cornell University; PhD in Indic and Buddhist Studies, Columbia University, 1976) is Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. She has studied with Tibetan Buddhists in India, Nepal, Switzerland and the U.S. for over four decades, and has taught courses in Buddhism for thirty-nine years. She is the author of The Diamond Light: An Introduction to Tibetan Buddhist Meditation (1972), On Knowing Reality: The Tattvartha Chapter of Asanga's Bodhisattvabhumi (1979), Enlightened Beings: Life Stories from the Ganden Oral Tradition (1995); and the editor of Feminine Ground: Essays on Women and Tibet (1989). Additionally, Willis has published a number of articles and essays on various topics in Buddhism—Buddhist meditation, hagiography, women and Buddhism, and Buddhism and race. In 2001, she authored the memoir, Dreaming Me: An African American Woman’s Spiritual Journey (re-issued October 1, 2008 by Wisdom Publications as Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist, and Buddhist—One Woman’s Spiritual Journey).
In December of 2000, Time magazine named Willis one of six “spiritual innovators for the new millennium.” In 2003, she was a recipient of Wesleyan University’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Newsweek magazine’s “Spirituality in America” issue in September of 2005 included a profile of her and, in its May 2007 edition, Ebony magazine named Willis one of its “Power 150” most influential African Americans.
At the end of 2012, Willis spent several weeks in a Buddhist nunnery in Thailand and conducted research on the diverse ways that Thai women practice Buddhism.
As someone who began teaching in the 2000s, I am enormously grateful to those who have come before me -- and interested to bring new perspectives and sensibilities (generational, queer, multi-traditional, justice-focused) to the timeless truths of the dhamma.
Jeffrey B. Rubin Ph.D practices psychoanalysis and psychoanalytically-oriented psychotherapy and teaches meditation in New York City and Bedford Hills, New York. He is considered one of the leading integrators of the Western psychotherapeutic and eastern meditative traditions. A Sensei in the Nyogen Senzaki and Soen Nakagawa Rinzai Zen lineage and the creator of meditative psychotherapy, a practice that he developed through insights gained from decades of study, teaching and trying to helping people flourish, Jeffrey is the author of the new ebook, Practicing Meditative Psychotherapy and the critically acclaimed books Meditative Psychotherapy, The Art of Flourishing, Psychotherapy and Buddhism, The Good Life and A Psychoanalysis for Our Time. Dr. Rubin has taught at various universities, psychoanalytic institutes and Buddhist and yoga centers. He lectures around the country and has given workshops at the United Nations, the Esalen Institute, the Open Center and the 92nd Street Y. A blogger for Huffington Post, Psychology Today, Rewireme, and Elephant Journal, his pioneering approach to psychotherapy and Buddhism has been featured in The New York Times Magazine. His website is drjeffreyrubin.com.
Jill Satterfield is an international mindfulness and meditation teacher, consultant and mentor. Her integration of embodied mindfulness and meditation includes somatic practices and contemplative psychology. She has been teaching for over 35 years; in hospitals, trauma centers, addiction institutes, at risk youth facilities, corporations and meditation centers with the intention of empowering people from all walks of life, backgrounds and dispositions.
Jon Aaron is a teacher at New York Insight. His principal teacher has been Matthew Flickstein of The Forest Way, with whom he has done teacher training, and participated in several two year training programs. As well, he has completed teacher training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts. He has also completed the Integrated Study and Practice Program at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, and the Foundations in Buddhist Contemplative Care at the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care.
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.
Josh Korda is Buddhist pastor and counselor, as well as an author of books and articles exploring the intersections of contemporary therapeutic modalities, especially focusing on integrating attachment theory with the principles of Buddhist psychology. Since 2005 Josh has been the guiding teacher of a large spiritual community in New York with over 4000 members; his podcast, on buddhist psychology, has accumulated 2.5 million downloads. For the last 15 years his work has focused on providing one-on-one spiritual counseling to hundreds of members of the Dharma Punx NYC community, which is largely composed of individuals in recovery and addressing attachment disturbances. Josh’s latest publication is ‘Unsubscribe’ (Wisdom Publishers/Simon & Schuster).