I believe the solutions to our economic, social, and psychological problems are deeply intertwined. My mission is to translate Buddhist and yoga practices into tools that transform habits, cultivate intimate relationships, and awaken a profound compassion for the world.
Because I've been teaching in Burma the last three years, I've been able to see how mindfulness can be nourished by a culture that supports the ancient liberation teachings and by daily experiences of happiness arising from acts of generosity, morality and renunciation. Thus the practice of Buddhism and the living of Buddhism are woven together in a seamless tapestry.
If there is anything that is most engaging to me now, it is the desire to bring this sublime way of life into our culture in the West.
What began as a deep compassion for the suffering of the existential predicament of human beings deepened as I understood that we need not identify with our experience. It is this understanding that has led me far onto the path of befriending others on their spiritual journey. My greatest inspiration is working with students wherever they are in the moment. We are all capable of so much more than suffering; once we learn how to be mindful, it's only a matter of remembering that it is the purity of intention which frees us. Dismantling the myth that we need to be something other than what we are is so important, because if we can learn to be mindful of exactly where we are, we experience the happiness of peace, which is what we deeply are.
My deepest appreciation is for the joy of the spiritual adventure. The purity of mindfulness, which soothes our sophisticated, intellectual, analytical, and out-of-touch-with-our-bodies mindset, is the moment we remember to pay attention without embellishment, interpretation or judgment. That moment becomes overwhelmingly touching because it brings us what we most wish for, unconditional love and peace. This truth, this purity of intention is what brings us home.
I try to help practitioners approach their meditation practice and their lives with compassion and wisdom. Bringing a loving attentiveness into each moment allows us to learn kindness rather than condemnation, and discernment rather than judgment.
I feel that it is essential not to make a split between the formal practice that happens on retreat and the informal practice that happens in daily life. At the core, formal practice and daily life practice are the same. In all arenas of life we can create the same dedication to wakefulness and sensitivity. The right place to practice meditation is wherever we are. The right time to practice is right now. And the right way to practice is to know what we are doing whenever we are doing it.
We can live each moment in a fresh way, free from expectations of how things should be and open to how things are whether we are sitting on the cushion, washing the dishes, or talking with a friend. With practice, we can discover a current of underlying joy and find that all of life is sacred.
Meditation practice is an offering to the world. When we meditate, we practice not only for ourselves, but for all beings. In meditation there is a gradual purification of heart. This purification allows us to trust ourselves and to respond spontaneously to others with compassion and insight.
Having taught formal retreats since 1986, my current interest is in supporting individuals and groups in integrating and applying the teachings and insights in daily life, and working with small groups in the exploration of the dharma for liberation of mind and heart. My talks draw on the traditional teachings and their pointing to liberation here and now.
Pari Ruengvisesh was born and raised in Thailand. Her practice is rooted in the Mahasi tradition under the guidance of Sayadaw U Pandita, Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Sayadaw U Vivekananda, Michele McDonald and Steven Smith. A graduate of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leaders Program, Pari is committed to practice on intensive retreats and applying the teachings in her daily life.
Pascal Auclair has been immersed in Buddhist practice and study since 1997, sitting retreats in Asia and America with revered monastics and lay teachers. He has been mentored by Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Massachusetts and Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California, where he is now enjoying teaching retreats. Pascal teaches in North America and in Europe. His depth of insight, classical training, and creative expression all combine in a wise and compassionate presence. In addition, his warmth and humour make Pascal a much appreciated teacher.
Rabbi Jeff Roth is the founder and director of The Awakened Heart Project. He was the co-founder of Elat Chayyim where he served as Executive Director and Spiritual Director for 13 years. He is the Author of Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday Life, Jewish Lights 2009. He is an experienced meditation teacher and the facilitator of over 90 Jewish meditation retreats.
I first encountered Buddhism in 1974, and it blew the doors wide open for me with its profound and practical insights into the mind, suffering, and true happiness. Over time I gravitated to the original teachings of the Buddha, embodied in the Theravadan tradition, for their down-to-earth clarity, and important sources for me have included the teachers of Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the Pali Canon itself. More recently, I've explored grounding the dharma in modern evolutionary neuropsychology - "neurodharma" - recognizing how mind arises dependently upon the body, especially the nervous system as it tries to meet ancient needs for raw survival. I am especially interested in using these approaches to heighten the learning - the cultivation (bhavana) - from beneficial experiences (otherwise often wasted on the brain) to reduce the underlying sense of deficit and disturbance that causes the craving that causes suffering and harm. Overall, I feel amazingly blessed to have the opportunity in this life to ride the dharma stream and share its gifts with others!