Sayalay Susila has been a Theravada nun for the last 20 years. Sister started her vipassana insight meditation during her university days, while obtaining a degree in Mass Communications (1988) at USM in Malaysia. Before ordination, she practiced as a full-time practitioner for one and a half years. After her ordination, in 1991, she practiced under the guidance of the well-known Venerable Sayadaw U Pandita in Panditarama Monastery, Myanmar, until 1994, at which time she began to practice under the guidance of the Venerable Pa Auk Tawya Sayadaw at the Pa Auk Meditation Centre, Myanmar, where she remains today.
Sayalay Susila was born in 1963, in the state of Pahang, Malaysia, and was ordained as a nun at the age of 28, at the Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre (MBMC) in Penang, Malaysia. She speaks fluent English, Hokkien, Chinese, Malay, and Burmese. Beginning in 2000, with the encouragement of her teacher Pa Auk Sayadaw, Sayalay Susila began to teach the Abhidhamma in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia.
Since 2002, when she conducted a 10-day Abhidhamma course in Toronto, Sayalay Susila has traveled extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching Suttas, Abhidhamma and Meditation. Sister Susila’s dhamma talks, which have been widely praised as lucid and precise, have been given at North American Buddhist centres such as Spirit Rock (California) and the Barre Centre for Buddhist Studies (Massachusetts).
In July 2009, she conducted a 10-day meditation course, Concentration and Insight, at Bhavana Society monastery in West Virginia, as well as a Women’s Retreat in July 2011. She has published the books "Unravelling the Mysteries of Mind and Body Through Abhidhamma" in English and "The Nine Attributes of the Buddha in Chinese."
As a young child growing up in Tibet, Anam Thubten was intent on entering the monastery, where for much of his childhood and young adult life he received the benefit of extensive academic and spiritual training from several teachers in the Nyingma branch of Tibetan Buddhism. He conveys the Dharma with the blessing of teachers Khenpo Chopel, Lama Garwang and others gone before in a lineage of wisdom holders and enlightened masters. During his formative years in Tibet he also developed a special affinity with a yogi and lifetime hermit Lama Tsurlo, who remains a deep source of inspiration in Anam Thubten’s expression of the Dharma.
After arriving in America in the early 1990’s Anam Thubten began to teach the Dharma at the request of others. Today he travels extensively in the U.S. and occasionally abroad, teaching in fluent English and offering in a direct experiential manner the essence of the timeless, non- conceptual wisdom teachings of the Buddha. These teachings, free of any sect, point directly to one’s true nature as boundless love and wisdom. In his teachings and presence with others, Anam Thubten invites the heart-opening, mind-emptying awakening to one’s true nature that is already enlightened. The transformative power of these teachings that flow from the wisdom mind of the Buddha through teachers such as Anam Thubten is apparent in the lives of many who have embraced them.
Anam Thubten is the author of various articles and books in both the Tibetan and English language. His first book in English appeared under the title ‘No Self, No Problem.’ He is the founder and spiritual advisor of Dharmata Foundation based in Point Richmond, California.
Anam Thubten’s personal scheduling and events coordinator is Joanie Mercer. For event and booking requests please contact Joanie at email@example.com or call (512) 330-1741.
Ordained as a dharma teacher by Zen master & peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh, Cheri is also a private consultant and trainer. Cheri worked in the criminal justice profession for 25 years as a police officer, the Head of Probation & Parole, and an Assistant Attorney General in Wisconsin. She also has extensive experience as a community organizer and a social justice advocate. She has incorporated all these experiences into her understanding and teaching of the dharma and her practice of engaged Buddhism.
Eric Kolvig, Ph.D., taught meditation for 30 years in the vipassana tradition. He led meditation retreats and gave public talks around the United States and abroad. Eric has a particular interest in “grassroots dharma,” building spiritual community in democratic, non-authoritarian ways. He co-founded wilderness retreats and also Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Intersex (LGBTQI) retreats in the vipassana tradition. Now retired, Eric lives in Flagstaff.
Hugh Byrne, Ph. D. is a senior teacher with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. He completed a four-year teacher training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the Insight Meditation Society led by Jack Kornfield. Hugh is also trained in and teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and has completed training in Somatic Experiencing, a mind-body approach to healing trauma. He is a co-founder of the Washington Buddhist Peace Fellowship.
Hugh is the author of The Here-and-Now Habit: How Mindfulness Can Help You Break Unhealthy Habits Once and For All (New Harbinger Publications, March 2016).
Hugh has been on IMCW’s Board of Directors and a member of the Teachers Council since 2003. He teaches three weekly classes in Washington, DC, leads retreats and workshops nationally and abroad, and is available for teacher interviews. He is also one of four teachers for the Meditation Teacher Training Institute (MTTI).
I try to convey that the wisdom and compassion we are looking for is already inside of us. I see practice as learning how to purify our mind and heart so we can hear the Buddha inside. In doing so, we naturally embody the dharma and help awaken that understanding and love in others we meet.
I try to use the formal teachings as a doorway for people to see the truth in themselves. I feel I'm doing my job when people look into themselves to come to their own deep understandings of the truth, access their own inner wisdom and trust in their "Buddha-knowing," as Ajahn Chah called it, which is different from their intellectual knowing.
The Buddha-knowing is a deeper place, underneath the concepts, which is in touch with the truth, with our seed of awakening. I want practitioners to have more and more confidence in, and familiarity with, that deeper place of knowing. It is accessing this dimension of our being that becomes the guide to cutting through the confusion caused by greed and fear. We have everything we need inside ourselves. We do not need to look to a teacher when we remember who we really are.
Jonathan Foust is a guiding teacher for the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, co-founder of the Meditation Teacher Training Institute and a senior teacher and former president of Kripalu Center. He has been leading retreats and training teachers for more than 25 years. Jonathan is the creator of the “Year of Living Mindfully” program and teaches regularly in the DC metro area. You can listen to his talks and guided meditations through his podcast or online.
Kaira Jewel Lingo teaches Buddhist meditation, mindfulness, and compassion internationally, with a focus on activists, people of color, artists, educators, families, and youth. She began practicing mindfulness in 1997. An ordained nun of 15 years in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing, she is now a lay Dharma teacher based in Washington, D.C., leading retreats in the U.S. and internationally, and offering mindfulness programs for educators and youth in schools.
La Sarmiento has been practicing Vipassana meditation and has been a member of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington (IMCW) since 1998. La's practice and approach to the Dharma has been influenced greatly by the teachings of Tara Brach, Pema Chodron, Larry Yang, Eric Kolvig, Michele McDonald, Cheri Maples, Joe Weston, and Ruth King. In September 2012, La graduated from the Community Dharma Leadership IV program sponsored by Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA.
Since 2005, La has been the guiding teacher/leader of the IMCW Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) Sangha and the IMCW People of Color Sangha. They* integrate the Kalyana Mitta process and the concepts of Respectful Confrontation and Non-violent Communication into their gatherings to create a sacred space for group wisdom to arise. Between 2011 and 2016, La also co-led the DC Monthly Teen Sangha for youth between 13-19 years of age.
La is a senior retreat/event manager committed to bringing diverse teachers and programs to IMCW and to making the Dharma accessible to all. La has been a lead teacher of mindfulness teen retreats in Virginia through Inward Bound Mindfulness Education since 2011, has co-taught the LGBTIQ Retreat at the Garrison Institute in Garrison, NY since 2014, and has co-taught the Young Adults Retreat at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center since 2014.