I think of myself primarily as a monk who occasionally teaches, who strives to convey the spirit and the letter of Buddhism through my lifestyle, through explanation, and through the imagery of storytelling in order to bring Buddhism to life for people who are seeking truth and freedom.
As co-abbot of Abhayagiri Monastery, I am deeply involved with forming a monastic community that can serve as a guiding spirit for Buddhist practice in the world. The traditional, renunciate form of the practice is the embodiment of simplicity, strength and resiliency for anyone who seeks classical training in the monastic life. It is also a hand extended to the lay community that says: come, experience the life of the forest, the chanting, the bowing, the serenity of meditation, the robes, the peacefulness of celibacy. Draw from our well and bring this spiritual nourishment back into your everyday life.
The outward structure of traditional Buddhism supports a form of spiritual living that is grounded in honesty, non-violence, and living in truth-all the qualities of inner freedom that are precious to me. Buddhist practice turns the current of attention toward an inner life, irrigating the arid internal landscapes created by the external priorities of our Western world.
Buddhist practice also reconstructs our relationship to time and space. Our fragmented world is suffering from a continually diminishing attention span as we become overwhelmed with so much to do, with so little time and so many options. The practice allows us to visit our interior landscape, slow down, pay attention to the qualities of time and spirit, to explore who we are, instead of focusing on what we do. Buddhism trains the heart to recognize happiness, not by racing onto the next thing, but by paying attention and ending suffering.
Ajahn Jutindharo grew up in Leeds. He studied physics at university, and then worked for several years in medical research whilst writing a PhD. At university he became interested in meditation and Buddhism, which culminated in a decision to join a Buddhist monastic order in 1987. His monastic life has been spent primarily in Britain, with short periods in Asia. since 2007 he has been abbot of Hartridge monastery in Devon, England.
Ajahn Metta was born 1953 in Germany. She became an Anagārikā in ‘93 at Amaravati and took higher ordination as a Sīladhāra in ‘96. During her monastic life she has been involved in many areas of the community. She is one of the group of senior nuns leading the Sīladhārā community. For the past few years she has been teaching meditation workshops and retreats. Prior to monastic life she worked as a secretary and office assistant. She is a mother of a grown-up son and was living a family life before entering the monastic path. She has been practising meditation since ‘84 and has experience of living in other spiritual communities in Europe and Thailand (Wat Suan Mokkh).
As a monk, I bring a strong commitment, along with the renunciate flavor, to the classic Buddhist teachings. I play with ideas, with humor and a current way of expressing the teachings, but I don't dilute them.
Sitting in a field of fifty to eighty people really starts my mind sparking. Since I don't prepare my talks ahead of time, I find myself listening to what I'm saying along with everyone else. This leaves a lot of room for the Dhamma to come up. Just having eighty people listening to me is enough to engage me, stimulate me, and create a nice flow of energy. The actual process of teaching evokes ideas that even I did not realize were being held somewhere in my mind.
Different teaching situations offer their own unique value. In retreat, you are able to build a cohesive and comprehensive body of the teachings. When people are not on retreat and come for one session, it opens a different window. They are more spontaneous and I'm given the chance to contact them in ways that are closer to their "daily-life mind." This brings up surprises and interesting opportunities for me to learn even more.
I'm continually struck by how important it is to establish a foundation of morality, commitment, and a sense of personal values for the Vipassana teachings to rest upon. Personal values have to be more than ideas. They have to actually work for us, to be genuinely felt in our lives. We can't bluff our way into insight. The investigative path is an intimate experience that empowers our individuality in a way that is not egocentric. Vipassana encourages transpersonal individuality rather than ego enhancement. It allow for a spacious authenticity to replace a defended personality.
Ayya Jitindriyā first trained as a monastic in the lineage of Ajahn Chah & Ajahn Sumedho for over 16 years, from 1988-2004. After leaving the monastic order she gained a Master’s degree in Buddhist Psychotherapy Practice with the Karuna Institute in the UK. Returning to live in Australia (her place of birth) in 2008, she practiced as a Buddhist psychotherapist and taught meditation, Buddhism and psychotherapy in various capacities. She was the Director of Training for AABCAP (Australian Association of Buddhist Counsellors and Psychotherapists) for several years. In early 2018 Jitindriyā re-entered the monastic life at Santi Forest Monastery in NSW and held the role of guiding teacher and Spiritual Director there for a time. In 2021 she helped to set up Viveka Hermitage in Southern NSW where she now resides.
Santacitta Bhikkhuni trained as a nun in England & Asia from 1993 until 2009, primarily in the lineage of Ajahn Chah. Since 2002, she has also received teachings in the lineage of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. She co-founded Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery in Northern California in 2009 and is committed to our planet as a living being. Santacitta Bhikkhuni stammt aus Österreich and begann ihre Nonnenausbildung 1993 in England & Asien, vor allem in der Traditionslinie von Ajahn Chah. Seit 2002 empfängt sie auch Unterweisungen in der Traditionslinie von Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Sie ist Mitbegründerin von Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery in Kalifornien und unserem Planeten als lebendes Wesen verpflichtet.
Bhante Bodhidhamma, as lay person practiced at Throssel Hole Zen Priory in north England, later with Sayadaw U Janaka in Burma and at various places with Sayadaw U Pandita. He ordained in 1986 and spent 8 years in Sri Lanka, returning to UK in 1998. He was the resident teacher at Gaia House, UK, 2001-2004. In 2007, he founded Satipanya Buddhist Retreat on the borders of Wales., devoted to vipassana in the tradition of the Mahasi Sayadaw.