Tenshin Reb Anderson was born in Mississippi, grew up in Minnesota, and left advanced study in mathematics and Western psychology to come to Zen Center in 1967. He practiced with Suzuki Roshi, who ordained him as a priest in 1970 and gave him the name Tenshin Zenki ("Naturally Real, The Whole Works"). He received dharma transmission in 1983 and served as abbot of San Francisco Zen Center's three training centers (City Center, Green Gulch Farm, and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center) from 1986 to 1995. Tenshin Reb Anderson continues to teach at Zen Center, living with his family at Green Gulch Farm. He is author of Warm Smiles from Cold Mountains: Dharma Talks on Zen Meditation and Being Upright: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts. Published in 2012: The Third Turning of the Wheel: Wisdom of the Samdhinirmocana Sutra, a guidebook to the workings of consciousness and compassionate awakening.
River Wolton attended her first Insight Meditation retreat in 2000, and subsequently helped to establish Sheffield Insight Meditation (UK). She is a Community Dharma Leader authorised by Gaia House Teacher Council, and has completed Dharma Teacher Training with Bodhi College. A former Derbyshire Poet Laureate, she has led writing and arts projects for many years, and is an activist in the LGBTQI+ community.
ROB BURBEA (1965-2020) was Gaia House’s much-loved resident teacher for 10 years from 2005 - 2015, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During his time at Gaia House, Rob wrote Seeing that Frees: Meditations on Emptiness and Dependent Arising (seeingthatfrees.com) – an important and influential work that continues to shape and open the meditative exploration of many. Emerging from this deep experiential understanding of emptiness, Rob dedicated much of his time and energy during the last years of his life to conceiving, developing, and establishing a new body of teachings that he called ‘A Soulmaking Dharma’. Before his death, Rob initiated the Hermes Amara Foundation (HAF), an organisation that is working to preserve and develop Rob's vast Dharma teaching legacy, and to support practitioners and teachers who are engaged with these teachings. To join the HAF mailing list and find out more about Rob's work please go to hermesamara.org or get in touch at email@example.com Rob was also a guiding teacher of Freely Given Retreats (freelygivenretreats.org), a co-founder of Sanghaseva, an organisation exploring the Dharma through international service work (sanghaseva.org) and a co-initiator of DANCE, the Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement (thedancewebsite.org).
More and more, the teaching practice takes me into the community where I engage directly with students. My focus right now is on bringing the continuity of the Dharma into the market place. Although retreating is an important form for self-knowledge, I find myself less interested in the immediate results of a retreat and more interested in helping students investigate their relationship to the ups and downs of their everyday life.
Nature, death and spontaneous freedom continually interweave themselves into my teaching. From the forest of Thailand, where I spent several years, I bring a deep awareness of the healing quality of nature into my teachings. Relaxing into our true nature allows us to realize what it means to be a human being. It is here we find a resting point, a counterbalance to the speed and turbulence of our culture.
My work in hospice brings a sense of urgency into my teaching. Working with the theme of death and dying reveals the here and now of life to us, how important it is to open to each loss, change and transition that marks our path. Life is precious. We need to awaken without hesitation.
Many of us crave to be more calm and centered. We know that life has more to offer than this fleeting material world. For each of us, the Dharma offers an immediacy of freedom for which we do not have to strive or wait. In practice, we can learn to relax deeply into the moment and rediscover spontaneous freedom.
Ruth King is an insight meditation teacher and emotional wisdom author and life coach. Mentored in Theravada Buddhism and the Dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, King teaches at insight meditation communities nationwide and offers the Mindful of Race Training program to teams and organizations. King is on the teacher’s council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and is the author of several publications including Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism From The Inside Out. www.RuthKing.net
SARI MARKKANEN completed Gaia House Community Dharma Leader training. She is in training to be Insight meditation teacher guided by Rob Burbea, Martine Batchelor and Caroline Jones. She offers dharma activities and assists teachers in retreats in Finland. Sari also teaches mindfulness, mindful self-compassion and mindfulness in schools. She has written two books about mindfulness for children.
My focus in teaching is to provide the support that students need to turn their life to the dharma, to truth, and to find ways to come out of their pain and suffering. The retreat experience is an invaluable aid to this exploration; however, what matters more is how one integrates this under- standing into everyday life.
I care that students see through the illusory wall between formal meditation and their daily life. Then, what remains is a meditative attitude to all that occurs.
Vipassana practice helps us to become respectful and caring towards ourselves and others. This generates the conditions of mind and heart that allow us to awaken to the truth of who we are, rather than believing in our limited assumptions. As we see the impersonal nature of our own mind, we then experience a deep engagement with life that allows for a complete transformation of the heart. When we know this deeply, we can no longer unconsciously engage in actions that will lead to suffering and the ongoing destruction of our planet.
As a teacher, I am accessible and able to meet people at an intimate level. I am interested in how the language that we use can show where we are holding on. I look to the concepts about reality that people believe in as the key that unlocks the door to liberating insight. People can easily discount their experiences and forget that they hold the seeds to liberation, that the wisdom is already within them. As people speak what is in their hearts, affirmation brings about the confidence needed to take the next step, which can often seem confusing and daunting as one walks into the unknown territory of the mind.