Ajahn Sumedho is a prominent figure in the Thai Forest Tradition. His teachings are very direct, practical, simple, and down to earth. In his talks and sermons he stresses the quality of immediate intuitive awareness and the integration of this kind of awareness into daily life. Like most teachers in the Forest Tradition, Ajahn Sumedho tends to avoid intellectual abstractions of the Buddhist teachings and focuses almost exclusively on their practical applications, that is, developing wisdom and compassion in daily life. His most consistent advice can be paraphrased as to see things the way that they actually are rather than the way that we want or don't want them to be ("Right now, it's like this..."). He is known for his engaging and witty communication style, in which he challenges his listeners to practice and see for themselves. Students have noted that he engages his hearers with an infectious sense of humor, suffused with much loving kindness, often weaving amusing anecdotes from his experiences as a monk into his talks on meditation practice and how to experience life ("Everything belongs").
Amma Thanasanti Bhikkhuni was born in California and first encountered the Dhamma in 1979. Since that time she has been committed to awakening. On a trip to Asia she met highly accomplished meditation masters Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Buddhadasa and Dipa Ma. In 1989, she went to England where she joined the nun’s community in the Ajahn Chah Forest Tradition. After 20 years she left her monastic community to return to the USA where she founded Awakening Truth whose mission is eventually developing a Bhikkhuni training monastery integrating ancient teachings of the Forest Tradition into the modern world. Currently she is based at the Shakti Vihara hermitage near the Garden of the Gods in Colorado, where she uses wilderness as a daily part of her practice.
Ajahn Yatiko was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1968. He had a strong interest in religion from childhood and after a few years at university decided he needed to find a spiritual teacher, as opposed to an academic one. He was on his way to Tibet for ordination, but the plane stopped off in Bangkok on route. While having lunch in a Bangkok restaurant, a few Thai laymen sat down to join him and recommended he go to Wat Pah Nanachat, in Ubon. Owing to their high praise of Ajahn Chah, he decided to investigate. Shortly thereafter Ajahn Sumedho was visiting and Ajahn Yatiko was inspired to pursue monastic training at Wat Nanachat. He has been part of that community since 1992. He arrived at Abhayagiri in January, 2008.
Ayya Anandabodhi is co-founder of Aloka Vihara, a training monastery for women near Placerville, CA, where she currently resides. She has practiced meditation since 1989, and lived as part of the Ajahn Chah lineage at Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries for 18 years. In 2009 she moved to the US and took full bhikkhuni ordination in 2011.
Ayya Medhanandi, a Canadian (1949), is abbess of Sati Saraniya Hermitage ( www.satisaraniya.ca ) An MSc graduate, she began meditating at 21, studied with an Advaita master in India, and managed UN/NGO health initiatives for malnourished women and children. In 1988, on retreat in Myanmar, she took ten-precept ordination with Sayadaw U Pandita, then spent ten years at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery and eight years based in New Zealand and Penang. In 2007, she received bhikkhuni ordination in Taiwan and was invited to Canada to establish the Hermitage. She trains nuns and teaches meditation, especially for Hospice staff and volunteers, and is the author of 'Gone Forth, Going Beyond'.
After being inspired by the presence and teachings of Ajahn Buddhadasa, i ordained 1993 at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, UK. i co-founded and reside at Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery in the Sierra Foothills of California and have a particular interest in learning from nature and bringing faith traditions to the climate movement.
Ayya Santussika, in residence at Karuna Buddhist Vihara (Compassion Monastery), spent five years as an anagarika (eight-precept nun), then ordained as a samaneri (ten-precept nun) in 2010 and as a bhikkhuni (311 rules) in 2012 at Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara in Los Angeles.
Ayya Santussika was born in Illinos in 1954 and grew up on a farm in Indiana. While being a single mother, she received BS and MS degrees in computer science and moved with her two children to the San Francisco Bay Area. She worked as a software designer and developer for fifteen years. Her search for deeper meaning and ways to be of service led her to train as an interfaith minister in a four-year seminary program that culminated in an Masters of Divinity degree and a brief period of practice as a minister before ordaining as a Buddhist nun. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Buddhist Global Relief.
Ayya Sobhana has meditated and trained with Bhante Henepola Gunaratana since 1989. Her primary practice is the Eightfold Noble Path, that is, integration of meditation with ethical living and compassionate relationships for the sake of liberation. She ordained in 2003 and obtained full Bhikkhuni ordination at Dambulla, Sri Lanka, in 2006. Last year, Ayya Sobhana moved from the Bhavana Society in West Virginia to Aranya Bodhi Awakening Forest Hermitage, where she is the Prioress. Aranya Bodhi is a new community for monastic women located on the Sonoma Coast of California.