A pervasive but often invisible source of suffering in our culture is self-aversion. We are a busy culture, and we move through our life feeling anxious and dissatisfied, but not fully conscious of how we neglect or judge our inner experience. We suffer from a lack of belonging: to our own bodies, to each other and to the earth. When we practice Buddhist meditation, we learn how to listen deeply and hold our life tenderly.
The open space of compassion allows us to realize that our thoughts and emotions are not who we are; they are waves in our ocean. This gives us the freedom to live more wisely and love more fully.
For over thirty-five years, I've been exploring the awakening of awareness with yoga, meditation, a clinical psychology practice and relationships in spiritual community (sangha). Since the untying of emotional knots is an essential part of "waking up," it is natural for me to weave these elements into my Buddhist practice and teaching. With formal practice, and a genuine engagement in sangha, we can cultivate the qualities of heart and awareness that allow for deep emotional healing and spiritual freedom.
Buddhism guides us in slowing down, quieting and paying attention in an honest and caring way. Through our mindfulness and compassion practices, we establish a sense of intimacy and belonging to our life. We discover that there is no Buddha "out there." Rather, we realize that our true refuge is the wakefulness, openness and love of our own natural awareness.
Tempel Smith spent a year ordained as a monk in Burma and teaches Buddhist psychology and social activism in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently part of the IMS/Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program.
Thanissara, a practitioner since 1975, was a Theravada nun for 12 years in the tradition of Ajahn Chah and has taught internationally the last 20 years. She is co-founder and director of Dharmagiri Hermitage and Outreach in South Africa and spends time between there and the US. She has an MA in Mindfulness Psychotherapy Practice from Karuna Institute and Middx University UK and is currently co-facilitator of the Community Dharma Leader at Spirit Rock
The inspiration for my teaching is to help people discover the direct experience of ultimate truth that underlies conventional reality, and then infuse life with an ever-deepening awareness of this mystery as it manifests in our everyday work and relationships. I have practiced meditation since 1976, and have been authorized to teach by Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw of Burma.
Tony Bernhard first encountered the dharma in 1965 and became one of Spirit Rock’s first community dharma leaders in 1999. He currently sits on the board of the Sati Center, trains inmates and staff at Folsom Prison in mindfulness and dharma, leads sitting groups in Davis, and regularly teaches in a handful of venues in and around Sacramento and the Bay Area. He primarily focuses his practice on study of the dharma teachings in the earliest texts.