Right now I'm deeply involved with developing an urban meditation center in my community. It's important for me to sink my teaching roots into a commitment to my community, to ongoing relationships with people as they practice inside retreats and out of retreats. What are all the ways Sangha is relevant and applicable to our family life, our work, and our play?
Ongoing is my investigation of my own understanding about the assumptions behind what we teach. The graduate work I did in Buddhist studies greases the wheel for this type of reflection. Since part of the inquiry about freedom involves not being stuck in one position, I enjoy pulling the rug out from underneath what we, as teachers, stand on. In other words, to practice the practice.
At the core, what deeply motivates me is my compassion for the suffering in our world. Vipassana teachings, especially as we adapt the forms to an American culture, offer our society a chance to truly look at the turmoil caused by such behaviors as consumerism and individualism. Vipassana creates a different set of values by fostering a high degree of self-reflection on our underlying motivations and intentions, both as individuals and as a society.
Gina Sharpe is a founding teacher of New York Insight. She discovered the Dharma over 30 years ago and has studied and practiced in Asia and the United States. She was trained as a Retreat Teacher under the mentorship of Jack Kornfield. She teaches at Retreat Centers and meditation communities around the United States, including at a maximum security prison for women. She holds two meditation classes in Westchester County, New York.
Grace Fisher is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in San Anselmo. She has practiced Insight Meditation for over fourteen years. She is a former lawyer who holds a Masters in Education from Stanford, a Masters in Counseling Psychology and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) working with individuals, families, and young adults in Marin. At Spirit Rock, she was a member of the Teen Council for many years and co-led parenting and teen classes and assisted on the young adult, family, and women's retreats. She is part of the teaching team of the weekly Women's Class. As a mother of a young girl, she is especially interested in holding and supporting parenthood as a spiritual path.
Greg Scharf has practiced with Western and Asian teachers in the Theravada tradition since 1992, and has been teaching residential retreats since 2007. His teaching emphasizes the confluence of love and wisdom on the path to liberation. If you feel drawn to donate to Greg on this website, he says, "Please consider making a donation to Dharma Seed instead - Dharma Seed needs your support!"
Gulwinder “Gullu” Singh is a corporate real estate attorney who regularly teaches both secular and Buddhist classes and groups at InsightLA and at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, has taught mindfulness at the University of Southern California and has been a guest lecturer on mindfulness at UCLA Law School. Although he was exposed to meditation as a child, he found his own practice when he started his legal career, working at firms where the mindsets where insane and as a result, the job was extremely stressful.
Gullu spends several weeks per year teaching silent meditation retreats and has done over 200 nights of silent retreat practice including a 2-month retreat in 2017. Gullu is deeply inspired to share meditation as an antidote to stress, a way to cope more effectively with the challenges of work and live and to inject more sanity, compassion and wisdom into this world.
I have always enjoyed working with practitioners who are continuing to deepen their practice. In the many long retreats I teach at both IMS and Spirit Rock, I feel free to pass on the deepest pointings I’ve found in the teachings of the Buddha in the Pali Canon. Those are my guiding lights in practice and understanding.
It is fun for me to take the most difficult concepts and put them into accessible language, to unwrap the mystery. So I try to find ways to explore the breadth of concepts like "emptiness" -- to see how the entire path can be explained in terms of this synonym for nibbana. One of my aims is to bring the goal of freedom into the here and now. This way practitioners get a taste of freedom, so they know what they are heading toward on their journey to liberation.
The tools of mindfulness and lovingkindness can be picked up by anyone. They are easy to understand and they bring immediate benefit to our lives. The essence of vipassana is ideally suited to western society, especially to the resonance between our psychological turn of mind and our quest for spiritual understanding.
Heather Martin has been meditating since 1972, and practicing Vipassana since 1981. Beginning with S.N. Goenka, she has since been influenced by both Burmese and Thai streams of the Theravada tradition, and by Tibetan Dzogchen with Tsoknyi Rinpoche. Most recently she has been studying with Burmese Sayadaw U Tejaniya.
Her practical and wholehearted approach embodies ease and joy, while grounded in realism.
She has been leading retreats in Canada and the US since 2001. She worked for 20 years as a midwife, and lives on Salt Spring Island, off the south coast of B.C. For more information and Heather's teaching schedule, please visit: ssivipassana.org.