Shaila Catherine is the founder of Bodhi Courses (bodhicourses.org) an online Dhamma classroom, and Insight Meditation South Bay, a meditation center in Mountain View, California (imsb.org). She has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience, and has taught since 1996 in the USA, and internationally. Shaila has dedicated several years to studying with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand, completed a one year intensive meditation retreat with the focus on concentration and jhana, and authored Focused and Fearless: A Meditator's Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity, (Wisdom Publications, 2008). She has extensive experience practicing and teaching mindfulness, loving kindness, concentration, and a broad range of approaches to liberating insight. Since 2006, Shaila has continued her study of jhana and insight under the direction of Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw, and authored Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana (Wisdom Publications, 2011).
The Buddha taught that there are five preconditions necessary for us to develop our meditation practice in seclusion—good friends, virtue and restraint,
engaging in talk on the Dhamma, wise effort, wisdom. These preconditions, presented in the Meghiya Sutta, are developed progressively and support one another. This talk begins with a reflection on the cultivation of good friends. A good friend is one who support our progress on the Noble Eightfold Path. Sometimes we need someone to show us our potential, or to correct us when we stray from the Path. The inspiration, faith, kindness, and generosity that develops in a relationship with a good friend nurtures awakening.