Ricahrd Mendius, MD is a neurologist in private practice in Marin County. He trained at UCLA as an epileptologist under Jerome Engel and as a neurobehaviorist under Frank Benson and Jeff Cummings. He has been on the teaching faculty of UCLA, Oregon Health Sciences University, and Stanford University. His meditation practice began in the 1980s with Shinzen Young in Los Angeles, and continues at Spirit Rock with Jack Kornfield, Phillip Moffitt, Ajahn Amaro, and Ajahn Sumedho. He teaches a weekly meditation class at San Quentin. His daughters, Courtney and Taryn, and his son, Ian, are three of his main teachers and companions on the path.
Rick Hanson, PhD began meditating in 1974 and has practiced in several traditions. A neuropsychologist, writer, and teacher, he co-founded the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom (see www.WiseBrain.org) and edits the Wise Brain Bulletin. First author of Mother Nurture (Penguin, 2002), he has authored the books Hardwiring Happiness (New York Times best-selling author), Buddha's Brain and Just One Thing. He started sitting at Spirit Rock in 1993 and served a nine-year term on its Board. A graduate of the Community Dharma Leader training program, he leads a weekly meditation group in San Rafael.
Rob Burbea has practiced and studied Buddhism since 1985. Teaching since 2004, he is currently the Gaia House Resident Teacher and a member of its Teacher Council. He is a co-founder of Sanghaseva, an organization exploring the Dharma through international service work, and also a co-initiator of DANCE, the Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement (www.thedancewebsite.org). Rob is the author of Seeing That Frees: Meditations on Emptiness and Dependent Arising.
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 Denison studied in Burma in the early 1960s with the meditation master Sayagi U Ba Khin. She has been teaching since 1973 and is founder of Dhamma Dena, a desert retreat center in Joshua Tree, CA, and The Center for Buddhism in the West in Germany.