Ayyā Medhānandī Bhikkhunī, is the founder and guiding teacher of Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage, a forest monastery for women in the Theravāda tradition.
The daughter of Eastern European refugees who emigrated to Montreal after World War II, she began a spiritual quest in childhood that led her to India, Burma, England, New Zealand, Malaysia, Taiwan, and finally, back to Canada.
In 1988, at the Yangon Mahasi retreat centre in Burma, Ayyā requested ordination as a bhikkhunī from her teacher, the Venerable Sayādaw U Pandita. This was not yet possible for Theravāda Buddhist women. Instead, Sayādaw granted her ordination as a 10 precept nun on condition that she take her vows for life. Thus began Ayyā’s monastic training in the Burmese tradition.
When the borders were closed to foreigners by a military coup, in 1990 Sayādaw blessed her to join the Ajahn Chah Thai Forest Saņgha at Amaravati, UK. After ten years in their siladhāra community, Ayyā felt called to more seclusion and solitude in New Zealand and SE Asia.
In 2007, having lived as a alms-mendicant Buddhist nun for nearly 20 years, she received bhikkhunī ordination at Ling Quan Chan Monastery in Keelung, Taiwan. In 2008, on invitation from the Ottawa Buddhist Society and Toronto Theravāda Buddhist Community, Ayyā returned to her native Canada to establish Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage.
After being inspired by the presence & teachings of Ajahn Buddhadasa, i ordained 1993 at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, UK. In 2009 i co-founded Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery in the Sierra Foothills of California, where i enjoy creating sanctuary close to nature, practicing in community and bringing wisdom traditions to the environmental 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.
Bhante Bodhidhamma, as lay person practiced at Throssel Hole Zen Priory in north England, later with Sayadaw U Janaka in Burma and at various places with Sayadaw U Pandita. He ordained in 1986 and spent 8 years in Sri Lanka, returning to UK in 1998. He was the resident teacher at Gaia House, UK, 2001-2004. In 2007, he founded Satipanya Buddhist Retreat on the borders of Wales., devoted to vipassana in the tradition of the Mahasi Sayadaw.
Bhante Buddharakkhita was born and raised in Uganda. Meditating since 1993, he was ordained as a Theravada Buddhist monk in 2002. Now residing at Bhavana Society in WV, he teaches worldwide and in 2005 founded the Uganda Buddhist Centre.
Bhante Henepola Gunaratana is the founding abbot of the Bhavana Society. Born in rural Sri Lanka, he has been a monk since age 12 and took full ordination at age 20 in 1947. He came to the United States in 1968. “Bhante G” (as he is fondly called by his students) has written a number of books, including the now-classic meditation manual Mindfulness In Plain English and its companion Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness. Bhante G regularly leads retreats on vipassana, mindfulness, metta (Loving-friendliness), concentration, and other topics both at the Bhavana Society and elsewhere.
Bhante Gunaratana is an internationally recognized author and meditation teacher. Prior to coming to the United States, he spent five years doing in missionary work with the Harijanas (Untouchables) of India and ten years in Malaysia. He has taught in a number of settings, including American University of Washington DC where he served as Buddhist chaplain and the Buddhist Vihara of Washington DC, where he served as president. Bhante G has a strong scholarly background and livelong commitment to dhamma.
In 1985 Bhante G co-founded the Bhavana Society and became its abbot. He wanted to teach meditation in an environment allowing for longer retreats and intense practice free from the trappings of a city vihara. He continues to teach in the direct, compassionate style that characterizes his books and articles. Bhante G conveys a well-rounded approach to Buddhist Dhamma, touching on all aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path. He emphasizes metta bhavana (the cultivation of loving-friendliness) as a basis for samma-samadhi, or right concentration. As a teacher, he is known for his emphasis both on samadhi and on metta as part of spiritual training.
In 1996, Bhante G received the title of Chief Sangha Nayaka Thera for North America. This acknowledged his status as highest-ranking monk of his sect in the United States and Canada. In 2003, his autobiography, Journey to Mindfulness, was published. In 2005, the Sri Henepola Gunaratana Scholarship Trust was founded under his guidance. This trust provides educations for poverty stricken children in rural Sri Lanka.
Bhante G continues to write articles, lead retreats, and teach at the Bhavana Society and all over the world.
Bhante Khippapanno, ordained a Buddhist monk in 1949, practiced vipassana in India and Burma with Dipa Ma, Mahasi Sayadaw and Shwe Oo Min Sayadaw. He founded Jetavana Vihara, Washington, DC, 1982, and Sakyamuni Meditation Center, CA, 1988. He helped establish Phuoc Son Meditation Center, Vietnam, 1994.
Ven. Bhikkhu Analayo was born in Germany in 1962 and ordained in Sri Lanka in 1995. In the year 2000 he completed a PhD thesis on the Satipatthana-sutta at the University of Peradeniya which was published as the highly regarded book Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization. At present, he is a professor at the Numata Center for Buddhist Studies, University of Hamburg, and works as a researcher at Dharma Drum Buddhist College, Taiwan.