Some influences on my teaching

My evolution as a practitioner and teacher 

(part 2)

After being urged to teach, I asked my Western Dharma teachers for guidance on further mentoring and education. Guy was headed to Burma to temporarily ordain, and Joseph was on the other side of the country. They suggested that I practice and receive mentoring from Gil Fronsdal.


Local Sanghas

I had already been practicing SF Insight and Mission Dharma, local San Francisco-based Insight meditation Sanghas.

I also then began practicing with Gil Fronsdal and Andrea Fella at the Insight Meditation Center of the Midpeninsula (IMC) in Redwood City, California.


Formal Buddhist Education

My training and practice at IMC included attending a year-long Buddhist chaplaincy program at the Sati Center for Buddhist studies. Midway through that training, I began a graduate degree in Buddhist studies and chaplaincy (pastoral or spiritual care).


Relating to early Buddhist Teachings

Nowadays, my teaching is also informed by these influences. My training as a scholar-practitioner in Buddhist studies informed and understanding of the Pāli discourses as oral teachings, then texts, evolved and shaped by humans, containing snippets of teachings likely dating back to the Buddha himself. Perhaps the most pragmatic of these teachings are those that contain the Buddha’s original words. While I have an affinity for early Buddhist texts, I have found wisdom and potentiality for awakening in texts of all of the Buddhist traditions I was fortunate enough to study.

When I encounter discourses featuring the supernatural, I mostly relate to and teach from them as myths, myths which can reveal deep human truths.  In my practice and teaching, I’m not concerned with rebirth, or supernatural interpretations of states. That said, I find it useful and spacious to maintain an open mind.  


Rooted and Open

One reason for this open mind is that serving as an interfaith chaplain has gifted me a deep respect for the power of how spiritual experiences shape us, and people relate to beliefs and views. Felt religious truth, sacred experiences, inspire and shape how people navigate the most important transitions in life, including death. A sincere attitude of don’t-know mind has been vital to supporting them.

This spiritual humility informs my approach to Buddhist teaching. My teaching is rooted in early Buddhism, pragmatic, empirical, and infused with love. It leans towards naturalism, with space and respect for a diversity of spiritual perceptions.

Above all, I deeply trust each person has Potentiality for awakening –and the ending of suffering—in each moment.



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