About Ajahn Chandako: Originally from Minneapolis, Ajahn Chandako was ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1990 in the Thai Forest Tradition in the lineage of Ajahn Chah. After practicing intensive meditation in various monasteries in Thailand and traveling extensively in Tibet, Nepal, and India, he settled at Wat Pah Nanachat in Thailand, the monastery established by Ajahn Chah for his English-speaking disciples. He translated many of the teachings into English and is also the author of ‘A Honed and Heavy Ax: Samatha and Vipassana in Harmony.’ In recent years, he has taught internationally, and is now the abbot of Vimutti Forest Monastery, near Auckland, New Zealand.
About Shodo Spring: Shodo Spring is the founder of Mountains and Waters Alliance, dedicated to working together with all beings to protect and restore the earth. She is also a Zen priest, Dharma heir of Shohaku Okumura Roshi, mother and grandmother, leader of the 2013 Compassionate Earth Walk, and author of Take Up Your Life: Making Spirituality Work in the Real World (Tuttle 1996).
About Kyoko Katayama: Kyoko Katayama, a psychotherapist for over 30 years, has made an intention and practice of integrating her spiritual life, her professional work, and personal experiences towards ease and integrity in all that she does. She has been a student of dharma, practicing at Common Ground since 1999. She has completed a two-year study and practice on Satipatthana (The Foundations of Mindfulness) with Matthew Flickstein.
About Gentle Dragon Laura Kennedy: Gentle Dragon (GD) studied Classical Ashtanga Yoga with Baba Hari Dass beginning in June 1996. She had a solitary sitting practice several years prior. In 2004, after circumambulating Mt. Kailash, she re-connected with Byakuren Roshi who she’s considered her Zen teacher since 1998. Byakuren Roshi worked with her on integrating the relative world and the absolute together in the expression of the Bodhisattva vow. In November 2012, GD was ordained by Byakuren Judith Ragir. In 2016 she was formally recognized by the Clouds community as a teacher in a shuso ceremony. Gentle Dragon has worked with abused children for over 22 years and currently works on developing policy on behalf of those who continue to work directly with abused children. She has a Masters of Counseling Psychology from the Adler Institute in Chicago, IL. GD has participated in Bearing Witness retreats in the Black Hills, Auschwitz/Birkenau, and in a street retreat in SF. Recently, she organized and was a lead teacher for a Bearing Witness retreat in St. Paul, MN. GD received transmission from Byakuren Judith Ragir, October, 2018.
In Advice to Rahula (MN 62), the Buddha advises his still young son to ground himself in basic realities of embodied life before settling in with breathing. Whether the breathing or something else is the primary locus of mindful presence, being well grounded in physical realities allows us to settle, be non-reactive, and cultivate insight into the flow of selfless experience.