Members and friends of the OBS are grateful for the dhamma reflections and meditation guidance given freely by our spiritual mentors. Their dedication in following the instructions and example of the Buddha and the Theravada vinaya, has enabled the teaching to survive in the world in their original form for over 2500 years. One of the main objectives of the OBS is to provide opportunities and support to the sangha and the lay community who carry forward the practice through their actions.
Bhante Gunaratana was invited to the United States in 1968 to teach Buddhism and lead meditation retreats. He earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the American University and has lectured at many universities in North America, Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia. He is the author of several books including the popular Mindfulness in Plain English (1994) and Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness: Walking the Buddha’s Path (2001).
Bhante Gunaratana is now the abbot of the Bhavana Society monastery and retreat centre in the Shenandoah Valley of West Virginia, about 100 miles west of Washington, DC. He continues to teach and conduct meditation retreats worldwide. http://www.bhavanasociety.org
Having spent four years in Thailand, he went back to Canada to visit his family in 1977. Instead of returning to Thailand, he was asked by Ajahn Chah to join Ajahn Sumedho at the Hampstead Vihara in London. Later, he was involved in the establishment of both the Chithurst and Harnham monasteries in the UK. In 1985, invited by the Wellington Theravada Buddhist Association, he moved to New Zealand, accompanied by Venerable Thanavaro, where he lived for 10 years, setting up Bodhinyanarama monastery.
In 1995 he came to the UK to assist Ajahn Sumedho at Amaravati and stayed for four years before returning to New Zealand, where he lived until 2002.
Ajahn Virahadhammo is the senior abbot of Tisarana monastery, located in Perth, Ontario, which he founded in 2005. He has been the principal spiritual guide for the Ottawa Buddhist Society for the past 10 years. http://tisarana.ca
Bhante Yogavacara Rahula
Bhante Rahula tells his tale of spiritual awakening in a candid autobiography entitled One Night’s Shelter: From Home to Homelessness. He has also compiled The Way to Peace and Happiness, an anthology of fundamental Dhamma writings translated from the Pali Canon with his helpful introductions and commentaries. He has been living at the Bhavana Society, a forest monastery/meditation centre, in West Virginia since it opened in 1988. He conducts retreats integrating vipassana meditation with Yogic breathing and exercises primarily in the United States and Germany. The Buddha told his monks to go forth into homelessness and Bhante Rahula’s footloose journey continues to this day. He spent several months of 2000 in India working with the Harijans. He subsequently undertook a four month trek in the Himalayan Mountains. http://www.bhavanasociety.org
After this he went to Thailand and was ordained in the forest tradition of Ajahn Chah in 1990. Between 1990 and 1995 he was based at Wat Pah Nanachat, Thailand, and in 1995 was asked by Kema Ananda to return to Canada to assume the management of the Arrow River. He has been there ever since. Venerable Punnadhammo is Canadian, born in Toronto in 1955.
Ajahn Sona is a pioneer in introducing the Theravadin forest monastic tradition to Canada. He established the Birken Forest Monastery north of Vancouver upon his return to British Columbia in 1994. He is well experienced in leading meditation retreats and his teachings on Buddhist practice combine tried-and-true Buddhist wisdom with modern common sense. Ajahn Sona is the abbot of Birken Forest Monastery at its new and expanded location near Kamloops, BC.
Ajahn Ayya Medhanandi
Ayya Medhanandi (1949- ) is the founder and guiding teacher of Sati Saraniya Hermitage, a Theravada forest monastery for women. The daughter of East European WW II refugees who emigrated to Montreal, she began a spiritual quest in childhood that led her to India, Burma, UK, New Zealand, Malaysia, Taiwan, and finally back to Canada. In 1988, at the Mahasi retreat centre in Yangon, Myanmar, Ayya requested full bhikkhuni ordination from her teacher, Venerable Sayadaw U Pandita. This was not yet possible in Theravada Buddhism. Instead, Sayadaw gave her 10-precept ordination on condition that she keep her vows for life. When a military coup closed Myanmar to foreigners, Sayadaw blessed her to join the Ajahn Chah Thai Sangha at Amaravati, UK. Ten years later, Ayya felt called to practice as a hermit nun in New Zealand for 6 years and later in SE Asia. In 2007, after nearly 20 years as a novice nun, she received bhikkhuni ordination at Ling Quan Chan Monastery in Keelung, Taiwan; and, in 2008, invited by Ottawa and Toronto Theravada Buddhist societies, she returned to Canada to establish Sati Saraniya Hermitage.