Ayyā Medhānandī Bhikkhunī, is the founder and guiding teacher of Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage, a Canadian 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 Mahāthera. 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 her 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 waited nearly 20 years, she received bhikkhunī ordination at Ling Quan Chan Monastery in Keelung, Taiwan and returned to her native Canada in 2008, on invitation from the Ottawa Buddhist Society and Toronto Theravāda Buddhist Community, to establish Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage.
Sally Clough Armstrong began practicing vipassana meditation in India in 1981. She moved to the Bay Area in 1988, and worked at Spirit Rock until 1994 in a number of roles, including executive director. She began teaching in 1996, and is one of the guiding teachers of Spirit Rock's Dedicated Practitioner Program.
Sally has always been inspired by the depth and the breadth of the Buddha’s teaching, as presented in the suttas of the Pali Canon, because the truth and power of the Buddha’s words still speak to us today. Her intention in teaching is to make these ancient texts and practices accessible and relevant to all levels of practitioner, from the very new to the dedicated meditator.
Victor von der Heyde is an Australian dharma teacher. His main teacher was Rob Burbea. Victor was co-founder of Sydney Insight Meditators and the Bodhgaya Development Association.
He writes: These days my passions in teaching - and practice - include exploring the various responses to climate breakdown, and the ways that we get often stuck with particular concepts of self and world. And stuck with particular meditation practices. My intention is to open up freeing and soulful possibilities for people.
Winton Higgins began meditating and practising the Dharma in the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO) in 1987. In 1994 he became an active supporter of Wat Buddha Dhamma, where he began to lead meditation retreats in 1995. Since then he has led retreats for the Wat, the Blue Gum Sangha and Sydney Insight Meditators, and taught many courses for the Buddhist Library in Sydney. He follows the western insight (vipassana) tradition and is particularly interested in the convergence of Dharma practice and progressive western values such as democracy, feminism and critical inquiry. His teaching has an affinity with the work of Stephen Batchelor. He is a writer and a social-science academic; he and his partner, Lena, have two grown-up daughters and a grandson.