We are inspired by the living example of great teachers, who have both penetrating insight and a loving heart. "With modern neuroscience, we're now beginning to understand the brain processes that support these wonderful qualities of mind," explains Dr. Rick Hanson. With The Enlightened Brain online course, this pioneering neuropsychologist explores how you can activate these same processes inside your own brain to accelerate your own transformation.
Join Sounds True founder and publisher, Tami Simon, on a meditation retreat in 2012. Tami teaches meditation in the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition under the direction of Reggie Ray, in the lineage of the great meditation master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Tami's programs are open to the public and designed for newcomers as well as long-time practitioners. Check back often as Tami's retreat schedule will be updated regularly.
Dogen Zenji (1200–1253) A Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher born in Kyoto and founder of the Soto school of Zen in Japan. He was a leading religious figure of his time, as well as an important philosopher. Dogen is most known for the Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma, or Shobogenzo, a collection of ninety-five teachings concerning meditation and enlightenment. Many modern-day Zen teachers refer to Dogen as highly influential on their own path of teaching and meditation.
Gautama Buddha (560–480 BC) The historical Buddha who is noted as the founder of the Buddhist tradition. Born as Prince Siddhartha, he realized true enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree near Bodhgaya, India. He began to teach shortly thereafter and his message of meditation and freedom from suffering began to spread throughout Asia and eventually into the Western world. Three major schools of Buddhism exist on the planet today: Vipassana, Zen, and Tibetan. There are hundreds of Buddhist study and meditation centers, representing each of these lineages, across North America and throughout the world.
Lao Tzu (or “Lao Zi”) The founder of Taoism, the ancient Chinese philosophy and religion, in the fourth century BC. The purported author of the classic Tao Te Ching (or Daodejing). Many have used this text as a basis of meditation and contemplation.
Joel S. Goldsmith (1892–1964) A modern teacher of meditation in the Christian tradition and founder of the Infinite Way, a system of spiritual development based on the mystic revelations of Christ Jesus. Mr. Goldsmith came out of the Christian Science movement and, based on a number of direct revelations, created an original teaching that involved daily meditation and communion with the inner divine. His many books and audio tapes present his teachings and discoveries.
For more information, please visit: joelgoldsmith.com.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Founder of Transcendental Meditation (“TM”) and early pioneer in the introduction of meditation to the Western world, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi founded the Maharishi University in Fairfield, Iowa. Through the TM movement, hundreds of thousands have learned the ancient art of meditation, updated for a modern and scientific culture.
For more information, please visit: tm.org.
Father John Main (1926–1982) A pioneer in introducing the universal practice of meditation to Christians of all denominations. His genius was to recover and re-present a way into this experience for ordinary people from within the Christian contemplative tradition. In the teaching of the desert monks on pure prayer, he discovered the practice of the mantra, or the repeating of the sacred sound. Realizing that this way of prayer could further the search of many modern people for a deeper spiritual life, he recommended two regular daily periods of meditation to be integrated with the usual practices of Christian life. Father Main was the founder of the World Community for Christian Meditation.
For more information, please visit: wccm.org.
Milarepa (1052–1135) Considered one of the greatest meditation masters of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, he was a key figure in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, the “practicing” lineage, which emphasized meditation practice above mere study and debate.
Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897–1981) One of the twentieth century’s most respected exponents of the school of Advaita Vedanta, Maharaj is considered the most well-known and powerful Indian teacher of Advaita since Sri Ramana Maharshi. In 1973, the publication of his most popular and widely translated book, I Am That, brought him worldwide recognition and followers. He was considered by many to be a living jnani, or self-realized being.
Patanjali (Second Century BC) The compiler of the Yoga Sutras, essential teachings on the practice of yoga and meditation.
Basil Pennington (1931–2005) A Trappist monk and priest who, along with Father Thomas Keating and Father William Meninger, introduced the practice of Centering Prayer to thousands wanting to learn meditation in a Christian context. Father Pennington was a leading Roman Catholic spiritual writer, speaker, teacher, and director.
Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879–1950) Considered one of the greatest saints and sages of the modern era, Sri Ramana Maharshi was born Venkataraman in Tamil Nadu, India. Growing up as normal Indian boy, he underwent a radically transformative experience at the age of sixteen. At that time, he left his family and society to meditate and be in silence at the sacred mountain Arunachala. He remained mostly silent for the rest of his life, visited by seekers of all religions and cultures, until he died in 1950. He is most known for advocating the path of self-inquiry, a form of meditation designed to bring one face to face with the ultimate nature of reality, the Self, and God.
Suzuki Roshi A Japanese Zen priest belonging to the Soto lineage who came to San Francisco in 1959 at the age of fifty-four. Already a respected Zen master in Japan, he was impressed by the seriousness and quality of “beginner’s mind” among Americans he met who were interested in Zen and decided to settle there. As more and more people of non-Japanese background joined him in meditation, the Zen Center of San Francisco came into being and he was its first abbott. He is considered one of the most influential Zen teachers of the modern era and is author of the classic Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. He died in 1971.
Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882–1927) Founder of Universal Sufism and the Sufi Order International, he initially came to the West as a representative of several traditions of classical Indian music; however, it became apparent that it was his destiny to reveal the introduction and transmission of Sufi philosophy and meditation to the West. Through his universal message of Divine Unity (Tawhid)—focused on the themes of love, harmony, and beauty—he was able to effectively introduce a new generation and culture to this meditative tradition.
Chogyam Trungpa (1939–1987) A meditation master, scholar, teacher, artist, and poet, he was one of the first Tibetan teachers to come to the West and was instrumental in the introduction of the practice of meditation in modern society. He was the founder of the Shambhala International community and the first accredited Buddhist-inspired college—Naropa University. Along with introducing a generation to the wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism, he implemented a path of secular meditation training known as Shambhala Training.
Alan Watts (1915–1973) Alan Watts was a British philosopher, writer, speaker, and master student of comparative religions. He was best known as an interpreter and popularizer of Asian philosophies for a Western audience. He wrote more than twenty-five books, including the classic The Way of Zen and hundreds of articles and audio recordings on such subjects as personal identity, the true nature of reality, higher consciousness, the meaning of life, concepts and images of God, meditation, and Eastern spirituality.
For more information about the work of Alan Watts, please visit: alanwatts.com.
Paramahansa Yogananda (1893–1952) One of the foremost pioneers in the introduction of yoga, meditation, and Indian philosophy to the Western world, Yogananda became well known through his classic book Autobiography of a Yogi. Yogananda taught his students the need for direct experience of truth, as opposed to blind belief. His primary teaching was the path of Kriya Yoga, a meditative tradition with the goal of bringing one to the state that he called “self-realization.”
In 1920, he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship, which is still active today, teaching the methods of Kriya Yoga and the complementary nature of the Christian and the Hindu faiths. He stated as one of his primary goals: “To reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna; and to show that these principles of truth are the common scientific foundation of all true religions.”
For more information, please visit: yogananda-srf.org.
St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556) Compiler of the Christian meditation manual known simply as The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. These contained a set of meditations, prayers, and mental exercises, available in various book formats, designed to be carried out over a period of twenty-eight to thirty days. The book is approximately two-hundred pages long. They were written with the intention of enhancing and strengthening one’s faith-experience in a manner that has distinctly Roman Catholic aspects. For example, the practitioner is encouraged to visualize and meditate upon scenes from the life of Christ. His Contemplation to Attain Love (of God) is, in a sense, a method that combines intellectual meditation and more affective (emotional) contemplation.
St. Teresa of Avila (1515–1582) St. Theresa of Avila was a deeply realized Christian mystic who practiced Contemplative Prayer for periods of one hour at a time, twice per day. In her autobiography, she recounts that she found this meditation very difficult for the first several years. She had no one to teach her, and taught herself from the instructions given in a book, The Third Spiritual Alphabet by Francisco de Osuna.
Her starting point was the practice of “recollection.” Recollection refers to an effort of the will to keep the senses and the intellect in check and not allow them to stray. One restricts the attention to a single subject, principally the love of God. “It is called recollection because the soul collects together all the faculties and enters within itself to be with God,” she says in The Way of Perfection. Because St. Teresa found it difficult to concentrate, she would use devices such as short readings from an inspiring book, a scene of natural beauty or a religious statue or picture to remind her of her intended focus. In due course, the mind becomes effortlessly still.
The initial practice St. Teresa viewed as the voluntary effort of the individual, while the subsequent stillness and joy she saw as gifts from God. Her best-known book on meditation and prayer is The Interior Castle, where she lays out the path that the contemplative takes to the interior of the soul, ultimately coming into full union with God.
Father Thomas Keating is a writer and teacher considered by many to be one of the few genuinely realized Christian saints in the world today. At the age of eighty-one, he continues to be a prominent voice in the Christian Centering Prayer movement through the organization he founded, Contemplative Outreach, an international network committed to the renewing of the contemplative dimension of the Gospel in daily life. Keating, born in New York in 1923, entered the Cistercian Order in Valley Falls, Rhode Island, in 1944 and was appointed Superior of St. Benedict’s Monastery of Snowmass, Colorado, in 1958. Three years later he became Abbot of St. Joseph’s Abbey of Spencer, Massachusetts, before retiring to Snowmass—a small mountain community of just over a dozen monks—in 1981, where he remains today.
Although the Centering Prayer movement did not officially take off until the late seventies, Keating had been interested in the mystical roots of Christianity since the early 1940s while a student at Yale, where his entire Roman Catholic worldview was shaken by a freshman philosophy course. While studying Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea, a line-by-line exposition of the four Gospels, Keating had a sudden intuition of the importance of scripture as spiritual metaphor—a metaphor pointing to the possibility for all men and women to experience a direct union with the Divine through spiritual practice.
For more information, please visit: centeringprayer.com.
Adyashanti began teaching in 1996 after a series of transformative spiritual awakenings, at the request of his Zen teacher with whom he had been studying for fourteen years. Adya’s teachings have been compared to some of the early Ch’an (Zen) masters of China as well as to teachers of Advaita Vedanta in India. His approach to meditation involves two aspects which together he refers to as “True Meditation.” These aspects include formless, silent sitting, “allowing everything to be as it is,” and the more active practice of spiritual inquiry. He is the spiritual leader of the Open Gate Sangha in Northern California.
For more information, please visit: adyashanti.org.
S.N. Goenka is a non-monastic lay teacher of vipassana meditation who has taught dozens of thousands this simple, non-religious method of working with body and mind. Well-known for his “ten-day meditation retreats,” he has been responsible for introducing both Eastern and Western students to the art and science of Buddhist meditation. Since 1982, he has appointed hundreds of assistant teachers all around the world to help him meet the growing demand for these courses.
The technique that Mr. Goenka teaches represents a tradition that can be traced back to the Buddha himself. The Buddha, according to Mr. Goenka, never taught a sectarian religion, but rather he offered the way to liberation, which is universal. In the same tradition, Mr. Goenka’s approach is totally non-sectarian. For this reason, his teaching has a profound appeal to people of all backgrounds, of every religion and no religion, and from every part of the world.
For more information about S.N. Goenka, vipassana meditation, and his ten-day retreats, please visit: dhamma.org.
Father Laurence Freeman is a Benedictine monk and central figure in the introduction of meditation to Christians around the world. He is currently director of the World Community for Christian Meditation with international headquarters in London. While in the monastery, his spiritual teacher was John Main with whom he studied and whom he helped in the establishment of the first Christian Meditation Centre in London. In 1997 he went with John Main at the invitation of the Archbishop of Montreal to establish a Benedictine community of monks and laypeople dedicated to the practice and teaching of Christian meditation.
From “Christian Meditation, Your Daily Practice,” Father Main states, “We must move beyond the level of mental prayer: talking to God, thinking about God, asking God for our needs. We must go to the depths, to where the spirit of Jesus himself is praying in our hearts, in the deep silence of his union with our Father in the Holy Spirit.”
For more information about Father Laurence and the World Community for Christian Meditation, please visit: wccm.org
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the political and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and, specifically, of the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. A noted public speaker worldwide, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. He has written and spoken about the benefits of meditation for people of all faiths for several decades and participated in many scientific research studies and dialogues around the world.
For more information about His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, please visit: dalailama.com.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is one of the most influential teachers of meditation in the Western world and through his groundbreaking work with mindfulness, he has taught meditation techniques to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people to help them cope with stress, anxiety, pain, and illness.
Zinn is the author of highly acclaimed books on meditation and mindfulness, including Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness (Delta, 1991), and Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life (Hyperion, 1994).
For more information on the work of Dr. Kabat-Zinn, please visit: mindfulnesstapes.com.
Father William Meninger is a Trappist monk and retreat master who, along with Father Thomas Keating and Father Basil Pennington, is introducing the practice of Contemplative and Centering Prayer to millions of Christians desiring to practice meditation within their own tradition. Based originally on the classic text The Cloud of Unknowing, Father Meninger discovered that this anonymous book from the 14th century presented contemplative meditation as a teachable, spiritual process enabling the ordinary person to enter and receive a direct experience of union with God. This form of meditation, recently known as “Centering Prayer” (taken from a text of Thomas Merton) can be traced from and through the earliest centuries of Christianity. Through this practice, one becomes “centered” upon God.
Pema Chödrön is an American-born Tibetan Buddhist nun and meditation teacher. She is currently the director of Gampo Abbey, a retreat center in Nova Scotia and a recognized acharya (master teacher) in the lineage of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Through her warm and down-to-earth teaching style and bestselling books, Pema Chödrön is one of the most beloved teachers of meditation and spirituality today.
She is known specifically for her teaching of the practices of lovingkindness and compassion, in particular the ancient meditation practice of tonglen. She has taught this technique to dozens of thousands of interested students around the world.
For more information about Pema Chödrön, please visit: shambhala.org/teachers/pema.
Shinzen Young holds a PhD in Buddhist Studies from the University of Wisconsin and has trained extensively in the three major meditative schools of Buddhism: vajrayana, Zen, and vipassana. As he returned from the Asia and began teaching in North America, he focused his attention on the burgeoning dialogue between Eastern internal science and Western technological science. As a result, he developed a no-nonsense, down-to-earth method for teaching meditation to those without strong religious leanings, of any spiritual or non-spiritual tradition.
Known as a pioneer in innovative methods for working with the management of pain, Young leads meditation retreats throughout North America.
For more information, please visit: shinzen.org
Jack Kornfield is an author, psychologist, and one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist meditation to the West. After graduating in Asian Studies from Dartmouth College in 1967, he trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, Burma, and India. In 1975, Kornfield co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and later, the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, Califonia. He holds a PhD in clinical psychology. His books include A Path with Heart, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, The Art of Forgiveness, and The Wise Heart.
For more information about Jack Kornfield, please visit: jackkornfield.org.
Sharon Salzberg. One of American’s leading spiritual teachers and authors, Sharon Salzberg is cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. She has played a crucial role in bringing Asian meditation practices to the West. The ancient Buddhist practices of vipassana (mindfulness) and metta (lovingkindness to self and others) are the foundations of her work. Through her many books, audios, and work on the Insight Meditation Home Study Course, Salzberg has reached many thousands of everyday people wishing to learn the ancient art of meditation.
For more information, please visit: sharonsalzberg.com.
Joseph Goldstein has been leading insight and lovingkindness meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. He is a cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, where he is one of the organization’s guiding teachers.
Goldstein first became interested in Buddhist meditation as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand in 1965. Since 1967, he has studied and practiced different forms of Buddhist meditation under eminent teachers from India, Burma, and Tibet. He is the author or many bestselling books on meditation and Buddhism and is coauthor of the acclaimed Insight Meditation Home Study Course.
For more information, please visit: dharma.org/ims/joseph_goldstein.html.
Sogyal Rinpoche is a Tibetan meditation master and author of the highly acclaimed Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche has taught hundreds of thousands of students the ancient art of meditation in a modern context. Through his international organization, Rigpa, Rinpoche remains committed to making accessible the wisdom and benefits of meditation practice.
For more information, please visit: rigpa.org.
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee is a sheikh in the Naqshbandi order of Sufism specializing in the area of dreamwork and the integration of the ancient Sufi approach to dreams with the insights of modern psychology. In recent years the focus of his writing and teaching has been on spiritual responsibility in our present time of transition, and the emerging global consciousness of oneness. He teaches Sufi meditation to his students through his organization The Golden Sufi Center in Inverness, California.
For more information, please visit: goldensufi.org.
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is the head of the Shambhala Buddhist lineage and son of the late meditation master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. As leader of the Shambhala organization, he oversees the meditation training of dozens of thousands of students. He is unique in that he bridges two worlds—Asian and Western—having been brought up in both cultures.
His work in the West is as the lineage holder of Shambhala, a tradition that emphasizes confidence in the enlightened nature of all beings, and teaches a courageous life, based on wisdom and compassion. He also holds the Nyingma and Kagyu lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. He is an avid poet, artist, and athlete.
For more information please visit: mipham.com.
Kenneth Cohen is the executive director and founder of the Qigong Research and Practice Center in Nederland, Colorado. He is a world renowned health educator, China scholar, and qigong master with more than 40 years experience. A former collaborator with Alan Watts, he is the author of the internationally acclaimed book The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing, bestselling self-healing audio and video courses, and more than 200 journal articles. Based in the mountains of Colorado, Cohen teaches Taoist meditation and qigong around the world.
For more information, please visit: qigonghealing.com.
Namkhai Norbu is one of the leading living teachers of the Dzogchen (“great perfection”) tradition of meditation. According to Norbu, dzogchen is neither philosophy, religion, or a cultural tradition; rather, it is a method for discovering the true condition of the human being. Born in Tibet in 1938, he oversees the spiritual direction of hundreds of thousands of students around the world. His worldwide organization—Tsegyalgar—is based in Italy and has hundreds of centers in many countries around the world.
For more information, please visit: tsegyalgar.org.
Lama Surya Das is one of the foremost Western Buddhist meditation teachers and scholars, one of the main interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, and a leading spokesperson for the emerging American Buddhism. The Dalai Lama calls him "the Western Lama."
Surya has spent 35 years studying Zen, vipassana, yoga, and Tibetan Buddhism with the great masters of Asia, including the Dalai Lama’s own teachers, and has twice completed the traditional three-year meditation cloistered retreat at his teacher’s Tibetan monastery. He is an authorized lama (priest and spiritual master teacher) in the Nyingmapa School of Tibetan Buddhism.
He is the founder of the Dzogchen Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and its branch centers in New York City, New Jersey, California, Portland, and Texas. Founder of the Western Buddhist Teachers Network with the Dalai Lama, he is also active in interfaith dialogue and social activism and regularly organizes its international Buddhist Teachers Conferences.
Deepak Chopra is one of the leading pioneers in introducing the wisdom of India and meditation to the modern world. Through his dozens of bestselling books, audio programs, and public television appearances, Dr. Chopra has reached millions with his charismatic and easy-to-access teaching style.
In particular, Dr. Chopra practices and teaches a form of meditation called Primordial Sound Meditation (PSM). PSM is a healing practice that allows you to experience inner calm and deep relaxation. For thousands of years, people have used meditation to move beyond the mind’s busy activity and emotional turbulence into profound peace and expanded awareness. The technique, taught at the Chopra Center and around the world, uses a personally derived mantra that, when silently repeated, helps you to enter deeper states of awareness.
For more information about Dr. Chopra’s program in meditation, please visit: chopra.com/meditation.
Andrew Weil. While not a meditation teacher, per se Dr. Andrew Weil has introduced hundreds of thousands to the ancient practice of meditation as a way to achieve optimum health. Through his many bestselling books, CDs, and television appearances, Dr. Weil continually recommends the practice of meditation to those wanting a richer, more fulfilling life.
On a four-CD audio program (The Andrew Weil Audio Collection), Dr. Weil shares a number of meditation practices that he himself engages in and explains the benefits of meditation in a clear and nonreligious way.
For more information on this program, please visit: The Andrew Weil Audio Collection.
For more information about Dr. Andrew Weil, please visit: drweil.com.
Reginald Ray. Dr. Reginald “Reggie” Ray brings us four decades of study and intensive meditation practice within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition as well as a special gift for applying it to the unique problems, inspirations, and spiritual imperatives of modern people. He currently resides in Crestone, Colorado, where he is President and Spiritual Director of the Dharma Ocean Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to the practice, study, and preservation of the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and the practice lineage he embodied.
For more information, please visit: dharmaocean.org.
Rabbi David A. Cooper lived with his wife in the Old City of Jerusalem during the 1980s, studying Kabbalah and Hasidism with a number of different masters of those traditions—who typically choose not to be identified. He has also been a student of Sufism, initiated by Pir Valayit Khan, as well as Zen Buddhism with Roshi Bernie Glassman, and Tibetan Buddhism with Tsoknyi Rinpoche. He has studied and sat on retreat with many vipassana teachers, from both the East and the West, in the Theravadin tradition.
Prior to his time in Israel, Cooper owned a politcal consulting business in Washington D.C., and before that he worked at the Democratic National Committee in the infamous Watergate building, as the Director of Research. He has studied the world’s wisdom traditions from the time he was a teenager.
Cooper studied with dozens of Jewish teachers, including Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. He was ordained by Rabbi Zalman in 1993.
Rabbi Cooper has written about his experiences in seven books and two sets of CDs. His most popular book, God Is a Verb, has been a national bestseller, with over 120,000 copies in print in English. It is also available for Dutch, Portuguese, Romanian, and East Indian readers. His bestselling audio set,
Cooper is comfortable in dialogue with many different traditions; some have called him the "Buddhist Rabbi." This identification has a certain degree of truth in that Cooper openly acknowledges his indebtedness to the cross-fertilization of esoteric teachings from various traditions, while at the same time deeply honoring the powerful themes of virtue, respect, study, and service that are found in his root tradition of Judaism.
For more information about Rabbi David Cooper, please visit rabbidavidcooper.com.