"Munindra was one of the most important teachers for Westerners in the establishment of Vipassana and mindfulness meditation."
- Jack Kornfield
“Mirka Knaster is the author of Living This Life Fully: Stories and Teachings of Munindra, a book about the Bengali meditation master who was a grandfather of the vipassana/mindfulness movement in the West and who taught many of today's most prominent Western dharma teachers. She interviewed nearly 200 people around the world for their down-to-earth yet inspiring poignant and humorous remembrances of someone who embodied the qualities of awakening and who believed it was possible for all of us to cultivate them. The book also draws on discussions Robert Pryor had with Munindra before his death in 2003, early talks Munindra gave in the U.S., and includes rare photographs. Shambhala is the publisher (October 2010). Mirka collaborated with Robert Pryor on this project. The book has been translated into Vietnamese and Korean.” (from mirkaknaster.com)
In this episode, Mirka shares reflections on Munindra’s life and teachings, his quirkiness and the path of awakening.
Mirka Knaster holds a Ph.D. in Asian and Comparative Studies, is an author, artist and blogger. You can learn more about Mirka and her work through her websites:
David Germano is a man who holds many posts at the University of Virginia. Germano's astute and focused work related to the integration of contemplation into all facets of life makes him an easy conversation partner on Contemplify. His deep attention to the contemplative sciences is astounding to witness and damn near impossible to keep pace with. Be sure to check out the U.Va.'s Contemplative Sciences Center to hear what he, his team and his students are engaged in.
“David Germano has taught and researched Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Virginia since 1992. U.Va.'s Tibetan Studies program is the largest in the Americas, while the Buddhist Studies program is one of the largest in the West. In 2000, he founded the Tibetan and Himalayan Library, which has become the world's largest digital initiative building collaborative knowledge on the region. He is the founding director of the the Tibet Center in the College of Arts and Sciences, which is home to a large exchange program with Tibetans in Tibet, as well as the most extensive set of foreign-led academic operations in the region (four offices in China and Bhutan, and seventeen full-time staff on site). Germano's personal research focuses on the history of Tibetan with a special focus on contemplative and philosophical traditions. He has lived for many years in Tibetan communities in China, in the context of which he has also worked extensively on programs of scholarly engagement, community service, participatory knowledge, and digital technology initiatives. More recently, Germano acted as the founding director of SHANTI (Sciences, Humanities and the Arts Network of Technological Initiatives,www.uvashanti.org), an initiative aimed at the mainstreaming of cutting edge digital technology for faculty, students, and staff across the University. Since 2011, Germano has played a lead role in preparing and then organizing U.Va.’s new Contemplative Sciences Center (www.uvacontemplation.org), which he currently directs. He works extensively with each of the eleven schools at U.Va. to explore learning, research, and engagement initiatives regarding contemplation in their own disciplinary and professional areas, as well as new partnerships across the schools. He is currently focused on the exploration of contemplative ideas, values, and practices involving scientific methodologies and new applications in diverse fields; he also holds a faculty appointment in the School of Nursing..” (from David's U.Va. page)
In this episode we cover David’s journey into Tibetan Buddhism, contemplation in academia and the public schools, resilience and contemplation and starting points for those curious in Tibetan Buddhism.
David Germano is the founding director of the Contemplative Sciences Center at the University of Virginia (amongst his many, many other roles at U.Va.). He is the co-editor of the book, Embodying the Dharma: Buddhist Relic Veneration in Asia. You can learn more about him through his U.Va. page.
Lama Rod Owens (@lamarod1) holds the space for vulnerable conversation to unfold. I was going to write a spot-on bio, but the one posted on his website mirrors my experience and understanding of him:
“Considered one of the leaders of the next generation of Dharma teachers, Lama Rod Owens has a blend of formal Buddhist training and life experience that gives him a unique ability to understand, relate and engage with those around him in a way that’s spacious and sincere. His gentle, laid-back demeanor and willingness to bare his heart and soul makes others want to do the same. Even when seated in front of a room, he’s next to you, sharing his stories and struggles with an openness vulnerability and gentle humor that makes you genuinely feel good about who you are, with all your flaws and foibles, you’re lovable and deserving of happiness and joy. He invites you into the cross sections of his life as a Black, queer male, born and raised in the South, and heavily influenced by the church and its community.” (from lamarod.com)
In this episode we cover Lama Rod’s journey into Tibetan Buddhism, issues of race in American Buddhism, sexuality, his contemplative practice and his thoughts on sex education.
Lama Rod Owens is a teacher, activist and author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation. You can learn more about him through his website, lamarod.com, Instagram, Soundcloud and Twitter.