About the Contributors
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi is an American Buddhist monk from New York City, born in 1944. He obtained a BA in philosophy from Brooklyn College and a PhD in philosophy from Claremont Graduate School. After completing his university studies he traveled to Sri Lanka where he received novice ordination in 1972 and full ordination in 1973. From 1984 to 2002 he was the editor for the Buddhist Publication Society in Kandy, where he lived for ten years with the senior German monk, Ven. Ñāṇaponika Thera (1901-1994), at the Forest Hermitage. He returned to the U.S. in 2002 and currently lives and teaches at Bodhi Monastery in New Jersey. Ven. Bodhi has many important publications to his credit, either as author, translator, or editor. These include The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, The Connected Discourses of the Buddha, and The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha.
Born in the Netherlands in 1967, as a youth he joined his father’s business for a while, then went to see the world. He arrived in Sri Lanka in 1990 to learn meditation and ordained at Meetirigala Nissarana Vanaya. After spending time at well-known monasteries in Australia and England, when he returned to Sri Lanka in 2003, he was invited by Bhikkhu Bodhi to stay at the Forest Hermitage and in 2005 took over as editor of the Buddhist Publication Society. Apart from his editing work, Bhikkhu Ñāṇatusita has authored works including The Life of Ñāṇatiloka Thera (co-authored with Hellmuth Hecker) and An Analysis of the Bhikkhu Pātimokkha.
Ven. K. Pemasiri
Ven. K. Pemasiri was born on 5th December 1942 at Kidagammulle, Gampaha. After leaving school at age 15, he tried various studies and work, but none of these pursuits held his attention. From around the age of 17, he spent much of his time meditating at Siyane Vipassana Centre, Kanduboda under the guidance of respected teacher, Ven. Sumathipāla Mahāthera. On 11th March 1964, he ordained with Ven. Rerukane Candavimala as preceptor and Ven. Sumathipāla as teacher. He lived at Kanduboda for many years and regularly sat in whilst Ven. Sumathipāla was instructing yogis in meditation. He was formally appointed as an assistant teacher in 1969. After Ven. Sumathipāla passed away at age 86 on 14th July 1982, Ven. Pemasiri became the abbot of Kanduboda. Then in 1989, he was invited to be abbot of Vipassana Bhavana Centre, Colombo. He is currently abbot of Sumathipāla Araṇa, a new meditation centre he founded in 2002, on land adjacent to Siyane Vipassana Centre, Kanduboda. Ven. Pemasiri is recognized as one of the foremost meditation teachers in Sri Lanka. He has taught meditation in Australia, Japan, Oman, Slovakia, Austria and the Czech Republic and two books in English of his teachings have been published, 'Walking the Tightrope’ and ‘Affectionate Splendour’. .
Ven. K. Ñāṇananda
Ven. Katukurunde Ñāṇananda was a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk and scholar who was born in Galle District in 1940 and passed away in 2018. He was educated at Mahinda College, Galle, and in 1962, graduated from the University of Peradeniya, Kandy, where he specialized in Pāli Studies. He served there for a while as an Assistant Lecturer in Pāli, but renounced his post in 1967 to ordain as a monk in the Sri Lankan forest tradition at Island Hermitage, Dodanduwa. In 1972, he moved to Meetirigala Nissarana Vanaya, Gampaha District to practise under the renowned meditation master, Ven. Śrī Mātara Ñāṇārāma Mahāthera. Some time after Ven. Ñāṇārāma died in 1992, Ven. Ñāṇananda moved to Pothgulgala Aranya, Kegalle District. Ven. Ñāṇananda has always maintained a simple, austere mode of practice with a strong commitment to strict Vinaya discipline. His best known works are Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought, published in 1971, and The Magic of the Mind, published in 1974, both completed during his stay at the Island Hermitage. His latest major work is a collection of his sermons titled ‘Nibbāna – The Mind Stilled’, initially published in Sinhala and later in English.
Ayoma Wickremasinghe is well known in Sri Lanka as a Mahā Upāsikā, a great supporter of the Saṅgha. In her teens she traveled to Burma where she studied under the guidance of Webu Sayadaw, where she made excellent progress in meditation. Ayoma is very well versed in the Pāli scriptures, and has translated selections into clear, modern Sinhala. She was a great devotee of Ven. Ñāṇavimala and built a kuṭi for him on her estate near Horana, where he spent many a rains retreat. She also dwelt for long periods of time on meditation retreat.
Okwang Sunim (previously Ven. Hiriko) is a Zen monk ordained in a Korean Chogye Order. He lived as a Theravada monk in Thailand and Sri Lanka from 1993-98. During 1997 he was the attendant to Ven. Ñāṇavimala at the Island Hermitage and in Colombo.
Ven. Ajahn Brahmavaṁso
Ven. Ajahn Brahmavaṁso (known to most as Ajahn Brahm) was born in London, England in 1951 and studied Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University. At Cambridge he joined the university’s Buddhist Society and at the age of 18 saw a monk for the first time. He knew then that was what he wanted to be. After graduating from Cambridge he taught in a high school for a year before travelling to Thailand in 1973 to become a monk and train with the Venerable Ajahn Chah. In 1983 he was sent by Ajahn Chah to Perth, Western Australia where he helped establish Bodhiñāṇa Monastery, Serpentine, of which he is now the abbot. Ajahn Brahm has been influential in setting up Dhammasāra Nuns’ Monastery, Gidgegannup and regularly teaches Dhamma in various parts of Australia and South East Asia. His weekly Dhamma talks are streamed live worldwide on the Buddhist Society of Western Australia YouTube channel. Ajahn Brahm has also several books, including Opening the Door of Your Heart (formerly published as ‘Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?’) and Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond: A Meditator’s Handbook.
Ven. Guttasīla is a respected Western monk who lives in Sri Lanka. He was born in New Zealand in 1947 and after leaving school began studying medicine at Otago University. Whilst travelling in Thailand in the mid-seventies he came across the Buddha’s teaching. He subsequently ordained as a novice at Wat Phleng Wipassana, Thonburi in December 1975 and took higher ordination in June 1976 at Wat Bowon, Bangkok. In 1980 he moved to Sri Lanka where he initially resided at Island Hermitage and later at Meetirigala Nissarana Vanaya where he practised under the guidance of Ven. Śrī Mātara Ñāṇārāma for many years. Since 1990 he has lived mainly in solitude in Sri Lankan forests, with the exception of several years practising under the guidance of Pa Auk Sayadaw in Myanmar.
Ven. Ñāṇadīpa Thera
Ven. Ñāṇadīpa is a monk of French-Danish extraction. He arrived in Sri Lanka in 1968 and took robes at Island Hermitage the following year. From the beginning, he has had a preference for austere living and has always stayed in remote forest areas. His deep knowledge of Pāli and the original teaching is renowned. He has been the inspiration for generations of sincere practitioners to follow in his footsteps.
Chittapala was born in Sydney, Australia in 1951 and studied humanities and social work at Sydney University. Whilst travelling in Thailand in 1975, he heard Buddha Dhamma for the first time, and in early 1977 ordained at Wat Bowon, Bangkok. In late 1978 he relocated to Sri Lanka, initially dwelling at Island Hermitage and later at Meetirigala Nissarana Vanaya. In 1983, he began living a solitary monk’s life in Sinha Raja Forest, south of Ratnapura. Then in 1986, he came down with a debilitating viral illness which was a condition for him to return to Australia and eventually disrobe in 1994. For many years Chittapala has been living a quiet contemplative life on Magnetic Island, North Queensland.
Amal Randhir Karunaratna
Amal was born in Kandy, Sri Lanka in 1957. In 1972 his family moved to New Zealand, where he completed high school and the family moved to Adelaide, Australia three years later. He completed a B.Sc (Hon) at Flinders University, a MBA from the University of Adelaide, a M.Com at Bond University in the Gold Coast and a Ph.D. from Sydney University. He was Associate Professor (Adj.) at the School of Business, University of Adelaide, and CEO of Breakthrough Business Intelligence and Chairman of Sinhaputhra Finance and Honorary Consul for the British High Commission in Kandy. He has published numerous articles in international journals, book chapters, magazines and newspapers, presented papers in international conferences and has traveled widely throughout Asia, the US and Europe. With a family who are strong supporters of the Saṅgha, Amal has been interested in Dhamma from an early age and was strongly influenced by his parents. Since moving back to Kandy in 2007, Amal has been semi-retired, with ample opportunity to spend extended periods in Dhamma at different centres, but particularly under the guidance of Ven. Pemasiri Mahāthera at Sumathipala Nahimi Senasun Arana District, Gampaha District.
Ven. Pannipitiye Upasama
As a layman, Ven. Upasama was known as Buwaneka Nilkomal Wijethilaka. He was a successful marine engineer rising to the rank of Chief Engineer, obtaining a British License in a sea-going career which took him around the world. He had an inclination to Dhamma from his youth due to his father’s influence which resulted in having close associations with Saṅgha. Meeting Ven. Ñāṇavimala led him to lead a stronger spiritual life and finally he became a Buddhist monk. Presently, he is living most of the time in forest retreats.
Nimal Wijenarayana Sonnadara
Nimal had the inclination to dhamma from a very young age due to the influence of his parents and took up a sea-going career and rose up to the rank of Chief Engineer with a British marine licence. He worked for Ropner Ship management based in Darlington UK and was a colleague of Buweneka in the training group for marine engineers at Walker Sons & Co. Ltd., Colombo. Much of his time spent on activities overlaps with Buvaneka and he was privileged to have an opportunity to attend on Ven. Ñāṇavimala. This laid a stable footing to develop a stronger understanding of the Dhamma.