A Sri Lankan by birth, Ayya Sudinna was ordained as a samaneri in 1999 by Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society. She received the higher ordination (Upasampada) in 2002 in Sri Lanka. In lay life, Ayya Sudinna served as a teacher in Government schools and as a lecturer in English at the Government Teachers Training College, Maharagama, and later under the Higher Education Ministry in Sri Lanka. She has an honours degree in English and an M.A. in Buddhist philosophy. She is the author of a children’s story book titled ‘Delightful Tales.’
Bhante Henepola Gunaratana is the founding abbot of the Bhavana Society. Born in rural Sri Lanka, he has been a monk since age 12 and took full ordination at age 20 in 1947. He came to the United States in 1968. “Bhante G” (as he is fondly called by his students) has written a number of books, including the now-classic meditation manual Mindfulness In Plain English and its companion Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness. Bhante G regularly leads retreats on vipassana, mindfulness, metta (Loving-friendliness), concentration, and other topics both at the Bhavana Society and elsewhere.
Bhante Gunaratana is an internationally recognized author and meditation teacher. Prior to coming to the United States, he spent five years doing in missionary work with the Harijanas (Untouchables) of India and ten years in Malaysia. He has taught in a number of settings, including American University of Washington DC where he served as Buddhist chaplain and the Buddhist Vihara of Washington DC, where he served as president. Bhante G has a strong scholarly background and livelong commitment to dhamma.
In 1985 Bhante G co-founded the Bhavana Society and became its abbot. He wanted to teach meditation in an environment allowing for longer retreats and intense practice free from the trappings of a city vihara. He continues to teach in the direct, compassionate style that characterizes his books and articles. Bhante G conveys a well-rounded approach to Buddhist Dhamma, touching on all aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path. He emphasizes metta bhavana (the cultivation of loving-friendliness) as a basis for samma-samadhi, or right concentration. As a teacher, he is known for his emphasis both on samadhi and on metta as part of spiritual training.
In 1996, Bhante G received the title of Chief Sangha Nayaka Thera for North America. This acknowledged his status as highest-ranking monk of his sect in the United States and Canada. In 2003, his autobiography, Journey to Mindfulness, was published. In 2005, the Sri Henepola Gunaratana Scholarship Trust was founded under his guidance. This trust provides educations for poverty stricken children in rural Sri Lanka.
Bhante G continues to write articles, lead retreats, and teach at the Bhavana Society and all over the world.
Ven. Seelananda was born and bred in Sri Lanka as a Theravada monk. Having received the invitation extended from American Sri Lankan Buddhist Association of New York he came to US for the dissemination of the Dhamma in 2002. He has established a meditation Center named “Samatha Vipassana Meditation Centre” in Edmonton Canada. Ven. Bhante Henepola Gunaratana and the board of Directors have appointed Ven. Bhikkhu T. Seelananda as the Vice president and Vice Abbot of Bhavana Society from January 2011.
Sayalay Susila has been a Theravada nun for the last 20 years. Sister started her vipassana insight meditation during her university days, while obtaining a degree in Mass Communications (1988) at USM in Malaysia. Before ordination, she practiced as a full-time practitioner for one and a half years. After her ordination, in 1991, she practiced under the guidance of the well-known Venerable Sayadaw U Pandita in Panditarama Monastery, Myanmar, until 1994, at which time she began to practice under the guidance of the Venerable Pa Auk Tawya Sayadaw at the Pa Auk Meditation Centre, Myanmar, where she remains today.
Sayalay Susila was born in 1963, in the state of Pahang, Malaysia, and was ordained as a nun at the age of 28, at the Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre (MBMC) in Penang, Malaysia. She speaks fluent English, Hokkien, Chinese, Malay, and Burmese. Beginning in 2000, with the encouragement of her teacher Pa Auk Sayadaw, Sayalay Susila began to teach the Abhidhamma in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia.
Since 2002, when she conducted a 10-day Abhidhamma course in Toronto, Sayalay Susila has traveled extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching Suttas, Abhidhamma and Meditation. Sister Susila’s dhamma talks, which have been widely praised as lucid and precise, have been given at North American Buddhist centres such as Spirit Rock (California) and the Barre Centre for Buddhist Studies (Massachusetts).
In July 2009, she conducted a 10-day meditation course, Concentration and Insight, at Bhavana Society monastery in West Virginia, as well as a Women’s Retreat in July 2011. She has published the books "Unravelling the Mysteries of Mind and Body Through Abhidhamma" in English and "The Nine Attributes of the Buddha in Chinese."