10 Buddhist Meditation Teachers in America

10 Buddhist Meditation Teachers in America

10 Buddhist Meditation Teachers in America

With the dawn of the millennium, Buddhism has gained tremendous popularity and acceptance in the Western world. A style of Buddhism that is distinctively western has emerged. As opposed to Eastern Buddhism in which reverence and chanting are the predominant styles of Buddhist practices, meditation is unequivocally the staple of Western Buddhism.
There are innumerable Buddhist meditation teachers who are equally renowned and respected. The criteria for my 10 Buddhist meditation teachers are:

  1. Publication: They have published at least 1 book related to Buddhism or meditation
  2. Main Vocation: Teaching Buddhism and meditation is their main vocation (and they are not University professor)
  3. English Language: They are able to speak relatively fluent English
  4. Physical Presence: They physically teach Buddhism and meditation in America (even if they are not American citizens)
  5. Global Reputation: They are renowned outside of America

Here is my take for the 10 Buddhist meditation teachers in America (not in any particular order):

#1 – Mingyur Rinpoche

“The essence of Buddhist practice is not so much an effort at changing your thoughts or your behavior so that you can become a better person, but in realizing that no matter what you might think about the circumstances that define your life, you’re already good, whole, and complete. It’s about recognizing the inherent potential of your mind. In other words, Buddhism is not so much concerned with getting well as with recognizing that you are, right here, right now, as whole, as good, as essentially well as you could ever hope to be.”  ― Yongey Mingyur, The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness

Mingyur Rinpoche is a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who travels around the world to teach Tibetan Buddhism and meditation. His candid and engaging style of delivery, often drawing examples from his past experience, makes the learning of Buddhism accessible for his students. His books include The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of HappinessTurning Confusion into Reality:A Guide to the Foundation Practices of Tibetan BuddhismJoyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom. 

#2 –Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

“The body benefits from movement, and the mind benefits from stillness.” ― Sakyong Mipham, Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is the head of Shambhala Buddhist lineage and Shambhala International ( a worldwide network of urban Buddhist meditation and retreat centers). He is a high lama in the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. His books include The Shambhala Principle: Discovering Humanity’s Hidden Treasure, Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind, Ruling Your World. 

# 3- Joan Halifax Roshi

“Since we are already Buddhas, happy and suffering Buddhas, wise and confused Buddhas, we are already Buddha.” – Joan Halifax Roshi

Joan Halifax Roshi is a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, and pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She is founder, abbot, and head teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her books include Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death, The Fruitful Darkness: A Journey Through Buddhist Practice and Tribal Wisdom

#4 – Pema Chodron

“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. ” – Pema Chodron

Pema Chodron is the Buddhist teacher, author, nun and mother. Her message of practicing peace through leading a contemplative life has inspired many to follow her path. She is the author of When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears , Unconditional Confidence: Instructions for Meeting Any Experience with Trust and Courage.

#5 – Sharon Salzberg

“We need the courage to learn from our past and not live in it.”― Sharon Salzberg, The Force of Kindness: Change Your Life with Love and Compassion

Sharon Salzberg is the author and teacher of Buddhist vipassana meditation. She is one of the co-founders of the Insight Meditation Society at Barre, Massachusetts. Her books include Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program, Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace, Insight Meditation: A Step-by-step Course on How to Meditate

#6 – Jack Kornfield

“We must look at ourselves over and over again in order to learn to love, to discover what has kept our hearts closed, and what it means to allow our hearts to open.”
― Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life

Jack Kornfield is also the author and teacher of Buddhist vipassana meditation. He co-founded Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock Meditation Center. His books include Meditation for BeginnersThe Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace, The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology

#7 – Norman Fisher

“We now see that the only way that we could love ourselves is by loving others, and the only way that we could truly love others is to love ourselves. The difference between self-love and love of others is very small, once we really understand.”― Norman Fischer, Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong

Norman Fisher is a Soto Zen roshi, poet, author and Buddhist meditation teacher in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki. He is the founder of Everyday Zen Foundation. His books include What Is Zen?: Plain Talk for a Beginner’s Mind, Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong, Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up.

# 8 – Joseph Goldstein

“On the deepest level, problems such as war and starvation are not solved by economics and politics alone. Their source is prejudice and fear in the human heart — and their solution also lies in the human heart.”― Joseph Goldstein, Seeking the Heart of Wisdom: The Path of Insight Meditation

Joseph Goldstein is the author, meditation teacher, and co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. He is also the author of One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism, Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening, Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom

# 9 – Thubten Chodron

“When you plant seeds in the garden, you don’t dig them up every day to see if they have sprouted yet. You simply water them and clear away the weeds; you know that the seeds will grow in time. Similarly, just do your daily practice and cultivate a kind heart. Abandon impatience and instead be content creating the causes for goodness; the results will come when they’re ready.”
― Thubten Chodron

Thubten Chodron is a Buddhist nun of Tibetan tradition. She spent many years in India and Nepal studying Buddhism under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Zopa Rinpoche, Tsenzhap Serkong Rinpoche etc. She emphasizes practical application of Buddhism in daily lives. Her books include Don’t Believe Everything You ThinkOpen Heart, Clear Mind: An Introduction to the Buddha’s Teachings.  

#10-Tara Brach 

“Pain is not wrong. Reacting to pain as wrong initiates the trance of unworthiness. The moment we believe something is wrong, our world shrinks and we lose ourselves in the effort to combat the pain.” ― Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Tara Brach is a clinical psychologist, author, and Buddhist meditation teacher. Having practiced and taught vipassana meditation for 35 years, Tara is the senior teacher and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C. Her books include Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart, Mindfulness Meditation: Nine Guided Practices to Awaken Presence and Open Your Heart.

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