Four teachers were influential and inspiring for my practice: Anagarika Dhammadinna, Achan Sobin Namto, Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Mahanayakathero, and Ven. Punnaji Mahathero.
Anagarika Dhammadinna introduced me to the Dharma. Dwelling in remote areas of Canada, she lived as close to a nun’s life as she could in the 1960’s and 70’s, spending long periods of time in retreat, and sharing the Dharma only with those who made the effort to find her and endure her “tough love” teaching style. Anagarika was also a perennial learner, and I benefited from the teachers she found to support her own path.
Achan Sobin Namto distinguished himself at an early age by his meditative insights. He was later chosen by the king of Thailand to be the abbot of major temples in North America, and he served in this role for decades before returning to Thailand to found a monastery in his home town of Wangplado.
Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Mahanayaka Thero (left) was perhaps the most esteemed monk in Sri Lanka. Known as a scholar and a mystic, he presided at the Third Council in Burma in 1957, marking 2500 years since the death of the Buddha. He was a master of Dharma and Abhidhamma, able to speak spontaneously, with erudition and depth, on virtually any Dharma topic. For me, he was, above all, a source of transmission of metta, a powerful teacher of the wordless.
Ven. Punnaji Mahathero is best known for his radical re-interpretations of key Pali words and Dharma teachings, and touched me with his profound sense of inquiry. The Dharma, he showed by how he taught, must be coherent, make deep sense, and synergize with contemporary psychology and neuroscience.