Soryu Forall is an American-born meditation teacher dedicated to serving all living beings. He teaches that this path is the mutually supportive relationship between Awakening and Responsibility, the positive feedback loop between Correct Perception and Correct Behavior.
Soryu has done intensive contemplative practice for over two decades, training in Buddhist monasteries in Asia, primarily under the Zen Master Shodo Harada. He also has a degree in Economics with a focus on Environmental Science from Williams College. As the founder of the Center for Mindful Learning and Head Teacher at the Monastic Academy, Soryu offers teachings based in Shinzen Young’s Unified Mindfulness to residents, local community members, and young people around the world. He is grateful for the gifts many teachers have offered him, including those in the Christian, Lakota, Diné, Abenaki, scientific, and the Zen, Ambedkar, Theravada, and Kagyud Buddhist traditions. Soryu works to use mindfulness, leadership, and exponential growth to save life on earth from human greed and create conditions for awakening.
Peter Xūramitra Park
Peter has dedicated his life to asking and realizing deep questions—such as, what does it mean to be human and how should one act? He began this journey through studying philosophy and religion. In college, he practiced Tai Chi Quan and participated in a ten-day Vipassana meditation retreat, which turned these deep questions into life practices.
Peter continued his studies at American University with a Master’s in Buddhist & Continental Philosophy. Over the years, Peter has trained with various Insight, Zen, and Tibetan traditions.
Before joining MAPLE, he worked at a technology company as the Director of Web Development and Online Marketing. He also traveled the country in a tiny 21-foot RV before founding a Dharma House community in Boston.
At MAPLE, Peter introduced the community to the interpersonal meditation practice of Circling and offered the first public Circling workshops in Vermont. He leads Circling & meditation retreats and teaches Circling events in Burlington. He is also very interested in adult ego development, Metamodernism, strategic thinking, productivity, and operations.
Tasshin lived at MAPLE as a resident from 2015-2017, helped start our new OAK location in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2018, and is now back in Vermont. Tasshin grew up in Massachusetts and went to school at St. John’s College, Annapolis, MD, where he studied the Great Books and received a Liberal Arts degree. He has worked in many fields: as a writing coach, a programmer, meditation teacher, business consultant, and as a small business owner. Tasshin is passionate about exploring the connection between contemplative practice, physical movement and exercise, and intellectual endeavors. His name, Tasshin (達真), means to reach, achieve, or touch truth or authenticity.
Steven is at the Monastic Academy to learn to engage in the world with true compassion.
He has previously worked with youth in Social-emotional learning programs through The Home for Little Wanderers and Wediko Children’s Services, and taught ESL in Spain.
Daniel Ryūshin Thorson
Daniel has joined the Monastic Academy in order to become a person who can serve the world in a time of crisis and contribute to building an educational institution that can train many more such people.
In previous incarnations, Daniel has organized with Occupy Wall Street (in NYC); worked at a company called Buddhist Geeks (it’s what it sounds like); helped start Boulder Flood Relief in the aftermath of the September 2013 Boulder, CO floods (which went on to become an award-winning non-profit); founded a mindfulness education company; launched a new American political party; and spent over 10,000 (awful, wonderful) hours in formal meditation practice. Daniel is the host of the Emerge podcast, which explores the relationship between inner and outer transformation.
Saddhasīla Ashley Wolf
Ashley is passionate about mental health and well-being, and she especially loves working with kids. She has volunteered as a counselor and administrator for University of California’s Camp Kesem, a non-profit organization that supports children through and beyond a parent’s cancer. Ashley has also taught English to middle-school and high-school students in Israel, volunteered at various youth shelters, and worked as a Child Care Counselor for foster youth. Ashley wants to add mindfulness meditation into her repertoire of tools when working with kids to help them stay present in the moment, grow happier, and be more confident.
She also wants to make mindfulness her life practice. She is excited to observe and gain greater awareness of her mental and behavioral habits so that she can come from a place of intentional compassion in each moment. She knows that the Monastic Academy will help her embody her best self—and in turn, help her bring out the best in others as well.
Herschel was born in the Bay Area and raised Jewish; he became an atheist around age 12. He learned about the Monastic Academy while living in the rationalist community in Berkeley, California. Herschel has had a fascination separately with mysticism and with monasticism for a long time, despite his atheist leanings.
Herschel is interested in linguistics, mathematics, and music. He spends a lot of energy trying to understand how conflict and disagreement work and how people can connect more deeply. Most of all, Herschel is deeply interested in truth, whatever that means.
Renshin Lauren Lee
Lauren comes from the Bay Area Rationalist and Effective Altruism communities and has much more experience with Circling than meditation. Her newfound interest in meditation comes from a lifelong striving for growth and personal development. In particular, she’s looking to acquire the skill of dependability and “doing what you say you will do,” while moving from a place of compassion and curiosity.
In her past life, she has been a competitive Magic: The Gathering player / content producer, an iOS developer, and a research instructor at the Center for Applied Rationality. She loves teaching and guiding people through techniques like Focusing, Internal Family Systems, and Immunity to Change mapping, among others. Her other interests include epistemics, group dynamics, model-building, introspection, neuroscience, and artistic expression.
She is dedicated to healing her traumas and becoming a more self-aligned, capable, perceptive, and compassionate person. She wants to help others do the same.
Hōshin Norell LeungWhen Hōshin was 4 she would hold her hands under hot water until the water started to feel both hot and cold. In those moments she understood that our perceptions are not always what they seem. What appears one way on the outside can be the opposite on the inside.
As she aged, this experience remained a compass in her life. How can pain reveal pleasure? How can diving into grief unfurl joy? What portal to the mysteries is behind the dark curtain of my shame? How can fear give way to Love?
The Unified Field connected her with MAPLE, where she was reminded of a lifetime of longing and praying for authentic relationships, apprenticeship with a true teacher, and deliverance from the barren landscape of the mainstream.
Therapy dog work with her late animal teachers is one of her life’s masterpieces. She has worked in massage therapy, mental health, pole dancing, and teaching ESL and critical thinking through literature overseas. She’s interested in shamanic spirituality.
Aaron Stryker stumbled into deep meditation practice at a young age and has since thrown himself into this training. He began practicing Mysore-style Ashtanga Yoga in 2014 and Zen in 2016. He spent many of his breaks during college on retreat at Dai Bosatsu Zendo, Zen Mountain Monastery, or Great Vow Zen Monastery.
After seeing the power of deep meditation training to change our lives and the world, Aaron co-founded a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization called Dharma Gates during his senior year of college to open pathways into retreats and residential training for young adults. After graduating in May of 2019, Aaron continued to build Dharma Gates while in residency at the Ann Arbor Zen Buddhist Temple before moving to the Monastic Academy in the spring of 2020.
Now, he is training at MAPLE while continuing to work with Dharma Gates to make this practice accessible to the next generation. Aaron studied philosophy at Wesleyan University and wrote an honors thesis in philosophy on how embodied practice could transform our world.
Udaya’s parents joined the Society of Friends because they thought that he and his brother might understand and appreciate the Quaker path more easily than the religious alternatives. As a child, he attended Abington Monthly Meeting in Abington, Pennsylvania. There, he experienced the Light that speaks to everyone. He learned to give his attention to others in the trust that everyone has something to contribute to the world and to each other.
Udaya’s life at MAPLE is a continuation of this journey. At MAPLE, we share a schedule, a facility, and a turning inwards into silence and awe during meditation (Awakening) periods. During work (Responsibility) periods, we try to do the next right thing, over and over again.
In the almost nine months that Udaya has been at MAPLE as apprentice and then as resident, he has been blessed to have gotten to work in several departments. He looks forward to continued spiritual growth and joy as the sun’s light comes back and as spring appears — wet, weird, and gorgeous.
Khemā Danielle Eernisse
Khema found her way to MAPLE through an urgent and desperate concern for the many existential risks facing life on the planet. After two years of studying the unfolding collapse of our ecological and social systems, her life completely unraveled and she knew everything needed to change. MAPLE offered a clear path forward.
For the last six years, Khema’s family has been the tight-knit ecstatic dance and contact improv community in western MA. During that time, her life revolved around the study of touch, embodiment, movement, trauma healing, authentic communication, intimate relationship, and permaculture. She helped to start a Circling community there and later completed a Circling facilitator training. Over time, she grew a successful private practice combining elements of professional cuddling, Thai massage, and Circling. Khema’s intention at MAPLE is to reconcile her Earth-based spirituality with Buddhist practice and to use that marriage to become a death doula for our dying civilization.
Sophia joined the Monastic Academy to develop the clarity and emotional resiliency required to face the compounding issues of climate change and economic injustice. She hopes for her training to prepare her to be of service in times of confusion and scarcity.
Before joining MAPLE, Sophia received a BA in Philosophy & Communications, travelled throughout the US & Europe, got a MS in Urban Studies, and founded a non-profit cooperative for systems change education. Her research focuses on the intersection of ethics, cooperative economics, and knowledge commons. Her training so far has been predominantly in Zen Buddhism through residencies at Great Vow Zen Monastery & Atlanta Soto Zen Center, though she is interested in comparative study & training in different traditions.
Sophia is passionate about monastics’ role in “pastoral care” and learning to support the community in navigating transitions of life and death. She hopes to develop more options for lay-monastic hybrid lifestyles and to support communal stewardship of land, shelter, food, & resources.
Stephen’s practice draws mainly on the Theravada, heavily influenced by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, S.N. Goenka, and Mahasi Sayadaw. He has read the Pali Canon extensively, and enjoys rendering these ancient teachings in relatable, pragmatic language flowing from his experience with athletics, video gaming, and technology.
After a deep and traumatic experience with depression and anxiety in his first year of college, John felt compelled to find a more authentic way of being in the world.
He found mindfulness to be an effective tool and turned it into a daily practice. Finding retreats had a powerful impact on his practice, he became curious what it would be like to devote his life to meditation. What kind of changes would be possible? Would he be able to integrate them into some sort of a normal city life?
John then met Harrison Heyl—a resident at OAK, MAPLE’s sister branch in California—who told him about the Monastic Academy. John then flew from his home in Ireland to MAPLE, to join as an apprentice and later became a full-time resident. He is also pursuing a Pathways certification with Unified Mindfulness, in order to become a teacher himself.
John continues to be amazed by what’s possible when simply paying attention to the present moment. Mindfulness empowers him to connect, relate, and be vulnerable with others. By meeting negative patterns of thought, limiting beliefs, and contractive worldviews with mindful attention, he can outgrow them and actualize a potential far greater than he thought possible.
SanShin 三真 (Christopher Russell)
SanShin is the son of a slide-guitar-playing goldsmith and equestrian-inclined-hand engraver. He was born in Chicago, baptized Lutheran, grew up Methodist and became fascinated with the various wisdom traditions of the world at a young age through the Beatles, the Dalai Lama and George Mumford. He found great joy in the self-transcendence and flow states achieved playing piano and basketball, bouldering, cooking, water skiing, yoga and strongman training.
Passionate about issues of ethics, social psychology, social change- he was interviewed on a vegan talk radio show in 8th grade and at the age of 20 was a political candidate simultaneously endorsed by the Green Party and Libertarian Party.
He is immensely grateful for all of his failures and successes, friends family and teachers. Especially grateful for his first meditation teachers Bhante Sujatha and the other bhikkhunis and bhikkhus of the Blue Lotus Temple in Woodstock, IL and Chozen and Hogen Bays and all of the Monastics at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Oregon.
Originally from San Diego, CA, Rosie graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 2014 with a B.A. in Business Leadership and minors in Psychology and Creative Writing. She worked for two years as an Outreach Specialist for the National Alliance on Mental Illness before receiving a Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2017.
Rosie is passionate about the powerful energy of dark emotions and the process of alchemizing grief into gifts. She believes in the power of play and laughter and understands grief as a combination of celebration and mourning. She is fascinated by the power of community to help us heal and grow as our stories are seen, heard, and known.
She is passionate about oral ethnography, trauma informed storytelling, nonviolent communication, post-traumatic growth, vegan baking, soccer, and social permaculture. She loves the trifecta of joy that comes from combining exercise, nature and community. She wrote her masters thesis on the positive psychology of death and dying and created a caregiver’s companion around the pillars of resilience, compassion, and mindful grieving.
George has always felt the need to make sense of everything. Starkly deprived from the comfort of false certainty and purpose and baffled by the absurdity of existence, he undertook an undergraduate degree in Philosophy at Nottingham University.
Luckily, he encountered Buddhist & Asian Philosophy in his final year of study and decided that directly experiencing his reality was far more fruitful than solely thinking about it. Enamoured by Shinzen Young’s seamless marriage of science and pragmatic Dharma, he came to the Monastic Academy to practice Unified Mindfulness and develop his experiential knowledge of reality. He also hopes that in doing this a natural, non-religious ethics will reveal itself.
Proud to be the first Modern Monastic from Britain, he is more than up for the challenge and relishes his time here, knowing there is nowhere else on Earth like it.
Besides his obsession with learning more about contemplative paths, George spends most of his time exploring the world of music, playing the drums, and smiling at his dog. He hopes this bio is the last ego-managing activity he does in a while.
“Sharing the truth of liberation with all of humanity” is the meaning of his Dharma Refuge name.
Kyoshin worked for General Motors for 35 years, having started on the assembly line and later becoming a coordinator, supporting a culture of team concept and continuous improvement. He volunteered at Crisis Text Line as Crisis Counselor, helping people cope with bullying, suicide, loss, gender issues, self-harm, and more, all while learning how important self-care is for caregivers.
A decade of silent meditation retreats; loving-friendliness, compassion, appreciation and acceptance (the Brahmaviharas); and the study and contemplation of Buddhadharma are all a part of his life-practice. He has done many retreats, starting with S. N. Goenka and continuing on with Shinzen Young, Bhante Gunaratana, and Ajahn Sucitto at centers such as the Insight Meditation Society, Forest Refuge, and Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.
A loving, supportive wife and family along with many teachers have helped this process, allowing appreciative joy to flow.
Autumn is a 5th generation Californian with a background as a Violinist, Massage Practitioner, Contact Improv teacher, Poet, and Project Manager.
Before joining The Monastic Academy, she co-founded the Bridge Within movement and traveled the US and Canada doing massage, teaching Contact Improv, and organizing events. She is also co-founder of I Am We, a consciously curated resource network that bridges the communities of integrative spirituality, holistic health, sustainable living, and creative and performing arts.
She is passionate about Networking, growth, helping people discover and actualize their dreams, going on adventures, sharing art and healing and movement, creative collaborative projects, community-building, Spiritual Practice, and the ocean.
All his life, Kanshin has had an appreciation for the importance of living in a way that helps others. Inspired by his parents’ careers in mental health and education, their social and political engagement, and their choice of “Dāna” (from the Sanskrit word for generosity) for their family name, he decided to follow a career path in a similar direction.
His interest in mindfulness came about in high school after years of struggling with internal turmoil and looking for relief. After watching the movie I Am (2010) and reading Ekhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, he felt a newfound motivation to do something to minimize the suffering both inside himself and in the world.
While studying Social Work at the University of Vermont, he started practicing and teaching mindfulness through the UVM Mindfulness program. He also learned how to effectively help others through his course work and participated in student activism. These three components fed into each other as he explored how inner peace and outer justice are related.
This exploration has continued to grow richer for Kanshin as he continues practicing mindfulness and taking on more responsibility in his work and his life at the Monastic Academy.