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Lions Roar : May 2017
What is your practice tradition? Insight meditation, or Vipassana. Primary teachers? My main teachers have been Narayan Helen Liebenson, Carol Wilson, and Joseph Goldstein, who I’m happy are now also colleagues and friends. We do a lot of team teaching, so I still learn from my colleagues, as well as from the act of guiding students. What is your current or next project? Working on a book about leadership and meditation, and developing an urban insight meditation center in San Francisco. Favorite meditation practice? Brahmavihara practice, especially in daily life. Recommended dharma books? The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, anything by Ven. Katuku- runde Nanananda, The Practice of Perfection by Robert Aitken, and The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones by Dilgo Khyentse. Your favorite virtue? Generosity. Your idea of happiness? Absence of clinging in the mind. If not yourself, who would you be? Sariputta. Name three of your heroes. Alice Paul, Bayard Rustin, and Dipa Ma. The natural talent you’d most like to have? Easily finding harmony while singing. And parkour. Your favorite authors? Arundhati Roy, bell hooks, and Rebecca Solnit. Your favorite current TV show? Finding Your Roots. It’s a way to learn about history and our collective suffering through storytelling and celebrity genealogy. What’s for dinner? I live in San Francisco in the Mission District, so once a week it’s a burrito. Guilty pleasure? Karaoke, which is also a spiritual practice! RAOMALFERNANDOPULLE MEET A TEACHER Anushka Fernandopulle MY FAMILY EMIGRATED from Sri Lanka to the U.S. three months before I was born. My family is Catholic (due to Portu- guese colonization of Sri Lanka five hundred years ago), and I grew up in a Sri Lankan community in the U.S. with Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. I was a serious athlete in high school and began doing medi- tation to help with sports. Out of curiosity, I started reading dharma books, which led to studying Buddhism in college at Harvard and learning insight meditation to see things for myself. I really got into it, and spent the first half of my twenties in intensive practice in meditation centers and monasteries in the U.S., Sri Lanka, and India. Eventually I came back to the U.S., started working in public health, got an MBA at Yale (during which I was tapped to be a dharma teacher), and started consulting in leadership develop- ment and organizational effectiveness. Over the last ten years I have been teaching meditation in retreat centers and in organiza- tional settings, as well as doing leadership coaching and consult- ing work. My favorite situation is when they all come together. I have also been involved in social justice movements all my life. ♦ LION’S ROAR | MAY 2017 35 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE