Photos and short bios
Ajahn Abhinando was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1966. His first Dhamma teacher was Godwin Samaratne from Kandy in Sri Lanka, whom he met during a weekend course in Hamburg in 1991. The following year he encountered Ajahn Sumedho in Hamburg and was deeply impressed by him. So he moved over to Chithurst Monastery in England, where he was accepted into the Bhikkhu Sangha with Ajahn Sumedho as his preceptor in 1994. Initially he stayed for five years at Chithurst, with Ajahn Sucitto as his abbot and mentor. After that he also lived at Santacittarama Monastery in Italy and at Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand. Eventually in 2002 he was drawn to Aruna Ratanagiri Monastery in the North of England. There he served the community as the second monk behind Ajahn Munindo for fifteen years and also started to offer teachings to the many supporters and visitors of the monastery. Since 2004 he is also teaching meditation courses in other places within Europe. In the summer of 2017 he became a member of the monastic community at Dhammapala which, since the hand-over from Ajahn Khemasiri in October 2018, he is now serving as abbot.
Ajahn Dto Pesalo was born in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand in 1973. Before he ordained as a monk, he was an art student at Chiangmai University.
He took ordination at Wat Nong Pah Pong in 1996 with Luang Por Liem as the preceptor. After training in various monasteries in Thailand for 12 years, he moved for 3 years to several monasteries in the lineage of Ajahn Chah – in America, Australia and Europe. He published 23 Dhamma books, including graphic design, photography, comics, poetry etc. for free distribution. One of his books about monastic life in California is also commercially available by a publication house in Thailand.
Ajahn Kāñcano was born in Montijo, Portugal, on 22nd July 1968. He lived in England for almost nine years, where his interest and practice of Buddhism began. In late 2003 he moved to Thailand with the intention of further developing his practice and seeking higher ordination. He lived for two years at Wat Pah Nanachat and on 6th July 2005 he received upasampadā (bhikkhu ordination) with Luang Por Liem Thitadhammo as preceptor. He then lived for a further nine months at Ajahn Anan’s monastery, Wat Marp Jun, near Rayong. In November 2006 he returned to England and lived at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery until July 2012, at which time he was invited along with Ven. Ajahn Vajiro and Ajahn Subbadho to initiate the project for a monastery in Portugal. Since December 2012 he has been offering his solid support to the community in Dhammapala.
Venerable Bodhinando was born in Halle in former East Germany in 1979. As a young man he offered his community service in an old peoples’ home, which triggered deep questions for him about life in general. After the completion of his civil duties and after studying Physics at the University of Jena he worked briefly as a teacher. Already during his time as a student he became very interested in Hatha Yoga and Vipassana meditation. It was during his short working life that his interest in monastic life began to grow. Initally he joined a monastic Theravada community in India, where he was introduced to the life of a novice and also the Buddhist holy sites. When he returned to Europe in 2008 he decided to visit Western Buddhist monasteries, with the intention of becoming a monk. In July 2011 he was accepted into the European community of the Thai Forest Tradition with Ajahn Amaro as a preceptor. His first monastic years were spent at Aruna Ratanagiri Monastery in the North-East of England. He has been living at Dhammapala since the end of 2012.
Bhikkhu Viranando was born in July 1976 in Thuringia, Germany. He became interested in Buddhism at the early age of 16 years and began attending monthly Dhamma evenings organised by the Dipankara Zentrum für Mahayana Buddhismus e.V. in Erfurt. At the end of a cycling trip through Australia in 2002 he sat his first meditation retreat in the Goenka tradition near Hobart, Tasmania and after travelling on through Malaysia and Thailand his cycling journey ended at The International Forest Monastery – Wat Pah Nanachat were he spent the next eight months, seven of them as an Anagarika. Back in Europe in March 2004 he worked and studied and in Juni 2011 he found his way via India to Wat Pah Nanachat once again. He ordained as Samanera in December of the same year and one year later in January 2013 his precepor Luang Por Liam Thitadammo ordained him in Wat Nong Pah Pong as a monk of the Ajahn Chah tradition. During his stay of more than six years in Thailand he spent his time at Wat Pah Nanachat and its branch monasteries Wat Poo Jom Gom and Wat Dao Dam as well as a branch monastery of Ajahn Dtun, Wat Kao Opaat led by Ajahn Prateep. After his fifth Vassa as a monk, Tan Viranando came back to Europe in the fall of 2017 and lived the following 15 months at Wat Muttodaya in Germany. A long Tudong through Germany and Switzerland in the spring of 2018 led him to Wat Dhammapala were he is now part of the local Sangha.
Doris Eckstein was born in Lausanne in 1965. After working as an electrical engineer for a number of years, she changed over to study psychology. From 2000 until 2016 she explored human consciousness and memory at research institutes in Switzerland and in England. In 2006 she encountered the Buddhist way of heart-and-mind training. Since then she has a regular meditation practice at home and attends longer retreats elsewhere. Her meditation practice was influenced strongly by a small booklet with discourses by Ajahn Chah, called ‘A taste of freedom’, which happened to fall into her lap accidentally in 2010. She is an active member of the Vipassana meditation group in Bern, and since September 2017 she is working as the secretary at Dhammapala Monastery.