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"All journeys are a dialogue

between time and timeless, path and pathless, traveling and being".

I was born in 1946 and grew up in North London, studied at Oxford University  and received a Ph.D. from the National Institute for Medical Research. After  year in India in 1976 I became fascinated by alternative and complementary medicine, and wrote 14 books and worked in those fields for 40 years. At the same time, India was the source of a major interest and commitment to spiritual life and I have been practicing meditation and dharma, largely within the Theravada Buddhist framework since 1976 together with long-term inspiration from Dzogchen and Advaita teachings. 

I have been teaching intensively for 25 years, mostly in Israel, at least 15 retreats a year,  plus annual courses and classes as well as guiding local teachers and instructors. I am the founder and senior teacher of the Israel Insight Society which is the major Buddhist practice organisation in the country. I have been deeply involved in peace making and ecological campaigning in the Middle East. I live in an alternative ecological community that I helped to found, growing my own food and medicines, and being a hands on grandparent.

My dharma books include ‘What’s Beyond Mindfulness: Waking Up to This Precious Life’ (Watkins Publishers 2019, which in its Hebrew version was the number 1 bestseller instructional non-fiction for 18 weeks. My recent book is The Five Powers  (Aster, Imprint of Hachette UK). 

About Stephen

I teach and write and live the dharma, Buddhist inspired spiritual teachings on liberation. The teachings are aligned with the simplicity, depth and immediacy of the early Buddhist texts and the Insight lineage. They include a variety of forms of meditation, such as mindfulness, Vipassana, loving kindness, compassion, equanimity, samadhi etc., but are actually about a deep transformation and refinement of mind, heart, speech, action and interrelationship within the world. This includes working with issues patterns and life’s difficulties, but goes much beyond that, integrating the psychological and the spiritual, helping others to ride the waves of change but also dive into the ocean. 

The teachings include talks, dialogue, guidance on practice, and individual one-on-one meetings, and the forms include residential retreats, classes, regular groups, courses physically or online, and so on. But teaching can be much more existential than sitting on a stage and giving talks. It can be with the eyes, with body language, or in silence, all manifesting expanded awareness, clarity and wisdom within ordinary life. I feel that people who are quite developed teach that way. 

I keep teaching after 25 years because it is a joyful flow, opening the heart and as the dharma moves through me and out. At the same time it feels right to help others recognize, discover and develop the  qualities and powers that bring unimagined inner freedom and are so needed in this struggling world. I teach at all levels, whether those who have a great deal of experience in Buddhist practice, or those who are new to it. Recently I have been going round many pubs and bars, giving talks and meditations to large number of people under the title ‘Buddha at the Bar’. It warms the heart to bring a different message to young people who are often so much in need of a more hopeful and meaningful view beyond the usual diet of conflict, materialism, competitiveness, pressure and agitation.

We often find ourselves in the midst of a stormy sea of uncertainty and challenge. It is always important to find a place within us from where we can see things freshly, clearly and more wisely, which then empower us in our daily life. I guide others in mindful listening to their inner voice and inner truth, towards renewal and realisation.

What do I teach and to whom?

About TOVANA

I started ‘Tovana’- the Israel Insight Meditation Society – in 1995 with a vision to make the vast, and sublime Buddhist practice teachings available to any and all who wish to practice. I was quite careful at the beginning to get the first steps right, embodying harmony, ethics and non-sectarian authentic spiritual practice aligned to Buddhadharma.  We aligned ourselves to a more open practice style in the Thai Forest tradition, modelled by Ajahn Chah and guided by Christopher Titmuss, one of my first and main teachers. Aligning with the qualities that are embodied in genuine dharma, the teachings are offered on a donation basis. Known as dana, this practice of generosity, each according to their ability, allows people from all socioeconomic backgrounds to join. 

Today it offers a comprehensive range of authentic Buddhist teachings and practices, aligned with the Theravada lineage, with an emphasis on mindfulness, calm and insight (Vipassana). There are at least 45 residential retreats in the year and groups all over the country, online teachings and other forms of teaching that help all to explore the nature of experience and open doorways to an awakened life. It leads to clarity and opening of the heart, and to the development of capacities and qualities which support ourselves, our community, other living beings and the environment. It now has a residential center in Kibbutz Ein Dor that can accommodate around 100 participants. The teachings are available and accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, whether secular or religious, and from all ethnic groups and countries.

I started ‘Tovana’- the Israel Insight Meditation Society – in 1995 with a vision to make the vast, and sublime Buddhist practice teachings available to any and all who wish to practice. I was quite careful at the beginning to get the first steps right, embodying harmony, ethics and non-sectarian authentic spiritual practice aligned to Buddhadharma.  We aligned ourselves to a more open practice style in the Thai Forest tradition, modelled by Ajahn Chah and guided by Christopher Titmuss, one of my first and main teachers. Aligning with the qualities that are embodied in genuine dharma, the teachings are offered on a donation basis. Known as dana, this practice of generosity, each according to their ability, allows people from all socioeconomic backgrounds to join. 

Today it offers a comprehensive range of authentic Buddhist teachings and practices, aligned with the Theravada lineage, with an emphasis on mindfulness, calm and insight (Vipassana). There are at least 45 residential retreats in the year and groups all over the country, online teachings and other forms of teaching that help all to explore the nature of experience and open doorways to an awakened life. It leads to clarity and opening of the heart, and to the development of capacities and qualities which support ourselves, our community, other living beings and the environment. It now has a residential center in Kibbutz Ein Dor that can accommodate around 100 participants. The teachings are available and accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, whether secular or religious, and from all ethnic groups and countries.

About Mashiv Nefesh

Mashiv Nefesh is a Buddhist inspired spiritual community in the village of Clil. Along with others, I helped to found and support this community over many years, and guide and teach those living there and coming for retreats and practice. 

Mashiv Nefesh supports the growth and development in the spiritual path of the community that lives there, by means of the daily practice of meditation, conscious living and a kind and ethical relationship with themselves, with each other and with nature and the environment. The spiritual practice and daily activities  cultivate heart qualities like generosity, caring and friendship, and encourage social involvement in the wider community.

Today, dharma is taught by experienced teachers as part of weekend retreats as well as courses and practice groups, and there is a weekly program of  meetings, discussions and inquiry. The center is also open throughout the year for short and long personal retreats. The center is a simple and modest place within the olive orchards and nature of the Galilee. It is based on ecological sensitivity, and allows residents to connect with and take care of nature and the environment. 

Mashiv Nefesh is a non-profit organization, and most of the activities at the center are based on the contributions of the participants. The support of the participants in the day-to-day activities makes it possible to maintain the place as an open house for practice, learning and inspiration.

The teachings include talks, dialogue, guidance on practice, and individual one-on-one meetings, and the forms include residential retreats, classes, regular groups, courses physically or online, and so on. But teaching can be much more existential than sitting on a stage and giving talks. It can be with the eyes, with body language, or in silence, all manifesting expanded awareness, clarity and wisdom within ordinary life. I feel that people who are quite developed teach that way. 

I keep teaching after 25 years because it is a joyful flow, opening the heart and as the dharma moves through me and out. At the same time it feels right to help others recognize, discover and develop the  qualities and powers that bring unimagined inner freedom and are so needed in this struggling world. I teach at all levels, whether those who have a great deal of experience in Buddhist practice, or those who are new to it. Recently I have been going round many pubs and bars, giving talks and meditations to large number of people under the title ‘Buddha at the Bar’. It warms the heart to bring a different message to young people who are often so much in need of a more hopeful and meaningful view beyond the usual diet of conflict, materialism, competitiveness, pressure and agitation.

We often find ourselves in the midst of a stormy sea of uncertainty and challenge. It is always important to find a place within us from where we can see things freshly, clearly and more wisely, which then empower us in our daily life. I guide others in mindful listening to their inner voice and inner truth, towards renewal and realisation.

Today it offers a comprehensive range of authentic Buddhist teachings and practices, aligned with the Theravada lineage, with an emphasis on mindfulness, calm and insight (Vipassana). There are at least 45 residential retreats in the year and groups all over the country, online teachings and other forms of teaching that help all to explore the nature of experience and open doorways to an awakened life. It leads to clarity and opening of the heart, and to the development of capacities and qualities which support ourselves, our community, other living beings and the environment. It now has a residential center in Kibbutz Ein Dor that can accommodate around 100 participants. The teachings are available and accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, whether secular or religious, and from all ethnic groups and countries.

Mashiv Nefesh is a Buddhist inspired spiritual community in the village of Clil. Along with others, I helped to found and support this community over many years, and guide and teach those living there and coming for retreats and practice. 

Mashiv Nefesh supports the growth and development in the spiritual path of the community that lives there, by means of the daily practice of meditation, conscious living and a kind and ethical relationship with themselves, with each other and with nature and the environment. The spiritual practice and daily activities  cultivate heart qualities like generosity, caring and friendship, and encourage social involvement in the wider community.

Today, dharma is taught by experienced teachers as part of weekend retreats as well as courses and practice groups, and there is a weekly program of  meetings, discussions and inquiry. The center is also open throughout the year for short and long personal retreats. The center is a simple and modest place within the olive orchards and nature of the Galilee. It is based on ecological sensitivity, and allows residents to connect with and take care of nature and the environment. 

Mashiv Nefesh is a non-profit organization, and most of the activities at the center are based on the contributions of the participants. The support of the participants in the day-to-day activities makes it possible to maintain the place as an open house for practice, learning and inspiration.

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