Lama Rodney P. Devenish (aka Karma Kunzang Palden Rinpoche) is a Western follower of the Ka'gyu Buddhist school of Tibet, a nine hundred year old lineage of Buddhist spiritual practice, yoga, and meditation. Lama is a devoted long-time student of the Canadian Lama, Kyabje Namgyal Rinpoche (1931-2003), his root master, for whom he is a designated lineage holder.
Lama's involvement in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition began in Scotland in 1964 with the Vajracarya Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-1987). As a young student of the Vajracarya Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche over a six year period, living in the same house with him until Trungpa Rinpoche's departure for America, provided an exceptionally deep experience of the rich Ka'gyu tradition of meditation. During the time that he was with Trungpa Rinpoche, Lama Rodney also received intensive training in other Asian traditions of meditation including Mahamudra in the Sechen tradition with Akong Tulku; specialized Vajrayana practice from Benchen Lama Chime Rinpoche; Vipassana Meditation from the Theravada-master Chao Khun Sobhana Dhammasudhi, a Thai monk; and Zen practice under the guidance of Sochu-san, a monk from Kyoto, Japan.
In the winter of 1969-70, Lama Rodney began his apprenticeship as a teacher of meditation in Toronto at the direction of the Venerable Kyabje Namgyal Rinpoche. Later in 1970, in Ontario, he was installed as a Lama by the Venerable Benchen Chime Rinpoche in the presence of his beloved root master, Namgyal Rinpoche. In 1972 the Venerable Kalu Rinpoche, along with Lama Gyaltsen granted him the authority to begin teaching Mahamudra.
For ten years Lama Rodney lived as a Buddhist monk, spending considerable time in many isolated, wilderness meditation retreats, alone amidst forest and mountains – often during winters, isolated for three to four months at a time by depth of snow. He has travelled in India, Nepal and other places throughout Asia, studying Buddhism, yoga and meditation. Lama Rodney is today a respected elder and spiritual guide for a number of younger meditation teachers and yoga instructors.
During the 90’s, Lama and his wife led a meditation center in San Francisco at the behest and on behalf of another of his spiritual teachers, the Dzogchen-master Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche. During the years that he studied with Rinpoche, Lama received teachings and practices pertaining to the Nyingma school of Tibet, particularly those of the eighteenth-century wisdom-master Kunkhyen Jigme Lingpa. These practices were combined with translation work and study of both the Ka'gyu and Nyingma tantras.
Lama Rodney is the author of three books on the subject of Buddhist Meditation and is known as a skilled teacher of Mahamudra Meditation as taught within the Karma-Ka'gyu yoga tradition. Lama has been teaching at the Hermitage for more than ten years now and is revered and loved by his many students.
Lama Rodney is a true jewel in our midst, a man with presence like no one I have known. He is the mainstay of the Denman Hermitage, and I would unreservedly recommend this humble individual to anyone, Westerner or otherwise, who is ready to develop a serious meditation practice in order to achieve spiritual awakening. ~ B. R.
There are very few truly wise meditation masters in the West. Author, Tibetan scholar, humanitarian, and exceptional meditation teacher, Rodney Devenish, is one of them. I wish you every opportunity to learn from him whenever you can. ~ C. M.
Lama Tsultrim Rinpoche (aka Sidney McQueen-Smith, M.D., or simply Lama Sidney, as he is affectionately addressed at the Hermitage) was first ordained as a monk of the Theravada order at Wat Mahatat in Thailand in 1968. His teachers at that time included the renowned vipassana-master Chao Khun Rajasiddhimuni. Following his ordination Lama Tsultrim studied and practiced the strict discipline of a monk in Thailand for two years, learning the Pali language, and engaging in an intense daily regime of vipassana meditation practice. His lengthy practice of meditation bore fruit, but upon his return to his homeland in 1970, he found it necessary to give back his robes and re-enter lay life as there was no support for Buddhist monastics in Canada at that time. Fortunately, prior to his return, while in Calcutta, India, he had met and become a student of His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa, spiritual head of the Ka’gyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. Thanks to the guidance he’d received from His Holiness, he was able to continue practice, applying techniques of yoga and tantric practice designed specifically for people of lay status. It was thus that he learned of the value of many practices unique to Tibetan Buddhism.
After settling down in Canada, Lama Tsultrim studied to become a medical doctor, graduating with an MD degree from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1977. Throughout the years to come, Lama Tsultrim combined the life of a doctor with that of a siritual practicioner. Lama retired from medical practice in 2008.
Lama Tsultrim was installed as a Lama by his root master Namgyal Rinpoche in Ontario in the late seventies, and is a holder of the Namgyal lineage. Lama has received innumerable empowerments from a long list of eminent masters, including His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche, Kyabje Namgyal Rinpoche, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche and Ayang Rinpoche. Upon his retirement from medical practice in 2008, he dedicated himself to teaching the Dharma in Nanaimo, B.C., Canada, where he lived for a number of years prior to coming to the Hermitage on Denman Island. Wishing to return to monastic life, he received full Bhikshu re-ordination in 2011 from his root master, His Eminence Tai Situ Kentin Rinpoche at Sherab Ling Monastery in India. Shortly thereafter Lama Tsultrim received the title of “Rinpoche” (lit., precious one) from the latter in recognition of his position in the Ka’gyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Lama Tsultrim now lives in semi-retirement on the Hermitage property, and continues to teach Buddha-Dharma to all who come in search of his knowledge and guidance.
Connie Mitchell is a highly skilled teacher of yoga and meditation. Her online program, Natural Mind Meditation is available online throughout the Americas, especially appreciated by students scattered in distant locations, far from the Hermitage. Her ability to teach the twelve-asana program of Nyi-da Yoga – the yoga system taught at the Hermitage – has been a great asset for both those at the Hermitage and her online students.
Connie’s approach is practical, well grounded in common sense, well adapted to individuals living in today’s busy world and exceedingly helpful to seekers with no prior background in meditation. Much of what she teaches in terms of traditional yoga and meditation is compatible with our modern knowledge in cutting edge neuroscience.
Versed in Eastern and Western philosophy, Connie holds an undergrad media degree, a Masters degree in International and Intercultural Communications, and certification through the Hermitage as a Buddhist Spiritual Counselor, Meditation Teacher, and Yoga Instructor. She has also been certified by the North American Yoga Alliance as a qualified teacher of yoga. Connie is a karate black belt/instructor, a certified reflexologist, and was one of Canada's first fully certified Zero Balancing practitioners. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, with her beloved husband and partner, John Sumner. Connie Mitchell is Director of the online School of Natural Mind Meditation.
“Connie Mitchell is an incredible teacher of meditation and yoga. I feel that Connie has changed my understanding and my interest in Yoga in a profound way. She has helped me immensely.” K.S.
“Without a doubt, the most life altering experience I've had! Taking the Natural Mind Meditation course from Connie Mitchell has completely altered my perception of who I am and the world I live in!" Y.Y
Lama Gerry Kopelow (aka Lama Gyurme Dorje) is the founder and resident teacher of the Dharma Centre of Winnipeg. Lama has studied a wide variety of Buddhist practices and done several lengthy retreats over a period of twenty-five years with his main teacher, the Venerable Kyabje Namgyal Rinpoche. Lama Gerry is a lineage-holder in direct succession to the latter in the Namgyal lineage of the Karma-Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. He has received lay ordination through the Kagyu school, and is authorized by Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche to give a number of permission-level empowerments in this tradition.
Lama Gerry is also an internationally published author, lecturer, and photographer, as well as possessing a wide range of skills in such diverse fields as the fine arts, business, and personal and community development. As an artist, he has received recognition and support from the National Film Board of Canada, the Manitoba Arts Council, and the Canada Council of the Arts. As a commercial photographer, he operates an international practice with a long list of clients. Lama's writing and photography have appeared in many periodicals and magazines, and his textbooks on photography are distributed world-wide and are respected as definitive works in the field. He has lectured and delivered workshops for a wide variety of groups and institutions, including the University of Winnipeg, the University of Florida, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the American Institute of Architects. He is a regular lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was invited to establish a continuing education professional development program.
For more than a decade Lama Gerry has donated his professional services to the United Way of Winnipeg for annual campaigns that raise millions of dollars each year for critical community service agencies. He has provided similar assistance to Winnipeg Harvest Food Bank, the Winnipeg Health Sciences Research Foundation, UNICEF, and to the Winnipeg Childrens' Hospital Research Foundation. An active member of the Winnipeg Interfaith Council, Lama Gyurme Dorje promotes the development of harmony and understanding amongst Winnipeg's rich mix of ethnic and spiritual cultures.
Since taking part in her first meditation training in 2002, Carly has sat on regular retreats in both the Theravadin and Tibetan Buddhist traditions and studied closely with her primary teacher, Sarah Powers. In addition to completing an 18-month Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Carly has graduated from a two-year intensive training with the Insight Yoga Institute in California.
Nourished by the consistent teachings of her mentors and rooted in the solid ground of her fifteen-year personal practice, Carly has guided thousands of students through foundational practices and focused trainings over the past thirteen years, including Moksha Yoga’s advanced teacher training in Nosara, Costa Rica. An endorsed Insight Yoga Teacher and mentor with additional training in psychology and community counseling, Carly continues to mentor and support individuals around the world as they grow in their practice and their teaching. In addition to offering pre-registered classes, workshops, retreats, and teacher trainings locally and abroad, Carly is the Yin and mindfulness teacher to the Canadian Olympic Women’s 7s Rugby Team,
Carly lives and teaches on southern Vancouver Island, in the traditional territories of the Lkwungen (Esquimalt and Songhees), and W̱SÁNEĆ (Pauquachin, Tsartlip, Tsawout, Tseycum) peoples. She extends immeasurable gratitude to her principal teachers, Sarah Powers and Jennifer Selwood.
To learn more about Carly, go to her website: http://www.carlyforest.com/
Bhikshu Karma Tinley is a learned Western Buddhist monk (bhikshu/gelong) in the Karma-Kagyu tradition. Bhikshu was drawn to Buddhism as a young man. Deeply immersed in the spiritual, cultural, and intellectual expansion that blossomed in California during the heady days of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Bhikshu became acquainted with many remarkable thinkers who were then living in California – Dane Rudhyar, Manley Palmer Hall, Professor Szekely, and Boris de Zirkoff, to name merely a few. He attended lectures given by Jiddu Krishnamurti, and immersed himself in the writings of Dr. Carl Jung, the Armenian mystic George Ivanaovitch Gurdjieff, Aldous Huxley, and many others. It was at that time, in the 60s, that he began his lifelong practice of Yoga and the martial art Taij, and became a lifelong vegetarian. He has dedicated himself to the search for Truth ever since.
Between 1974 and 1980 Bhikshu immersed himself in Buddhist Abhidharma and Madhyamaka studies at the Nyingma Institute in Berkeley, California, meeting with and learning from HH. Dudjom Rinpoche, Tarthang Tulku, and Professor Herbert Guenther. Bhikshu received the Black Crown empowerment from His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa in 1974. From 1976 onwards, he formally studied under the Vajracarya Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, then very active in spreading the Buddha's message through North America. He received refuge and lay ordination from His Eminence Kalu Rinpoche, under whose personal guidance he studied Mahamudra meditation. In 1997 Bhikshu Karma Govinda engaged in several isolated meditation retreats under the intimate guidance of Lama Karma Kunzang Palden Rinpoche (Rodney P. Devenish). Through the latter he was introduced to the great Nyingma mystic and scholar, Khenchen Palden Sherab, from whom he received yet further instruction and guidance.
He was given his initial monk's ordination from the Venerable Tenzin Dorje Namgyal Rinpoche in the year 1999, and following extensive Vinaya-training, acquired full Bhikshu ordination under the very Venerable Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche (1932-2012) of Benchen Monastery, on the auspicious day of 17 February, 2003. Having studied Tibetan he become a translator of Tibetan texts. He has studied, meditated and practiced, until his retirement in 2017.
The Venerable Bhikshu Karma Tinley Govinda is a highly respected elder of Western Buddhism, having dedicated tremendous personal effort and financial to the founding of the Hermitage on Denman Island, and for which we are all eternally grateful. He now lives in retirement in San Francesco.
Whit Hornsberger's experiences of intensive monastic meditation in Burma combined with his extensive studies and experiential application of both Theravada Buddhism and Classical Yoga has given him a unique ability to communicate to Westerners a classical approach to meditation, one that is deeply rooted in the profound Burmese tradition.
He and his wife Nicole co-founded Soul Arch Yoga, a yogic project dedicated to the cultivation of embodied well-being through international classes, workshops, retreats and an online platform (soularchyoga.ca) of study and practice.
They reside with their beloved dog, an Indian rescue named Naaya on Galiano Island, B.C.
Dr. Cheryl Fraser has been studying Buddha-Dharma for 20 years and teaches in the Namgyal lineage tradition. Her root teachers are the Venerable Kyabje Namgyal Rinpoche and Lama Mark Webber (aka Karma Tenpai Lekshe Yongdu Rinpoche). She also studies with Phillip Moffit, former Esquire magazine editor-in-chief and C.E.O., who is now a Buddhist teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. As a registered clinical psychologist in private practice who specializes in couples, and long-time practitioner in both the Vajrayana and the Theravada Vipassana traditions, Doctor Cheryl draws extensively from Western science and psychology, skillfully applying even the more complex teachings of Buddha-Dharma and meditation to "real life."
Dr, Cheryl is the resident teacher for Island Dharma. Dr. Cheryl was the Mindfulness and Relationships columnist for Mindful Magazine and also wrote a column on relationships and sexuality for Best Health magazine. She has been teaching at the Hermitage for several years now and is much appreciated for her approachable, colorful and gently humorous style.
With over 30 years as a student and practitioner of yoga, meditation, and the healing arts, Fiona’s approach is holistic, embracing Body, Mind, and Spirit. Over the years she has trained in Yoga, Shiatsu, Reiki, Pranic Healing, Rebalancing, Trager, Esalen massage, and dance and movement therapy, among other methods.
In the 90’s she developed The Art of Conscious Touch, a certified, 250-hour training program for holistic massage and bodywork. In addition to bodywork and yoga training, Fiona has spent her life exploring the self in group and private therapy, including Gestalt, Primal therapy, Encounter therapy, and breath-work, as well as the Hakomi Model of body-centered psychotherapy, which she studied under Ron Kurtz, John Eisman, Donna Martin, and Beth Faulk-Nelson. Her yoga teachers include Angela Farmer, Sama Fabian, Sandra San Martino, and Donna Martin. These days Fiona teaches yoga in her studio on Denman Island.
Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Devmurti Singh was 13 years old when he first met his Spiritual Teacher, Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, better known as simply, Yogi Bhajan. The experience made a profound and lasting impact on his life, awakening deep spiritual yearnings and shaping his life to a remarkable degree. He began taking Kundalini Yoga classes and going to Sunday Lectures by Yogi Bhajan in Los Angeles during those earliest years when his teacher had first arrived in North America. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology from the University of California in Santa Cruz, California, he moved to Victoria and then on to Vancouver to live in the 3HO (Happy, Healthy, Holy Organisation) / Sikh Dharma Ashrams there where he began his life as a yogi and Kundalini Yoga teacher.
In 1982 he was invited to come work for Yogi Bhajan in Espanola, New Mexico at a spiritual community being created there. Devmurti Singh and his beloved wife, Hari Amrit Kaur, lived at Hacienda de Guru Ram Das, as the community was known, for over 25 years, thriving in the warm community of fellow Sikhs. Devmurti served as Yogi Bhajan's personal gardener at his home in the adjoining "Ranch," and later became Yogi Bhajan's property manager, and for a spell, his resident secretary. For decades he and Hari Amrit Kaur were blessed to attend twice-weekly meditation lectures and Sunday talks by Yogi Bhajan as well as interact with him daily. Yogi Bhajan told him that he would "save so many souls'" and "that working closely with the plants and animals was a part of this also."
Devmurti Singh and Hari Amrit Kaur have taught Kundalini Yoga and Meditation professionally for over 30 years and never tire of sharing stories of their Spiritual Guide and beloved Teacher. They lead a life of service to the spiritual teachings of Yogi Bhajan and have made their beautiful organic farm on Denman Island (adjacent to the Hermitage) a Kundalini Yoga Centre, sharing the teachings and their love of nature with all.
Hari Amrit Kaur, is a deeply respected Kundalini Yoga and Meditation teacher in her own right. Yogi Bhajan praised her for her deep intuitive ability to grasp the sacred teachings of Kundalini Yoga with ease, and to guide others. Hari Amrit Kaur is a completely heart-based practitioner of the spiritual path, a very personable counselor, a healer; a woman of extraordinary faith and devotion. She radiates peace and love to everything and everyone around her, so to be in her presence is sheer joy..
Spiritual teachings are best practiced daily. Devmurti and Hari Amrit are devout advocates of the early morning "Sadhana" as the surest and quickest way to make spiritual progress. In Sikh Dharma, everyone is encouraged to arise in the early morning before dawn, in the "Amrit Vela" to pray, to practice Kundalini Yoga, and to meditate. The rest of the day has a spiritual flow as a result. They love creating a "spiritual community" with those attending their weekly classes, meditation courses and Hermitage retreats. Their 5-day retreats at the Hermitage are a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the daily lifestyle of a dharmic Kundalini Yogi and to learn the priceless teachings of their beloved teacher, Yogi Bhajan.
Ngakpa Lama Kalzang is a wellspring of sacred knowledge. His unique background in a rare and esoteric lineage within the Tibetan Nyingmapa tradition offers an rare glimpse into the spiritual and cultural landscape of the Tibetan plateau. Among his many accomplishments, Ngakpa has maintained a balance between the academic and mystical spheres; his talks can illuminate diverse topics within the ocean of Tibetan wisdom, from philosophy to literature, and from religious ceremony to sacred yogic practices. In 2002 he was awarded the Doctorate of Philosophy degree, recognizing his years of outstanding scholarship. Kalzang-la is fluent in the sacred arts of Tibet.
Lama Kalzang Dorje describes his lineage as follows:
“I come from a family lineage of Ngakpas (mystic yogis) that can be traced back to the time of Guru Padma Sambhava Rinpoche’s twenty five direct disciples. One of Padma Sambhava’s disciples, Langchen Pelkyi Sangye, was requested to come to my region of Tibet to help protect the area from negative forces. There he accomplished this feat and others. He settled in our area, Amdo, and gradually, from his family, the Tantric practice lineage was formed. More recently in this family lineage, there was Lang Gyalpo Rigzin Palden Tashi, a very renowned Lama in his time. He traveled to central Tibet and Kham and received countless teachings from many masters. Upon returning to Amdo, the Rekong Ngakpa Community (Rekong Ngakmang) was formed. To this day, this Ngakpa community exists and the practices of Kyirim, Dzogrim and Dzogchen remain in unbroken continuity. I am the seventh generation from him in this family Ngakpa lineage.”
Lama Kalzang is an expert in the Sacred Rite of Chod-performance. This Tibetan contemplative practice combines drumming, dance, and shamanic experience with meditation to cut through the ego in one swift movement using a method of crazy-wisdom yoga, thereby awakening the miraculous in one’s life. Ngakpa is knowledgeable in the Hermitage lineage of this practice, known as Longchen Nying-t’ig Chod, and has taught the practice to Western students on a number of occasions with wonderful results.
After the death of his teacher in Tibet, Lama Kelzang went to Nepal to continue studies with his current teacher, Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche. In 1996 he entered the Shedrup Dojo Ling monastery in Nepal to take formal and strict study and practice from the guidance of Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche. Lama Kalzang is the current Spiritual Teacher at Thubten Choling, a Buddhist Centre located in Duncan, BC., Canada.
In 1981 Darlene stepped fully into Buddha Dharma as a student of Theravadin lay monk Kema Ananda and since his passing has been a student of valued teachers in the Karma Kagyu Namgyal lineage in Canada. In the Zen tradition she has taken Jukai and in 2014 has been ordained as a Priest by 83rd Zen Patriarch Jun Po Denis Kelly into the Rinzai Zen Hollow Bones order and given the names Emyo Seien (Gift of Clarity/ Pure Circle). Over the years Darlene has woven Integral Theory into her life and practice. She has facilitated spiritually oriented groups and facilitated meditation programs, instructed Applied Counseling for Red River College Gimli Campus, maintains a private counseling and somatically based expressive psychotherapy practice, and enjoys being married with four wonderful, now adult, children.