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People and Organization

The Secular Buddhist Association (SBA) is a grassroots gathering of fellow practitioners and interested parties, providing mutual support and feedback. We invite you to join in the conversation so that, together, we can begin to discover what Buddhism may become in contemporary culture.

We make no claim to having any kind of authority in determining what is best for you in your learning, practice, and actualization of the results of your own efforts. We are here to encourage one another, tell our stories, and share our perspectives about what our experiences and personal understandings have become through our own journeys.

We're taking an inclusive stance, seeking to find what works best for everyone regardless of ideological stance or traditional affiliation (or none), not just those who identify as Buddhists. There are many ways to view and come to secular practice, which provides a wonderful strength of diversity for those who find this of interest.

Ted Meissner :: Executive Director

Ted Meissner has been a meditator since the early 90’s, is the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, host of the SBA’s official podcast The Secular Buddhist, and is on the Advisory Board for the Spiritual Naturalist Society.

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Dana Nourie :: Technical Director

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Dana Nourie learned about Buddhism through a DVD course on Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, followed by a two-year course in person. She then studied Theravada Buddhism through Insight Meditation South Bay with teacher Shaila Catherine.

Dana has been working in the internet industry since 1992, and has held the positions of web developer, technical writer, and online community manager. She is a geek girl with a passion for science and computing.

Mark Knickelbine :: Practice Director

Mark studies texts from the Pali, Chan, and Zen traditions, and practices with a secular mindfulness group in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s a writer, editor, and political activist with a masters degree in English.

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Doug Smith :: Study Director

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Doug has practiced meditation on and off for many years. He chose to do a PhD in Philosophy rather than Buddhist Studies, pursuing a minor in South Asian Studies alongside. He is also a long-time scientific skeptic. Reading Steven Batchelor’s Confession of a Buddhist Atheist turned him around to the possibility of a secularized Buddhist practice, one that would not require belief in the supernatural. He’s now getting back into a more thorough study of what interested him most about Buddhism back in school: the Pali Canon.

Jennifer Hawkins :: Community Director

Jennifer is the Community Director for the Secular Buddhist Association and a mentor for the Coursera: Buddhism and Modern Psychology online course from Princeton University. In the near future, she aspires to sell artwork and manage a secular meditation center / lending library in her local area.

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Amy Balentine :: Board Member

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Amy has worked as a clinical psychologist since 2002. She also teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at a local intensive outpatient program for trauma survivors. She served as adjunct faculty at Freed Hardeman University for 6 years. She has completed courses in MBSR as well as Mindful Schools. She incorporates mindfulness into her private practice and volunteers her time teaching mindfulness in the local schools. She has maintained a personal meditation practice for over 5 years.

Anthony Dominello :: Volunteer

Anthony is the engineer, sound editor, and co-producer of the Secular Buddhist Podcast and its sister podcast, Present Moment: Mindfulness Practice and Science.

Anthony feels equally at home in both the technical and philosophical realms, runs his own production studio, Structure From Sound, and is an award-winning movie music composer. He spends his days working for the FA Davis publishing in his home town of Philadelphia.

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Stephen Batchelor :: Advisory Council

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Stephen Batchelor is a contemporary Buddhist teacher and writer, best known for his secular or agnostic approach to Buddhism. Stephen considers Buddhism to be a constantly evolving culture of awakening rather than a religious system based on immutable dogmas and beliefs. In particular, he regards the doctrines of karma and rebirth to be features of ancient Indian civilisation and not intrinsic to what the Buddha taught. Buddhism has survived for the past 2,500 years because of its capacity to reinvent itself in accord with the needs of the different Asian societies with which it has creatively interacted throughout its history. As Buddhism encounters modernity, it enters a vital new phase of its development. Through his writings, translations and teaching, Stephen engages in a critical exploration of Buddhism’s role in the modern world, which has earned him both condemnation as a heretic and praise as a reformer.

Martine Batchelor :: Advisory Council

Martine Batchelor was born in France in 1953. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in Korea in 1975. She studied Zen Buddhism under the guidance of the late Master Kusan at Songgwang Sa monastery until 1984. Her Zen training also took her to nunneries in Taiwan and Japan. From 1981 she served as Kusan Sunim’s interpreter and accompanied him on lecture tours throughout the United States and Europe. She translated his book The Way of Korean Zen. Following Master Kusan’s death she returned her nun’s vows and left Korea.

She returned to Europe with her husband, Stephen, in 1985. She was a member of the Sharpham North Community in Devon, England for six years. She worked as a lecturer and spiritual counsellor both at Gaia House and elsewhere in Britain. She was also involved in interfaith dialogue and was a Trustee of the International Sacred Literature Trust until 2000.

In 1992 she published, as co-editor, Buddhism and Ecology. In 1996 she published, as editor, Walking on Lotus Flowers which in 2001 was reissued under the title Women on the Buddhist Path. She is the author of Principles of Zen, Meditation for Life (an illustrated book on meditation), The Path of Compassion (a translation from the Korean, with reference to the original Chinese, of the Brahmajala Sutra, i.e. the Bodhisattva Precepts), Women in Korean Zen, and Let Go: A Buddhist Guide to Breaking Free of Habits. Her latest book is The Spirit of the Buddha. With her husband she co-leads meditation retreats worldwide. They now live in France.

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Ken McLeod :: Advisory Council

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Ken is a management consultant and executive coach who combines an extensive background in Eastern thought and philosophy with practical experience in applying these principles in American culture. He has a graduate degree in mathematics from University of British Columbia (Canada), more than twenty years intensive training in Buddhism, and over twenty years teaching and consulting experience.

Ken has successfully pioneered innovative approaches to teaching Eastern methods of attention and awareness through his organization, Unfettered Mind, which he established in 1990. In 1999, Ken established a consulting practice focusing on executive coaching, team building and personal and organizational effectiveness. His particular focus is on the use of systems thinking to create organizational dynamics that naturally generate productive interactions within the organization.

Stephen Schettini :: Advisory Council

Stephen Schettini is The Naked Monk — writer, blogger and teacher of Mindful Reflection. After eight years as a monk in the Tibetan tradition he decided that ritual, tradition and belief were an unnecessary burden, and returned to secular life. He remains an admirer and student of the historical Buddha without any Buddhist affiliations.

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Jan Ford :: Senior Advisor, Emeritus

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Jan Ford taught Sociology, Anthropology, Karate and Tai Chi Ch’uan at Santa Barbara City College for 23 years and was a member of the Executive Board of the SBCC Instructors Association. He has also taught at the University of Washington, Cal-State, Los Angeles and Antioch University. He has been a martial arts practitioner since 1959.

Our dear friend Jan passed away in autumn of 2012, and is sorely missed.