Who we are
Awakening Dharma’s mission is to foster awakening and its embodiment in worldly life, through the modern application of authentic, rigorous Buddhist and modern practices.
Tina Rasmussen, Ph.D.
Tina’s warm style, bright clarity and supportive presence helps students recognize their deeper nature, both on the cushion and in daily life. She has a decades-long commitment to cultivating her own and others’ deep spiritual unfoldment while functioning in an embodied, worldly life.
Tina learned to meditate in 1976, at age 13. In 2003, after many years of practice in Buddhist and modern non-dual traditions, she was drawn to undertake an intensive year-long solo retreat during which a profound awakening to Reality occurred. In 2005, Tina attended a retreat with Burmese meditation master Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw, who ordained her as a Buddhist nun. During the retreat, Tina became the first Western woman to complete the entire Samatha path in this lineage. Tina also took refuge with Tsoknyi Rinpoche, a Tibetan Dzogchen teacher, and was initiated into the Nyingma lineage.
As an offering of gratitude to the dharma Tina, along with Stephen Snyder, wrote the book, Practicing the Jhanas, which was later published by Shambhala. In 2007 Tina became the first Western woman authorized by Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw to teach.
After these life-changing experiences, at first Tina felt a strong pull to become a “cave yogi” and turn away from householder life to abide in the peace and bliss of Truth. However, over time, the possibility functioning from realization while living in the dynamism of the modern world became a more compelling life’s path. Tina then began participating in the Diamond Approach, a contemporary wisdom path designed for householders, that integrates the psychological and the spiritual into one continuum for living “in the world but not of it.” She has also been studied by Yale Neuroscience Lab for research on the effects of meditation on consciousness and the brain, has been featured in “Awakening Women,” Non-duality Magazine, Conscious TV, Buddha at the Gas Pump, and Buddhist Geeks.
Tina now leads retreats and offers spiritual mentoring to practitioners worldwide. Tina also has a Ph.D. in human and organizational development, has worked as an organizational development consultant and coach for more than 25 years, and is the author of several published books on humanistic business practices.
Stephen’s rich, resonant presence coupled with his warm-hearted engaging style supports students to develop and unfold their deepest nature. He methodically and clearly communicates the issues of spiritual practice and opening to awakened awareness. He is motivated to support students in turning toward awakened awareness, realizing their true identity as awakened awareness and cultivating and embodying their realizations.
Stephen began a daily meditation practice in 1976. He was active in the Zen Buddhist world for 20 years. During this time he attended numerous retreats and studied closely with a number of Western Zen masters practicing both “choiceless awareness” meditation (shikintaza) as well as “focused attention meditation” (koan study). He took refuge with several Zen Teachers, receiving the dharma name “Hoe Doetsu” (translated as “Peak Wisdom, Mutual Joy”). His interest in learning the Buddha’s personal meditation practices drew him to Theravadin Buddhism, specifically the concentration practices of mindfulness of breathing, true nature’s heart practices known as the Brahma-Viharas, as well as numerous practices to cultivate “no self”, impermanence, and using suffering/ unsatisfactoriness as portals to true nature.
Special Projects Director
Jennifer Wheeler’s spiritual curiosity began in childhood and has had many manifestations. As a child, she was actively engaged in the Lutheran church. She discovered the wisdom of the East through the practice of Tae Kwan Do as a teenager, and hatha yoga as a college student. Intellectual engagement with the questions of existence dominated her young adult hears, during which she found greatest solace in the natural world, a discovery that led her to incorporate nature as a key component of her spiritual life. She began formal practice in the Buddhist tradition in her early 40s. This eventually led to her ordination as a lay Dharma teacher, and then as a novice monastic in the Vietnamese Mahayana tradition. She also obtained a master’s degree in Buddhist Studies under the direction of Dr. Peter Harvey.
Jennifer first began practicing with Tina and Stephen in 2008, and has completed many retreats as well as two year-long Awakening Dharma mentoring programs with them. She offered beginning samatha meditation instruction under their guidance, and founded and led an ongoing meditation group near her home in Connecticut. She currently gravitates toward the nondual aspect of the great spiritual traditions of the world, and to the Diamond Approach–a contemporary wisdom path.
We want to express our deepest thanks to the many volunteer organizers who have sponsored, organized and managed our events over the years. The events wouldn’t have happened without them, and we are grateful for their generosity in spreading the dharma. We also want to express our sincere thanks to the volunteers who have edited, improved, listened to, transcribed, and generally improved our audios, videos, and transcripts on this website, as well as our Facebook page. The those media wouldn’t be available today without them, and we are grateful for their generosity in making those offerings presentable. Many thanks to our volunteers:
- Jose Luis Poveda Alfaro
- Simon Beck
- Greg Davies
- Bryan Duffy
- Thomas Jedensjo
- June Kramer
- Andrea Magoni
- Tomislav Maric
- Adam Murray
- Andrea Serafino
- Jennifer Wheeler
- Virginia Williams