Sri Lanka Foundation International, USA, donated to the V2U Organization founded in Canada to support the second project in Mahiyanganaya, to prepare land for raising crops to cultivate a field which Keenathumulle Chuulawansa Thero spearheaded in five different locations.

Agriculture is an important part of the Sri Lankan economy, engaging one-third of the working population. However, most farm households have limited knowledge of production methods and also face a financial struggle to access land for cultivation. These obstacles constrain their ability to compete in the market and increase their incomes. In response to these challenges, Sri Lanka Foundation International and V2U Community Organization are partnering on the Supporting Opportunities in Livelihoods Development projects, which trains farm households in the eastern regions of the country on improved agricultural practices. 

The Chairman of the Sri Lanka Foundation International, USA, Dr Walter Jayasinghe’s vision for this Project is a multi-faceted initiative to rebuild villages struggling educationally and economically. The ambition is a replicable model to create sustainable and holistic transformation through land cultivation. He believes a thriving economy is a system of production, distribution and consumption that efficiently uses all available resources to benefit all stakeholders of that economy. 

The project focuses on providing training on value chains of food production to have a sustainable impact in the rural economy, to promote residual income and healthy organic meals to families to be self sufficient.

With the support of SLF V2U Community Organization has disseminated this project proposal to a wide range of villages across Sri Lanka. Another land is been prepared for the next project in Dehiattakanndiya which is due to start next week.

The main objective is to build a sustainable agriculture, and management of resources, a solution to the hunger crisis in Sri Lanka.

SLF Int, USA Outstanding Performance By a Young Professional Award Winner Rukshan Henry De Silva for his excellence as a Principal Planner, Building Communities and the Environment.

Rukshan De Silva, The Waterloo alumnus, was named Australian Young Planner of the Year, recognising emerging leaders for outstanding contributions to their field. Among Rukshan’s many achievements, Planning Institute Australia lauded his commitment to innovation in the workplace, his collaboration with communities and government planners, and his volunteer contributions, including strategic land use planning in Peru and involvement with PIA’s National Settlement Strategy Team. 

Rukshan currently works as a principal planner at the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment, where he’s leading the design of Australia’s most extensive ski town.

Rukshan has always been a community man — volunteering his time to give back to his community in any way he can — something that’s continued since his elementary school days. Growing up, he was also very creative and interested in design. Put design and community together, and that’s the sweet spot, so designing communities for a living was the perfect fit for him.

The University of Waterloo’s co-op program was a standout and a strong influencer on his decision to choose Waterloo. Of course, it helped that his elder brother was also studying at Waterloo at the time, but co-op was why he decided on Waterloo too.

He had four co-op terms and cherished each of them very much – a mix of public sector and private sector, and one that he went on to work at full-time as soon as he finished his degree at Waterloo. That said, my first co-op was particularly special – he interned at a design firm called Hassell in Sydney, Australia, which was an exciting overseas experience for a second-year planning student. He wrote all my final exams early, allowing him to spend a month travelling across the country and four months of exciting urban design work. He loved Sydney so much that I decided to move back in 2017. It’s been two years (and counting…), and he loves each day even more than the last.

Rukshan was fortunate to have had the exciting opportunity of volunteering as an urban planner in rural Peru on two missions over the past two years with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities through their Sustainable and Inclusive Communities in Latin America program. The program aimed to empower and strengthen the capacity of four rural regions of Peru and Colombia that were influenced by mining activity. While mining had resulted in much foreign investment in these areas over time, economic benefits were unevenly distributed, and communities near the mines experienced a range of social, environmental and political consequences. His role was to provide peer-to-peer technical assistance to municipal politicians and planners in these communities to assist with capacity building, knowledge sharing and experiential learning. The experience was nothing short of rewarding for him and something he will always cherish. 

He doesn’t think there’s a single answer to this question, and that’s because every community is different — they have different values, needs, and aspirations for how they want to grow in the future. So, as planners, we need to understand what makes each community unique instead of applying a cookie-cutter approach — the local character of a community and the story of its past are absolutely part of its future.

That said, planning provides people with choices — choices for where they live, work, play and shop; options for what types of homes they live in; choices for how they move. And by providing these choices as urban planners, we’re really in a position to impact people’s lives positively. We want the communities we plan to be livable, accessible and socially inclusive places for everyone, regardless of age or ability. We also want our communities to be healthy, environmentally sustainable and resilient to climate change and economic downturns. And we want our communities to be adaptable to a future that we’re not always able to predict. 

But with that growth comes a demand for planners. It’s our job to manage that growth — not only how much we grow, but how we grow. We must consider how growth is sustainably distributed across our communities and how that growth is supported by investment in infrastructure, public transport, affordable housing, parklands, social infrastructure, and the like. We must ensure that our communities remain livable as they grow. I know I’m biased, but it’s an exciting future ahead of us, and planners are leading the way into a new frontier.

US Ambassador to UN Food & agriculture agencies in Rome to visit SL

United States Permanent Representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome Ambassador Cindy McCain will visit Sri Lanka from September 25-28 to highlight U.S. food assistance programs in Sri Lanka and reinforce the U.S. commitment and lasting partnership with the island nation.

The US embassy in Colombo said that in addition to meeting with senior government officials and aid organizations in Colombo, Ambassador McCain will join U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung to travel to Central Province to visit schools, agricultural research facilities, and community organizations and meet with recipients and implementers of relief provided through U.S. government-funded humanitarian assistance programs.

The United States is the single largest country donor to the three United Nations food and agriculture agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Program (WFP).

U.S.-funded UN projects showcase how the U.S. government, the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies, and the government of Sri Lanka collaborate to reduce food insecurity and advance humanitarian relief, livelihood protection, and agriculture-led economic growth, especially at this critical time of increased global hunger.

The United States has provided partnership and assistance to the people and government of Sri Lanka for more than 70 years.

Since June, Ambassador Chung has overseen the announcement of nearly $240 million in new U.S. government assistance to Sri Lanka, including U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power’s September 2022 announcements of an additional $40 million to provide Sri Lankan farmers with fertilizer and $20 million to meet immediate humanitarian needs in the country.


The V2U Community nonprofit organization was established in November 2021 in Toronto, Canada, by Thiwi Gama and Sanjeewa Pushpa Kumara in the USA. The organization’s vision is to rebuild Sri Lanka with “no boundaries or bias” while empowering Sri Lankans in the fight against hunger by promoting the cultivation of privately owned land for food production. The main objective of the V2U Community Organization is to educate Sri Lankans on food cultivation to create self-generating employment opportunities in agriculture and other related fields. 

Sri Lanka Foundation International, USA, donated to the V2U Organization to support a project in Morawaka, Matara district, to prepare land for raising crops to cultivate a field which Puwakbadaowita Saranda Thero spearheaded. 

The Chairman of the Sri Lanka Foundation International, USA, Dr Walter Jayasinghe’s vision for this Project is a multi-faceted initiative to rebuild villages struggling educationally and economically. The ambition is a replicable model to create sustainable and holistic transformation through land cultivation. He believes a thriving economy is a system of production, distribution and consumption that efficiently uses all available resources to benefit all stakeholders of that economy. 

The V2U Community Organization has put in place monitoring efforts to ensure progress in a few months and better understand the occurrence, distribution and status of plant populations and there growth. Also, providing education to motivate farmers to become active players in agricultural production, processing and marketing will lead them to adopt environment-friendly farming practices. 

SLF has partnered with the V2U Community Organization to identify other locations to promote similar projects throughout Sri Lanka. 

This initiative is unique as, in addition to helping the farmers obtain a fair price for their products and creating employment for youth in the village (through processed food product manufacture and sales), we focus on: Helping the farmers improve through crop diversification through the introduction of better agricultural practices as well as,
*educating the children and youth, 
*mobilizing the community results in community development,
*creating a holistic transformation model. 

Click on the link below to know more details about the project:

Journey to the Colombo Lotus Tower How the Lotus Sutra and Mt. Emei of China hearken back to Sri Lanka for a community of shared destiny

In China’s foreign policy in Asia, Beijing has already rejuvenated the Buddhist diplomacy in Sino-Sri Lankan relations that began in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). Over two millennia later, Sri Lanka will soon inaugurate the Chinese-built 350-metre-high Lotus Tower in Colombo, a symbol that manifests the ancient Buddhist peace and diplomatic intercourse between the two nations.

The Buddhist tower, which is seen from predominantly Hindu neighbor India, is a hallmark of China’s geostrategy associated with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This purpose-driven skyscraper with its sophisticated telecommunications technology is the tallest in South Asia.

The Chinese re-engagement with the Buddhist “Kingdom of the Lion,” as the famous Chinese scholar-monk Faxian (337-422) had called the island in his Records of Buddhist Kingdoms, began the first recorded profile of Sino-Lanka religious foundation. Before arriving in the Anuradhapura Kingdom (377 BC-1017 AD) of Sri Lanka, Faxian travelled across India in search of Buddhist manuscripts. After the reign of Indian Emperor Ashoka the Great (304-232 BC), Buddhism had long departed its birthplace, but Sri Lanka remained the epicenter of Buddhist learning and teaching, attracting pilgrims from China, India, and elsewhere. This enduring Sino-Lankan Buddhist and diplomatic relationship continued—except for the period of European colonialism.

The undercurrent of that long history of civilizational cultures is still pervasive in the mindsets of strategic thinkers. With this legacy, my interests have naturally deepened over the years as the United States, China, and Sri Lanka have triangulated their diplomatic and trade relations. The Sino-Lanka connection has also increasingly drawn American attention, especially after The Kerry-Lugar Report (2009) in the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee where I once worked. Thus, I ventured out to find this ancient history to get a glimpse at a possible future for the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, as past is prologue in Sino-Lanka relations.

  Rediscovering roots

Born in Sri Lanka, but later naturalized a US citizen, I developed an intense curiosity about the United States first, and China second. American Peace Corps and 4-H Volunteers visiting my village in the late 1960s had an enduring impact on my childhood views on the United States and its spirited sojourners in freedom. But the teenage years in the 1970s were progressively influenced by China and its ancient connections to Sri Lanka – especially my birthplace of Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the second capital (1056-1236) of the Buddhist nation after the Anuradhapura Kingdom. 

My formative years were filled with the free propaganda literature of the “victorious” Cultural Revolution and its powerful images of industrial and agricultural China, promoted by the Socialist Government (1971-77) of Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the first woman prime minister of the world. I was then a farmer’s son (a Catholic father and a Buddhist mother) adopted by my paternal Catholic grandparents in rice-growing Polonnaruwa, and attended the Sunday mass at the Holy Rosary Church and went to a Buddhist high school. I had the best of both worlds as I developed my affinity for a “Christian America” with political freedom and a “Buddhist China” with economic development.  

All that changed when I arrived in Minnesota on an American Field Service (AFS) high school exchange scholarship in 1978.

The latent interest in Sino-Sri Lankan affairs was revived when I became a visiting professor of the University of Maryland in Xian, the ancient capital of China. After my government service in the US Department of State, I began to visit China and travelled to all the provinces and climbed every major Sacred Mountain of Buddhist, Confucian, Daoist heritage that collectively forms the perennial Chinese culture and national identity.


While climbing the Sacred Buddhist Mountain of Mt. Emei, I had a satori (awakening) moment. I suddenly realized the enduring and purpose-driven Sino-Lanka connection, which is at last manifested in the Colombo Lotus Tower—the “crown jewel” of BRI.

Mt. Emei and Sri Pada

Mt. Emei, another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sichuan province, is one of the four leading Holy Mountains of Chinese Buddhism, known as Chan Buddhism. Samantabhadra is revered as the patron bodhisattva of the Buddhist monasteries associated with the Sacred Mountain. Samantabhadra means “universal virtue” in Sanskrit; Mt. Emei is known as “the greatest beauty under Heaven.” Built in the first century on the location of an originally Daoist temple, it is the home of the first Buddhist temple in China, which has a historical significance as the birthplace of introducing Buddhism to the Middle Kingdom.

In Sri Lanka, the ancient Theravada Buddhists (the tradition of the Elders or the “Lesser Vehicle,” or Hinayana) venerated “Samanta” as the guardian deity of their land and the religion long before Buddhism arrived—with the monk Mahinda, son of Emperor Ashoka—in Sri Lanka in 246 BC. With the northward spread of Mahayana Buddhism (the “Greater Vehicle”), Samanta evolved into Samantabhadra (Puxian in Chinese), one of the four principle bodhisattvas dedicated to the four Sacred Buddhist Mountains in China.

The visiting scholar-monk Faxian in the Kingdom of Anuradhapura wrote that Buddha’s footprint was carved “on the top of a mountain” of the Samanala, referring to Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada (the Holy Footprint) in Sri Lanka. Buddhists believed the Buddha visited the mountain peak and left the footmark while Christians, Hindus, and Muslims equally claimed their own connections—with Adam, Shiva, and Mohammed—to the sacred place for their faith.

Faxian also gave the first-recorded eyewitness account of Buddhist practices, numerous pilgrims, and various foreign merchants in the island, as the Chinese monk stayed at several places, most notably at the legendary Fa-Hien Cave (also Pahiyangala Cave). The erudite monk stayed two years (411-12) at the Abhayagiri Monastery in the capital city, and described Buddhist rituals, drew the pictures of images, and most importantly copied Buddhist sutras. 
The Lotus Sutra.

Among all Buddhist sutras, the Lotus Sutra is central to Mahayana tradition; the Samantabhadra Bodhisattva is the patron deity. The Lotus Sutra is collectively called the “Threefold Lotus Sutra,” in which the bodhisattva is depicted in holding a lotus flower—a symbol of purity rising from muddy waters—in his hand and travelling with a white elephant that appeared to Queen Maya, the mother of the Buddha. This shared image of elephant—a symbol of wisdom and strength—in various forms is widely displayed in the monasteries of Mt. Emei as well as on the way to Adam’s Peak.

Within the threefold discourse, the Prologue to the Lotus Sutra is the Innumerable Meanings Sutra that explains the true nature of all things in the universe. The Epilogue to the Lotus Sutra is the Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra that refers to the Bodhisattva of Universal Virtue. In totality, the Lotus Sutra holds the final teaching of the Buddha for salvation from human suffering in the present life. 

The Lotus Sutra had a momentous impact on China’s hierarchical Confucian culture because it revealed that women, evil doers, and even animals have the potential to become Buddhas or reach Nirvana—the ending of the karmic rebirth and human suffering. In a nutshell, the sutra pronounces equality and freedom, especially among men and women.

Buddhism over Confucian values

The Lotus Sutra was originally translated to Chinese from Sanskrit by scholar-monk Dharmaraksa of Dunhuang in 286 during the Western Jin Dynasty (265-317). The earliest and later translations were revised and completed by Kumarajiva (a son of Brahmin father from Kashmir in India and Kuchan princess in China) in 406. Yale University Sinologist Arthur Wright writes that the equal status of women and mothers in Indian Buddhism was, for example, changed in the earlier translations from “husband supports wife” to “the husband controls his wife” as well as “the wife comforts the husband” to “the wife reveres her husband.” 

The prolific monk Kumarajiva, however, revolutionised the evolving Chinese Buddhism without relying on the earlier translations, through the concepts of Confucianism and Daoism, during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317–420). The surviving Indian manuscripts were nevertheless fragmented but the learned Kumarajiva abbreviated the Sanskrit and Prakrit versions of available Buddhist texts into Chinese.

Like the pioneering scholar-monk Faxian, when Xuanzang (602–64) from Luoyang in Henan province travelled to India in search of sacred books, the Tang envoy was equally concerned about the misinterpreted and incomplete nature of Buddhist manuscripts in China. Even though he never visited Sri Lanka, Xuanzang, who returned to the White Horse Temple in Luoyang, described the ancient capital of Anuradhapura and its Buddhist monasteries, monks, and manuscripts from the eyewitness accounts of travelling pilgrims and merchants. In his Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, Xuanzang—referring to Sri Pada as “Mount Lanka” in the “Sorrow-less Kingdom”—wrote that “the Tathagata [Buddha] formerly delivered the Lankavatara [means ‘Entering into Sri Lanka’] Sutra,” which is another important sutra in Mahayana Buddhism.

While Kumarajiva elegantly emphasised the meaning of the sutras, Xuanzang paid more attention to the literal and precise translations of Buddhist texts. Their central theme of the translations of the Lotus Sutra was focused on “the unity of all things and beings” for a peaceful and harmonious coexistence in freedom.Colombo as the symbols of lotus

With the rising Lotus Tower from the Beira Lake in Colombo, China has seemingly taken the Buddhist symbol to formulate an enlightened vision for a world of human diversity and equality. In the Anguttara Nikaya, the Buddha counselled a Brahman: “Just as a blue or red or white lotus is born in water, grows in water and stands up above the water untouched by it, so too I, who was born in this world and grew in the world, have transcended the world, and I live untouched by the world. Remember me as one who is enlightened.” This portrayal may have appealed to China as an emerging global power, capturing the ancient legacy connected to the Buddhist nation. 

For centuries, the Buddhist “Kingdom of the Lion” attracted foreign visitors and pilgrims who often stopped over the ancient port city of Weligama in the southern coast of Sri Lanka to pay respect to the Samantabhadra Bodhisattva at a temple (near the Kushtaraja rock sculpture), the place of the stone-carved statue of Samantabhadra. Many Chinese and Indian monks and pilgrims had visited the visage of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva on their way to the “sacred footprint” on the summit of Adam’s Peak.

Among them was the famous Admiral Zheng He in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), who visited the island during his seven voyages (1405-33). The Ming emissary offered gifts to the sacred footprint of Sri Pada, including “1000 pieces of gold, 5000 pieces of silver . . . six pairs of gold lotuses, 2,5000 catties of perfumed oil,” and many other things. 

Like the Ming admiral, Marco Polo, an envoy of Kublai Khan in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), visited the island twice (1284 and 1293) and paid homage to the holy mountain. But his intent was also to take the sacred tooth relics of Buddha back to China. The Temple of Buddha’s Tooth Relics has for centuries been the symbol of national unity and Buddhist identity of Sri Lanka or a peaceful identity

As President Xi Jinping has now replaced Deng Xiaoping’s earlier motto of “Peaceful Rise,” Beijing appears to be looking for a “peaceful identity” in creating a harmonious community at home and abroad. The symbolic yet universal meaning embedded in the Lotus Tower might serve better as a strategic asset in Chinese diplomacy, as the BRI gains momentum in the Indo-Pacific region. It invokes the “universal virtue” of harmony, and revives the coveted noble concepts of equality and freedom, rooted in the sutras of Buddhism as opposed to Confucian hierarchy.

During his historic visit to Sri Lanka in September 2014, President Xi described the island as a “splendid pearl” while the two countries have recognised the importance of historic Buddhist affinity with the signing of over 20 cooperative agreements. 

Buddhism has always been an invisible attraction as Imperial China successfully integrated the Buddha’s Dharmic teachings as its own with those of indigenous Daoist traditions and Confucian ethics. Therefore, the Lotus Sutra must continue to serve as the forerunner of China’s peaceful identity and national unity for a pacific new order in Asia.

Professor Patrick Mendis, a Fairbank Centre Associate-in-Research at Harvard University, is the author of ‘Peaceful War: How the Chinese Dream and American Destiny Create a Pacific New World Order,’ which is translated to Chinese Mandarin in Beijing. Professor Mendis has visited all the provinces of China and lectured at over 30 Chinese universities and academies, including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the universities of Fudan, Nanjing, Peking, Renmin, Shandong, Sun-Yat Sen, Tsinghua, Tongji, Wuhan, Zhejiang, among others. He is a visiting researcher at the National Confucius Research Institute of China in Qufu, a senior fellow of the South China Sea Institute at the Qufu Normal University, a distinguished visiting professor of Asian-Pacific affairs at Shandong University in Jinan, and a senior fellow of the Pangoal Institution in Beijing.

USAID extends additional US$40 Mn in development assistance

USAID Administrator Samantha Power has announced an additional US$40 million in development assistance to help farmers purchase fertilizer and other vital agricultural inputs.

“Subject to Congressional approval, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will invest this money to provide farmers with fertilizer and other vital agricultural inputs,” USAID said in a statement.

“This critical support, implemented through the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, comes just in time for maximum benefit to the upcoming “Maha” planting season and will benefit up to one million farmers in need of fertilizer across Sri Lanka, which includes 53,000 farmers in need of emergency monetary assistance.

USAID stands with the Sri Lanka’s people and is committed to providing this urgent support. The US Government will continue to explore ways to assist the country in meeting their immediate, medium, and long-term needs, and will continue ongoing efforts that boost sustainable economic growth, promote inclusivity, strengthen governance, and foster a free and prosperous Sri Lanka,” the statement added.

USAID to provide US$ 20 Mn as humanitarian aid

USAID Administrator Samantha Power said USAID will provide additional US$20 million as humanitarian aid in addition to US$40 million which will be given to procure fertilizer to assist one million farmers.

The total amount pledged by her, comes up to US$ 60 million.

Ms. Power said political reforms and economic reform should go hand in hand.

“Sri Lanka should ensure stable borrowing and stable balance of trade,” she added. (Yohan Perera)

For more information go to:

SLF Int, USA Graced the opening of A Urgently Needed Brand New Water Filtering Unit installation at the Aruna Singithi Pre School in Polonnaruwa to Supply Clean Water!

Lack of quality drinking water is a major issue in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. Especially Chronic Kidney Disease affected areas such as Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Padaviya, Galgamuwa and other surrounding areas in the North Central Province.

Although the government & several institutions are supplying Reverse Osmosis Water Filter systems to rural communities, filter maintenance is not done regularly, and continuous maintenance of RO system is also a burden to most of the rural villages, schools, temples.Therefore supply, installation & regularly maintaining of RO systems is a great social service & help to these rural communities. This is the best solution for these areas.

President/CEO, Dr Dishan Jayasinha and his wife Zuigly Jayasinha of the Sri Lanka Foundation International, USA who are residents of USA traveled all the way to Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka to grace the occasion of the opening of a Brand New Reverse Osmosis Water Filteration Unit system installation that has a capacity of providing 200 gallons of water per day in the Aruna Singithi Pre School, Arunapura, Aralaganvila, Polonnaruwa. The Director of Cultural Affairs and the Director of Operations of the Academy of Performing Arts of SLF was also present to witness the occasion. This unit supplies clean water over 50 students, their parents and staff.

SLF has identified other locations that urgently need these RO Water Filters installed and if you wish to support this Cause please click on the link below to Donate.

SLF Int, USA Supports V2U Community Organization Partnership Formed Between USA & Canada established A Project to Empower Self Employment and Fight Against Hunger!!

The V2U Community nonprofit organization was established in November 2021, in Toronto, Canada by Thiwi Gama and by Sanjeewa Pushpa Kumara in USA. The vision of the organization is to rebuild Sri Lanka with “no boundaries or bias” while empowering Sri Lankans in the fight against hunger by promoting the cultivation of privately owned land for food production. The main objective of V2U Community Organization is to educate Sri Lankans on food cultivation with the ultimate goal of creating self generating employment opportunities in agriculture and other related fields.

Dr. Walter Jayasinghe, Chairman of the Board of SLF INT, USA, extends his full support to this project while commending V2U Community Organization for their initiative.

V2U Community Organization members along with other entities continue to encourage communities to support one another in the preparation of land for cultivation. This project is in full progress in the areas of Wauniya, Mahhiyangana, Ingiriya, Matara, Mahanuwara, Hambantota, Polonnaruwa and Monaragala.

The main emphasis is to promote families to be self sufficient, create residual income and chemical free meals.


SLF Int, USA 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Venerable Henepola Gunaratna Mahathera For his excellence in the International Missionary Work, Author and Renowned Meditation Teacher

Venerable Henepola Gunaratna is an internationally recognized Author and Meditation Teacher. Prior to coming to the United States, he spent five years of doing missionary work with Harijanas (Untouchable) of India and ten years in Malaysia. He has taught in a number of settings, including the Buddhist Vihara of Washington D.C where he served as President, also served as a Buddhist Chaplain as well as earned his Ph.D in Philosophy in the University in Washington D.C.

Ven. Henepola served in meditation centers worldwide and has a strong scholarly background and lifelong commitment to Dhamma.

In 1985 Ven. Henepola co-founded the Bhavana Society and became its abbott. He wanted to teach meditation in an environment allowing for longer retreats and intense practice free the trappings of a city vihara. He continues to teach in the direct, compassionate style that characterizes his books and articles. Ven. Gunaratna conveys a well-rounded approach to Buddhist Dhamma, touching on all aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path. He emphasizes Mehta Bhavana (the cultivation of loving-friendliness) as a basis for samma-samadhi, or right concentration. As a teacher, he is known for his emphasis both on Samadhi and on Mehta as part of spiritual training.

In 1996 Ven. Gunaratna received the title of Chief Sangha Nayaka Thera for North America. This acknowledged his status as highest-ranking monk of his sect in the United States and Canada. Originally published in 2003, his autobiography, journey to mindfulness was updated in 2017 with an “Expanded Anniversary Edition” adding five new chapters. In 2005, the Sri Henepola Gunaratna Scholarship Trust Fund was founded under his guidance. This trust fund provides educational opportunities for poverty stricken children in the rural areas of Sri Lanka.

Ven. Gunaratna continues to write books and articles, lead retreats, and teach at the Bhavana Society. On the occasion of his 90th birthday, December 7th, 2017, he decided that he would no longer accept invitations that require long distance travel. He says, “Thank you all for your kind consideration with Mehta”.