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”.