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Vancouver BASE Mentors

Kristin Penn is a Buddhist meditation teacher with a background in social service and social action and has worked with people dying of AIDS related illness.

She is a member of the Order of Interbeing and a Dharma teacher in the lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh. She co-facilitated the first BASE group in Vancouver.

margo Margot Sangster was first formally exposed to Buddhist practice in 1982 during one of her many trips to Asia. A ten-day retreat in Nepal, time spent in Buddhist monasteries throughout Asia, a visit to Mother Theresa's home for the dying in Calcutta, and a period of time spent living with a hill-tribe family in northern Thailand, all served to set in motion what has become her life's work. What unfolded as a result of these and other experiences is a life dedicated to service, a deep commitment to vipassana meditation within the Theravadan Buddhist tradition, and a broader spiritual path which also includes Vajrayana Buddhist, Hindhu and First Nations' practices. Time spent in nature has also influenced Margot greatly.

For the past ten years she has formally practiced in Canada, the US, and Thailand. Margot has participated in classes, daylongs, non-residential weekends, ten and twenty day retreats, and most recently in the three-month retreat at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA. She is strongly committed to integrating her practice into day-to-day life and has lived/volunteered at the Wat Kow Tahm Meditation Center in Thailand, and at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California. Margot is currently participating in the Community Dharma Leaders' Program at Spirit Rock.

Her commitment to social engagement began as a result of that first trip to Asia and has led her to work with people from all walks of life - immigrants/refugees in Canada/Kenya trying to make a successful transition to life in their new homes; homeless people in the US/Canada and youth-at-risk in Canada/Philippines struggling to move ahead in their lives in circumstances that would overwhelm many of us; social assistance recipients attempting to overcome multiple barriers to psychological/financial well-being; the dying who share their journey so generously with those who are ready to listen; international students/aid workers from overseas/Canada who leave their homes for educational or employment opportunities, and find they learn so much in all those other moments that come with going abroad; and others ... Gratitude to all those who have shared their lives with me, both their joy and suffering.

"I never set out to become a socially engaged Buddhist, or even a Buddhist meditator for that matter. I was inquisitive and adventurous by nature though, and generally chose the "path less travelled". And this is where my life choices have led me. From an early age I felt compelled to respond to suffering, perhaps in response to my own suffering, internally and externally. And all these years later, I still feel moved to act when confronted with suffering. My spiritual path is now anchored by the Bodhisattva vow to become enlightened for the benefit of all sentient beings, myself included. When we serve other beings or the physical environment, we are in service of something greater than ourselves. You may think you help to serve others. Perhaps the real truth is by helping others, we help ourselves. Following the Buddhist teaching of our innate interconnectedness/ interdependence, I feel it is important in my spiritual path to commit to lessening the suffering in the world. This is particularly poignant at this time in history." You can contact Margo here.

Vancouver BASE Coordinator

Harreson Sito stayed away from Buddhism for years because he once over-exerted himself trying to understand the sentences in the Dhammapada. Despite his deluded self-preservation tactics, as life would have it, he attended a Goenka Vipassana 10 day retreat in the summer of 2001 and miraculously, the Dharma found a place in his heart.

In his past life as a yogi-wanna-be, he taught hatha yoga, practiced karma yoga and started a non-profit organization that provides self-care services such as acupuncture, reflexology, Shiatsu to low-income single parents. Now as a socially engaged Buddhist, he continues to teach yoga and to coordinate services and programs for the same non-profit organization (but more mindfully and compassionately, of course.) He believes that part of his mission is to create opportunities for people to give.

He sits with the Mindfulness Practice Community of Vancouver which practices in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. You can contact Harreson here.

Updated August 27, 2002