Venerable Bhikkhu Sona ('Ajahn Sona')
Ajahn Sona is a first wave Western Theravada ordained practitioner. After several years of practicing as a lay hermit, he took full monastic ordination at the first Theravada monastery in the United States in 1989. He trained as well in the Thai Forest Tradition and combines both Sri Lankan and Thai scholastic and meditative practice traditions with modern western sensibilities. His pre-monastic education is in philosophy, humanities, and specifically classical Western music. These have been an aid in understanding the Western psyche and trying to establish paradigm bridges between East and West. The monasteries which he has established in Canada are affiliated with a worldwide network of Western Thai Forest tradition monasteries. At the juncture of contemplative Buddhism he also is deeply interested in the ecological movements in this environmentally critical time, both at the practical and philosophical level. The monastery which he has developed over 20 years reflects a response to the psychological demands on the individual and is at the cutting edge of best practices in environmental fields. He has participated in the green monasticism movement which is a collaboration with Catholic monasticism.
Maechee Mon ('Sister Mon')
Sister Mon is an Eight-Precept Maechee (Thai nun). After many years of practice and service in nursing, social work and buddhist communities in Thailand, Sister Mon undertook monastic training under Ajahn Sona at Birken in 2001. After training at Birken for a number of years, Sister Mon returned to practice in her native country of Thailand for a brief period. She returned to join Birken's monastic community in the spring of 2011. In July 2016 she began a year-long silent retreat which will include time at Birken as well as on Vancouver Island.