In the late 1960s and early 1970s, many westerners traveled to Asia and studied with great masters in the Theravada Buddhist tradition of South East and South Asia. What we practice at NYI derives directly from different Asian Theravada lineages of practice including those of Mahasi Sayadaw, Ajahn Chah, Anagarika Munindra, Dipa Ma and others.
Insight in the U.S.
The generation of young Americans that studied insight meditation in Asia came to teach it in U.S. when they returned. In l976, Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Sharon Salzberg established the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. Jack Kornfield later co-founded Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California.
Many individuals in the greater New York area had studied with those American teachers as well as senior teachers in Asia and were committed to realizing a vision of creating an urban center to foster a contemplative life in the city. In l997, Peter Doobinin, Tamara Engel, Joseph Schmidt, Gina Sharpe, and Sandra Weinberg founded the New York Insight Meditation Center.
NYI began by renting spaces around the city for its classes, workshops, and sittings. In 2003, we moved into a light-filled loft space near Herald Square, which has become the physical and spiritual home of the community. With a main meditation room and a classroom, the center provides a safe space for spiritual inquiry. NYI remains an almost entirely volunteer-run organization with a deep commitment to openness and diversity.