Bhante Kusala is a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka. Born in 1987, he entered the monastic life at the age of 16 in 2004 at Sri Gangagiri Vihara in south Sri Lanka. He did his undergraduate and graduate studies in the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka majoring in Pali language. In 2012-13, he moved to Italy and studied cognitive science and engaged in mindfulness-based research works at the University of Trento. He came to Harvard University and pursued a Master of Divinity degree. After his graduation, he became a resident chaplain at Brigham and Women’s hospital and Dana Faber Cancer Institute. He has lectured in University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka International Buddhist Academy, Asgiriya monastic training school in Pali and Buddhism classes. He spent two summers at the Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center in Missouri and traveled in Sri Lanka and Indonesia with Bhante Vimalaramsi, and venerable Sister Khema as their translator. Since 2011, he also has been serving as the translator for Ajahn Brahm, Ajahn Brahmali, Bhikkhu Analayo. He has offered his teachings in Moscow, Europe, Canada, USA, Indonesia, and many other places.
Bhante Kusala helps children, youth, and adults with their spiritual counseling needs. Since 2018, he lives at the Great Lakes Buddhist Vihara in Michigan sharing dhamma to the wider great lakes community and volunteering in hospitals in the area as a spiritual care provider. He recently finished teaching a course in Pāli at MABA (Mid-America Buddhist Association) in Missouri. He is also working on his 3rd year of PhD in Pāli based in Sri Jayawardenapura University of Sri Lanka.
Michael Prettyman is an artist and scholar of Eastern Religions. He holds a Masters Degree in Theology from the Harvard Divinity School and teaches on the subject of religion and the arts, Asian Religion and philosophy at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center in New York. He has been a visual artist for twenty years, with gallery shows in New York City, Hong Kong and Barcelona. He has exhibited paintings, drawings and sculptures at the United Nations General Assembly, The American Museum of Natural History, the Tsvetaeva Museum of Art in Moscow and the National Museum of Art in Almaty, Kazakhstan and has paintings in the permanent collection of each. He has studied the forms of mediation and sacred artmaking in Buddhist and Christian monasteries in Italy, Nepal, India and the United States.
Michael’s scholarly work in comparative religion dovetails with his practice as an artist. He is convinced that the practice of art making is itself a religious activity, as is the viewing of it. He writes, “The sacred, mythological past need not be inaccessible to us- it is at our fingertips because it is within us, and if we can find it we approach our common humanity. It is only through art making I am able understand these realities in a way that has blood and immediacy in it.”