This page is intended as a resource for those who read a book by a master, see or hear him/her in the media, and wish to find out more. It is a guide to some of the more important masters, particularly those operating in the West, and to the organisations they create: the places you can go to find out more or practise their teachings. To be included, a master must usually have at least five centres or five commercially-published books.
NB: Some of these masters are deceased but they are listed because they have created an active organisation which is still functioning.
You are welcome to submit details of your own organisation. Please note that Buddhanet writes its own biographies and tries to get information from a variety of sources. If you wish to send information: text and/or images via email attachment (see the example of Mahasi and Ole Nydahl) please e-mail the webmaster.
A lineage is a group of teachings or practises handed down from teachers to their students, who become teachers in their own right. There are also ordination lineages: that is the line or ordination (monks and nuns) which is always traceable back to the Buddha.
Lineage is considered important in Buddhism, particularly in the Zen and Tibetan tradition where the master or guru occupies the main role in spiritual development. There are some practices, meditations and texts which may be learnt from secondary sources, such as books, and some which must be given directly. But before teaching any of these, a person should have received authorisation or permission to teach. The giving of this permission is dependent on spiritual understanding and attainment: almost never is it a political or allegiance matter. Lineages are traceable back to the Buddha or sometimes, to a great and acknowledged master. New lineages are started by people who are regarded as masters by those few masters in each generation who are considered extraordinary.