Leadership

IDP Teachers

Ethan Nichtern is the founding director of the Interdependence Project, which started in 2005 with a few people studying meditation together in the East Village and in September 2007 became a nonprofit organization dedicated to Buddhist-inspired meditation and psychology, integral activism, mindful arts, and meaningful media.

He is the author of the acclaimed book One City: A Declaration of Interdependence (Wisdom Pubs) . His writing has been featured on Huffington Post, Beliefnet, Tricycle Magazine, BuddhaDharma Magazine, Sentient City, Reality Sandwich, as well as other online publications. He is currently at work on rewriting a novel and writing a second book on Buddhism, and is "slightly procrastinating" on both projects.

For the past seven years, Ethan has taught ongoing meditation and Buddhist psychology classes and workshops around New York City and around the country. He primarily studies in the Shambhala tradition under the wonderful teacher Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, but has also studied Theravadan and Soto Zen Buddhism. He is also an avid yoga practitioner. He currently teaches Buddhism at Eugene Lang College at New School University and lectures regularly at Brown, Wesleyan, and New York Universities.

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Juan Carlos Castro has been a serious student of Buddhist meditation and philosophy for the past six years. He has been a member of the I.D. Project since its founding, has studied extensively in the Shambhala tradition, and is a Vajrayana student of the great Tibetan Buddhist teacher Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. A devoted yoga practitioner, Juan Carlos is also trained as a visual artist, and works as Art Director at Vogue Magazine. He teaches Buddhism both in the Nalandabodhi curriculum and at the I.D. Project in NYC.



Jessica Rasp is a meditation practitioner and teacher. She teaches mindfulness, basic awareness meditation. Jessica graduated from the Peacemaker Institute in Boulder, Colorado, a 9 month training in meditation and peacemaking. She is particularly interested in community building, contemplative living and creating sacred space. In the spirit of meditation in action, she independently organizes fundraiser events for different organizations. She has done service work in Cuba, Rwanda, Vietnam, Poland, Guatemala and Brazil. In 2002 she took refuge with Vietnamese Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. She studies personally with a Vajrayana Teacher and is very connected to the Teachings of Tibetan Master, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
Jessica practices meditation daily and teaches groups or privately often.

Jessica also writes poetry, plays the Tibetan singing bowls, has a life-long commitment to foster wisdom and compassion in the US prison system, drinks a soy latte daily, travels as much as she can get away with and loves banter, jazz and dogs.

More information on Jessica Rasp


Robert Chender is a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and is a senior teacher at the Shambhala Meditation Center of New York. He also serves as director of the Contemplative Lawyers Group of the NY City Bar Association. He is currently particularly interested in the spiritual dimension of our daily work life, and in the relationship between Buddhist and shamanic practices. He and his wife Amy have two sons, one in college and one in graduate school, both happily close to home.


Crystal Gandrud is a freelance writer and professor of creative writing. She is also a graduate of Vajrayana Seminary, as well as a Meditation Instructor and Assistant Director in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition. Crystal lives in Providence, RI and Brooklyn, NY.






Ellen Scordato has practiced Buddhism in the Shambhala tradition since 2004. She enjoys study and practice with the IDP, attending Zen retreats, and hearing teachings from rinpoches and roshis. A yoga student for 12+ years, she graduated from Om Yoga teacher training in 2005, where she joined the IDP as it began. Currently the chairperson of the IDP board, she makes her living as the co-owner of The Stonesong Press, LLC, a book producer of high-quality nonfiction bestsellers for the popular market. She taught English at the New School for more than 10 years and is a published author. A graduate of Wellesley College, where she studied Classics and art history, she lives in Manhattan with her husband and cats.



Lineage Mentors

Because we are a nonsectarian Buddhist-inspired organization, IDP is lucky enough to have the mentorship of master teachers in three Buddhist practice lineages, as well as one mentor who teaches about the crucial link between Buddhist and Western Psychological approaches.

Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, PhD, is the Abbot of The Village Zendo. A Soto Zen Priest and certified Zen Teacher, she received dharma transmission in both the Soto and Rinzai lines of Zen Buddhism, through the White Plum Lineage. Roshi currently serves as the Guiding Spiritual Teacher for the New York Center For Contemplative Care. She also serves as Co-Spiritual Director of the Zen Peacemaker Family, a spiritual, study and social action association. Enkyo Roshi’s focus is on the expression of Zen through caring, service, and creative response. Her Five Expressions of Zen form the matrix of study at the Village Zendo: Meditation, Study, Communication, Action, and Caring.

“Coming back to the live moment is the greatest healing, the greatest compassion” -Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara

More information on Roshi O’Hara


Acharya Eric Speigel Since 1980 Eric has been active in the growth and development of the Shambhala Meditation Center in New York. As a senior teacher there, he finds that his background and experience help him present the teachings of both the Vidyadhara and the Sakyong.
In addition to teaching the traditional syllabus of the Shambhala Community, Acharya Spiegel teaches on understanding the transitions of Life and Death, and on relating with the power and energy of Wealth from a sane, empowered view point – and on the general lack of insight into this topic that pervades our culture.

Eric has also been involved in the Stonewall Community Foundation, and the Queer Dharma and Diamond Metta groups.

More info on Acharya Spiegel


Sharon Salzberg is one of America’s leading spiritual teachers and authors and cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts. She has played a crucial role in bringing Asian meditation practices to the West. The ancient Buddhist practices of vipassana (mindfulness) and metta (lovingkindness) are the foundations of her work.

- “Each of us has a genuine capacity for love, forgiveness, wisdom and compassion. Meditation awakens these qualities so that we can discover for ourselves the unique happiness that is our birthright.”

More info on Sharon Salzberg


Miles Neale, PsyD, LMHCis a New York state licensed psychotherapist integrating Buddhist contemplative science into his clinical and consulting practice. He is a graduate of the doctoral program in clinical psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies, and conducted his Master’s research on the health benefits of mindfulness meditation at New York University’s Gallatin Program for Individualized Study. Dr. Neale completed his psychology predoctoral internship and postdoctoral psychoanalytic training at the Fifth Avenue Center for Counselling and Psychotherapy in New York City.

Since 1998, Dr. Neale studied clinical applications of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism with his mentor Joseph Loizzo, MD, PhD, a Harvard trained psychiatrist, Columbia trained Buddhist scholar, and Founding Director of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science. He has also been greatly influenced by preeminent Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman, PhD and Buddhist psychiatrist and author Mark Epstein, MD both of whom he studied with at Tibet House, New York.

Beginning in 1996, Dr. Neale studied Buddhist philosophy and meditation while living for extended periods of time in traditional monastic settings in Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. He has received training from the late Insight meditation masters Godwin Samararatne and Anagarika Munidra and well as the renowned Tibetan masters Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Gelek Rinpoche. For more on Dr. Neale’s teachers and influences see his Inspiration page.

More information on Miles Neale

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