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Rodney Smith (Buddhist)

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Rodney Smith
Bornc.1947 (age 76–77)
OccupationVipassana teacher
Senior posting
Based inSeattle Insight Meditation Society

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Rodney Smith is an American spiritual writer and Dharma teacher in the Theravada Buddhist Tradition. He trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, Burma, and India. He ordained with Mahasi Sayadaw in 1979, and spent four years with Ajahn Buddhadasa in Thailand. He also studied with Nisargadatta Maharaj in India in 1980. He has taught meditation nationwide since 1984. In 1993 he founded the Seattle Insight Meditation Society and was its guiding teacher until he retired in 2017. He worked in hospice care as a social worker and director for 17 years.


Smith graduated from the University of North Carolina with honors in 1969 and was drafted during the Vietnam War and served in Belgium as a medic. After returning to the USA, he became a social worker. One evening he attended a lecture by Ram Dass in Cincinnati, Ohio that encouraged him to inspect his life more deeply. He started practicing meditation and in 1976 he joined the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts as a long-term practitioner and later joined the staff. In 1979 he met the Burmese Theravada monk Mahasi Sayadaw, and followed hm back to Burma where he ordained. He then moved to Thailand, lived in the forest, and studied under Ajahn Buddhadassa for four years. Upon returning to the United States he became involved in hospice care and began teaching meditation nationwide. In 1993 he founded the Seattle Insight Meditation Society and served as guiding teacher until his retirement in 2017.


  • Smith, Rodney (1998). Lessons From the Dying. Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-140-8. Search this book on
  • Smith, Rodney (2010). Stepping Out of Self-Deception: The Buddha's Liberating Teaching of No-Self. Shambhala. ISBN 978-1590307298. Search this book on
  • Smith, Rodney (2014). Awakening: A Paradigm Shift of the Heart. Shambhala. ISBN 978-1611801262. Search this book on
  • Smith, Rodney (2017). Touching the Infinite: A New Perspective on the Buddha's Four Foundations of Mindfulness. Shambhala. ISBN 1611805023. Search this book on


Smith's spiritual teaching reflects his formal background in the Buddhist tradition as well as his encounters with non-dual teachers such as Nisargadatta Maharaj. He teaches that awakening is not a state but the process of becoming more conscious over time. Though there are awakened moments, being conscious of what we are naturally leads to those radical changes in perceptions called enlightenment. Slowly we learn to live within the absolute nothing of existence while interacting fully within the world of formations without the slightest contradiction.


  • Journeying East: Conversations on Aging and Dying, Dimidjian, Victoria Jean, 2004, Parallax Press, isbn 1-888375-36-1
  • The Wisdom of Listening, edited by Brady, Mark, Wisdom Publication, isbn 0-86171-355-9, Chapter 17
  • Engaged Buddhism in the West, Queen, Christopher S., 2000, Wisdom Publication, isbn 0-86171-159-9, page 307
  • Awake at the Bedside, Ellison, Paley Koshin and Weingast, Matt, Wisdom Publication,isbn 978-1-61429-119-0,Chapter Eleven
  • Unbiding, Singh, Kathleen Dowling, Wisdom Publications, 2017, isbn 978-1-61429-445-0, Forward
  • Grace in Living, Singh, Kathleen Dowling, Wisdom Publications, 2016, isbn 978-1-61429-285-2
  • website:

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