About Us – Dharma Teachers and Spiritual Mentors
Dharma Teachers Qapel (Doug Duncan) and Sensei (Catherine Pawasarat) teach meditation and act as spiritual mentors to students internationally and at their retreat center in BC, Canada. Having lived overseas for many years and traveled extensively, Doug and Catherine draw on intercultural and trans-cultural experience to broaden the range and depth of their understandings of liberation that they share with others.
Who the heck are they and why should you trust them? Read on:
Qapel (Achariya Doug Duncan)
Doug Duncan studied with the Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche from 1974 until the latter’s passing in 2003. Doug received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 1978, and is a lineage holder in that teaching. He also received teachings from the 16th Karmapa and other Tibetan Rinpoches, as well as from the Ven. Sayadaw U Thila Wunta, and from a Master of the Western Mystery School. In addition, Doug has undertaken numerous three-month solitary meditation retreats.
Doug has been leading retreats, teaching and training in universal practices of spiritual unfoldment since 1985, helping thousands of students in numerous countries liberate themselves from suffering. His teaching also draws on contemporary psychology and science. In 2004 he co-founded Clear Sky Retreat Center in the BC Rockies where he is resident teacher along with Catherine.
Growing up in Saskatchewan was a pretty “flat” experience, so Doug caught the travel bug early. As a small child he wandered, such that the local police often had to bring him home. This desire to see the world and understand it more fully has led him ever since.
Sensei (Catherine Pawasarat)
Catherine Pawasarat was a student of metaphysics, Western spiritual traditions, and the ayahuasca sacraments in the 1990s. Living in Kyoto, Japan for 20 years, she worked as an advocacy photojournalist specializing in environmental and human rights, and edited sustainability-related publications for various United Nations bodies. She also studied traditional Japanese arts.
Since 1998 she has trained daily with Buddhist teacher Achariya Doug Duncan (Qapel) in an intensive spiritual apprenticeship that’s rare in the modern West. Transmitted from the remarkable Namgyal Rinpoche, they are both lineage holders of these teachings.
With Qapel, she is co-founder and resident teacher at Clear Sky Retreat Center in the British Columbia Rockies. There Catherine Sensei has spearheaded an innovative and sustainability-oriented culture and organization, specializing in conscious community. Together Doug and Catherine also teach through a virtual vehicle, Planet Dharma. In 2018 they wrote the best-selling book Wasteland to Pureland.
Catherine Sensei is an expert in traditional Japanese culture, and the author of the first comprehensive English guidebook to Kyoto’s 1150-year-old Gion Festival, a gigantic living collection of diverse spiritual rituals. She also teaches and advocates for the unique role and experiences of Women in Buddhism.
Some Words from Qapel & Sensei
Life is a fascinating journey, filled with discovery, exploration and awesome experiences. It can also be fraught with suffering and sorrow, often unnecessarily. While a certain amount of struggle is inevitable in life, the unnecessary parts can be eliminated.
Why wrestle with unnecessary suffering? It’s no fun and painful to experience oneself, and similarly so to watch others do it.
Happiness is the original state that shines through after unnecessary suffering has been eliminated. We’re dedicated to sharing this path.
Life is short. It’s best when rich and joyful. The only thing that gets in our way are outmoded ways of being. Our lives are dedicated to engaging in and appreciating what an amazing journey we’re on. Come join us.
JOURNEYING ACROSS TRADITIONS
A podcast interview on Namgyal Rinpoche's legacy
This episode of the Wisdom Podcast features an interview with Achariya Doug Qapel Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat Sensei. In it, they share the history of their teacher, the late Namgyal Rinpoche. They describe his pioneering work weaving together Eastern and Western traditions, and how this legacy manifests in a contemporary spiritual training.
These are ancient teachings that I feel are important to understand if someone is serious about meditation. I appreciate Qapel and Sensei’s unrelenting perseverance to teach about the roots and traditions of these life changing practices. They explore the rich history with us and also deliver the material in a very understandable and relevant way.
Working with Qapel and Sensei at the five day hero’s journey workshop was deeply impactful and has clarified not only my deepest heart’s desire, but what I need to overcome to manifest it. They are extraordinary facilitators with a great depth of knowledge, wisdom and presence to share.
Doing karma yoga, I watch how everyone gains new insights. These many “a-ha moments” makes it clear to me that this type of active dharma training is a path that brings the modern spiritual explorer alive and moves them forward.
Qapel and Sensei have consistently been honest, accurate and candid with me. It has sometimes taken me years to admit my self-sabotaging blind spots. Clear and radical self-honesty liberates my sticky parts. Thank you to my master teachers for helping me free up all the energy knots – especially the ones created from unconscious patterning around money, sex and power.
Qapel and Sensei are always burning calories to get you back on a path that can lead toward greater self-awareness. When I am with these two very clear individuals, I am humbled by their dedication to others, and understand the every-waking-moment responsibility that comes with their calling.
Doug and Catherine teach the Vajrayana with great skill and means. Their ability to shift, weave and embrace each moment with diverse types of students is amazing. One of the jewels they teach and transmit is deity practice, or arising yoga. I have experienced many of their wongkur initiations and find them to be powerful and liberative experiences that also provide tools of great value in my day-to-day practice.