About Us: Teachers

Who the heck are these people, and why should I trust them?

Achariya Doug Duncan Sensei

© Kiku Hawkes

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.


Catherine Pawasarat Sensei

© Kiku Hawkes

Catherine Pawasarat began her spiritual practices in earnest in her early 20s, when she struggled to make sense of and overcome personal suffering and international environmental and social justice challenges. She became a student of metaphysics, Western spiritual traditions, and the ayahuasca sacraments in the 1990s, and has trained daily with Acariya Doug Duncan since 1998 in an intensive spiritual apprenticeship that is rare in the modern West.

With Doug she is co-founder and resident teacher at Clear Sky Retreat Center in the BC Rockies and Planet Dharma, and a lineage holder for these teachings. She supports the spiritual underpinnings of social entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurship for spiritual practitioners with AkasaVision Consulting. She worked as an advocacy photojournalist and studied traditional Japanese arts (including koto, shamisen, kyogen) in Kyoto for 20 years, culminating in her landmark work at GionFestival.org.

Since the early 2000s Catherine has provided dharma training and taught the path of awakening to hundreds of students, together with Doug and on her own. In addition to Buddhist philosophy and its applications to daily life, Catherine also draws on generative living (a.k.a. sustainability) and the arts.

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.

Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat at Clear Sky Centre

© Kiku Hawkes

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.

Golf Meditation Horse RidingDoug is an avid golfer (and is trying to convince the local courses to go green) and an eclectic reader. Catherine’s an enthusiastic horseback rider and dedicated to traditional arts. Curiously when they talk about golf and horseback riding, they find that the same principles apply to both: a moment’s inattention can lead to unpredictable results. They marvel that activities with a tiny white ball as well as with a 1500-pound living creature can have this in common.

Read more about our lineage: Namgyal Rinpoche & Sayadaw U Thila Wunta.

Learn more about our retreat center: Clear Sky Retreat Center