My Contemplative Bio
The 10-Second Version
Nikki Mirghafori, PhD, is a Buddhist teacher and Artificial Intelligence scientist. She is a lineage holder in the Theravada tradition, empowered by the Burmese master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, as well as the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Insight Meditation Society, and the Insight Meditation Center. She serves on the Teachers Council and Board of Directors at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA, and also as a Teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA. She's a Stanford-trained compassion cultivation instructor, a Berkeley ex-academic, and author. Nikki is of Persian heritage, and aspires to serve as a doula for wisdom and compassion.
The 30-Second Version
Nikki Mirghafori, PhD, is a Buddhist teacher and Artificial Intelligence scientist. She is a lineage holder in the Theravada tradition, empowered by the Burmese meditation master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, with whom she practiced the jhanas and detailed analytical (Abhidhamma-style) vipassana. She also received empowerment from the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Insight Meditation Society, Insight Meditation Center, and is a Stanford-trained compassion cultivation instructor.
She serves on the Teachers Council and Board of Directors at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA, and also a Teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA. Nikki is Iranian-American, has taught contemplative practices internationally, and aspires to serve as a doula for wisdom and compassion.
Additionally, Nikki has been a researcher and inventor in AI, holding multiple patents and co-author of 40+ scientific research articles. She has directed international research programs as the Principal Investigator, mentored post-docs and PhD students, taught graduate courses at UC Berkeley, and been a scientific advisor to Silicon Valley technology startups. She is interested in the ethics of AI, among others.
Ven Pa Auk Sayadaw
With Sayadaw U Jagara
The Minute+ Version
Nikki Mirghafori, PhD, is of Persian heritage and immigrated to the US in her teens. She was introduced to contemplative practices and yoga in the early 1980s, to meditation in 1991, and to Theravada Buddhism in 2003. She has practiced jhanas and a detailed analytical method of vipassana under the guidance of Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw, who empowered her in 2008 and instructed her to teach.
Nikki has practiced with other monastic teachers such as Bhikkhu Analayo, Ajahn Sucitto, U Tejaniya, and Tsoknyi Rimpoche (Dzogchen), as well as highly respected Western teachers, such as Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Guy Armstrong, Gil Fronsdal, and Steven Tainer (Chan). She particularly appreciates and enjoys the depth of long retreat practice.
In addition to the Eastern first person perspective contemplative research, Nikki has studied the Western contemplative perspective through philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience. She spent four years as a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley's Psychology Department with the renowned psychologist, Professor Eleanor Rosch, the co-author of the seminal book The Embodied Mind .
In 2012 Nikki was invited by Jack Kornfield to join the four year 2013-2016 joint teacher training program of Spirit Rock/Insight Meditation Society/Insight Mediation Center, and was mentored by Gil Fronsdal and Guy Armstrong. She was again empowered in 2016 as a Spirit Rock/IMS/IMC Retreat Teacher.
Nikki has taught silent meditation retreats with Western luminaries such as Sharon Salzberg, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, Guy Armstrong, Gil Fronsdal, Norman Fischer, and others on a variety of contemplative topics ranging from mindfulness and lovingkindness to death contemplation. Nikki serves on the Teachers Council at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA, and is a Teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA. She serves on the Board of Directors at Spirit Rock.
Her teaching includes lectures, classes, day longs, workshops, silent retreats on meditation and Buddhist contemplation in the San Francisco Bay Area and internationally, by invitation. She also offers guidance and individual mentoring to practitioners internationally.
Concurrent with her dharma practice and teaching, Nikki has been an Artificial Intelligence scientist and academic at a research institute affiliated with UC Berkeley. She holds a Ph.D. in computer science from UC Berkeley. She has had an active career as a scientist, with years of experience in managing research teams as the Principal Investigator, co-teaching graduate-level courses at UC Berkeley, mentoring post-docs and grad students, publishing scientific articles, presenting at international conferences, and serving as consultant for Silicon Valley technology startups. She has authored 40+ scientific articles and holds multiple patents. She is interested in the ethics of AI. See LinkedIn for more information.
A Longer Version?
Or an interview conducted by Spirit Rock Meditation Center in 2014.
Some of my other wonderful teachers, with whom I have co-taught...
Gil Fronsdal and Sally & Guy Armstrong
Sayadaw U Jagara