About Us

WHO WE ARE:  Ames Mahasangha is an ecumenical American Buddhist sangha (with primarily Korean Soen and Vietnamese Thiền lineage roots - see Lineage for details).  As a modern American sangha, we vow to act with compassion, wisdom and equity, to share resources, and to build relationships that empower liberation from dukkha.

VISION:  A world where all sentient beings can awaken, find freedom from the causes of suffering, and meet their lives with joy and ease.

MISSION: To support and nurture each other and all who seek to practice the Dharma in daily life.

VALUES:  Guided by wisdom and compassion, we seek to support awakening through skillful thoughts, words, and actions, that all beings in every moment might achieve clear mind and maintain correct situation, relationship, and function.

We welcome all people, regardless of sex, age, race, gender, nationality, marital status, and experience, to our community.  We recognize that there are many systemic -isms, and we desire to reduce the harm that they can cause.  We also recognize that many of these biases have existed within Buddhism, such as when considering the place of women in Buddhism.


Guiding Teacher: Ven. Dr. Douglas Cheolsoeng Gentile

Ven. Dr. Cheolsoeng Prajñā (Viet: Thích Hiền Tính) is a Bhikṣu monk and Zen teacher. He first became interested in Chan Buddhism when he was about 8, watching the show Kung Fu with David Carradine. He grew up to become a developmental research psychologist who studies how television and the media influence children. Apparently, he should have conducted the research on himself.

He began studying Buddhism in about 1989, but most of that practice was solitary until 2005 when the Mindfulness & Meditation group started in Ames. He completed a three-year secular Buddhist studies certificate, and a meditation teacher training with the multi-lineage Interdependence Project. He studied personally with Ethan Nichtern (Shambhala lineage; founder of the IDP) before finding his root teacher, Most Ven. Wonji Dharma. He completed seminary at Buddha Dharma University, and was granted Inga (full teaching authority) in 2021. He sometimes teaches at Pure Land Temple of Iowa and at the Interdependence Project. He currently studies with Most. Ven. Myohye Do'an.

He is the author of several published books and audiobooks, including: 


Abbot: Rev. Faith Shim'min Winchester

I began practicing with the Ames Mahasangha around 2006.  Over time my interest in Buddhism grew and developed with guidance from Ven. Cheolsoeng and the support and encouragement of our meditation group.  Taking the first Five Precepts was a big step for me in affirming the importance of this path in my life and my commitment to deepen my studies and practice in order to serve others. I became a Dharma Holder within the Ames Mahasangha and took full monastic bhikṣuṇī vows in 2023.
I work in the printing industry and live in central Iowa with my husband.  We enjoy camping, biking and traveling, and I love to cook, garden, and go exploring around Iowa with my friends.

Rev. Andrew Jiguang Sattva

Rev. Jiguang

Andrew (Buddhist name: 智光性, Jiguang Sattva, translation: Wisdom Light) started his Buddhist journey as a teenager and remained a solitary practitioner for many years.

In 1995, he gratefully accepted the opportunity to take Five Layman Vows with Ven. Hung I at the Jade Buddha Temple in Houston, TX. In 2019, Andrew joined FMZO (the Five Mountains Zen Order), lead at the time by Most Ven. Wonji Dharma, enrolled in BDU (Buddha Dharma University), and started a personal practice under the guidance of Ven. Cheolsoeng. In 2022, he was ordained as a priest (Pujari) with the Ames Mahasangha, and took full monastic bhikṣu vows in 2023.  He was also granted Dharma Holder status by Ven. Cheolsoeng in 2023.

In silence of a hermitage
And the din of marketplace,
the no-sound of the bell with no form
calls all to liberation.

Rev. Hyeon'ui Sattva

As a member of the Ames Mahasangha, I have deepened my practice and commitment to follow the precepts, study the Dharma, and support the members of my sangha and the larger community. My teacher suggested that this is an appropriate next step for me. I am an active member and leader in our local mindfulness and meditation group and Buddhism study group.

My goal is to become more skillful when I take on leadership in the sangha... and to realize liberation and support all creatures.

Rev. Shimji Sattva

I first encountered the Dharma in 1994 with a book in the Theravadan tradition by Jack Kornfield. I continued to study on my own over the years and benefited greatly from subscribing to Tricycle the Buddhist Review, which exposed me to a range of Buddhist traditions. In 2018 I was fortunate to attend a retreat led by Ven. Cheolsoeng, and with his encouragement I joined the Sangha in Ames Iowa and took Five Precepts. Since then I have continued to study with Ven. Cheolsoeng and the Ames Sangha, ordaining as a Priest in 2022.

I am so grateful to my teacher and the Ames Mahasangha. Having practiced so long on my own, I have immense appreciation for the support of others in the Dharma. The aim of my practice is to realize and embody the teachings in all aspects of my daily life, cultivating the capacity to be of benefit to all beings.

Sr. Gŭm’min Sattva

Sister Gum'min

I first encountered Buddhism during my long association with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). I began my Buddhist studies (Pure Land) and took my Refuge Vows with Ven. Hung I of Jade Buddha Temple in Houston. I am a retired RN and currently an end-of-life doula, artist, and teacher of textile arts. I am very happy to study and practice with Ames Mahasangha, and look forward to deepening my practice with this wonderful group of people. Thank you for this excellent opportunity!

Sr. Sangyong Sattva

Sr. Sangyong

Bio Forthcoming

Br. Haengŭm Sattva

Br. Haengum

If someone is reading this, just know that these words will not help you awaken. The top of a very tall mountain is un-inhabitable. If there is one way up, there are infinite ways up so just make peace with your intent to climb and put one step in front of the other as I do. Along the way there have been achievements, spiritual progress, broken homes, saints, devils, and found community (Thanks, D!). Life is full of opportunities to give up or turn back. Learning about Nirvana, mindfulness, Zen, Theravada, Stoicism, sitting in meditation, being held by my children, the rain, the wind, nature, dear friends; all of these things have helped me to hold fast to this path up the mountain.

There have even been degrees and certificates awarded, and there are more in progress, how impressive?? Exercise for me is also a form of practice and asceticism, how American?? I hope creative outlets are viable in the future, but who knows??  I’ve been over a decade going up the mountain, climbing like a decrepit old man riding a turtle since I was 20! Can you believe it!?