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Tempel Smith began practicing vipassana and metta meditation in 1989 within the Theravada Buddhist tradition at Insight Meditation Society (IMS). Tempel focused his younger years on service and activism within nuclear disarmament, environmental protection, and working in crisis shelters for homeless and abused youth. In 1997 he spent a year in Myanmar (Burma) as an ordained monk with both Ven. Sayadaw U Pandita and Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw, and later practiced in silence for a nine month retreat back at the IMS. 

Since 2001 Tempel has begun to teach meditation and Buddhist psychology to a wide variety of people including prisoners, activists, youth, service providers, and those with severe and chronic illnesses. He founded the B.A.S.E. House in San Francisco - a residential community dedicated to living a socially engaged Buddhist life. Tempel spent a year in volunteer service for Zen Hospice, and in 2003 he initiated an international meditation retreat and program for teenagers and young adults which became iBme (Inward Bound Mindfulness Education). Tempel worked for the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in Berkeley coordinating the B.A.S.E. and Young Adults programs, and also has lead pilgrimages in Thailand, Burma, and India for the past ten years.

In 2008 Tempel joined a four year teacher training program run by Jack Kornfield, Spirit Rock Meditation Center (SRMC) and IMS, and now leads the 2-year Dedicated Practitioner Program. The Dharma Tempel teaches is informed by western sciences and psychology, Theravada Buddhism, and somatic based trauma healing.