Netanel Miles-Yépez is an artist, philosopher, religion scholar, and Sufi spiritual teacher.
Born into a Mexican-American family, in his late teens, Miles-Yépez discovered his family's hidden Jewish roots and began to explore Judaism and other religions seriously. After studying history of religions and comparative religion at Michigan State University, he moved to Boulder, Colorado, to study with the innovative Hasidic master and leader in ecumenical dialogue, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of the Jewish Renewal movement. In addition to Schachter-Shalomi, he also studied with various Sufi masters and teachers of Buddhism, and counts Father Thomas Keating, Trappist monk and founder of the Centering Prayer movement, as an important teacher. In 2004, he and Schachter-Shalomi co-founded the Sufi-Hasidic, Inayati-Maimuni Order, fusing the Sufi and Hasidic principles of spirituality and practice espoused by Rabbi Avraham Maimuni in 13th-century Egypt with the teachings of the Ba’al Shem Tov and Hazrat Inayat Khan.
As a writer, Miles-Yépez is known for his critically acclaimed translation, My Love Stands Behind a Wall: A Translation of the Song of Songs and Other Poems (2015), as well as his commentaries on Hasidic spirituality (written with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi), A Heart Afire: Stories and Teachings of the Early Hasidic Masters (2009) and A Hidden Light: Stories and Teachings of Early HaBaD and Bratzlav Hasidism (2011). He is also the editor several ecumenical works, including The Common Heart: An Experience of Interreligious Dialogue (2006) and Meditations for InterSpiritual Practice (2011).
As an artist, Miles-Yépez is mostly known for his vibrant paintings, influenced by traditional religious imagery and his Mexican-American heritage. His work in general represents a lifelong fascination with religious iconography, myth and symbol, image and archetype, cultural impressions and his own ancestry. Most of his work is concerned with the acculturation and use of traditional symbols and iconic forms in a new multi-cultural paradigm.
Currently, he is Spiritual Director and Teacher-in-Residence at the Abode of the Message, a Eco-Sufi Village and Retreat Center in New Lebanon, New York, and adjunct faculty in the Department of Religious Studies at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.