Letter from Aloka Bhikkhu Thera
Aloka Bhikkhu (Petrus Willemse) was born in Masvingo, Zimbabwe on Sunday 9th December 1956. He went to primary school in Gadoma and secondary school in Harare.
In 1977 he completed the Licentiate Diplomas of the Royal Schools of Music in piano teaching and performing at the Zimbabwe College of Music. He furthered his music studies at the University of Cape Town, graduating in 1985 after which he taught at the Zimbabwe College of Music.
In 1990 he changed career and became the subject librarian for Musicology at the University of South Africa (UNISA) studying part time for a degree in library and information science (BBibl) at the University of Pretoria. Whilst working at the UNISA Library, he attended a talk at the Department of Religious Studies on vipassana given by a Buddhist monk from Australia. It was during this talk that he realised that he had found a way to understanding how things really are. He did several vipassana retreats and then decided to ordain.
In February 2000, he ordained as a samanera at the Dhammodaya Myanmar Vihara in Pietermartizburg, South Africa. This is a branch monastery of Chanmyay Yeiktha Meditation Centre in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma). Later he went to Burma where he took bhikkhu ordination on 15 August 2000, with Sayadaw U Janaka as his preceptor. He joined the Amaravati Sangha in December 2004.