Saturday, 8 September 2012

Alliance for Bhikkhunis

I've just received the following communication from Susan Pembroke, President of the Alliance for Bhikkhunis. I thought that the easiest thing to do was to reproduce it in its entirety, so here it is.......

Dear Supporter of the Alliance for Bhikkhunis:

I wish to thank all of you for taking the time to subscribe to our site. In so doing, you acted on a loving intention to stay informed about bhikkhunis and to offer consistent encouragement. Simply spreading the word about bhikkhunis and their current challenges can have an enormous impact on how women are treated. I also wish to thank our kind and compassionate donors. All of us have many dear-to-our-heart causes that tug at us.  Please know that we feel highly honored to be trusted with your precious funds.

I would especially like to thank the U.K.-based Camellia Foundation for their 1,000 pound grant to cover the operating expenses associated with sponsoring the 2nd Annual International Bhikkhuni Day. Thank you so very, very much! This exceptional gift allows us to direct all the donations from the 2nd Annual International Bhikkhuni Day right to bhikkhunis. Additionally, this donation was a morale booster to our largely volunteer staff that works many hundreds of hours to keep the Alliance for Bhikkhunis (AfB) humming along.

We believe this year’s event, which honors Sanghamitta Theri, will again inform as well as inspire. We also hope this day of meditation, reflection, and sharing of ideas, knowledge, and experience will lead to conversations about how to create more just, compassionate, and awakened societies. This is what the Emperor Asoka strived to do after his conversion to Buddhism. He charged his diplomats and emissaries, including his cherished daughter Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta Theri, with the task of implementing the highest Buddhist principles. When Sanghamitta Theri journeyed to the beautiful isle of Lanka, she made sure ordination was available to all women regardless of their social class. This remains a stunning achievement, given the status of women at that time. Bhikkhuni Sanghaitta Theri accomplished something that is not possible 2,200 hundred years later for many women who wish to ordain.

What motivated me to create the Alliance for Bhikkhunis in 2007 and continues to motivate me comes  from observing firsthand the challenges faced by women who wish to become bhikkhunis. For hundreds of years, women in Theravada Buddhism have been denied their rightful place alongside their brothers.  Some brave women were imprisoned or punished for seeking ordination. Due to the absence of institutional approval and support, many ordained women still struggle to find adequate housing or obtain other needed requisites, their ongoing perilous existence is physically threatening as well as emotionally distressing.

We want the best for all monks, male and female. Fortunately, because of the work of many caring individuals, lay as well as monastic, things are slowly beginning to change.  More women around the world are being ordained.  However, they still struggle with issues of housing, medical care, and the basic requisites. That is why Alliance for Bhikkhunis continues its advocacy on behalf of ordained women.

Some of the things your support has helped us to do in the past year include:  paying for health care premiums and medical and dental care for bhikkhunis who have no health care insurance, donations toward a new cooking and eating trailer for a bhikkhuni community in Northern California, contributions toward the building of dormitories for nuns in Sri Lanka, toward a meditation hall for a bhikkhuni community in Canada and to a vihara producing a video to educate people on the struggles of women monastics.  Our contributions are not major, but they provide a little help.

Yet, there are so many more requests we receive that we don’t have the funds to support:  bhikkhunis in India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand who find it difficult getting their basic needs met, or assisting a monastery in California that is struggling to pay things like fire insurance and taxes.

AfB is still in its infancy. We are a work-in-progress and welcome your suggestions. Please see the August installment of Present on our home page to read newly-published articles as well as learn about changes in the magazine. Let us know what you would like to see in the magazine.

If you haven’t visited our 2nd Annual International Bhikkhuni Day page, please take a moment to do so. We will continue to be adding content over the next week or two. We have a variety of rich and moving talks and articles that will enable any individual or group to design a day that best fits their needs.

Feel free to select any day in September, October, or November to schedule your event or simply mark September 29th as a day to meditate along with us.

Please also visit our Firstgiving page. The Firstgiving page is a safe and easy way for individuals to raise money. Like any pledge-a-thon, we suggest you invite family and friends, and fellow practitioners, to sponsor a day of meditating and learning. If twenty family and friends can donate $5 to $10 each, that can raise many thousands of dollars if dozens of people are doing the same thing.

Here is a link to my Firstgiving page to give you an idea of what the page looks like. I know many of you personally. We’ve corresponded over the years. Please consider taking a moment to donate to my page. To be honest, I would feel shy and awkward asking for myself, but I am at ease asking for bhikkhunis who cannot ask for themselves.

We will send your donation to any bhikkhuni monastery of your choosing and let the recipient know the gift came from you. Just let us know how you would like your donation used. If you don’t know bhikkhunis personally, you may also specify a country: Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Thailand, Germany, Canada, U.S., Vietnam, Nepal, India, Indonesia, or Cambodia. You may also ask that your donation go toward funding our magazine Present which we offer free of charge. We have chosen to bear the operating costs so that anyone, anywhere has access to our magazine and digital library.

On our wish list is the construction of an archive for our site. As we continue to offer more articles in our digital library and publish more issues of the magazine, it becomes increasingly difficult to locate subjects. The IT costs for the archive are estimated to be about $4,500.

Another crucial way of helping is becoming a volunteer. The AfB is a caring community of practitioners. We work to create a culture that reflects our practice and values.

Please forward this email to people who might be interested and wish to offer their support.


Susan Pembroke

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