Saturday, 31 July 2010

A Quote & a Picture That I Like


On hearing true teachings,
the hearts of those who are receptive,
become serene -
like a lake, deep, clear and still.

Verse 82

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Female Ordination, Another View

Mae ji in Bangkok
Some of you may have noticed that there were some comments being added to our posts. A whole crop of them were in Chinese saying strange things like Things were going to be cautious, be patient in adversity............, but on  closer examination I found that the trailing "..........." after the comment was actually a link, I'll leave you to imagine to what sort of site!

The following however is in English and relates to one of our postings re: the vexed question of Full female ordination, More on "Nun" Ordinations at Amaravati. Our policy is to welcome all comments as long as they're not an excuse to link to other sites of an inappropriate nature.
Anonymous said...
The Five Points perfectly make sense in a Theravada Buddhist monastic setting and appear to be very meaningful in the way that they will really contribute to achieving the goal of nibbana in this very life for the women thus ordained.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

13th Annual Buddhist Picnic only Six Weeks Away!

The next Island Buddhist Picnic is just six weeks away! We will all be meeting up on Sunday the 5th of September at the Botanic gardens in Ventnor. The picnic will start from 12:00 onwards so bring plenty of nice vegetarian food to share also Feel free to bring along family, friends, dogs (none of them have to be Buddhists!) oh, and games!

We will be in the picnic area next to the children’s play ground, I’ll be posting directions and any further news on the here on the website.

Just on a note of interest, I’ve been in touch with Palaka and he reckons that this will be the 13th Buddhist picnic that we’ve held on the island.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

A Visit to Chithurst & a Letter from Perth

I have just come across this letter from Ajahn Brahm to Thanissara which she has kindly forwarded and posted on the "Women and the Forest Sangha" group. The mention of Ajahn Sucitto is an interesting coincidence as this past Sunday the West Wight Sangha again joined forces with the Newport Soto Zen group to travel over to Chithurst where, for the first time, the lay forum was lead by Ajahn Sucitto himself, a real privilege and joy (more to follow on that).

Dear Thanissara, I have just read your excellent article in "Present", but would like to correct a couple of minor points. Bodhinyana Monastery in Perth was never a member of the "Elders Council", I was never invited to any of their meetings, nor was I ever informed of what they discussed or agreed upon. This council was made up of senior monks from Amaravati, Chithurst, Harnham, Devon Vihara, the Swiss monastery, the Italian monastery, Abhayagiri and Bodhinyanarama in New Zealand. This was because Bodhinyana Monastery in Perth began when Ajahn Chah sent Ajahn Jagaro to Australia. It was a direct offshoot of Wat Pah Pong. It did not originate as an offshoot of Amaravati/Chithurst, and so was never under Ajahn Sumedho. This was why we were never part of the "Amaravati Group". For this reason, the Sangha in Perth felt no obligation to consult with this council prior to the Perth Bhikkhuni Ordinations last year. That I did personally inform Ajahn Sumedho and Vajiro about the ordinations about 10 days' beforehand was out of courtesy, not obligation. However, I did consult the Thai Elders Council (Mahatherasamakom) through its leader, Somdej Pootajarn. He famously told me three times in response to my direct question on Bhikkhuni ordination in Australia that "Thai Sangha Law does not extend to the West". I also consulted with Phra Prom Gunaporn (Phra Payutto), probably the most esteemed scholar currently in Thailand, and he advised to act compassionately. A copy of his letter is posted on Ajahn Sujato's Blog. I also consulted with the head of Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University, Phra Dhammakosajarn, but he declined to reply.The oft repeated charge against the Perth Sangha of non consultation is a myth. Lastly. I was organising the 2009 WAM. When I asked for subjects to discuss, only Ajahn Sucitto gave any suggestions. All the other Theras supplied nothing. It was myself who suggested that we discuss Bhikkhuni Ordination at the WAM. No-one else showed any interest. Once I discovered in November about the Five Points, I realised why none of these monks were interested in discussing Bhikkhuni Ordination. All is well in Perth. The Sanghas are thriving, the lay supporters are growing in numbers, and tonight I give my first talk in Bangkok since the Perth Bhikkhuni Ordinations. With Mega Metta, Ajahn Brahm

Monday, 19 July 2010

A Quote that I Like

One of our Sangha members sent me this quote by Albert Einstein speaking to a Rabbi grieving the death of his 16 year old daughter..... it is pure Buddhism.

"A human being is part of the whole, called by us 'universe,' a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Sister Thitamedha to Disrobe because of the "Five Points"

I have just come across the following sad news, Ajahn Thitamedha is to disrobe as a Siladhara because of the Five Points. In the following letter she explains why..........

Warmest greetings from Thitamedha.

I would like to inform you about my new changes.

The last letter I sent you with my plans to be a tudong (wandering) nun is now out of date, unfortunately.

Being in California for the last 3 months, as part of the Saranaloka project, and living with the sisters in Aloka vihara has been deeply nurturing and nourishing, and also revealing for me.

I have been very touched and moved to be part of this project and to help even a bit with establishing the independent nuns' community in the US.

As some of you might know, the events of last year and in particular the introduction of the 5-points agreement to the sisters, was the most challenging and painful time in my monastic life.

My heart has been breaking after I agreed to it. The result of this painful process was shocking for me. While here in California, I realised I cannot any more continue to be a Theravada Buddhist nun.

I need to leave monastic life, and I will disrobe on 2nd of August at CBM and leave on the 4th.

I went through deep emotional trauma, which I have been able to attend to and be with during my stay in California, in the nourishing and nurturing environment where the Feminine is valued. I experienced a ground which deeply appreciates and welcomes women samanas.

I have been a monastic for almost 16 years and a siladhara for 14 years. It was the most transformative and wonderful part of my life. It enabled me to be who I am now and I am deeply grateful for having had this opportunity.

But, in this hierarchical structure one has to really be alert and align the Heart with Love and Compassion so as to relate to each individual, not in accordance with hierarchy, but as a fellow human Being, trying to resonate with the pains of others and cultivate ahimsa. Otherwise, one can easily get conditioned to relate to the world and fellow human beings from this position of hierarchy.

After living in monastic mixed communities for almost 16 years I have come to the understanding that in order to flourish and grow, monastic women have to live separately. This is mainly because of the lack of equality for the female samanas in the mixed communities.

Even though the majority of the monks on the personal level could be friendly and supportive - being real brothers - the Theravada monastic system itself, which is based on hierarchy and patriarchy (in its essence) is very undermining, and lacking in respect for the Feminine or female samana. I share this based on my personal experience.

The longer one is living in this system being a female samana the more one faces these challenges. On the individual level, one could practice with it for a while and keep letting go and keep releasing the pain/dukkha of it, but in the long term , in order to grow and unfold to our true beautiful human potential, we all need an environment which is nourishing and caring, based on mutual respect, Love and equality -- despite gender, years of monastic life, and the number of precepts one keeps.

My previous plans and letter about the tudong/pilgrimge was very uplifting for me as it was for many of you. Almost every one of you were very kind and supportive and encouraging when I announced my plans in January to go and be a tudong nun. And now I've realized how deeply I was affected by the 5 points and events of the last few years, resulting in my decision.

It is strange, but despite the pain of last year, I am basically very well - clear and strong and steady. Deeply well in the core of my Being. I am fully committed to The Path Of Awakening through Cultivation of the Heart, through Love and Compassion. And I will continue my Spiritual Path as a lay practitioner.

In regards to my future plans, I would still like to be a wandering yogi-practitioner, a pilgrim for a couple of years. And after that I do not know. The Path is wide Open.

Well, my dear Sisters and Brothers on The Path, I want to thank you all of from the depth of my heart for all your love, support and encouragement all these years. I will keep you all in my heart and prayers,

Much love and an ocean of blessings,


World Population Day

On this day, the UN marks the anniversary of the day, in 1987, when the world's population exceeded 5 billion. This is a day to think about population-related issues in an ever more crowded world.

See the Population Clock at the OPT website.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

"Amongst White Clouds", Buddhist Hermits of the Zhongnan Mountains

I have just posted a fascinating documentary, "Amongst White Clouds" on our Video page.

An intimate insider's look at the reclusive Buddhist masters living in scattered retreats dotting China's Zhongnan mountain range. These peaks have reputedly been home to reclusive monks since the time of the Yellow Emperor, some five thousand years ago. It was widely thought that the tradition was all but wiped out, but this remarkable film emphatically and beautifully shows otherwise.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Amaravati Monk Leaves in Protest Over the "Five Points"

I have just come across this from the Women and the Forest Sangha Facebook group. It's particularly poignant as we are preparing to join the Newport Soto Zen group for another visit to Chithurst Monastery, the affiliate of Amaravati Monastery.

Letter from Aloka Bhikkhu Thera

Respectful Greetings To You All, I would like to inform the fourfold Sangha that I have decided to leave the community. I will leave Amaravati Monastery on Friday, 16 July 2010. The main reason for leaving is the fact that I do not agree with the Five Points that were... drawn up as a condition for Siladhara ordination to resume again. I also do not agree with the way Ajahn Brahmavamso was treated as a result of the four bhikkhuni ordinations carried out in Perth. Consequently, as this is the way the Forest Sangha tradition is currently being held I have chosen to leave the Forest Sangha. My earnest wish is for all Buddhist traditions, indeed all religious traditions, to fully endorse Bhikkhuni ordination. In addition, over the past three years my interest in the Vajrayana practices have become central to my daily practice. I have therefore decided to pursue my monastic career in the Tibetan tradition. I am sure that for some people there may be mixed feelings regarding my decision to leave but I want to assure everyone that my intention was never to hurt or offend anyone. My decision comes from a sincere effort to live my truth as I see it at this stage of my life. It remains for me to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for all the teaching and support that I have received from Luang Por Sumedho, all the monks and nuns, and many members of the lay community during the past five years at Amaravati. I am sure that for the rest of my life I will often be reminded, and realise anew, all the blessings that I have received whilst living at Amaravati. Most importantly I would like to express my deep gratitude to all my special Dhamma friends whose friendship and support I will always cherish in my heart. Your friendship will be one of the greatest treasures that I will take with me as I leave. Please do keep in touch. Please feel free to forward my letter to whoever you want. May you have a long and happy life, May you see the beauty in your life, May you have the energy to pursue your practice until you can accept your own Enlightenment. Blessings to you all, Aloka Bhikkhu. 

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.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Happy Birthday to the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is 75 today!

I've just signed a tribute to the Dalai Lama for his 75th birthday and you can do the same at

It will be delivered to him personally outside the main temple in Dharamsala and a numbers of signers and personal messages will be broadcast across the region.

The Dalai Lama at 75: the story so far, in pictures.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Somethings Missing

It has been brought to my attention that some of our features are not working for people using Internet Explorer. Those features affected are embedded audio talks and videos. If you can't "see" or use the Audio players in our Audio section or see the videos at the bottom of the page in our Video section then this problem affects you. The only cure that I can find is to use Firefox as your browser (this is not an advert, Firefox is just so much better than IE).

If you are missing any "plugins" such as Adobe Flash Player, Firefox will prompt you to download or update them with a message on the "blank" video. Firefox can be downloaded (for free) at It is perfectly O.K. to use more than one browser, so there is no need to get rid of Internet Explorer.

I would be grateful if anyone who is having problems could let me know.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

A "Different" Thought for the Day

I have just posted Wednesday's "Thought for the Day" in our Audio Section. It is by Oliver McTernan who is Co-Founder and Director of Forward Thinking an NGO which is dedicated to empowering individuals and grassroots communities across the UK. The talk comes from a Christian perspective but if you drop the Jesuit reference and ignore the "god given" statement it is directly relevant to Mindfulness practice and Present Moment Awareness. There is also a part that directly translates as being the equivalent of the five Hindrances.