Monday, October 5, 2015

The Great Theris

by Roshi Joan Halifax

The Theris, or First Nuns, have long been a mystery to Buddhist women. They stand like a lovely mountain range covered in mist, not visible but their presence is felt. As Buddhism has met the modern world, more and more women are practicing. So also are women taking great responsibility as the heads of monasteries, as dharma teachers and scholars. And many of us wish to know and express our gratitude to our women ancestors.

Photo 1: Artist Mayumi Oda with Upaya's
Mahapajapati Statue
It is in our generation that more is being learned about the women who joined the Buddha’s Sangha 2500 years ago. Their presence in early Buddhism created a revolution in social values that only now is beginning to come to fruition in our modern cultures.

I am a Western woman, a Dharma teacher, and the founder and Abbot of a monastery in the United States. I went to Thailand in February, 2002, to attend the Aryavinaya meeting inspired by the Thai social activist Sulak Shivaraksa. Prior to my journey to Thailand, I had learned about a brave woman and scholar who had been recently ordained as a Samaneri (novice nun) by Bhikkshunis in Sri Lanka. Her name was Samaneri Dhammananda. This was the first such ordination of a woman in Thailand in 1000 years as the nun’s line had died out a millenium ago. I asked one of the conference coordinators if I could possibly stay with the Samaneri after the meeting. I wanted to meet this courageous person, to practice with her friends, and learn more about her journey.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Buddhist Women As Agents of Change: Case Studies from Thailand and Indonesia

Lai Suat Yan

While in Thailand the majority of its population are adherents of the Theravada Buddhist ‘tradition’, in Indonesia, Buddhism is a minority religion with the Theravada Buddhist ‘tradition’ embraced by the majority of Buddhists. However, the development of the Theravada tradition in Indonesia is much influenced by its counterparts in Thailand.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Call for Submissions: 2015 Sakyadhita International Newsletter

We are now accepting submissions for the 2015 Sakyadhita International Newsletter. If you have stories, artwork, interviews, or other items you feel may be beneficial for our annual publication please share it with us.

Please review past issues of the Sakyadhita International Newsletter and email Danie with submissions or questions.

If we cannot use a piece for the newsletter we may have other options available, such as this blog, so please do not hesitate to reach out to us with your submissions.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Poetry of Laura West

The following poems are a selection from poetry I have written over several years. They could be viewed as the gleanings from a lifetime of spiritual searching. The mandalas accompanying the poems I created on a computer. Some of them are made of fractals. I do hope you enjoy these offerings. Laura West

A Wonder of Wonders

Blue Flame
A wonder of wonders
A time unspent
The echo of birds across the marsh
Someone opens a window
A lone dog barks
Sounds that punctuate space
Actually create it in the mind
The sun warms my face
Nothing to add
To a perfect day
How many perfect days fill this space,
One moment at a time?
Nothing to add
Nowhere to go
And most important
Nothing to do

Friday, August 28, 2015

Golden Ribbons in the Tree of Life

I first heard about the 14th Sakyadhita Conference from a friend at Buddha Prabha Vihara, my local Buddhist temple. I was asked to help recruit 100 volunteers. At that time, I thought it would be very complicated to prepare for such a large international conference. I was not brave enough to reject this assignment, but I also wasn’t confident that I could recruit 100 people. Luckily, I had my parents to consult! They told me it’s never wrong to try . . . so I decided to do it.

Just like my other volunteer experiences, I learned how to manage my time well, juggling my studies and my duties as a volunteer. But this time I got more! Although we received six weeks of training beforehand, I think the real training happened during the conference. We certainly ran into problems again and again, but none were insurmountable. I learned how to serve participants and the Bhikkhuni Sangha from all over the world wholeheartedly, and I also made many friends from different cultural and religious backgrounds. Especially, I want to thank Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo and our volunteer coordinators for their advice, which helped me become confident to serve the participants more sincerely.

Each and every single moment during the Sakyadhita conference is like a gold ribbon tied to one of the branches of my tree of life, and I'll never put it down.

The warmth will always be in my heart.

Pricella, Yogyakarta

Monday, August 24, 2015

White Robes, Saffron Dreams: A Look at Gender Inequality in Thai Buddhism

Hilary Cadigan 
June 6, 2014

One of the most distinct illustrations of gender inequality in Thailand is found in its most entrenched institution: religion. In her fascinating new documentary, White Robes, Saffron Dreams, acclaimed filmmaker Teena Amrit Gill explores the discriminatory treatment of women within Thai Buddhism, a topic that has gone largely unexamined in the past.

One of the Buddhist nuns depicted in the film.

The 43-minute documentary, which was released last year and is currently on the festival circuit, follows the story of a Buddhist monk and a Mae Chi (Buddhist nun), and explores the sharp difference in opportunities for males versus females in Thailand, a country that is 95% Buddhist.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Buddhist Reflections on Healing, Letting Go and How Suffering Can Lead to Freedom

Ayya Yeshe Bodhicitta

Letting go is a big theme in Buddhism. It has also been a big theme in my own life. Change and the need to let go are issues we don’t mind hearing about in the context of other people’s lives, but one we don’t really like taking place in our own. But the fact is, sooner or later we all have to accept change, whether we want it or not.

Change, cycles of life and death, creation, expansion and decline are as natural as the seasons. Change can also be a liberating thing, and without it, life would be stale. Change is not always negative. It means we can grow and learn and expand. It means unpleasant situations can transform into more positive situations, but it can also mean we suffer. We can all appreciate the beauty and tempests of nature. We enjoy the blossoming flowers in spring and the new life that emerges from the earth, bringing renewal. We can also enjoy the graceful surrender of autumn as leaves fall and dark comes earlier. Life would be very dull if nothing ever changed. But being born, things must also die. Meeting, they must part and reaching their highest arch, they must also decline. This is a natural law. Somehow because we live separate from nature and mostly in our heads, we have lost sight of this natural law. We hide from old age, try to create permanent security and try to insulate ourselves from anything nasty that could disturb our comfort too much.