Ayyā Medhānandī Bhikkhunī, is the founder and guiding teacher of Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage, a Canadian forest monastery for women in the Theravāda tradition.
The daughter of Eastern European refugees who emigrated to Montreal after World War II, she began a spiritual quest in childhood that led her to India, Burma, England, New Zealand, Malaysia, Taiwan, and finally, back to Canada.
In 1988, at the Yangon Mahasi retreat centre in Burma, Ayyā requested ordination as a bhikkhunī from her teacher, the Venerable Sayādaw U Pandita Mahāthera. This was not yet possible for Theravāda Buddhist women. Instead, Sayādaw granted her ordination as a 10 precept nun on condition that she take her vows for life. Thus began her monastic training in the Burmese tradition.
When the borders were closed to foreigners by a military coup, in 1990 Sayādaw blessed her to join the Ajahn Chah Thai Forest Saņgha at Amaravati, UK. After ten years in their siladhāra community, Ayyā felt called to more seclusion and solitude in New Zealand and SE Asia.
In 2007, having waited nearly 20 years, she received bhikkhunī ordination at Ling Quan Chan Monastery in Keelung, Taiwan and returned to her native Canada in 2008, on invitation from the Ottawa Buddhist Society and Toronto Theravāda Buddhist Community, to establish Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage.
A commentary on the benefits of communal life - both monastic and lay - in keeping on the path to Nibbana. There is nothing else to do but practice with consideration and respect for ourselves and each other. Every moment in every life situation, we train the mind. We never give up inclining the mind towards the riches of the Path..
How can we work through mental habits that are deeply rooted? With patience, courage, and penetrating discernment we scan the heart and identify our suffering. At last, waves of compassion, loving-kindness, joy, and calm arise to bless and heal us internally and in any difficult relationships with others. And, in so doing, we grow our Dhamma wings.
If we can deal with the craziness of the mind, we can help to decrease the craziness and violence of the world. But we have to be so patient and keep faith with the process of of cleaning up our own violence. Even when the mind is hot, there will be some good will that we can touch - if we lean towards that which is kind and gentle - harmless - this can lead us towards fearlessness and acceptance.
A short reflection on forgiveness - what we can do when we just can't forgive. How do we deal with difficult past relationships when forgiveness seems impossible? Examining our expectations in relationship and our capacity to forgive when others have let us down - without judgment of anyone including ourselves - we start to open into compassion. Let's give ourselves and others a second chance.
First talk given inside the new Sati Saraniya Temple building. Within us we have a sacred space that we need to reclaim - the very space inside the heart. Here the Four Noble Truths come to life. Know our suffering, not blaming anyone or any conditions for it, see its origin within us, and right here, resolve it, uproot it. Here then, we realize suffering's end, time and again. And so in clearing the heart, we clear the Path.