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.
Our meditation practice will, in time, allow us to understand how to maintain a state of mind that is free from violence. We can learn how to reconcile the contamination in our minds with a heart that is pure, calm and peaceful. This is a magnificent offering of peace for the world.
May you be well, happy, and peaceful. Learn how to connect with the radiant, loving energy in your heart. Dissolve your opinions and unwholesome attitudes and deepen a quintessential quality for the Path - forgiveness. It is the key to greater loving-kindness for all beings.
Our Dhamma practice builds an inner refuge that we can truly trust and rely on - a steadying influence through life's challenges to help us meet them with greater wisdom, patience, and forgiveness. In the monastic setting, a dual focus on Dhamma and Vinaya, the monastic code of discipline, further strengthen our ability to let go of ego within the seclusion and support of spiritual community.
How can we trick the mind out of its old habits? The Buddha emphasized the power of the four Right Efforts. These royal allies advance the mind to its highest potential, the supreme wisdom possible for a human being. We are here to work for and receive this, our rightful inheritance - awakening to the truth of the Dhamma through our own intuitive realizations.
A dedication to a member of the community who is in the last stages of life. She struggles with breathing but is composed and at peace with the process. We are reminded how important it is to train the mind while we are able to do so. A talk given at Quaker House, Ottawa.