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.
Step by step instructions on developing your practice by beginning with close attention to your breath. You can overcome the five obstacles to your practice by investigating the characteristics of wanting, aversion, sleepiness, restlessness, and doubt as they arise. With curiosity and determination return again and again to the breath. A deep purification occurs and the mind becomes concentrated leading in time to the deep spiritual maturity of a calm, still, spacious mind. A talk given during a Theravada Buddhist Community retreat in Toronto, 2007.
By practising awareness of your breath you will begin to understand your mental and physical processes and develop mindfulness. You will know what is happening as it happens, and you will be able to recognize a hindrance and turn it off. Spiritual regret for past unwholesome actions can develop and you will be able to abandon
them and let go of a lifetime’s accumulation of baggage. A talk given at a 10 day Ottawa Buddhist Society retreat at the Galilee Centre, Arnprior, Ontario, Canada.
How can we calm the mind in order to not be overwhelmed by thoughts and emotions? We can learn to live skillfully by realizing how the mind and body really work. Don’t be angry with your anger, don’t be caught up with your desires, don’t be overwhelmed by your delusion. But, go beyond and find an island of peace that can result in the ethical perfection that is known as enlightenment. A talk given during an Ottawa Buddhist Society 10 day retreat in Arnprior, Ontario, Canada.
When you move towards what is fearful step by step with courage, it is possible to overcome the darkest moments breath by breath. Draw together all the threads of your life, and let each one go strand by strand. A guided meditation on death at a 10 day retreat, Galilee Centre, Arnprior, Ontario Canada.
An alms mendicant's perspectives on everyday relationships with parents, family, friends and those not so friendly. How we can redeem what may seem like a hopeless dynamic through unwaveringly and patiently insisting on seeking out the goodness in others even in the face of hostility or rejection on their part. A talk given at a 10 day retreat at Bodhinyanarama Monastery, Stokes Valley, New Zealand in 2006.
Practice means we keep trying to purify the mind and strengthen our commitment to the precepts. There is no failure – we just begin again and again until we find our Dhamma wings. A short talk given during a Theravada Buddhist Community (TBC) retreat in Toronto.
While living in New Zealand, Ayya Medhanandi pays respects to the relics of St. Therese de Lisieux that were brought to the Catholic Cathedral in Wellington during a world tour. In this interview for the Catholic diocese, she reflects on what drew her to the spirituality of St. Therese.
Set out on a personal journey to turn greed, anger, and delusion into teachers and learn how to establish Right View in your meditation practice. A talk given at the Buddhist Society of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia in 2005.
Are you interested in becoming fully awakened? The development of determination (aditthana) is one of the Ten Perfections that will allow you to persevere with your practice in spite of difficulties and distractions. A talk given at the Melbourne Buddhist Society of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia in 2005.