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.
Are we ready to look at our opinions? How can we develop the ability to let go and trust? If we can listen within and learn to fully inhabit our bodies, then we will put our burdens down so that we can live and die with joy and peace.
What are we, and what are we doing on this planet? We easily get lost in the dream of the world. It is a very good time to wake up. Right here in your own heart is the greatest adventure possible. See the danger and look inwards into the centre of the storm for sanctuary. That is how we will create a wave of awakening in this world. A talk given at a joint Theravada Buddhist Community & Satipaññā Insight Meditation Toronto retreat in 2016.
An introduction to the Noble Eightfold Path with instructions for beginners on sitting and walking meditation practices. A talk given at the joint Theravada Buddhist Community of Toronto/ Satipaññā Insight Meditation Toronto retreat in 2016.
One way animals restore themselves after an attack and regain their inner equilibrium is through the trembling of the body. We too as human beings can create this inner rhythmic movement through chanting and resonating vibrational waves in the body that help to settle, cleanse and clear traumatic events from our nervous system. Using the beginning of the homage to the Buddha chant, the collected assembly experiment with this purifying vibrational healing sound. Recorded at an Ottawa Buddhist Society daylong retreat.
Sariputta said (SN 21.1): “There is nothing in the world with whose change there would arise in me sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair.” It is hard to remember the Buddha’s teachings when the mind is beset with fear and anxiety. But we can escape from these bonds by disempowering the hindrances, calming the mind and seeing with greater wisdom. For this process to bear fruit, we have to fully trust the path alone and not put our trust in the world. A talk given at a 7 day SIMT retreat in the Chapin Mill Zen Retreat Centre, Batavia, Rochester, NY.
Wisdom is foremost for liberation and it comes with a cluster of vital supports; among them - associating with good people, developing good mind states with a sense of urgency, and practising contentment and gratitude to overcome the complaining mind. This includes respect and gratitude for our parents. When gratitude is not forthcoming, we discover compassion as a healing agent to help deepen our understanding of their suffering – and our own. A talk given during a 7 day Satipaññā Insight Meditation Toronto retreat at Chapin Mill Retreat Centre, Rochester, NY.
Intuitive wisdom develops gradually as we learn more and more to drop the story and view the flood of impermanence in the silence of the mind. Eventually we will be able to answer the question: what remains after the work of purification? A talk given during a Satipaññā Insight Meditation Toronto retreat in 2016.