I had thought to write you earlier to share with you something of the joyful happenings of these past weeks. Now i enter into a week of personal secluded retreat time tomorrow, and vassa ends this coming full moon, with Kathina just around the corner then.
Reflecting back on the celebrations of the 2595th anniversary of the foundation of our Bhikkhuni Sangha (together with the Alliance for Bhikkhunis 2nd International Bhikkhuni Day) this year, the joyful faces of new samaneris rise first to my mind.
In these past weeks of September, as green began to turn gold, wine, rust and brown, many of our dear women friends too changed. Some were not so green, but still the change from white or pink or the colors of the world to the autumn leaf spectrum of the Buddhist Sangha has been one of a beautiful maturing -- just as much a brilliant transformation. Like autumn leaves falling in a breeze, they were not all in one location, but all connected to the same great ancient tree, falling across the continents of our world.
Our friend Santacari Samaneri was the first here at our Aranya Bodhi Hermitage on the first moon of September (our lunar anniversary according to the Sinhalese Buddhist calendar). At Santi Forest Monastery in Australia's Southern Highlands, she was followed by a Thai Dhamma sister of Ven Phalanyani's, now known as Tapassi Samaneri. (No photos of both of these here as they've already been sent to you earlier here of here of Sr Santacari and here of Sr Tapassi.)
In Sri Lanka, another long time friend and Italian Buddhist scholar, now known as Dhammadinna Samaneri, then went forth.
Then a Sri Lankan friend with Ven Nibbida at Sanghamittarama in Australia went forth, Jenti Samaneri. And very last here (but not truly last! :), our long-time anagarika friend, Maria, went forth at Aloka Vihara in San Francisco as Jayati Samaneri under the final September blue moon. A garland for the Sangha of five new samaneris in the world.
The day after the final Pabbaja, bhikkhunis and samaneris from Aloka Vihara and Aranya Bodhi Hermitage gathered together with friends up at the ancient stupa up on the saddle looking out over vast land and sea, blessing the Buddha, our ancient foremothers, and the world.
A spirit of loving path companionship is growing among us, deep in our hearts, like a well-spring now beginning to be tapped and drunk from. It is a beautiful thing, this fellowship, both closely here, in our area, and connecting us around the world.
The article i've written for this year's 2595th lunar anniversary, "Lasting Inspiration", which i spoke about in talks both here at our hermitage and at Aloka Vihara, has not quite come forth yet, but may be sometime soon, perhaps before the autumn leaves stop falling :-).
For now, as the season further deepens and before Kathina-time arrives, we forward look to the Western Buddhist Monastic Gathering, to the walks for Buddhist Global Relief, and to another very special maturing ~
~ the full bhikkhuni ordination of friends Samaneri Sr Dhammadhira, Samaneri Sr Dipa, Samaneri Sr Santussika and Samaneri Sr Chanda.
Many here in our San Francisco Bay Area know or will remember Sr Santussika from the early days at our Dhammadharini Vihara (she's now at Karuna Buddhist Vihara in Millbrae), and Sr Dipa and Sr Dhammadhira from their visits. There is the plan for all four to be fully ordained as bhikkhunis by a Dual Sangha at Dharmavijaya Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles, led by bhikkhu venerable Walpola Piyananda Mahathera and bhikkhuni venerable Ayya Sudarshana Theri (full news here).
With heart of the most excellent of loving good wishes
to all samaneris, both new and old,
all bhikkhunis and bhikkhunis-to-be,
and to every single one of us
of every mode of being:
young and old,
medium, short and small,
those seen and the unseen,
near and far away,
those born and to be born --
may all be happy,
may all be peaceful
may all be at ease,
Aranya Bodhi Forest Hermitage
Last Waning Lunar Quarter of the 2012 Vassa