Warm greetings from the full moon night.
This past week, the image of the clear bright moon--free from clouds--has been with me often at heart, whether by day or by night. I placed it on my "[away for ordination]" vacation reply when leaving for the Sierra Foothills:
"May the jewel of the Sangha shine in this world,
like the moon freed from clouds -".
When i arrived in the golden oak sima at Aloka Vihara in Placerville last Friday, a golden copy of the program for the bhikkhuni ordination was handed to me and there i found this verse.
Who once was heedless
but later is not
brightens this world
like the moon freed from clouds.
- the Buddha, Dhammapada 172
I learned that it was chosen by Ven Jayati--then just hours away from being ordained--of deep meaning to her heart and path. I share with you something here of those hours and days with her and with our Sangha.
Things never go quite as planned.
The ordination was planned to be out-of-doors. A big rain came lasting for hours, drenching and soaking the drought-stricken land (which was a very good thing).
There were nine bhikkhus (male monks) scheduled to be participating in the ordination (and also nine bhikkhunis). Just as we were about to begin rehearsal the evening before, there was a ring on the doorbell and three of them arrived, including the most senior one, the abbot of Wat Lao Saophuth Buddhist Temple in Sacramento. He'd come to visit the day before because a close friend of his temple had passed away suddenly, and he and several of the monks were suddenly called away for memorial instead.
We had a very nice meeting with Ajahn Bounleua anyway, and he gave sage words of advice to Jayati in the long- and well-living of the monastic life.
The next morning was the real day.
We all payed our respects to the elder bhikkhus who arrived from Buddhi Vihara in Santa Clara and the American Buddhist Seminary Temple in West Sacramento, Bhante Rahula and Bhante Shantarakshita.
And then to the elder bhikkhuni abbess from the Vietnamese Dieu Nhan Buddhist Nuns Meditation Convent in the neighboring town of Rescue, who came to join us with another bhikkhuni as our honored guests.
All volunteers and monastics did a superlative job of setting everything up beautifully and shuttling everyone in with an amazing amount of food for warming and fueling the bodies of the ordaining sangha and sharing most generously with everyone.
As all the bhikkhus and bhikkhunis chanted the meal blessing together, is seemed like the sound spread through and filled the whole space and resounded in the celestial realms.
And then it was time to begin.
Monastics lined up single file in two rows, in the ancient monastic meditation walk formation called "birds in flight" and made our way into the sima - the special space that had been prepared for the ordination to happen.
Sr Jayati passed her initial private exam and subsequent exam in front of the gathered Bhikkhuni Sangha, and then made her request for full acceptance as a bhikkhuni. After the third announcement, there was a joy-filled silence, which meant her acceptance was complete, and she became a one-sided bhikkhuni, accepted by the Bhikkhuni Sangha -- which was met with a great "Sadhu!" by one and all.
She then went, with two bhikkhuni acariyas over to the Bhikkhu Sangha to tell them what had happened and to ask them to confirm and complete her full acceptance into the Dual (Ubhato) Sangha. As the bird has two wings, or humans have two arms, two legs - these is the word used for the two wings of the Buddhist monastic community - the Ubhato Sangha.
Again, with resounding silence, there was the movement of that current of joy, and another great "Sadhu!" resounded - Jayati Bhikkhuni'supasampada - her full acceptance was complete.
She then heard the words of exhortation the Buddha gave for monastics in his communities, and listened to her first Dhamma talk as a bhikkhuni given by her preceptor.
Afterwards she was invited up to sit together with the Bhikkhuni Sangha, as its newest full-fledged member, and we chanted the Words of Sharing & Aspiration, the dedication and sharing of blessings all together.
It is very good for us--we ourselves--to be able to fully accept aspiring women into full membership in our women's monastic community - as the Buddha intended for us.
My great gratitude to the Buddha, our original teacher, and to those teachings transcendent and sublime, those about the depths of these elemental bodies and embodied lives, and those on worldly and ever-so-human conventions for well living in intentional community and awakened and awakening life together.
And my great gratitude to all those manifold sangha members who gathered together this past weekend whose presence and many acts of care made this possible.
With much metta,
image of that bright moon shining clear and radiant,
in the depth of the clear darkness,
unbound, unfettered and unobscured by anything,
- in joy -
for Jayati Bhikkhuni -
She brightens this world like the moon freed from clouds.
Sā imam lokam pabhāseti abbhā mutto'va candimā.
Location of Jayati Bhikkhuni's upasampada:
Aloka Vihara in the Sierra Foothills of Placerville
Photos Courtesy Of: Ute Huesken, Marina Kocherovsky, Shari Gent
Full Photo Album of the Ordination by Marina Kocherovsky here
"The World" Lokavagga Verses from the Dhammapada
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