Archive | December 2014

Dhamma talk by Ayya Santini at Gotami Vihara on 4 January 2015

by Barbara Yen

Dear Dhamma Sisters & Brothers,

We are pleased to inform you that Ayya Santini from Indonesia will be giving a Dhamma talk at Gotami Vihara and we welcome you to learn and experience from a very inspiring and dedicated Dhamma teacher and meditation master.

Details of the talk are as follows:

Date :       Sunday, 4 January, 2015

Time :       4.00 pm

Topic :      Role and Practice of the Bhikkhuni Sangha in the Development of Community.’  (Ven. will be speaking in Bahasa Indonesia)

Profile of Venerable Ayya Santini

VenAyyaSantiniVen. Ayya Santini was born in 1965 and became an an Anagarini, (novice nun) with Ven Bhikkhu Girirakhito in Bali in 1990. In 2000, Ven. received her Bhikkhuni Ordination in Taiwan from the nuns of Fo Guang San sect despite the many struggles and challenges she had to encounter to become a bhikkhuni. Three other nuns from Indonesia – Ayya Silavati, Ayya Dhammakumari and Ayya Dhirasirini also received this Ordination together with her.  

In the same ceremony, they also received the Ordination by monks from the Theravada tradition and later by monks from both Theravada and Mahayana traditions.

Ven. is presently the Abbess of ‘Wisma Kusalayani’ Monastery in Lembang near Bandung, Indonesia. Ven. is a very dedicated and energetic Buddhist teacher and has inspired many people with her Dhamma talks and in talk shows held in major cities throughout Indonesia. She is known for her great skills in teaching meditation and is a hit with children and youths until they could not get enough of it and continued to come back for more! She organises retreats and camps for them several times a year.

Ven. also participates in bhikkhuni and samaneri ordinations, both in Indonesia and abroad.

In recognition of her contribution to humanitarian work, Ven. Ayya Santini was awarded the ‘Outstanding Woman in Buddhism Award’ by the United Nations on 8 March, 2007 in conjunction with International Women’s Day.

Don’t miss this opportunity to meet Ayya in Gotami Vihara this Sunday!

Mettena,

Barbara Yen

President of Gotami Vihara

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14th Sakyadhita Conference / Bhikkhuni Ordination in 2015

by Barbara Yen

Dear Dhamma Sisters & Brothers,

Sukhi hotu!

14th Sakyadhita Conference, Yogyakarta, 23-30 June, 2015

The next Sakyadhita Conference will be held in Yogyakarta from 23-30 June, 2015. After the Conference, 1-2 July there will be optional tours to temples and Borobudur. The Organisers cordially invites everyone to participate in it. This is a very good opportunity to meet with many Buddhists round the world, both monastics and lay and of both genders. Some attendees are of other faiths, coming together with one common aspiration – to share our spiritual goals and challenges.

A few of us from IBC group will be going – Ven Sister Sumangala and some family members, C S Ooi, Loo Mew Leng, Pua Kow, Wuan TL, Dolly Teoh, 3 devotees from Kuantan and myself. Will anyone of you be interested in going?

Conference Fees: Registration and Accommodation (as per Sakyadhita leaflet) All costs in USD.

Registration by March – USD60, by Apr 15: USD80, by May 15: USD100

Vegetarian meals June 23-30: USD80

1-2 July (2 days) temple tour: USD30

Airport transfer provided: June 21st ,22nd , July 1st ,2nd

Conference Venue: Sambi Resort, Yogyakarta

Accommodation: Range of USD20 per day at Sambi Resort

Nearby local villages: USD10 per day.

We hope to take advantage of early bird registration and get cheaper accommodation that is near the Conference venue to save cost.

Submission of Sakyadhita registration form

Instead of us sending our registration separately, we can send together to save banking charges. We will also stay in the same hotel/resort for convenience.  Those interested, can send the application form to me or if someone wants to co-ordinate this, is ok with me. Any suggestions from anyone?

Bhikkhuni Ordination

Ordination

Bhikkhuni Ordination in Thailand on 29 November 2014 at Thippayasathandhamma Bhikkhuni Arama, Songkhla

There will be a Bhikkhuni Ordination in Bandung, Indonesia in June 2015 where Ven Sister Sumangala and a few other bhikkhuni candidates will receive their Higher Ordination. The travel dates are from 18th to 22nd June 2015. In this trip members will be able to rejoice and witness the coming together of the Fourfold Sangha – where the monastic Sangha consecrate the Sima Hall and conduct the Bhikkhuni Ordination.

To date – senior bhikkhus and bhikkhunis who will be attending this ordination: Three from Malaysia, one from Australia, one from Thailand, two from Vietnam and two from Indonesia.

Bhikkhuni candidates are from Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Japan.

Let us rejoice with them and make it a very memorable and meaningful one for them. So far, Bro. Ooi, Sis. Yoon Chun, Sis Suat Yan and I have planned to witness the ordination. There will be places to stay for both women and men devotees. The travel plan is as follows:

18th June 2015 :  KL – Bandung

Air Asia: ETD 1.35pm / ETA 2.40pm. Normal fare – RM338 one way without meal and baggage

22nd June 2015 :

(1) Fly back to KL (either 8am or 10.05am flight)

(2) Those going for Sakyadhita: Bandung – Yogyakarta

Wings Air: ETD 9.10am / ETA 10.20 / cost RM162.

1st  July 2015 : Some of us will return from Yogyakarta (JOG) to KL (AK347, etd 1145am, eta KL 3.10pm)

Air Asia fare:

June 30 – return to KL at 5.15pm @ RM110.

Jul 1 – return to KL at either 11.30am or 5.15pm @ RM162.

KL-Bandung-KL = $338 + $338 = RM676 (without meal and baggage).

KL-Bandung-Yogjakarta-KL = $338 + $162 + $162= RM 762 (without meal and baggage).

Note: The above rate is based on flight rate offered on 18th December 2014.

It is better that everyone book their own flight based on these dates and times. Please inform each other if you spot any flight promotion so  that we can save some cost.

Sponsorship for Ordination

We welcome sponsorship for monks and nuns for their flight expenses for those to ordain and those to be ordained. No amount is too small for this meritorious act.

It took bhikkhuni candidates years of training before taking this big step for higher ordination. All of us have faithfully played a part to support them so they will be confident to walk the path and be of service to the Buddha-Dhamma and Buddhasasana. So far, we have sponsorships for 2 sangha. Let’s donate generously for the development of the female monastic Sangha for the wellbeing and benefit of the many.

Thank you.

Sadhu and blessings of the Triple Gem to everyone and happy holidays.

With metta,

Barbara Yen / 012-2072735 / yyyen46@gmail.com

Pursuing the Path to Inner Peace

by Barbara Yen

1st Theravada Buddhist Nuns’ Novitiate (Samaneri) Program at SJBA, Malaysia

7th – 16th November, 2014

 Pursuing the Path to Inner Peace

Barb1

Gotami Vihara Society Malaysia is very pleased and priviledged to be part of this Program. As a small gesture of appreciation and support, we contributed RM600 towards lunch dana on the last day.

Barb2It was the first time that I attended a nuns’ novitiate program in Malaysia and it was an emotional one for me as I sat in front of them watching the emotions of the women (24 of them) as their hair, which some of them had treasured so much, fell silently to the ground. Some with long hair felt joyful, knowing that they will be put to good use by a charity, ‘Little Princess’ of UK to be made into wigs for people living with cancer.

Another activity which moved me and which got some of the audience sobbing, was when the novices knelt before their parents, parent’s representatives or sponsors and expressed their gratitude to them for bringing them up and to get their blessings for their temporary going forth. A father was seen quietly wiping away a tear. It was a very touching moment for all.

The Pabbajja or Going Forth Ceremony, graced by Ven. Saranankara Thera, was a dignified and meaningful event. Robes and bowls were handed to the Samaneris, the Ten Precepts administered and Dhamma names were given to them by Ven Hasapanna, the preceptor teacher. This was witnessed by relatives, devotees and well-wishers. The ceremony went in clock-work precision, ending just in time for lunch dana. I also had the opportunity to touch base with Ven Hasapanna, whom I had not seen for quite a while.

On the last day, the long line of Sangha members – 5 monks and 30 nuns walking mindfully across the over-head bridge back to the Vihara after the pindapata, was a sight to behold. This was the finale of the Program. I felt joyful to see so many young volunteers, some of whom were college students from Indonesia, busy sorting out the loads of food donated by devotees during the pindapata.

We salute the dedication shown by the Venerables, especially the leadership of Ven Dr Dhammapala and Ven Hasapanna and their able team – Ven Sister Sumangala, Ven Sister Dhammadinna and Ven Sister Dhammavati, Exco Members of SJBA, Organising Committee, volunteers and participants who did a wonderful job and worked tirelessly and peacefully to make this a great success. Ajahn Sujato also came to do 3 Dhamma sharing sessions.  They have given everyone an opportunity to participate in this meritorious act of recognizing the importance of the Four-fold Sangha in the propagation of the Dhamma.

Barb3Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!  

Barbara Yen,

President,  

Gotami Vihara Society Malaysia

Commemorating the Contribution of Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta

by Samaneri Sumangala

Commemorating the Contribution of Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta: The 1st Female Missioner in the  World History

Sanghamitta2Full moon day 6th December 2014  is dedicated as Sanghamitta Day – a day to reflect upon the arrival of Venerable Sanghamitta Theri to Sri Lanka to bring forth the Bhikkhuni Sasana oversea and to spread the Buddha-Dhamma far from her homeland Pataliputra, India back in 3rd BC. It is also an observance day of Uposatha (taking refuge in the Triple Gem and observing the 5 or 8 precepts) to mark the arrival of the Great Bodhi Tree, the tree under which the Buddha gained Enlightenment. It was brought by Venerable Sanghamitta Theri from India and planted by King Devanampiya Tissa in the Mahameghavana, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. This Bodhi Tree, the oldest tree in the world is still alive until today (2300 years) to inspire people on the Buddha’s Enlightenment and the Path to and the practice of Enlightenment. It is also synonym to the arrival and contribution of Venerable Sanghamitta Theri.

Venerable Sanghamitta Theri was the daughter of King Ashoka (the great Buddhist king of Maurya Dynasty who initiated the 3rd Buddhist Council and sent 9 missionaries group to spread the Buddha-Dhamma and Buddha Sasana far and wide). She was also the sister of Venerable Mahinda Thera who started the Bhikkhu Sasana and Buddha-Dhamma in Sri Lanka. Sanghamitta was married at the age of 14 and had a son. Later her husband Aggibrahma joined the Bhikkhu Order and when her son grew up, he too became a samanera who follow Venerable Mahinda Thera to Sri Lanka.

SanghamittaAt a very young age of 18 Sanghamitta too renounced her royal household life and became a bhikkhuni. She was known as a profound learner of the Dhamma-Vinaya and referred to as Arahat Sanghamitta. At the age of 32, upon the request of King Devanampiya Tissa for the ordination of her sister in-law Princess Anula and many women in Sri Lanka, Venerable Sanghamitta Theri took the courage and determination to start the Bhikkhuni Sasana in the far distance land. Escorted by the Sri Lanka ambassador Prince Arittha and together with ten bhikkhunis and the eight representatives from each: the royal family, the nobility, Brahmins, traders and many skilled personnel from different castes, she sailed to Sri Lanka with the Bodhi Tree placed in a golden vase. With Ven. Mahinda Thera’s injunction, her effort completes the Buddha’s Fourfold Sangha (bhikkhu, bhikkhuni, upasaka and upasika) in Sri Lanka.

Her arrival was well received and Princess Anula was ordained as the 1st Bhikkhuni in Sri Lanka, followed by a thousand women from different ranks of society. Since then, Bhikkhuni Order continued to flourish and brought about the wellbeing, status and contribution of women as well as the people in the country. As the bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka were so illustrious and well learnt in Dhamma-Vinaya, around 5th CE, recorded in the Chinese history, a delegation of bhikkhuni from Sri Lanka led by Bhikkhuni Devasara went to China to ordain Chinese women by the Dharmaguptaka vinaya, which was also a lineage of Theravada. Thus bhikkhuni sasana continues to flourish untill today although in the 11th CE, when Cholian king from South India invaded Sri Lanka, the bhikkhu and bhikkhuni Order disappeared due to war and famine. In the late 20th CE, the Theravada bhikkhuni sasana in Sri Lanka was re-established with the ordination of ten bhikkhunis by the Theravada monks at Sarnath, India, where the Buddha’s first sermon was preached and the 1st Sangha or Buddha’s 1st Community of the Nobles was established. Since then the bhikkhuni Sangha in Sri Lanka continued to grow. Women in Sri Lanka play a vital role in spiritual life and contribute to the well being of the people and the country. In Sri Lanka, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, a Buddhist woman became the world’s first female head of government on 21 July 1960.

Indeed, it was a remarkable move for Venerable Sanghamitta Theri, a female to break through the tradition of a no..no… from the caste system, from the gender differences, from status and above all from “the belief system of the day.” She was the 1st women ever recorded in history (Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa of Sri Lanka) to take on this missionary task and her influence is immeasurable. Her exemplary practice and attainment, courage and determination, dedication and diligence in propagating and promoting the Buddha-Dhamma and Buddha-Sasana should be taken at heart and be followed for one’s wellbeing, happiness and benefit and for the good of the many.

On this Sanghamitta Day reflect and be inspired to recall to mind:

Be the 1st to travel out of the comfort zone for a good and noble cause

Be the 1st to learn and master the profound Dhamma – the Noble Eightfold Path

Be the 1st to take the courage to be a Dhamma missioner

Be the 1st to support the Bhikkhuni sasana and continue to support the Fourfold Sangha

Be the 1st to set the goal for enlightenment and walk the Path of Enlightenment

As you take the 1st step, the door to liberation is open. Every one step leads nearer to the ultimate Nibbana. This is the step for all your noble wishes to be fulfilled soon.

May you be well and safe. May you be free from the ill of defilements. May your heart be happy.

Namo Buddhaya, Namo Dhammaya, Namo Sanghaya

Sanghamitta3

Long live the Buddha Dhamma and Buddha Sasana

by Samaneri Sumangala

The 1st Theravada Buddhist Nuns’ Novitiate (Samaneri) Program at SJBA, Malaysia

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Samaneri2In the Nidanasamyutta (SN12.65) the Buddha spoke – “Having followed the Noble Eightfold Path and penetrated the links of dependent origination, I explained them to the bhikkhus (monks), bhikkhunis (nuns), upasaka (male followers) and upasika (female followers) so that this spiritual life has become successful, prosperous, extended, popular and wide spread, well proclaimed among gods and humans.”

Around 6th BCE, in the 6th year after the Buddha established the Bhikkhu Sangha, the Buddha established the Bhikkhuni Sangha. With the ordination of Venerable Mahapajapati Gotami and many other women, it marked the liberation of women from all kinds of taboo and beliefs and above all liberation from the cycle of samsara, the ability for enlightenment. It gave women the platform for practice, the opportunity for development and attainment. Since then Bhikkhuni Sangha continue to flourish.

Around two hundred fifty years later 3rd BCE, Venerable Sanghamitta became the 1st Bhikkhuni who travel far from her home land from Pataliputra, India to Sri Lanka to ordain and start the Bhikkhuni Sangha in Sri Lanka. Princess Anula was the 1st to be ordained and the Bhikkhuni Order flourished for more than a thousand year. In 5th CE, bhikkhuni Devasara from Sri Lanka travelled to China to give ordination for Chinese women. Today, with one mission to propagate the Buddha’s teaching and promote the Buddha’s lineage so this spiritual life is well proclaimed, the Bhikkhuni Order spread to many parts of the world – Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia, USA and etc.

In Malaysia, following the footstep of the Buddha and inspired by the remarkable eminent Bhikkhunis of the past and present, the 1st Theravada Buddhist Nuns Novitiate Program (TBNNP) was held in Subang Jaya Buddhist Association, Malaysia from 7th to 16th November 2014 by a dedicated team of TBNNP Organising Committee. This program was initiated by Venerable Dhammapala as Program Director and Teacher of TBNNP. The preceptor teacher for the novitiate nuns was Venerable Hasapanna – one of the earliest Theravada bhikkhuni from Malaysia who is a co-abbess of Dhammasara Nuns Monastery, Perth. The Advisor of the TBNNP was Venerable Saranankara Nayaka Maha Thera, the Chief Judiciary Monk of Malaysia.  The event was organised by Subang Jaya Buddhist Association (SJBA) in collaboration with Bodhinyana International Foundation, Australia and the Centre of Mindfulness Limited, Hong Kong. It was also welcome and supported by other Buddhist Organisations such as Theravada Buddhist Council Malaysia, Gotami Vihara Society and all the faithful and generous helpers, supporters and well wishers.

In this program, the Fourfold Sangha came together to support one another and propagate the Buddha-Dhamma and Buddha Sasana harmoniously with lovely thoughts, lovely speech and lovely actions and with deep reverence to the Triple Gem. This TBNNP gave opportunity for not only women in Malaysia but also those who come from a far – Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and China to experience the life of an ordained novice nun or samaneri. The 1st mission is to pave way for potential candidates to step forward to lead a peaceful and fruitful renounce life and be a good example to others as Dhamma is a way of life. The youngest samaneri was 22 years old and the oldest 69. We even have an upasika of 80 years old. They came from all walks of life – a housewife, undergraduate, director of company and etc.

Although it was only 10 days, this program has inspired many people to walk the Dhamma’s way. The following are some of the participants’ insights into their experiences and realizations – a stepping stone to growth. With confidence, dedication and diligence, the Buddha’s dispensation will continue to thrive for the well being, happiness and benefit of the many.

Manori Tan KC

  1. I have a better understanding of monastic life and a deeper understanding of dharma.
  2. It makes me aware of the challenges that Theravada nuns are facing in the current environment.
  3. I think we need to do more to help the Bhikkhuni Order.
  4. I always rejoice with this wholesome experience.

Sumita Lim EB

  1. Those 10-days monastic experience will be very dear and deep in my heart for my constant contemplation.
  2. During alms-round, I experienced a very strong feeling of inter-dependency and mutual support of the 4-fold Sangha.
  3. The advice of “if the condition is not favourable for you to be a bhikkhuni, BE A BHIKKHUNI IN THE HEART” truly touched my inner heart. It will long be a part of this karmic nature for now!
  4. I was in tears when this question was asked and understood deep inside me: everyone has to walk this purification path alone.
  5. However, the bhikkhuni, samaneri and upasika need to be united, to be strong mentally and physically. They have to stay strong together to care for each other sincerely while walking this Noble 8-Fold Path.

Sundari Yu MY

  1. Samaneri1A great pity that we could not interact though we have the same target in life. We were advised to observe noble silence.
  2. However, I could concentrate learning the meaning and the Buddhist goal in life.
  3. The monks and the nuns transmitted and conveyed true metta – loving kindness for us to experience.
  4. I enjoyed and grasped the essence of the dhamma talks.
  5. Hmm… we are well fed with tenderly care.
    Thanks.

Varuna Ng PH

Patience and perseverance are the two beautiful and great experiences which helped me throughout the 10 days program. They may sound simple to others, however not easy to practise, especially to someone who is impatient like me. We learnt how to put on robes with different styles without dropping it off! It’s a challenging mission – got to be mindful all the time. However, never give up things easily as the success could be just after that very moment while we felt giving up. So I learnt, I practised, I gained and benefited.’ Humbly and sincerely I would like to thank all Venerables for their patience, compassion and guidance. Thanks to Venerable Sumangala for being so understanding and patience with me – thank you for allowing me to stay on till the end of the BNNP. I wish I could get well and join Venerable very soon.

Jayanti Ong PH

In this novitiate programme, I learnt to be mindful, graceful in my action and remind myself I am leading a different way of life now. There is something I learnt from the Kappiya (attendant) during the pindapata which I would like to share. Each time when there are steps, she will alert me to ensure I don’t fall down. She also offer plaster if I need it (as we walk barefoot for more than 2 km and on certain stretch spiky tar road). When we return to SJBA, she squat down and wash my feet. Quite surprise but the respect, humility she showed to “the robe” impressed me. Hope I have merits to share with her and everyone 🙂

Samaneri3Nandani Lai MC

A short experience for a lay person, the closest as can be with the Sangha. The Living of this kind is most excellent. The Sangha are worthy of offering, salutation and support – is the conclusion.

Sumana Koh MH

Putting on the robes, cleaning the temple ground, listen to insightful Dhamma talks, living harmoniously, lead a simple life is just a wonderful and memorable days for me although it is just only for 10days. It will remain with me for the rest of my life and this is what l benefited from the program. “EHI PASSIKO” Come and see for yourself …

Kishani

It was a truly enriching experience and no appropriate words can describe the joy I felt after completing the ten days’ program.

Kusuma Ng NH

  1. Mindfulness can be applied everywhere, including house-keeping activities, eating and physical exercises. As long as we know what we are doing, moment to moment (here and now). Mindfulness is not necessarily only through sitting and walking meditation.
  2. No expectation for meditation, I faced hindrances and end up physically and mentally tired the first 2 days. After clarification from Venerables, I found my mind and body relax and I can perform better in my meditation.
  3. To experience Dhamma, it must be through practice and implementation and not through how many suttas or knowledge we knew.

Sati, Rita Lai, Hong Kong

Coming from a Mahayana Buddhist school, this is the first time I came into contact with Pali chanting, the rituals and theology of Theravada Buddhism. It is not without surprise to me.  In the end, I do admire the beauty in the simplicity of Theravada Buddhism, of following only what the Buddha said and focus on putting Buddha’s teachings into practice.

Deeply moved and most grateful to the Ven.Dhammapala, the Ven. ladies and the impressive Subang Jaya Buddhist Association, supporters and laity for the well-thought programme, the teachings, the enthusiasm and sincere attendance to participants with genuine loving kindness. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu !

Thank you, sisters, for being such an amicable community. I can see and feel the positivity radiating from the group. Come on, future nuns. Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu !

View the 1st Theravada Buddhist Nuns Novitiate Program booklet.

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