Ayyā Medhānandī Bhikkhunī, is the founder and guiding teacher of Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage, a 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 lived as an alms-mendicant Buddhist nun for nearly 20 years, she received bhikkhunī ordination at Ling Quan Chan Monastery in Keelung, Taiwan. In 2008, on invitation from the Ottawa Buddhist Society and Toronto Theravāda Buddhist Community, Ayyā returned to her native Canada to establish Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage.
The deity Brahma Sahampati appeared before the Blessed One and urged the Buddha to teach to those who had little dust in their eyes so that they could learn the Dhamma and practice for their own awakening.
Waking up to our spiritual wealth, we learn the true currency of Covid - it is not fear and frailty but courage, compassion, loving-kindness, community and connection. We see what is protection for ourselves and for each other, dwelling with the Dhamma, the Truth, as our safety - our island and refuge.
To simulate the natural process of death is to experience the impermanence of the five aggregates and a pure awareness that knows the inherent emptiness of things as they truly are. Dying is a potent doorway for liberation of mind and the best death we can die is shattering the ego. Then we can let go of fear once and for all. This guided meditation was given during a death and dying retreat in an Australian church in 2004
Digging deep through the pains we experience with compassion enough to free ourselves from life's trials, we discover the way beyond harming, the way beyond anger. Finally we forgive all the monsters of the mind, all causes and conditions of our suffering, letting them go, setting them free so we can devote ourselves to living harmlessly.
The Fourth Insight known as udayabbaya ñāņa arises bestowing six qualities of upekkha as well as intimate knowledge of anicca through seeing the arising and disappearance of all conditioned things - most importantly, the emptiness of 'self'.
Most highly revered treasures and our true refuges - the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha - are extolled in this devotional chanting of a traditional Pali sutta. The style of the chant arose in the heart while walking in the forests of Sati Saraniya Hermitage.
To carry the teachings home means we are committed to treasuring virtuous conduct and speech as well as wholesome states of mind in daily life where conditions are not as perfect for practice. We empty ourselves of self-centerdness to embody more and more the realization of anatta, the Truth that there is no one, no solid being to prop us - what a freedom.
To vow for life not to compromise our faith, our virtue, our goodness even in a moment of terror. We need not retaliate, we can be generous even in a hopeless-feeling-moment and offer non-harm, safety, a good word. So we grow stamina, generosity and equanimity if we remember to keep the practice alive within us. Keep good-will in the heart at all times.
See present moment experience in its most simple expression so as to notice the breakdown of all fearsome qualities. This seeing is insight which delivers us from the conceptual prison of beliefs into the freedom of direct intuitive understanding.