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.
Entering a period of silent retreat simulates the monastic 'Going Forth' with an aspiration to deepen our virtue, samadhi, and wisdom. We take Refuge in our highest spiritual potential as human beings, working from faith in our ability to do this; training and transforming the mind through good-will, wise reflection, and selflessness; and opening our hearts to offer that refuge and safety to others.
A humble novice with his bowl empty exemplifies where true riches lie in this world. Meditating deep in the unchartered borders within, gain those riches by giving up worldly pursuits. See the value of what is true and what reveals the truth to us. Beyond confusion, beyond wanting and harmful ways of being, purify the mind and seek that jewel of the heart's true peace, clarity, and freedom.
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.