bhikkhunis - nuns, community, female ordination, Generosity - dana, sangha, Uncategorized

Aloka Vihara 10th Anniversary Celebration

Prajnaparamitta h scaled

If you live in northern California, please consider supporting the bhikkhunis at Aloka Vihara with their tenth anniversary Kathina Ceremony

Sunday October 27th

Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery 2409 Tolowa Trail, Placerville, CA 95667

10am ~ Arrive & Optional Tour of Aloka Vihara
11am ~ *Meal Offering (please bring a ready-to-serve vegetarian dish to share)
1-4pm ~ Kathina Ceremony & 10th Anniversary Celebration

What is a Kathina ceremony?

A Kathina (robe offering ceremony) is a traditional Buddhist ceremony that allows lay supporters to express their support and gratitude toward the monastery and its monastics, through meritorious acts of generosity (monetary and/or material donations to the monastery). It is particularly important and auspicious that we are supporting Bhikkhunis on this day and supporting the right of women to have equal access on the monastic path.

Typically, the sponsors of the ceremony offer a single robe as a symbol of the lay community’s support of the monastic way of life. A Kathina Ceremony celebrates the sublime virtue of ‘dana’ (generosity) and the symbiotic relationship between monastics and lay people, with the laity supporting the material needs of the monastics, and the monastics supporting the spiritual needs of the lay people.

The intention of both the Kathina and the Almsgiving Ceremony is the same: an opportunity for lay people to offer financial and material support to monastics in a formal way.

An Almsgiving Ceremony can be offered at any time of the year, while the Kathina can only happen during the month following the Vassa or “Rains” retreat. For a ‘Kathina [cloth] to be spread’ (i.e., for the cloth to be spread in order to be sewn into a robe) there has to be at least one bhikkhuni resident in the monastery throughout the Vassa and a minimum of five bhikkhunis must be present for the Kathina Ceremony.

Once the Kathina cloth is offered, it must be sewn into a robe and formally offered to one of the bhikkhunis who has been resident throughout the Vassa. This entire process must be completed before dawn of the day following the ceremony.

The Kathina Ceremony takes place within 4 weeks of the completion of the Vassa (“Rains” retreat). It doesn’t rain in California like it did in India in the time of the Buddha, but the Vassa is observed during the summer months here in any case, with the Kathina or Almsgiving Ceremony held sometime in the fall.

Flyer with more info

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October 2016 full moon – Reinstating the Buddha’s Vision of Gender Equity

Friends of mine from IMS recently sent me information about this presentation on a little-known aspect of Buddhist history, the recent revival of full monastic ordination for women.

“This presentation was developed by Friends of Aloka Vihara co-founder Mindy Zlotnick. It outlines the history of bhikkhunis (fully ordained Buddhist nuns) from the time of the Buddha until present day and the nuns of Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery are highlighted prominently as an example of a group of pioneering women who are helping to revive the bhikkhuni lineage.

Mindy was moved to create the presentation when she originally saw a similar presentation by the Alliance for Bhikkhunis in 2011. She had been meditating in the Theravada tradition for over 25 years at that point, and was surprised that she had never heard this part of the history of the tradition.

The presentation runs one hour and provides an overview of the history of the Buddha’s vision of the four-fold sangha and how women were an integral part of this vision. Because of political and cultural decisions, a strong female monastic presence disappeared for almost 1000 years. The revival of the Bhikkhuni Sangha began about 30 years ago and has now spread throughout the world.”

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August 2015 full moon – International Bhikkhuni Day

This month, in honour of International Bhikkhuni Day on 12 September, instead of writing my own reflections I’d like to share part of an article by two bhikkunis (fully-ordained nuns), Ayya Santacitta and Ayya Santussika, who are also climate-change activists.

I’ve had the good fortune to meet Ayya Santacitta a few times, both when I was on staff at IMS and more recently in San Francisco at Alokha Vihara, the monastery she helped establish with Ayya Anandabodhi.  The monastery has since moved to a more rural area near Placerville, California, and friends of mine are helping to organise support for the sisters and their monastery with a special ceremony on International Bhikkhuni Day. Continue reading “August 2015 full moon – International Bhikkhuni Day”