(updated January 16, 2013)
Annual Winter Retreat at Aloka Vihara
The nuns of Aloka Vihara are in silent retreat from January 15th to March 31st. See the calendar for how you can be involved.
Ayya Santacitta and Jill Boone at Sakyadhita 2013
Ayya Santacitta and Jill Boone attended the 2013 Sakyadhita International Conference of Buddhist Women, in Vaishali in Northern India. The bhikkhuni order was first established by the Buddha in Vaishali, when he invited his step mother Mahapajapati Gotami into the order along with 500 dedicated women, about 6 years after his enlightenment. Following the conference Ayya Santacitta and Jill made pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya - the place of the Buddha's enlightenment.
New Year Retreat 2012
We ended 2012 with our annual New Year retreat - this time held at the beautiful Insight Retreat Center in Santa Cruz. Our end of year ceremony involved composting our regrets (written on paper) into what will become an herb garden for the center. Our aspirations were spoken out for all to hear: "Patience" "Fearlessness" "Clear Intention" "Kindness" ... each of us noting the particular quality we need to rise up to, and letting it be known.
Saranaloka is a nonprofit stewardship organization that was started in 2005 by a group of lay practitioners for the purpose of bringing nuns to the United States to visit, teach and establish a training monastery for women. The video is a story of developing a place of respect and opportunity for the nuns that is often only available to monks.
Nuns Sharing Dhamma at Berkeley Buddhist Monastery
2013 dates for 'Nuns Sharing Dhamma' at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, every third Sunday in Berkeley. Tea, conversation, meditation, Dhamma reflection, and dialogue with the nuns.
13th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women
Ayya Santacitta and Jill Boone will attend and present at the Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women to be held in Vaishali (Bihar) India January 5 - 12.|
The conference theme this year is "Buddhism at the Grassroots".
Northern California: 'Lost Coast Retreat'
|Registration is now open for the 'Lost Coast Retreat', an annual wilderness meditation retreat sponsored by Sky Mind Retreats a sister organization to Desert Dharma. The retreat teachers this year will be Ayya Anandabodhi and Desert Dharma guiding teacher Susie Harrington.|
For details please visit Desert Dharma Lost Coast Retreat.
Vist by Korean Bhikkhunis
The nuns had a visit from a group of bhikkhunis from Korea who are on a tour of monasteries and Dhamma centers in the Bay Area and Portland. They attended the 3rd Sunday teaching at Berkeley Buddhist Monastery and joined the sisters on their weekly almsround.
Visit by Ajahn Amaro
We were glad to welcome Ajahn Amaro with some of the sangha from Abhayagiri in early November. It was good to meet again after 'much water under the bridge' and we appreciated hearing news of our Siladhara sisters and old friends at Amaravati.
October Ordination in LA
Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacitta were part of the bhikkhuni ordination of Venerables Dhammadhira, Santussika, Dipa and Canda at Dharmavijaya Buddhist Vihara in LA on October 22nd 2012.
If you look carefully you can spot Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ruth Denison and maybe a few other familiar faces.
Buddhist Global Relief Walk
The BGR walk through San Francisco on October 13th was a wonderful pilgrimage - visiting old temples, paying our respects to hidden Buddha relics and getting to know some of the local ethnic Buddhist community - all so welcoming and generous. The sisters also completed the 12 mile walk from San Jose to Mountain View on October 14th and joined many other Buddhist monastics and lay friends for a 3.5 mile walk in Escondido on October 25th.Thanks to all who were part of our Aloka Vihara team; walking, donating or raising money to help feed the hungry. Together we have raised around $2,700 for Buddhist Global Relief!
Anagarika Maria took Samaneri ordination on the 2nd International Bhikkhuni Day, Sept 29th 2012, at Aloka Vihara.
On September 8 the lay community held an Alms Giving Ceremony for the nuns of Aloka Vihara. The day was a great success and was well summed up by one attendee who said - I felt a lot of joy and a gathering of energy towards attaining the vision of the Ayyas and Saranaloka Foundation.
Help clean up Redwood Creek
On Sunday, August 19, Sister Santacitta and IMC members participated in a cleanup of Redwood Creek in Redwood City. Please see the flyer for details of the event and for contact information for future cleanups.
One Week of Plastic
Our community of 4 saved all plastic that would have been thrown away or recycled for one week and this is what we ended up with...
A small amount of this plastic can be recycled, but sadly, bags and wrappers go into landfill. Maybe you would also like to do this and have a sense of how much goes through your household in a week.
Let's raise our awareness around this burning issue, and not turn away....
An Open Letter from Jill Boone
Life is peaceful at the vihara right now! The Sisters will begin the summer Vassa on August 3, which keeps them close by for the next three months... Read more.
A recent blog post by Jack Kornfield...
I am seated at Spirit Rock with two of the new generation of American nuns, delightfully wise and courageous and funny and incredibly dedicated and inspiring.
Read the full post Embracing the Feminine in Buddhism.
An Open Letter from the Nuns: Vesak Greetings
We are now well into the month of Visakha - or Vesak – the time we remember and celebrate the Buddha having lived in this world and shared his teachings... Read more.
Dhamma Study and Discussion Group
We're starting a new group to study, reflect on, and discuss the Buddha's teaching. The group will meet monthly at Aloka Vihara and will be led by lay members of the community. We will also be fortunate to have a nun from the Aloka Vihara community join us in study and discussion at each meeting. If interested in participating please join: Aloka Vihara Dhamma Study Yahoo Group
An Open Letter: Life at Aloka Vihara
Here is a recap of Aloka Vihara events and what is projected for the future ... by Saranaloka president, Jill Boone. Read her letter.
The Saranaloka Board is Growing
The board has taken on two new officers: Dennis Crean and Dongshil Kim ... welcome aboard! Meet them here.
New Icon for Aloka Vihara
Mahapajapati Gotami, painted by Upasika Sakula is now on our shrine here at the vihara. Visit Sakula's blog: www.thisupasikalife.com
In the News
'Present' Magazine's most recent issue, Winter 2012, includes a lovely article by Donna McCarthy on the bhikkhuni ordination of Ayya Anandabodhi, Ayya Santacitta and Ayya Nimmala. Download the article.
Outstanding Women in Buddhism
Ayya Santacitta Bhikkhuni has been selected for the award, Outstanding Woman in Buddhism. She has just returned from Thailand to receive this award. She is being honored for her contribution to the global empowerment of Theravada Buddhist women. Congratulations, Ayya Santacitta!
Read two end-of-the-year letters: from Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacitta offering thanks and a recap of the year; from Saranaloka Board President, Jill Boone, outlining a vision and practical issues for the bhikkhunis' community.
Zen Monk Visits Aloka Vihara
Zen monk and Vietnam veteran, Venerable Claude AnShin Thomas, and Wiebke KenShin Andersen visited Aloka Vihara on December 9th. Listen to the Dhamma talk given by Ven Thomas, titled 'Ending the Inner War' and please visit the website for Zaltho Foundation, founded by him.
Ongoing Bay Area Monastic Evenings with the Ayyas
Plan to join Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacitta for a monastic evening every 3rd Friday of the month in 2012 at IMC (Insight Meditation Center, Redwood City). There will be traditional Theravadan chanting from the Aloka Vihara chanting book, guided meditation, and sharing Dhamma from the heart. 7-9PM.
'Nuns Sharing Dhamma" Sunday Evening Sittings
Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacitta are offering an evening of meditation, Dhamma reflection and dialogue on the 3rd Sunday of every month in 2012 at Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, 2304 McKinley Ave, Berkeley 94703 (map). 5:30-6:30PM: tea and conversation, 7-9PM: meditation, Dhamma reflection and dialogue.
Chanting Book Published
Our chanting book is available for download on our website. You can also read along while listening to some of the chants here or plan to come to our chanting workshops. We offer heartfelt thanks to Dennis Crean and others for the production of this publication.
After the Ordination Update & a Big Thank-You!
Take a minute to read this letter (November 9, 2011) from the Saranaloka Board that includes quotes from many attendees from the ordination, updates on upcoming retreats and a look at what to expect in 2012.
Hear Ordination Reflections & Talks
At the ordination of Ayya Anandabodhi, Ayya Santacitta and Ayya Nimmala on October 17th, 2011, there were many talks and reflections offered. Listen to them here as either streaming audio or download.
Here is a beautiful 7-minute video of the ordination of Ayyas Anandabodhi, Santacitta and Nimmala. Many thanks to Ed Ritger and Mel Zeki for capturing the spirit of the day.
Meet Our Advisors to Saranaloka Foundation
A group of esteemed individuals have come together in support of the vision of Saranaloka. Meet them here.
Read an Open Letter from the Nuns - August 30th
Only a few more weeks to go before our bhikkhuni ordination and we are well underway with preparations…. Read more.
A New Chapter for Aloka Vihara Nuns and Lay Community
May 7, 2011 marked an auspicious new chapter for the Aloka Vihara. Forty supporters gathered to celebrate the sisters' intention to take full bhikkhuni ordination on October 17 of this year and to then begin to create a training monastery for women in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition. Read more and see photos.
The Dhamma of Sustainability
Sister Santussika made a return visit to Aloka Vihara recently and offered an excellent talk on the state of our planet. Listen here.
Letter from Board of Directors:
Shifting Sands In San Francisco
The Sisters of the Aloka Vihara have just returned from England where they have taken official leave of the monastic community there in order to pursue bhikkhuni ordination, which is not offered in the Thai Forest lineage. Read an open letter from the Saranaloka Board which details the way forward and also announces the new Advisory Board for the Saranaloka Foundation.
Visit from a Tibetan Sister
Sister Chimey Lhatso visited Aloka Vihara for six weeks last fall. We enjoyed spending time with a good friend from the Karma Kagyu tradition. You can listen to a Dhamma talk by Sister Chimey Lhatso here.
Aloka Vihara Nuns Express Intention for Bhikkhuni Ordination
The nuns write: "The ready availability in the U.S. of bhikkhuni ordination offers us a new platform for the establishment of a training monastery for women. Taking all these things into consideration, we have come to the decision to move towards taking bhikkhuni ordination to provide a stronger container to pass on to other women." Read more.
Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi Visited Aloka Vihara
On November 5th, 2010, we were blessed with a visit from Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi and friends at Aloka Vihara. Offering his time and energy to share the Dhamma, Bhikkhu Bodhi received many people for tea and discussion and shared glimpses of his vision of the unfolding of Buddhism in this postmodern age. We regret that the talk is not available for use on the internet.
The donations given that evening were for the benefit of Buddhist Global Relief and we are proud to let you know that our community offered over $500 to support this noble and worthy charity.
The mission of Buddhist Global Relief is to provide relief to the poor and needy throughout the world regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender, or religion. All donations offered at Aloka Vihara on November 5th will go to support Buddhist Global Relief.
Ajahn Candasiri's Autumn Visit to Aloka Vihara
In October 2010, we were happy to receive Ajahn Candasiri at Aloka Vihara for a few days' visit. She met with our supporters for tea and gave a Dhamma reflection which you can find on our Visiting Teachers web page. Our board members also had an opportunity to speak with Ajahn Candasiri about our project, exchanging ideas and possibilities. Before leaving, Ajahn Candasiri accompanied Ajahn Anandabodhi on our weekly alms round. We hope this is the first of many visits.