By Ajahn Brahm
for “The Middle Way” journal of The Buddhist Society, August 2018
A young Ajahn Brahm (or Venerable Brahmavamso), at Wat Paa Nanachat, Thailand
When I took refuge in Ajahn Chah as my teacher in January 1975, I made a vow never to ask to go anywhere. I would only come or go following Ajahn Chah’s instruction. In May 1983, Ajahn Chah sent me to Perth to help establish a forest monastery in Australia. A month or two after I arrived in Australia, Ajahn Chah had a stroke, was unable to speak or give any more instructions. So, keeping to my vow, I have been stuck in Perth ever since!
In those years, I have helped build a huge forest monastery, Bodhinyana, with 30 monks, a comfortable meditation centre and a beautiful monastery for Bhikkhunis called Dhammasara. The Dhammasara Nuns Monastery is situated in 583 acres of beautiful forest, 70 Km distant from Bodhinyana but only 45 minutes from Perth City. It currently has a Sangha of 11 fully ordained Bhikkhunis and 3 Samaneris.
However, I was born in England, educated in England and learnt my first Dhamma and Meditation in England. Currently, there is no monastery for fully ordained nuns, Bhikkhunis, in the land of my birth. I feel a responsibility, an ethical need, to work as much as I am able to establish the first Buddhist Monastery for Bhikkhunis in a country which nurtured my early Buddhist path.
The Buddha had intended to establish the Fourfold Assembly of Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis, male Upasikas and female Upasikas, from the very beginning of His dispensation saying to Mara that he would only pass away when these four groups were well established. Unfortunately, the Bhikkhuni Sangha was lost for a long time in Theravada. I have done a little to re-establish the Bhikkhuni Sangha in Australia. It has been successful beyond what I thought possible. There is a waiting list of candidates who want to renounce as Bhikkhunis and follow the path in its fullness that the Buddha had opened up for women.
There are few English Bhikkhunis and they reside overseas. There are many women from England (and other European countries) who aspire to Bhikkhuni ordination. However, even though there are many monasteries for monks, there are no monasteries at all in England for Bhikkhunis. I find this unacceptable. I am doing something about it but I need your help.
There is a fine English Bhikkhuni, Ven. Candavisuddhi, who has already sacrificed so much to wander homeless through England, teaching at Buddhist Centres and groups and retreat centres but with no residence to grow a Sangha of Bhikkhunis. She is like a skilled gardener waiting for a garden.