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Spiritual Director

Venerable (Ven) Canda encountered the Dhamma in 1996, in India. She continued to live in Asia, meditating and serving on scores of vipassana retreats in the tradition of S.N. Goenka, before ordaining in Myanmar in 2006. After hearing some talks by Ajahn Brahm, she was compelled to move to Australia and feels very fortunate to continue her training under his wise and compassionate mentorship.

 

In 2014 she received full (bhikkhuni) ordination and in 2016, she and Ajahn established Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project, a UK charity committed to spreading the Buddha's teachings and developing Britain's first monastery for the training of bhikkhunis - an opportunity that has previously been denied to women in the UK. After many years of organising retreats, whilst living between kind supporters' homes, Ven Canda and the charity acquired a property in rural Oxfordshire to become "Anukampa Grove Bhikkhuni Monastery." Ven Canda has been residing there as abbot since March, 2024 and is currently managing renovations to transform it into a suitable abiding for monastics and lay visitors alike.

 

Ven Canda is a popular meditation teacher known for her warmth and inclusivity. Her style is engaging, compassionate and richly informed by the Early Buddhist Texts. She emphasises right view, kindness and letting go as wise approaches to meditation and helps students integrate their practice into daily life.

 

In addition to leading retreats worldwide, serving Anukampa's online community, and running her monastery, Ven Canda spends three to four months a year in silent meditation. Her aspiration is to realise full Enlightenment whilst serving others on their path. This includes creating a diverse, welcoming Buddhist community, and supportive conditions that can enable women renunciants to flourish.

 

 

Spiritual Adviser

20141025-IMG_8202Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera (Ajahn Brahm) was born Peter Betts in London, England, on 7th August 1951. He considered himself a Buddhist at the age of 16. He came from a working-class background but won a scholarship to study Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University in the late 1960's. After graduating from Cambridge he taught in a school for one year before travelling to Thailand to train as a monk with Ajahn Chah Bodhinyana Mahathera.

 

Whilst still in his years as a junior monk, he was asked to undertake the compilation of an English-language guide to the Buddhist monastic code (the Vinaya), which later became the basis for monastic discipline in many Theravada monasteries in Western countries.

 

After practising for nine years as a monk in Thailand, he was sent to Perth by Ajahn Chah in 1983, in response to an invitation from the Buddhist Society of Western Australia, to assist Ajahn Jagaro in teaching duties. Initially they lived in an old house in the suburbs of Northern Perth and in late 1983 purchased 97 acres of rural forested land in the hills of Serpentine, south of Perth. This land was to become Bodhinyana Monastery- the first dedicated Theravada Buddhist monastery in the Southern Hemisphere.

 

Initially there were no buildings on the land, and little funding, so the monks themselves began building. Ajahn Brahm learnt plumbing and brick-laying and built many of the current buildings, including the meditation hall, himself.

 

In 1994, Ajahn Jagaro took sabbatical leave from Western Australia and disrobed a year later, abruptly leaving Ajahn Brahm in charge.  Ajahn Brahm took on the role with gusto and was soon being invited to provide his profound, uplifting and humorous teachings in other parts of Australia and South-East Asia. In October 2004, Ajahn Brahm was awarded the John Curtin Medal for his vision, leadership and service to the Australian community by Curtin University, and has convened at many Global Buddhist Conferences (the most recent one in Perth, 2015).

 

Currently Ajahn Brahm is Abbot of Bodhinyana, Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia, Spiritual Adviser to the Buddhist Society of Victoria, Spiritual Adviser to the Buddhist Society of South Australia, Spiritual Director of Bodhinyana Singapore, and most recently Spiritual Adviser to Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project, in the UK. He is also working with monks and nuns of all Buddhist traditions to establish and develop the Australian Sangha Association.

 

Ajahn Brahm has written several books, including the best-seller Opening the Door of Your Heart (published in US as 'Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?'); Simply This Moment; Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond; The Art of Disappearing and Don't Worry Be Grumpy. Hundreds of Ajahn Brahm's Dhamma talks are available for free download in both digital audio and video format. Warm and accessible, they are downloaded millions of times a year and barely a second passes when there isn't someone, somewhere in the world listening to a talk by Ajahn Brahm!

 

Ajahn Brahm has also been influential in establishing Dhammasara Nuns' Monastery at Gidgegannup in the hills north-east of Perth to be a wholly independent monastery for nuns and in October 2009  facilitated Bhikkhuni ordinations there. Despite controversy around the ordinations, Ajahn Brahm fearlessly continues to champion gender equality in Buddhism.

Additional Advisers

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Ajahn Brahmali was born in Norway in 1964. He first became interested in Buddhism and meditation in his early 20s after a visit to Japan. He completed Masters degrees in engineering and finance, before renouncing the world of industry and commerce to ordain as a bhikkhu with Ajahn Brahm as his preceptor in 1996. Apart from having been responsible for the building work at Bodhinyana Monastery, Ajahn Brahmali also teaches the monastic rules (the Vinaya) and gives Pali classes (the language of the texts). Ajahn Brahmali's clear and thoughtful talks make the teachings of the Buddha accessible to all and are very popular downloads on the BSWA website. He teaches regularly at BSWA and in a number of countries outside Australia. Ajahn Brahmali has also published a number of articles on important points of the Dhamma.

Ven. Hasapanna

Venerable Hasapanna was born in Ipoh, Malaysia in 1960. During her days as a lay person she and her family generously supported Ajahn Sujato when he was practicing in Ipoh. The main influence in Venerable Hasapanna's spiritual development is the monastic lifestyle of the forest tradition. When Venerable Hasapanna had developed enough courage and inspiration to become a nun, Ajahn Sujato pointed her to join Dhammasara Nuns Monastery. She joined Dhammasara in 2002, beginning her monastic training as an Anagarika (trainee nun keeping 8 precepts). She then ordained as a Ten Precept Nun with Ajahn Vayama as her teacher. She subsequently ordained as a Bhikkhuni in 2009 with Ayya Tathaaloka as her preceptor in a ceremony at Bodhinyana Monastery, WA, Australia. Currently, Venerable Hasapanna is the Abbot of Dhammasara Nuns Monastery and Assistant Spiritual Director of The Buddhist Society of WA. She is heavily involved in teaching and training nuns, anagarikas and lay people.

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Ayya Anandabodhi, originally from Wales, has lived as a Buddhist nun in the Forest Tradition since 1992, spending 17 years in Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries before moving to the United States in 2009 to help establish Aloka Vihara, a Buddhist monastery for women. In 2011 she took full ordination as a bhikkhuni, with Ayya Tathaaloka as her preceptor, joining the growing number of women who are reclaiming this lineage given by the Buddha. Her practice combines meditation in nature, studying the early Buddhist suttas and living in community. She teaches Dhamma on a regular basis in her local area and occasionally further afield.

Ayya Santussika was born in 1954 and grew up on a farm in Indiana, USA. She began exploring meditation in the mid-70s and received BS and MS degrees in computer science, while being a single mother. After working as a software designer and developer for fifteen years in the San Francisco Bay Area, she trained as an interfaith minister and received a Masters of Divinity degree in 2002. During that training she began visiting monasteries in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia, learning from master teachers, mostly in the Ajahn Chah lineage, where her son became a monk. In 2012, she received full ordination as a bhikkhuni and founded Karuna Buddhist Vihara (karunabv.org) which has a forest hermitage in the Santa Cruz Mountains and a meditation center in Sunnyvale, California. Her teachings are primarily based on the Pali suttas as applied to daily life.

 

(For more information on the Bhikkhunis please visit Dhammasara's webpage and saranaloka.org)

Organisation

Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project was registered as a charity in April 2017. It's objects are to advance Theravada Buddhism in the UK for the benefit of the public primarily by;

 

(a) establishing and maintaining a residential centre or centres offering material support for Theravada Buddhist bhikkhunis and women training towards full bhikkhuni ordination;

 

(b) furthering the education of the public in the teachings and practices of the Buddha by organising educational activities.

 

The charity is run entirely by a tenacious team of volunteers committed to realising the ambition of establishing a bhikkhuni monastery in the UK and creating a supportive space for Dhamma practice for monastics and laypeople alike.

 

Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project has a Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults policy and associated procedures. If you would like a copy, please send your request through our general enquires contact form, putting 'Safeguarding' in the subject line.

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Bhikkhuni ordination at Dhammasara, April 2014

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The four new bhikkhunis, Vens Gotami, Upekkha, Canda and Karunika.

"Herstory" of Anukampa 

2016  January

Ven Canda starts teaching and building a volunteer team in the UK, whilst living in kind lay people's homes.

2016  October

Ajahn Brahm's first UK tour reaches over 1000 people, with a weekend retreat in London, a three day retreat in Roehampton and many public talks.

2017  April

Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project registers as a UK religious and educational Charity with the dual aim of spreading Early Buddhism and developing a monastery for the full ordination of women as bhikkhunis.

2018  July & December 

Residential retreats with Ajahn Brahmali & Ajahn Brahm

2019  January

We rent our first temporary Vihara close to the centre of the pretty University City, Oxford

2022  November

We purchase a townhouse nearby in Iffley Village, Oxford; the first time the Bhikkhuni Sangha has had a designated Charity-owned property for a Vihara. The Bhikkhuni Sangha now has a home in the UK!

2024  March

 

We move into the first Monastery for Theravada Bhikkhunis in the UK, "Anukampa Grove Bhikkhuni Monastery!" Nestled amidst the quiet woodland of Boars Hill just fifteen minutes' drive from Oxford, this milestone is the accomplishment of our second charitable aim. We are now in a position to start giving women the opportunity to train towards bhikkhuni ordination and thus take significant steps along the Path to Enlightenment!

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