March 16, 2024

Fundraising For A Buddha Statue

This fundraiser, set up by trustworthy Dhamma friends and supporters, is for a special antique Buddha-rupa from Myanmar for our new Anukampa Grove Bhikkhuni Monastery. The statue is being held for us at an outlet in the Netherlands, an hour from the home of two supporters and they have been there to examine and select it for its suitability and inspiring energy.

Please share this opportunity for giving widely and help our friends succeed!

With metta from the Anukampa community

Click HERE to contribute

February 28, 2024

A Dhamma Journey From Laos to the UK

By Casey

The idea of ordaining had already been playing around in my mind the first time I heard about bhikkhunis. I had been living in the heavily Theravada but bhikkhuni-less country of Laos for about five years when I mentioned this aspiration of nun-hood to my boss offhand. My boss, a young-at-heart Thai gender equality advocate with a Western-leaning belief in the right to self-determination, was unsurprisingly supportive.

“Would you ordain in white or in orange?” she asked.

I was confused by the question and wondered if I had misunderstood my boss’s Thai-accented Lao.

“Women can only ordain in white..” I said tentatively, but she quickly jumped in.

“Not anymore! In Thailand there are women who are starting to take full ordination in orange robes, just like men. If you want to ordain, you could become an orange-robed nun!”

It took me a moment to process this new information. Orange-robed nuns! It seemed strange and almost impossible to my Lao-influenced mindset. I admitted that it was an interesting option, but since it didn’t exist here in Laos, it felt irrelevant. Over the past several years and through the pandemic, Laos had become home, and the idea of crossing over the Mekong to unfamiliar Thailand just for some orange robes felt excessive. It seemed to me that orange-robe wearing must be little more than a surface-level statement on the part of a handful of activists. It was interesting to know about, but not something I needed to be a part of. There were plenty of white-robed nuns practicing the Dhamma right in Laos, and it didn’t make sense to me to seek opportunities any farther away than that.

I mostly forgot about the conversation until a few months later when I stumbled upon a talk on YouTube given by one of the strange orange-clad nuns my boss had told me about. There on the screen was a Western woman, a monastic wrapped in orange with a stylish beanie sitting in front of a Buddharupa teaching. I didn’t realize until that moment that I had never heard a woman teaching the Dhamma before. Yet as the bhikkhuni spoke, pulling me ever deeper into the subtle Dhamma, answering questions with centered confidence and profound compassion, it was clear to me that she was one of the most skilled teachers I had ever listened to, and was possessed of a deep understanding of the Buddha’s teachings. A strong sense of respect and admiration for this nun, the Venerable Canda, arose in me, yet still I did not think very much of it. If the bhikkhunis in Thailand felt far away, then how much farther was England! I was content to keep practicing right where I was.

As I practiced, thoughts of ordaining continued to increase instead of diminishing and eventually I decided to leave my job, immediately taking a month-long temporary ordination as a white-robed 8-precept nun, or mae khao, at a forest monastery outside of Vientiane. The other mae khaos there were all semi-permanent monastery residents, and averaged about three or four decades older than I was. These tough, bald-shaven grandmas had spent decades developing their qualities of generosity and virtue before retiring into the monastery in their old age, and now that they were free of the burdens of family life, they dedicated themselves with joy and zest to making as much merit as they could. Sweeping the leaves! Cooking for the monks! Distributing water during puja! Sharing their soy milk! Every day was a merit-making festival, and no source of merit went unexploited. When the monks came to teach the Dhamma twice a day the merit festival continued with teachings, stories and suttas about the beneficial results of making merit and the fruits of a virtuous life.

As much as I rejoiced in the skillful actions and beautiful service that surrounded me in this community of monastics, I also found myself starting to feel isolated and even guilty when I snuck off to meditate during our free time while the rest of the mae khaos were sweeping, cooking and cleaning. And although the other mae khaos commented positively on my interest in sitting in meditation so often, the fact that I was the only one doing so made me feel like it wasn’t appropriate, as if meditation was something that was better left to the monks. Indeed I got the sense that the mae khaos saw their role as one that enabled the monks’ practice, and to take time for my own practice somehow felt selfish and disrespectful of the privileges the monks had earned through their ordination and diligence. I started to wonder what my life would look like if I did ordain at this temple or a similar one. Would I always be sneaking off from the other nuns as they were working to steal extra time for meditation? Would I be able to access the teachings directly, or would I have to rely on what the monks chose to share with us? And what would happen if I wanted to study Pali and sit in meditation in a quiet kuti like the bhikkhus did instead of sweeping leaves and cooking?

One Uposatha night, two mae khaos, one white-robed layman, two monks, and I stayed up late into the night in a flooded shrine room chanting and meditating by turns. I envied the white-robed layman for how easily he could access the monastics. He sat just to their side, while the other mae khaos and I sat behind a large puddle at the back of the room. While he was free to be alone with the monks, it was not proper for me to stay and continue meditating with them if my female companions decided to leave. But as we listened to the monks’ beautiful Pali chants that night and observed their still, peaceful meditations, another kind of envy arose in me. Envy for the same orange robe I had once dismissed. As I watched the senior monk stand from chanting and arrange his robe around himself for a standing meditation, it struck me all at once how much he carried in that orange robe–227 precepts, access to close guidance from monastic teachers and companions, the opportunity to study the teachings in multiple languages, the guarantee of time for practice, the right to teach and to lead, the respect and honor of the lay community–it became quickly and immediately clear to me that this piece of cloth that had once seemed to me like nothing in reality carried gifts far more meaningful than I had given it credit for. I thought back to the video of Venerable Canda that had so reached me, and decided that when I left the temple, I would seek it out. I was sure there must be wider Dhamma opportunities somewhere out there, and was determined to learn more about Buddhism in the West and about these orange-robed bhikkhunis I had initially dismissed.

I began watching videos of Venerable Canda’s teachings as soon as I left the monastery, and from then it was not long before I had gone from watching to joining the Zoom sessions in person. Within weeks, I booked myself in for an in-person visit to the vihara in Oxford. The deeper I got into the community, the more my feeling of awe grew at the strong, committed group of Dhamma followers that had sprung up around the Anukampa project. Each individual I met in connection with the project carried with them deep roots of Dhamma practice, probably developed over many lifetimes. Without fail I found the supporters of the project to be diligent practitioners of virtue, peace, generosity, and learning. But what struck me most of all was their saddha, their confidence or faith. It looked very different from the kind of saddha I was used to seeing in Laos, where the phrase “people with saddha” has come to mean “people who donate”, and even those with a deeper sense of the teachings tend to interpret saddha as referring to unquestioning acceptance of everything the Buddha taught. Although every expression of saddha is beautiful, and accepting all the Buddha’s teachings inevitably leads one towards great benefit, there was something deeply moving to me about seeing people who expressed their faith in every aspect of their practice and life–through service, study of the teachings, kindness, meditation, and so many other ways big and small. It was more nuanced and felt truer to me than any of the expressions of saddha I had seen up to that point. The people in this community joined together for the truest and purest of reasons–because in Anukampa they had found a community that embraced and supported them in their highest aspirations, and one that they could depend on to lead the way out of suffering. 

I imagine that the kind of community surrounding Anukampa is similar to what the Buddha’s Dispensation looked like in the early days of his teaching, before he had gained renown across the subcontinent and was surrounded by the countless masses of Savatthi, Rajagaha, and beyond. In the early days, those gathered around him were not there to hear a famous Master speak, but because they saw the Blessed One’s flawless practice, heard his deep-cutting words, and could tell that what the Buddha revealed to them was the pinnacle of all paths to be followed. They came for the Dhamma, not for the renown, not out of tradition, but out of deep confidence in the teacher and the practice. That is the beauty of starting something from scratch, something that is clearly evident among the followers of Anukampa. The people who come to places like this do so for no other reason than because they have Dhamma rooted in their hearts.

But just as happened when the Buddha’s teachings gained renown 2,500 years ago, as the true teachings and good practice of skillful teachers and supportive Dhamma communities reach the ears of more and more people, they bring in growing amounts of followers and support. Expansion becomes inevitable. In quick succession, the first bhikkhuni residence in the UK became the first vihara, and now the first vihara is on the cusp of blossoming into a full forest monastery for bhikkhunis! Just a year or two ago, the idea of a thriving Early Buddhist monastic community led by women, with women studying suttas, teaching the Dhamma, running the monastery, and following the full set of precepts prescribed in the Vinaya would have been unfathomable to me. Now it is very likely that I’ll be able to see it in person on my next journey to the UK! 

So much rejoicing arises in me when I consider the opportunities this new monastery will open for women practicing the Dhamma. As Anukampa and its sister-projects that support bhikkhunis continue to flourish and grow, the frustrations I’ve experienced trying to access male teachers and eke out a space for practice in a world where so many of the Dhamma-spaces available to women only emphasize a limited portion of the full Eightfold Path will become a thing of the past. Having a front-row seat to the blossoming of the Anukampa Project has made me feel unfathomably fortunate to have been born as a woman in the human realm in this time and place. It is a taste of what the Buddha’s own community must have felt like in the early days of the Dispensation–like watching the slow unfolding of the most beautiful lotus imaginable. If I do decide to ordain, I would want to be surrounded by exactly this kind of community, bound together by wholesome qualities and confidence in the teachings and the bhikkhuni Sangha. 

Every woman with thoughts of ordination should have the opportunity to picture a future in robes of the kind Anukampa can offer. In a worldly sense it may be true that a colour is just a colour, but what I didn’t know when I started this journey is that a bhikkhuni’s robes are coloured with a dye thicker than saffron–the priceless dye of the Dhamma-Vinaya, and the path to cessation that the Buddha and his predecessors have been setting out for women not only for the past 2,500 years, but for countless world-cycles of beginning-less history. With the opening of Anukampa’s first bhikkhuni monastery, a timeless inheritance is being returned to women and to visitors of all colours, genders, abilities and backgrounds, across the UK and the world.

December 21, 2023

Warmest Dhamma greetings and some ✨BIG NEWS✨ as a Christmas present to you!

by Ven Canda

View from Boars' Hill over the Oxford Spires
View from Boars’ Hill over the Oxford Spires

The last month has been the most momentous time in eight years for Anukampa. Of course this was not really out of the blue, but the sudden and beautiful ripening of many intentions, so much hard work, and all your trust and support across the years.

If you are regularly in touch with us, you will know that I found a promising property whilst Ajahn Brahm and I were travelling back to Oxford from his family visit to Liverpool. I called for a viewing there and then, in the hope we could visit it together…

We both liked it a lot ~ for the location, seclusion and space ~ and since then we have engaged the support of the wider community. Dhamma friends locally and internationally pulled together to offer loans so that we can seize this rare opportunity. The energy and love has been heart-warming in a way that deepens faith. Since then we also welcomed three brilliant new trustees, two of whom, Manori and Elena, have been engaging with me late into the night to get solicitors, contracts, trustee approval etc. in place, so that we are in a position to make an offer.

We made our offer last week, whilst I was teaching a 6-day Loving-kindness (metta) retreat in Devon. The agent came back to us immediately to announce that our offer was one among four! He gave us another 36 hours to put in our “best and final, non-regrettable” offer. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to extend metta to nerves and the hard world of business! We couldn’t stretch much further and I thought we had lost it. Meanwhile, the retreatants continued pouring out metta and I felt held and embraced by the Dhamma. We called on the devas, the goodness of our intentions and the Ariya Sangha for support and “improved” our offer on Friday 8th December.

On Saturday 9th December I returned back to Oxford from the retreat, to an email. Our offer was accepted, subject to a meeting with the owners, surveys and contracts! I knew it was meant to be, by the peaceful joy that came over me. If everything goes smoothly from here, we aim to exchange contracts at the end of January.🤞

It feels slightly surreal and far more powerful than anything that could be willed into existence by a single person or even a group – thousands of millions of intentions coming to fruition. This is BIG STUFF that clearly must happen for the spread of Dhamma and the rooting of the Bhikkhuni Sangha here in the UK! 🙏

Pond nearby

The monastery property is in a hamlet called Boars’ Hill, which is a preservation trust area just five miles from Oxford. Being close to Oxford means we can build on the existing relationships we have with students, supporters and monastic friends, and also have the appropriate seclusion for a “forest bhikkhuni” lifestyle. With over an acre of land bordering woods the monastery will provide a quiet sanctuary for our guests. Most pleasingly (for me!), there is a hut and a shed that could be turned into bhikkhunis’ kutis. The main house has five bedrooms, a large kitchen with dining for lay guests, a large dana sala (alms-receiving hall) for the monastics to receive alms and meet visitors, and a separate drawing room to serve as a quiet meditation hall. With two double garages and pre-existing planning permission, there is plenty of room to expand as our community grows. I will not be able to share photos until the monastery property legally belongs to Anukampa, but below are some photos of the land from above and nearby views from the hill.

So, how am I? The body is tired but the heart is inspired, in a state of awed disbelief. The gratitude in my heart is overflowing and the only way to express this is to “Open The Door Of Our Monastery!” (to coin Ajahn Brahm’s favourite metta phrase) ~ if everything goes smoothly, we hope to move at the end of March and welcome visitors from April onwards.

The property is the thin triangular piece of land next to the large woods. The pool will be transformed into a natural pond and the tennis court into a walking meditation area ~ very handy for avoiding muddy grass and shoes! :-)
The property is the thin triangular piece of land next to the large woods. The pool will be transformed into a natural pond and the tennis court into a walking meditation area ~ very handy for avoiding muddy grass and shoes! 🙂
November 26, 2023

Prospective Monastery So Close: Donate Now to Bridge the Gap!

Your help is still needed us to make our vision of an inclusive, welcoming Buddhist community come true!✨

Ajahn Brahm’s visit this year was exceptional in many ways and most notably for an unexpected property find! On the long train ride back from visiting his extended family north of Liverpool, inspiration struck and we discovered an affordable prospective monastery property online.

Two days later, Ajahn, Ven Canda and volunteer Shel, went to view it and thought the layout and location ideal for a Forest Monastery – secluded yet accessible, with potential to expand. The prospective monastery is on Boars’ Hill just 5 miles from Oxford station. This location would enable us to stay near our main hub of support – and our friends, the Oxford Buddha Vihara monks – bringing the four-fold assembly to Oxford.

Happy volunteers with the Sangha at the end of Ajahn Brahm’s UK tour, 20.11.23 🙂

We and our loyal supporters have been running high on inspiration due your heart-warming response so far, in the form of donations, loan offers and messages of support. You have shown us that when intentions are aligned to Dhamma, they have power to spread the Buddha’s teachings and build safe, beloved communities. You have shown us how dedicated to practice you are. You have shown us that as a Buddhist community, we are ready to develop a monastery that will benefit us all – and so we celebrate and rejoice!

Our finances team once again would like to thank you for all your generous loan offers, including that of the BSWA. Our Treasurer Manori will be getting in touch with you again soon with more updates. We are now inviting donations of any amount to bridge the critical difference between loans and costs, so we can put in a successful offer (there are two other parties putting an offer in too)! For options on how to donate, please visit

Trustees Elena and Manori with Ven Canda, close to the prospective new Forest Monastery! 22.11.23
November 24, 2023

An Ideal Forest Monastery is Available Now!

Ajahn Brahm’s visit this year was exceptional in many ways and most notably for an unexpected property find! On the long train ride back from visiting his extended family and “scouser” (i.e. Liverpudlian) roots, inspiration struck and we discovered an affordable property online. Two days later, before the Bristol talk, Ajahn, Shel, and I went to view it. The layout and location ideal for a Forest Monastery – secluded yet accessible with potential to expand. The property is on Boars’ Hill just 5 miles from Oxford station. This location would enable us to stay close to our main hub of volunteers and supporters – and our friends, the Oxford Buddha Vihara monks! 

Autumn on the River Thames in Oxford

Since then and during our last weekend retreat ending 19th November, an overwhelming amount of support has been pouring in from so many of you. Our local and international communities have mobilised to help put us in a position to make a cash offer using personal loans, (just until these can be repaid when we sell our Vihara). We will have more information on whether we can proceed with an offer very soon.

At this point, we can only accept a limited number of loans due to the time frame and paperwork involved. We are therefore encouraging contributions of any amount so that we can move forward at this critical juncture. We have been searching for a property like this for years and know how rare a find this is – a peaceful yet central place to fulfil our mission of growing a Bhikkhuni Sangha here in the UK and develop a welcoming and inclusive spiritual community around that, which you can be a part of!

The monastics and their loyal supporters have been running high on inspiration due your heart-warming response so far. You have shown us the power that Dhamma-aligned intentions have in spreading the Buddha’s teachings and how dedicated to practice you are. You have shown us that as a community, we are ready for a monastery that will benefit us all – and for that I celebrate and rejoice!   

What You Can Do Next

If you would like to make a one-off donation, by bank transfer, PayPal, card, or to make a regular monthly donation, please visit

For those of you who have so kindly offered loans, thank you! Manori will be in touch soon to update you on the next steps, or you are welcome to write to if you have any questions.

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