Bhikkhuni ordination

At the time of the end of my last blog I had been feeling an intense urge to ordain as Bhikkhuni. Nothing to do with feminism or wanting to be something higher than an Mae Chii but just the need to get into those robes and live the life of a monk to the fullest of my abilities.
So, I had been in touch with a senior Bhikkhuni for some time and while writing back and forth with her about some vinaya questions I had had, the urge to ordain grew and she kindly invited me to come to America and get at least Samaneti ordination.
Once in America I received Samaneri ordination.
Although it was technically just one more precept for me to keep, it was a totally different feeling: to be in the robes as they have been worn by nuns in the Buddhas time… I quickly banned all brown cloth I had and all brown robes.

Some weeks before ordination there was almost nothing on the ground where the Bhikkhuni ordination was supposed to happen. I had doubts if we really could make this the place for such an event. And I was absolutely not sure if I would be one of those being ordained. A week after arrival I started to have stomach problems due to waterborn sickness and got quite weak. But the prospect of being ordained gave me wings and I helped as much as I could to get this place ready. We all worked hard. It still appears almost like a miracal, that in the end, when the day came, everything was done.
Althoug being physically in quite bad condition my mind was so much filled with joy about the possibility to be ordained that no hardship could make the happy smile in my face vanish.
Between daily duties, (I had chosen to clean the outhouses which was probably the final knock out for my immune system) painting, building and preparing the place we had vinaya class, memorised our text and prepared our minds. There was no wavering in my mind but fear ordination might for some reason not happen.

Then, that day came. Everything was well prepared, people arrived, Sri Lankan, Thai and American Laypeople; male and female monks came to be part of the ceremony. A diverse group of monastics and laypeople gathered together to perform and celebrate the first dual Bhikkhuni ordination on American earth.

I can’t remember much of the ceremony itself but immens joy, the warm compassionate eyes of our pavattini Ayya Tathaaloka, who I knew was in great pain that time; the bright, clear eyes of Bhante Gunaratana who gave us our first ovada; the smile of Ajahn Passanno who never smiles; the power of the karaniya metta sutta chanted by the ubhatosanghe with us newly ordained Bhikkhunis in the center. I had shivers of rapture going up and down my spine.
I remember lot of peoples faces with the utmost expression of joy. The entire hermitage seemed to rejoice with brightness. The sun was shining while everywhere around us the coast was manteled in fog.
Every thing was just perfect and even the devas seemed to rejoice, as it happens at times when something great, something good is happening.

Still I feel the joy to be ordained. Although my life has become more complicated since then, but more about that later.
My sister Adhimutta, ordained before me asked me how it feels for me to be ordained and I could say nothing else but: ‘It feels right.’
Being a 8 precept nun was better than being a lay but it was not right. Being Samaneri was a step in the right direction – the Bhikkhuni ordination finally gave this existence sense. Wearing the flag of an Arahant is the greates, most beautiful challenge one can face. Trying to be worth wearing this robe is a daily struggle – but a good one because one can only win, win wisdom, win clarity and eventually peace.
I received my independence last year but I’m still grateful to all people who made this happen.

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4 comments

  1. Beautiful description. It was indeed a magical day.

    This Vassa marks ten years for me since my higher ordiantion day, and I recall that occasion still with awe. I too find that as a bhikkhuni the holy life makes sense on a deep level despite some logistical challenges — the other renunciate forms of 8 & 10 precepts, while steps in a good direction, brought some perplexity with them.

  2. Dear Venerable Phalanyani,

    It seemed like a miracle to me too, and will remain with me as a tribute and culmination to the efforts of many; I am so glad you have these fond memories and that you are walking the path of the Buddha; may you be an Arahant soon! Brenda

  3. 8-precept nun is Thai style only. There was no 8-precept nun in Buddha’s time. Buddha’s sangha is 4-folds sangha: bhikkhu, bhikkhuni, upasaka and upasika. To benefit people, a 4-fold sangha is necessary. “Wearing the flag of an Arahant”, this is great. May Venerable attain phala soon. Bow to Ven Phalanyani.


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