Ayyā Tathālokā Therī is the founding abbess of Dhammadharini’s Sonoma Mountain Bhikkhunī Monastery in Penngrove and the Aranya Bodhi Awakening Forest Hermitage on the Sonoma Coast in Northern California, where she offers Dhamma and meditation teaching and guidance and monastic mentorship. She also teaches where invited in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, in other states, and internationally. In 2009, Ayyā Tathālokā became the first Western woman to be appointed as Theravādin Bhikkhunī Preceptor – one who is authorized by the Buddhist monastic community to serve as an advocate for women’s full acceptance (ordination) into the monastic Sangha, and she has contributed to the going forth and full ordination of women as bhikkhunī in the USA, Australia, India and Thailand. She also serves as Senior Monastic Advisor to the Dhammadharini Support Foundation, the Alliance of Bhikkhunis and Sakyadhita USA. In 2010, Ayyā Tathālokā served as preceptor for Adhimutti Bhikkhunī, the first Kiwi woman to undertake full ordination in Theravada Buddhism. In 2012, she was invited to New Zealand for sharing Dhamma teaching and for the first intensive session of the Bhikkhunī Vibhaṇga Project held in the Central Plateau area. During this time, latent ideas for the NZ Bhikkhunī Trust began to gain ground and move ahead -now gaining further ground with the establishment of this trust, and Ayyā Tathālokā’s return to New Zealand in January of 2017 for the third intensive session of the Bhikkhunī Vibhanga Project and meeting with the Trust.
Some of her Dhamma talks are available at http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/468/.
Ayyā Medhānandī Bhikkhunī, a native of Canada, is the founder and guiding teacher of Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage, a forest monastery for women in the Theravāda tradition. The daughter of Eastern European refugees who emigrated to Montreal after World War II, she began a spiritual quest in childhood that led her to India, Burma, England, New Zealand, Malaysia, Taiwan, and finally, back to Canada. In 1988, while on retreat at the Mahasi centre in Yangon, Myanmar, Ayyā requested full-ordination as a bhikkhunī from her teacher and preceptor, Venerable Sayadaw U Pandita. This was still not possible for Theravāda Buddhist women. Instead, Sayadaw granted her the ten-precept vows of a Theravāda novice nun on condition that she take them for life. Thus began Ayyā’s training in the Burmese monastic lineage. When a military coup closed Myanmar’s borders to foreigners, Sayadaw blessed her to continue practising in the Ajahn Chah Thai Forest Sangha at Amaravati, UK. After ten years with their ‘sīladharā’ nuns community, Ayyā felt called to more seclusion and solitary practice, first in New Zealand for six years, and then in Penang and Taiwan. There, in 2007 – after twenty years as an alms mendicant nun – she received full bhikkhunī ordination at Ling Quan Chan Monastery, Keelung. The following year, on invitation from women of the Ottawa and Toronto Theravāda Buddhist communities, Ayyā returned to Canada to establish Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage.
Some of her Dhamma talks are available at http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/391/.
Willa Thaniya Reid (formerly Ajahn Thaniya), has been practising formal Buddhist meditation since the 80s. Her primary training has been through the Thai Forest Tradition of Luang Por Chah. The Forest Tradition is in harmony with her affinity for the natural world and for reflective teachings. For 18 years she was part of the monastic community of this tradition based in England. As the senior nun of Cittaviveka for eight years, she offered support to the lay and monastic community; teaching retreats in the UK, USA, Europe and Australia. She brings to her teaching a love for the original suttas of the Buddha. For the previous six years she served the community in Melbourne, offering spiritual support to the dying and their families. She has a Masters degree in relationship counselling, and clinical pastoral training. In 2015 she returned to New Zealand to develop the Kihikihi Meditation and Yoga Centre with her partner.
Some of her Dhamma talks are available at http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/239/.
Dr Elizabeth (Cintamani) Day has been practising meditation and yoga for over 20 years, during which time she spent six years ordained in the Buddhist monastic communities of Ajahn Chah in England. Extensive travels through India to spiritual teachers of Buddhist and Advaita traditions concretised her commitment to a life of awakening. Since leaving the robes she has held leadership positions in the Health and Higher Education sectors, including as Academic Head of a faculty of Counselling and Psychotherapy. She has a Doctorate in intersubjectivity, and is a qualified yoga teacher and Gestalt psychotherapist. She offers meditation and yoga teaching at Kihikihi Meditation and Yoga, a practice place she established in 2016 with her partner, Willa. She brings to this advisory role on the New Zealand Bhikkhuni Sangha Trust her experience practising within and beyond the monastic context, skills in leadership, management and Board participation, and a commitment to support the capacity for women to flourish in Buddhism as practitioners and teachers.