New Monastery On the Path to Change

December 29, 2009

Author: Jennifer Green

Source: The Buddhist Channel/The Ottawa Citizen,8818,0,0,1,0

The silence of the snowy fields, the stillness in the Sati Saraniya Hermitage: could such a peaceful place send a tremble through the world of Theravada Buddhism?

Ayya Medhanandi is a Theravada Buddhist nun who has opened Canada's first monastic residence exclusively for women, just west of Perth.

As a bhikkhuni, or nun ordained on an equal footing with Buddhist monks, she hopes to offer women the same full ordination she attained after decades of training. If she succeeds, it will be the first time a woman has been ordained in her order in Canada, says the diminutive 60-year-old. So far, she has had about six or seven inquiries.

There may be a catch, however. Buddhist law in some countries does not recognize full ordination for women, meaning they do not recognize Ayya's ordination or any she may confer on other women.

Some countries, like Sri Lanka, recognize Theravada bhikkhunis, but others don't. Burmese authorities arrested a woman who dared to undergo the higher ordination.