Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Daughters of the Buddha



A rainbow of robes; nuns and buddhist women from all Buddhist traditions of our world are meeting this week in Vietnam at the 11th Sakyadhita International Conference.


Theravada nuns in Thai robes (orange) and Vietnamese robes (pink) with Vietnamese Mahayana nuns, wearing the grey robes
Sakyadhita, meaning "Daughters of the Buddha" is now in it's 21st year, and has done so much to advance the dialogue, education and opportunity of Buddhist women of all traditions. I was particularly inspired tonight to hear that there are now 800 Bikshuni in Sri Lanka. At the time of the inception of Sakyadhita, 20 years ago, there were none, and the government forbade any mention of the word "Bikshuni" at a conference for nuns in Sri Lanka!
Also, in Thailand, the Bikshuni sangha has grown in the last 9 years to eighteen, despite no support from the patriarchy of the Bhiskhu sangha.


Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo speaks with some nuns from Vietnam

The experience of spending the last 2 days with so many sisters is beyond words. Perhaps I'm a bit of a novelty as I'm one of a dozen or so western nuns attending this conference, so I am an easy target. There are 1500+ nuns and Buddhist women from Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions and many are constantly approaching me to show affection. There is such a strong sense of sisterhood, leagues beyond any boundaries of race, religion or culture. Instead, it expresses an openness, a tolerance, a joy of sharing a faith which, through each of us, is traced back to the time of the Buddha and Mahaprajapati, the Buddha's stepmother, who was the first women to go forth, along with the 500 women who journeyed with her to Vaisali.

With 2700 participants (240 of whom are International delegates from countries including UK, USA, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Holland, Mongolia, India, Tibet, Nepal, Burma, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, Sri Lanka, China, Japan and Australia) and 5 more days to hear notable speakers talk on topics such as 'Socially Engaged Buddhist Women', 'Living Simply, Protecting the Environment', Buddhist Women and Leadership' and 'Buddhist Education Across Cultures', along with many engaging and interactive workshops, this conference will surely be an exceptional experience.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be here, and to have my eyes and heart continuously opened more and more!

1 comment:

  1. thanks so much for sharing this! Even as a Buddhist lay woman this is very inspiring to read.

    ReplyDelete