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NEWS FROM ANUKAMPA BHIKKHUNI PROJECT

Newsletter # 39 June 2021

Dear <<First Name>>,



Warmest summer greetings!

The end of an era is nigh, as I get set to move to Wiltshire for the rains' retreat and write my last newsletter from this blessed Bhikkhuni Residence in Oxford! Set in a quiet street close to lush river walks and parks home to thousands of majestic trees, this has been a wonderful and historic first base for the Bhikkhuni Sangha in England, providing a taste of living in community for our guests, and later becoming the headquarters of Zoomi Bhikkhuni's online community - an inspired initiative resulting in much spiritual friendship and joy and a lot more support for the project.

In this letter, we share a programme to keep you nourished throughout summer whilst I am offline and on retreat, introduce our two newest trustees, share wonderful feedback from Ajahn Brahmali's online retreat, celebrate highlights living in Oxford and tell a story of my recent visit to Stroud -  a pretty Cotswold town set in a promising area for our future "Forest Monastery." 

We also invite you to sign up for "Emboldening the Mind With Fizz & Sparkle" - a special seven day online retreat with Ajahn Brahm and I in December, designed to help us proceed to Enlightenment! 



Recent visitors: L-R: Drew, US monk Bhante Varapanno, Arahanti Ven Patacara (statue), Kira (with bhikkhuni bear Ven Piti-Sukha) and Khushi, in our courtyard for afternoon tea :-)

Last Regular Teachings With Ven Canda in June


~Please note that the dates are different from usual to accommodate Ven Canda's house move, and her wind-down into the rains' retreat.

~Please also note that the password for Sundays has changed! The old one will no longer work.


Delving Deeply In Dhamma  - these sessions will continue as peer led sessions and with guest speakers, see next article.
Sun 6th & Sun 20th June 7.30 - 9pm GMT/BST  (resumes with a special post-retreat talk with Ven Canda on 24th October)
Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85006432089
Meeting Password: 145401

Pali Chanting & Blessings Group - last dates before the rains' retreat!
Wed 9th & 16th June 5.30 - 6pm GMT/BST (resumes on 27th October)
Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88410481720
Meeting password: 364195%L 

Guided Metta & Sharing Group - change of and last dates before the rains' retreat!
Sat 5th & 19th June 9-10am GMT/BST (resumes on 23rd October)
Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82533145821
Meeting password:  01140!$M

Sutta Discussion Group - change and  last dates
Fri 4th & Friday 18th June 7.15 - 8.30pm GMT/BST (resumes on 29th October)
Link:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87463836452
Meeting Password: 909557

Summer Dhamma Programme

 

Ayya's Anandabodhi & Cittananda and Peer-led Groups!


Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Cittananda are much-loved, wise bhikkhunis and have both taught online for us before. They kindly wish to support Anukampa and our community during my rains' retreat (they have their longer retreat in the winter time) by offering a couple of teacher-led sessions each (1st Sunday's of the month), for which I am profoundly grateful! Lia and Shirley will facilitate peer-led groups (3rd Sunday's of the month), which include a silent meditation, videoed Dhamma talk and community discussion. Please do show up if you can to benefit from and support our Zoomi Bhikkhuni community, for "Spiritual friendship is the entire spiritual life."  SN45:2 

Ayya Cittananda has spent many years on the Buddhist path, after an inspiring philosophy class at university led her to spend time practicing in monasteries. After completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and working at a hospital as a registered nurse in Texas, she lived as a novice nun at a small Pure Land/Chan monastery in Florida for a year before moving to California. She spent two years living and working in Redwood Valley, made daily visits to Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery, and sat several long retreats at various monasteries and meditation centers. She left Redwood Valley in 2013 in search of a place to ordain as a Theravadan nun, spending six months at the Ajahn Chah lineage monasteries in England and Scotland. She also spent seven months at Aloka Vihara in Placerville, helping the nuns settle into their new monastery. Ayya Cittananda took Anagarika precepts at KBV in March of 2015, Samaneri ordination in April of 2016, and Bhikkhuni ordination in May of 2018 at Buddhi Vihara in Santa Clara, California. She lives at Karuna Buddhist Vihara, a small bhikkhuni hermitage located in the Santa Cruz mountains in northern California.


Ayya Anandabodhi, originally from Wales, has lived as a Buddhist nun in the Forest Tradition since 1992, spending 17 years in Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries before moving to the United States in 2009 to help establish Aloka Vihara, a Buddhist monastery for women. In 2011 she took full ordination as a bhikkhuni, with Ayya Tathaaloka as her preceptor, joining the growing number of women who are reclaiming this lineage given by the Buddha. Her practice combines meditation in nature, studying the early Buddhist suttas and living in community. She teaches Dhamma on a regular basis in her local area and occasionally further afield, and is an advisor to Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project. 
 

Programme:


July 4th Ayya Cittananda
July 18th Peer-led session with Lia
Aug 1st Ayya Cittananda
Aug 15th Peer-led session with Shirley
Sept 5th Ayya Anandabodhi "Wise Attention"
Sept 19th Peer-led session with Lia "The Buddha's Forgotten Nuns" documentary
Oct 3rd Ayya Anandabodhi "Loving & Letting Go"
Oct 17th Peer-led session with Lia
Oct 24th: Special post-retreat talk with Ven Canda 


The joining link for all of the above is the same as for all Sunday sessions (please note the password change!):

1st & 3rd Sundays 7.30 - 9pm GMT/BST 
Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85006432089
Meeting Password: 145401


All our teaching events are also found here: www.anukampaproject.org/events

N.B You will need to be signed in to your personal zoom account to access all meetings.  Please refer to our easy guidelines here.
 
~For security reasons please do not share links on social media, but instead refer people to our website :-) 

Introducing Sue and Kelly: New Anukampa Trustees!


"​A chance meeting with Venerable Canda in 2016 has enabled me (Sue Dabbagh) to become involved with the Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project. At that time I was a relative newcomer to the Buddhist path and this opportunity has allowed me to learn the teachings and progress in my practice. I have recently become a newly appointed Trustee and look forward to continuing to serve the project towards meeting its final objective namely a Monastery where women will be able to train towards full ordination in the Theravada Forest Tradition."


Sue visited to offer shopping and good cheer at least once a month during my stay in Oxford :-) 


"I (Kelly Meuleman) was born and grew up in Belgium where I trained as a teacher. Shortly after graduating, 26 years ago, I made my home in England and I now live in Oxford with my partner, Tim, and my daughter, Clara. I teach religious studies and philosophy in a local girls’ school.
 
It has been a great blessing to be introduced to the Dhamma and follow the Buddha’s path in recent years. Being a member of the Anukampa community has been wonderful and I am delighted to have been able to support Venerable Candā and Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project as a Zoom co-host for the Friday Sutta discussion group and by helping build a new website. I look forward to supporting the project more as a Trustee in the coming years.
 
This is such a precious project; the Buddha established the Fourfold Assembly (parisa)* and without bhikkhunis this assembly is incomplete. It is heartening to see progress, albeit slow, and to see women in some parts the world gaining the opportunity to train towards full ordination. I look forward to the day when this becomes a reality in the UK and will certainly do what I can to make it happen."
 


 *In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, which chronicles the Buddha’s last days, the Buddha said he will not attain parinibbana until there are “accomplished, trained, and skilled” disciples from all four categories (of bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, laymen and laywomen). This is the fourfold assembly.

Feedback & Recordings From Ajahn Brahmali's & Ven Canda's Online Retreat - Another "Best Ever!"



I consider receptivity to the teachings from the Early Buddhist texts, a sign of maturity within the community. For eight days, fifty people set sail on a journey, so "cocooned" by Dhamma and spiritual friendship that one retreatant said he could happily spend the rest of his life on board! Another person said that she enjoyed this retreat even more than Ajahn Brahmali's Derbyshire residential retreat in 2018. If anyone doubts the efficacy and depth of transmission and connection possible in online retreats, perhaps this may encourage you to give it a try! For me, it was an utter privilege to help steer ship along-side Ajahn Brahmali, and I hope to revisit the richness of the teachings during my rains' retreat, purely as a participant!


 

Here is some feedback from “Why We Suffer & How We Get Free:"


"Emerging from the most beautiful retreat in every respect. My gratitude goes to Ajahn Brahmali & Venerable Candā for guiding us so patiently and diligently these last 8 days. To the retreat support team for their dedication and my fellow retreatants for their presence and efforts. Having followed Ajahn Brahmali's Dhamma talks for many years and sat a couple of his retreats previously in Germany & Derbyshire, I felt this online retreat was like a blessing for my home. Carving out a space for meditation and sutta study here has brought a renewed sense of practice and a deeper appreciation for the growing international community of support for Anukampa. As Ajahn Brahmali mentioned in his closing talk, supporting Ven Candā with Anukampa is not only supporting an individual but it is tantamount to supporting the flourishing of the Bhikkhuni Sangha and Buddhism in this country for potentially generations to come. It is like planting seeds of trees that will grow long in the future after we have moved on. The gratitude and joy which welled-up in Ven Candā's closing mettā meditation as well as our little private group sessions on the last day meant I ended the retreat in tears on more than a couple of occasions. May the benefits reach all beings and may they be shared with both our teachers on the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path.
Sadhu Sadhu Sadhuuuu!" 
🙏🙏🙏 Paul.



"First of all, I'd like to thank Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project for organising such a super-duper awesome retreat. There are no words that could fully express how much it meant for me. I started the retreat expecting to learn more about the suttas and have some peaceful meditation. And that did happen. But it was so much more than that. The love for the Dhamma that all of us shared shined through so brightly that by the end I was overwhelmed with gratitude for having found these teachings. I can feel a tear coming up just thinking about it now. Saaadhu, Saaaaadhu, SAAAAADHUUUUU!!!!! "  

"Thank you for a much needed retreat and the opportunity to immerse in the profound Dhamma teachings and meditation practice for 8 days. Ajahn Brahmali and Ven Canda you both are amazing Dhamma teachers with much inspiration and clarity. Heartfelt thanks and merit to the team of organisers too. Blessings of the triple gem to you all,"
 Anupama
 

"Thank you very much for this retreat! I feel so lucky and grateful to have had the chance to participate in this retreat and to be in touch with your teaching. The path has never seemed so clear and beautiful to me! I feel that I am in contact with the best approach for my practice and for my daily life. Ajahn Brahmali's enthusiasm for suttas is contagious, I really want to read some from now on!

I wish the best for the Anukampa project, Venerable Canda and all the volunteer staff who work behind it. May you all be happy and free from suffering." Aurélien :)


The entire playlist from the retreat is available here, thanks to diligent video hosts Reny & Mel and hard-working YouTube team Karen & Paul. Collectively we have reached thousands with these liberating teachings which should be great cause to rejoice! May these offerings help you realise Nibbana.


Mighty Chestnut in the nearby 1000 Tree Park (ie Headington Hill Park), Oxford

Dependent Origination & Liberation by Ajahn Brahmali

 

~Freely Distributed Booklets For You! 

  
The theme of our recent and transformative 8-day online retreat, Ajahn Brahmali brings this fundamental aspect of the Buddha's teaching to life in clear and concise language revealing how this natural cause and effect process can be applied to our daily living. 

In addition, we still have a quantity of copies of the bhikkhuni anthology "Let the Light Shine": a book of inspiring reflections, insights and life stories of present-day bhikkhuni pioneers.

Offered on a donation basis to cover postage to the UK/EU, or whatever you can manage, our volunteer, Paul, will be distributing the books in due course. Please email your request and address to anukampabooks@gmail.com mentioning which book you would like.

Donations can be made via www.anukampaproject.org/donate (please mention "book donation")

NB Please allow for some delay due to government restrictions and postal service backlog.

"Emboldening The Mind With Fizz & Sparkle"

 

 ~ 7-day online retreat with Ajahn Brahm & Ven Canda, Dec 6th to 12th 2021

  


“Ajahn Brahm and Ven Canda create a really safe, supportive and nurturing environment. It softens the heart. The teachings are wise and profound but delivered in a way that is funny, sensitive and warm hearted. They lead by example in how to act through love, acceptance and compassion. I am glad I have found such teachers."



 

If you haven't done so already, you can still register here!

N.B Full time attendance – including the personal practice period – is necessary for this retreat. If this is not possible due to your time zone or work, you can still catch as many sessions as you are able via our Facebook live-stream, or after we upload them to our YouTube channel.

 Celebrating Oxford; Adventures In Stroud!



View of fabulous clouds over the chimneys, from my bedroom window in Oxford 

Last week, dear friends and supporters Anna and Karon came to visit for the first time since the start of the pandemic and we had a delightful lunch dana, walk, and celebration of all we have achieved. Karon was my first guest in Oxford, providing a welcome breakfast and generously loaning her beautiful Buddha statue for the meditation room; a loan that she subsequently extended as we extended our rent. This lovely wooden Buddha has been a companion and guide to all those who have meditated here and with a heart full of gratitude he has now been returned to his owner. The stunning statue of Ven Arahati Patacara temporarily takes his place - until the two of us enter retreat together in Wiltshire!

Of late, I was also delighted to host visits from Bhante Varapanno and his supporters in Bristol (photo above), and to share Oolong tea offered by Kareem and Jasmine to me and the resident bears (including Bamboozle the deer).

On 31st May, Kelly and I had a fabulous day in Stroud. Within two minutes of leaving the car, we met a man who asked what tradition I was from, expressed enthusiasm for having a monastery in the area (saying it would be a hub to bring local meditators together!) and invited us to his house one minute away for tea. He has a daughter whose middle name is Chandra (Canda in Sanskrit) and he used to make regular visits to Amaravati Buddhist Monastery! He also had some contacts that may come in handy later on, should we wish to organise retreats there.


Picnic spot, Rodborough, Stroud

Amazed by that first encounter, Kelly and I walked a little in the town, before Kelly offered a huge picnic-dana on top of pretty Rodborough hill, with vistas of Stroud and her surrounding valleys. After lunch we met Lucy and Ethan and saw lakes in the woods, before meeting two more property search volunteers for takeaway tea in a churchyard.

That evening back in Oxford and inspired by the trip, I thought "let's just look and see if any new properties have come up online." We came across a property with land that looked fit for purpose (and that we could actually afford!) and returned to view it three days later. It was a splendid, well-maintained family home with rescue animals including dogs, goats, pigs, and a turtle (which were not part of the package!), but unfortunately the property was just set back from a very busy A-road. Cars and trucks could be heard from the farthest corner of the three-acre land, owing to it's steep gradient. Indoors was quiet but I would be apologising to my guests for the traffic noise whenever we would open windows or sit outside!

This little adventure was enormously exciting and helped us clarify and refine our criteria. I think our property volunteers, trustees and I are wiser for the experience. No place is perfect, but I would like our future dwelling to provide that rare gift of silence to the world. As one supporter, Indrika, beautifully put it, we have already achieved a lot worth celebrating - so the future monastery will be the "icing on the cake!" Nevertheless, the search for either renting or purchasing a middle-sized property will continue whilst I am on retreat and I trust that things will fall into place when conditions are ripe, as they have done so well, so far.

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all our trustees, volunteers and supporters. Every step creates so much good kamma and is truly worth celebrating together!
 


Meeting with Stroud/Cirencester-based Anukampa friends, Gunther, Paul, Lucy and Ethan :-)

Latest Teachings on YouTube 
 

 

Special Talks and Celebrations:

Beautifying The Mind Retreat Talks & Meditations: Ven Canda for London Insight

Bhikkhuni Ordination & Why It Matters: An Interview With Ajahn Brahm & Ven Canda for New Buddha Way 2.5.21

Celebrating The Buddha For Vesak: Ven Canda for Gaia House Online Hall 26.5.21

Anukampa Vesak (Buddha's Birthday) Celebration: Ajahn Brahm 27.5.21

Ven Canda Interviews Ayya Adhimutti Bhikkhuni 30.5.21

Our regular teachings, including the Sutta Discussion Group and Delving Deeply Dhamma Talks are also available and uploaded frequently. To be notified of new teachings you can subscribe to our YouTube Channel here.

To end, I would like to share an inspired poem that Diana wrote during Ajahn Brahmali's retreat.


A Wise Person

Wise is the person
who does not believe
every passing thought
appearing in their mind;
 
Who generates joy
recollecting the virtues
of self and others;
 
Who, seeing only the result
of causes and conditions,
gives kindness, compassion
and non-judgement to all. 



I hope you like the beautiful spider I befriended (above) on a recent walk and look forward to seeing you online again soon, from Oxford, and from the retreat cottage in Wiltshire! And perhaps after vassa it will be safe to organise larger gatherings in person again - I really look forward to us sharing good energy and precious time on the Noble Path to liberation.

With deep loving kindness, 
Ven Canda 
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