Dhammasara - The Nuns' Monastery in Western Australia
When allowing women to go forth into the homeless life the Buddha stated quite clearly that they have the capacity to attain full enlightenment. During the time of the Buddha and since, there have been many female arahants .
However, not for a very long time, have such favorable conditions come together to support women in leading the monastic life as those that pertain now in Perth.
I write to you as the Senior Nun of the yet to be built Nuns Monastery, having recently accepted the invitation of the committee of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia to take up this position. And though I am still a nun without a nunnery in the material sense, my heart is full of joy and gratitude for the work that has already been done on this project by so many faithful and committed people. Especially I would like to thank Ajahan Brahmavamso, the spiritual director, for his support, and the donors who generously offered funds for the society to purchase the 583 acres of bushland at Gidgegannup.
The purchase of the land is the first giant step towards providing nuns with the opportunity to train in Dhamma-Vinaya, in a setting ideal for a forest monastery. As such it is fulfilling one of the original aims of the society as stated in its constitution, i.e. to provide monastic facilities for both male and female Sangha. While the Nuns Monastery will complement the existing Monks Monastery, its location some distance from Bodhinyana will encourage it to develop and function independently.
As an ongoing reminder of its true purpose, we have named the Nuns Monastery Dhammasara, the Heartwood of the Dhamma, a synonym for Nibbana, after a simile used by the Buddha.
In the longer and shorter discourses on the Simile of the Heartwood in the Maijhima Nikaya, the Buddha compares the holy life to a man searching for the finest quality wood to use in making something. Just as this man would not serve his purpose if he took leaves and twigs, outer bark, inner bark or sapwood instead of the heartwood of the tree, so monks and nuns should not be satisfied with anything less than Nibbana.
It is unshakable deliverance of mind that is the goal of the holy life, its heartwood, its end
So, Dhammasara will be a place to practice for the attainment of Nibbana. It will primarily be for Theravidin Nuns, and women who want to train to become nuns. As resources and facilities develop there will be the opportunity for lay people who are committed to the Theravadin way of practice, and who are willing to undertake the eight precepts for the duration of their stay, to spend time as part of the community and on self-retreat.
As for myself, you may remember me from my visit to Nollamara in 1996. I ordained as a ten-precept Nun in Sri Lanka in 1985 with Venerable Piyaratana, the Chief Monk of Polgasduwa Island Hermitage as my Preceptor, and Ven. Ayya Khema as my Teacher. I lived at Parappudviva Nuns Island and in several towns in the south of the country during my ten years in Sri Lanka. My senior companion nun during that time was Sister Dhammadinna, a Sri Lankan. In 1994 I was able to fulfill a long-standing wish and went on pilgrimage to the Holy Places in India for six months. Later, at the invitation of Venerable Ajahn Sumedho, I spent a year at Amaravati, his monastery in England. In 1997 I returned to Australia, hoping to be able to contribute to making the teachings of the Buddha available in my home country. Since then I have spent my time in self-retreat at Wat Buddha Dhamma and Buddha Dhamma Hermitage, both near Sydney, and have been available to offer teachings when invited. Though I am not a member of the Amaravati Nuns community as such, I enjoy a close and warm friendship with the nuns there, and I look forward to a time in the future when we can invite them to visit and participate with us.
My deepest aspiration for this life is to attain Nibbana, and in the process to assist others towards fulfilling their potential. So being part of this project is allowing me to express my lifes purpose, and I feel immensely blessed.
How quickly we can begin building the first amenities on the site will depend on all of you. In the meantime I invite you to join me in rejoicing in our very good fortune, to be associated with such an immeasurable significant project, one that will surely bring the Dhamma with its great blessing to so many.
Sister Ajahn Vayama (Abbot)