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Dana: The Pali Word for Generosity

Awakening Truth has adopted the practice of “Dana” (giving) as both a spiritual practice and a practical way to meet the financial needs of the learning center. Dana is a Pali word for generosity. Throughout Buddhist history, spiritual teachings have been offered to people free of charge. This practice links the community of teachers, students, and centers through the spirit of generosity.

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A New Samaneri “Goes Forth”

Our friend Michelle Raymond was part of our extended community for a year and half by attending our retreats and helping us upload talks and maintain the Awakening Truth website before she became an Anagarika with Ayya Tathaaloka and her co – teachers in California.  I share these photos and description with joy.


A new Samaneri ‘goes forth’ for the Dhammadharini Nun’s community in California

By Ayya Tathaaloka Bhikkhuni

All dear Dhamma friends,

I am returned to our vihara from a beautiful time under the saffron-gold full moon eclipse in the freshness and tranquility of the Awakening Forest ~ at our bhikkhunis’Aranya Bodhi Hermitage.

Not only was it the time of a special full moon super moon with eclipse, but also the 2598th lunar anniversary commemorative day of the founding of our Bhikkhuni Sangha with the Buddha so long ago. And, it was the day of one of the most special events in the life of a woman or any human being who goes forth into the monastic life in this Buddha’s Dispensation: it was the day of a Pabbajja for our dear friend and anagarika, Michelle Raymond.

The Buddha mentions to the bhikkhus in the suttas that two days are truly worth remembering and recollecting, one of them being the day of one’s Pabbajja. The Pabbajja means the “going forth” into the holy life in the teaching of the Buddhas’.

Our friend Michelle had been an anagarika for a little more than a year, and for the last many months, consistently, it has been clear to her mind that she wishes “to go forth,” to train in the Samana Way. She hopes to fully ordain as a bhikkhuni in her path to Nibbana.
Although not planned by us, the eclipse seemed most suitable as a coming out of the white and into the saffron-brown robes: her changing from her former life (especially involving the giving up of her personal finances and coming to live entirely on alms and the generosity of others) and then returning clothed in the symbol of this–“the banner of the arahants” (an old name of the Buddhist saffron monastic robe)–shining in the new form. Which is exactly what happened :).Her new name is Sāmaṇerī Niyyānikā, “Niyyanika” meaning the “leading out of entanglement and entrapment in difficult cycles” that is the “leading out of Samsara” onto the Dhamma Path to awakening and Nibbana.

I’ll share some photos of the day here with you, with many thanks to our friend Lori for taking them and making them available to all of us –

Spruce and Ann from Common Ground Meditation Center in Minnesota offer the set of samana robes to Anagarika Michelle on behalf of her family and all her old Dhamma friends at Common Ground, where she had been a very active member. The robes and set of basic requisites were sponsored by Common Ground. It was at Common Ground that she first met monastic teachers (Ajahn Candako, Ajahn Punnadhammo and Ajahn Jotipalo) and was inspired to enter monastic life. Michelle asked all their forgiveness and received their blessings on her “going forth.”

Cutting up the credit card! An. Michelle has been living with the eight precepts for the last more than a year. The big difference between the eight anagarika precepts and the ten precepts of a samanera/samaneri is the giving up of money, one’s life becoming completely dependant on whatever food, robes, shelter and medicine are offered in alms.

As goes the first two of the ten recollections of the “Dasadhamma Sutta” which she later recited, and will recite every fortnight during her samaneri life:

I am no longer living according to worldly aims and values.
My very life is sustained through the gifts of others…
These are…dhammas to be reflected upon again and again by one who has gone forth.

Anagarika Anenjañani~Michelle requesting the Pabbajja (the “Going Forth”). You can see Ayya Anandabodhi on the right; we are very glad that she was able to specially join us here on the West Coast all the way from the newAloka Vihara forest monastery in the Sierra Nevada foothills on the far eastern side of Northern California (although she just came from not so far away at Spirit Rock where she was leading a retreat that day :).

An. Michelle hands over the robes to the teacher/preceptor, requesting that they be given back to her “causing her to go forth.” Thanks to the efforts of a whole team of friends in Minnesota, NorCal and Thailand, the set of robes (and bowl) was well in order.

The teacher/preceptor, assisted by a second bhikkhuni, places the upper robe over her left shoulder and, while holding the robe, teaches her an important subject of meditation. She then departed with two bhikkhuni teachers who help her to put on the robes while teaching her the Buddha’s words on the right way to wear and use the monastic robe.

An. Michelle has returned, requested and received the Three Refuges and Ten Samaneri Precepts, undertaken dependance with the teacher/preceptor and received the new samana name, “Niyyānikā,” from her preceptor. Here she is being blessed by the Bhikkhuni Sangha chanting “Mahakaruniko natho…” wishing for her success in her most wholesome and liberating intentions in the Buddha’s Way.

Samaneri Niyyanika then pays her respects to co-teacher Ayya Sobhana and receives instructions in the Buddha’s advice {see Dasadhamma Sutta}.

And she pays her respects to co-teacher Ayya Suvijjana, also receiving her teaching on the Ovada Patimokkha.

Afterwards, all the bhikkhunis recited the Bhikkhuni Patimokkha under the rising full moon. When we emerged, the moon too was robed in darkening twilight and saffron light! – rising high above the towering dark redwoods across the eastern coastal range as the sun set over the western sea.

A verse we used to chant in the early mornings when i was in Thailand and staying in the Thai wat, the Patidana Gatha, rose to mind then, and rises to mind again now. It goes:

Niyyānikaṃ dhammavaraṃ paṭicca te,
May they have the precious Dhamma
Which leads to the good way,

Sabbe pi dukkhassa karontu saṃkhayaṃ,
May it bring an end to all suffering.

Ṭhātu ciraṃ sataṃ dhammo dhammaddhāra ca puggalā,
May the Dhamma of good people long abide,
And may people who uphold the Dhamma stay long in the world,

Saṇgha hotu samaggo va atthāya ca hitāya ca,
May the Sangha be ever in harmony
Ready to care for all who uphold the Dhamma,

Amhe rākkhatu sāddhammo sabbe pi dhammacārino,
May the true Dhamma protect us all
And care for all who uphold the Dhamma,

Vuḍḍhiṃ sampāpuṇeyyāma dhamme ariyappavedite.
May we all progress in the Dhamma
Which the Noble Ones have made manifest.

– extracted and adapted
from the Buddhist Chanting Book

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