Reflection on Outstanding Buddhist Women Forum (4)

8 March

Today we celebrated our last day together. We got up early to say ‘good-bye’ to our Taiwanese sisters and Ven. Zhiru from Singapore. Ven. Min Yu told me that her group made circummambulations around the mantra stupa three times. She expressed her wish to see a kind of Khadiravana at Bodhigaya, where women can practice the dharma and stay in retreat.

As the previous two days, this morning Maechee Aree led us on yoga meditation. I looked at Maechee in yoga uniform with white blouse and black pant. I felt close to her after hearing the remarkable story of her life. She was left alone when she was young. She experienced pain and agony. The experience made her feel she wanted to devote the rest of her life to the dharma, the only way to escape from suffering, the only thing that can brings long lasting happiness. She made herself a nun by shaving her head and putting on the white robes. No one accepted her and it took some years before she could attain a formal ordination. Now she is a leading meditation teacher at Suan Mokh International Center. A woman of loneliness has become a world’s teacher teaching people on how to find solitude and ultimate happiness in life.

We spent our morning watching a film on Krishna Murti presented by Aj. Vanerath. The film led us to discuss the concept of “beyond limitation,” that Pandara participants usually do when we engage in dakini training.

Bhikkhuni Silananda expresed her opinion on why there was so much separation in society. Intense discussions on how we can bridge convention and adaptation pursued.

Ven. Sonam Wangmo from Bhutan encouraged us to think beyond traditional paradigm. She said when bhikkhu and bhikkhuni sanghas put themselves in a high position, they distant themselves from laity. Instead, they should walk hand in hand with laity in promoting peace and compassion. Ven. Tashi chodroen shared with us her case when she was denied a position as a teacher in a Buddhist Sun school after she donned a Vajrayana robe. She told us she cherished India, where she was treated not as a venerable but an ordinary person. In that kind of situation, she learned a lesson of humility.

We had a long break before gathering again for the final session on gratitude. Sensei Carol asked us to list the peoples, animals, organizations that define our self. Each one of us is a flower with several petals of networking and relationships.

In the middle of the exercise, Bhikkhuni Ratanavali reminded us of today as the UN women’s day. She asked my mom to come up front. My sister and I took this opportunity to thank mom for supporting us. Mother’s love has extended beyond our family confines. Mother learned to love all who have come to Khadiravana. She has become the mother of all children. On behalf of the participants, Sensei presented her a bouquet of roses, which she presented to Mother Tara right away. Mom said, she’s happy when people find her daughter precious. Sensei was in tears when she told the story of a loving and strong lady who was her deceased mother.

We also took this opportunity to celebrate On’s birthday. He dedicated his time and effort to make the event run smooth and to accompany Nong. It’s so wonderful for him to be with us on his special day.

We spent our last ten minutes at the Mantra Stupa. Wind was blowing and mantra was spreading everywhere in the vast sky. Each one of us kneeled on the bamboo floor. Our hearts were softened by the wind of love. Sensei said thank-you to all of us. I felt an urge to recite short verses from a body offering sadhana:

I dedicate happiness to all beings without exception,

May happiness spread in the sky,

I take on suffering of all beings without exception,

May an ocean of suffering dry out.

If I’m happy,

I dedicate it to those who seek happiness.

May happiness spread in the sky.

If I suffer,

I take on the pain of those who suffer.

May an ocean of suffering dry out.

May the sufferings of gods and spirits without exception be mine.

Om Mani Padme Hung!

Before we departed, I invited all my dharma friends to come and use the Stupa when it’s completed. I asked them to take care of it, as the Stupa doesn’t belong to me, to Pandara. It doesn’t belong to any organization or any individual. It belongs to all beings. My only hope after the Stupa is finished is to stay in two long retreats before I undertake a pilgrimage of my life as a wandering yogini.

Thanks Vens. Dr. Lee and Ratanavali for giving me this chance to open my heart, to transform myself and to learn the true meaning of giver. And thanks to all, who have become a great history of the Tara Great Stupa…Khadiravana will always cherish the sweet songs of devotees and their stories which will be told to our students and friends for generations…With humbleness I bow.


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