I recently was very fortunate to be invited to the USA by Buddhist Global Relief and the Ambedkarite Association of North America. I attended the AGM of BGR and told them about our work in India and how much of a difference their support makes. I also attended a conference about rights for ex ‘untouchable’ (Dalit) people. Everywhere I went people were very supportive and inspired by our work. The progressive scene in America is quite advanced and I learnt alot. There is alot of awareness around rights for LGBTI people, People of colour, Gender equality, environmentalism and socially engaged Buddhism. I found people in San Francisco especially supportive of our cause. It seems the Theravada nun scene in California is really taking off. I heard of 5 new communities starting, as lay women took initiative to end Patriarchal structures that prevented nuns from taking full ordination.
Many people were also interested in our spiritual arm – Bodhicitta Socially Engaged Buddhist Community (Bodhicitta Foundation is Buddhist but mostly focuses on Social Work). We hope to start a Hermitage in the West where socially engaged Buddhist monastics can rest, learn about monastic life, deepen their practice and host retreats for lay friends. There are only two monasteries in the world that do not charge money for Western monastics to stay in the Tibetan Tradition. There are several thousand monasteries in the world that support Himalayan monastics. Non Himalayan/Western monastics have a 75% disrobing rate. We currently have $60,000 in our building fund for the BSEBC, it has taken us 16 years to raise this. For more info email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was a real pleasure to stay with nuns from Aloka Vihara in Placerville, CA. Ayyas Santacitta and Anandabodhi used to reside at Amaravati monastery in England, which they have much gratitude for. However most of the nuns left Amaravati monastery when monks laid down an oppressive agreement which made nuns inferior monks, unable to teach in their presence, unable to speak publicly about conflicts in the monastery and refusing to allow nuns to take full ordination, which was a right given to nuns 2600 years ago by the Buddha. Now the monastery in California is flourishing and the nuns find it much easier to live in an environment where they are free to determine their own futures and be in charge of their own affairs.
With Loving Kindness,