by Bhikkhuni Seri
Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni went forth and ordained as a Ten Precept nun on 17th of March 1985 at Parappaduwa Nuns Island, Dodanduwa, in Sri Lanka. Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni’s preceptor was Venerable Piyaratana and her teacher was Ayya Khema. On Sunday, 17th of March 2013, about twenty Dhamma friends got together to practice meditation to honour the 28th ordination anniversary of Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni. As mentioned in the ‘Sigalaka Sutta’ in the Digha Nikaya : ‘ There are five ways in which pupils should minister to their teacher: by rising to greet them, by waiting on them, by being attentive, by serving them, by mastering the skills they teach..
It was a beautiful, sunny day. We spent the day in Noble Silence, investigating the Dhamma, sitting in meditation and doing walking meditation. My mother, Sau San Teh and Aunty Jasmine, both visiting from Malaysia,also participated in the day. It was a special day for me and a great honour to be able to offer Dhamma reflections and conduct the meditation day on the ordination anniversary of my teacher, Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni, and in the presence of my teacher and my mother.We contemplated the Sutta Sedaka in the Samytta Nikaya:
There was once a pair of jugglers who performed their acrobatic feats on a bamboo pole. One day the master said to his apprentice: ‘Now get on my shoulders and climb up the bamboo pole.’ When the apprentice had done so, the master said: ‘Now protect me well and I shall protect you! By protecting and watching each other in that way, we shall be able to show our skill, make a good profit and safely get down from the bamboo pole.’ But the apprentice said: ‘Not so, master! You, O master, should protect yourself, and I too shall protect myself. Thus self-protected and self-guarded we shall safely do our feats.’
“This is the right way,” said the Blessed One and spoke further as follows:
“It is just as the apprentice said: “I shall protect myself— in that way the foundations of mindfulness ( satipatthana ) should be practised. ‘I shall protect others’ — in that way the foundations of mindfulness should be practised. Protecting oneself, one protects others; protecting others, one protects oneself.
“ And how does one, in protecting oneself, protect others? By the repeated and frequent practice of meditation.
“And how does one, in protecting others, protect oneself? By patience and forbearance, by a non-violent and harmless life, by loving kindness and compassion.”
PROTECTING ONESELF, ONE PROTECTS OTHERS.
PROTECTING OTHERS, ONE PROTECTS ONESELF.
One of the participants commented later that she had never seen shoes so neatly lined up outside the Sala, the meditation hall. Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni told us a story told by her teacher, Ayya Khema. This is the story:
A disciple of the Zen master went to see the teacher for his daily interview. The disciple started to describe his amazingly deep meditative experience to the Zen master. The Zen Master stopped him and asked him a question: ‘ Before you walked into this interview room, did you leave your shoes on the left side of the door or the right side of the door?’ The disciple answered: ‘I don’t know.’ The Zen Master sent the disciple away and asked him only to describe his great meditation experience after he paid attention to where he left his shoes.
All the participants on Sunday, 17th March, left their shoes mindfully out of kindness and compassion for the safety of all those present. This prevents people tripping over the piles of shoes in front of the doorway. They also scored a ticket to have an interview with the Zen Master! Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu!