30 Years As A Nun – A Celebration : Meditation Day

By Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni

The shrine and the beautiful yellow flowers in the sala of Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage 15th of March 2015

The shrine and the beautiful yellow flowers in the sala of Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage 15th of March 2015. Photo by Ming.

On Sunday, 15th of March,  2015, Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage held a Meditation Day to celebrate Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni’s 30 Years As A Nun. Twenty three invited lay supporters participated in the Meditation Day to honour our teacher, Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni.

During the Meditation Day,  we investigated the Dhamma based on two talks that Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni offered at Dhammaloka Buddhist Centre, that is ‘The Power of Goodness’ in May 2005 and ‘Keeping One’s Seat’ in October 2006. We focused on ‘How to keep one’s seat in the ocean of Samsara, life – Equanimity’.

We  usually associate ‘equanimity’ with qualities such as calmness, coolness, composure, serenity, tranquillity, aplomb, self assurance and balance. ‘Equanimity’ is a word that comes from Latin and means ‘even mind’.

In Pali, the ancient Indian language, there are two words that describe ‘equanimity’. The first word is ‘upekkha’ which means ‘looking on’. It is like you care enough to engage in whatever is happening in front of you but yet not jumping into the situation, not overwhelmed or grasping or hanging onto it. There are elements of calmness, coolness and composure. There is a sense of detachment. For example, when you sit down in meditation, you put your attention onto the meditation object such as breath, but thoughts still come and go. You sit there ‘looking on’ at the thoughts, like you are watching the television, but you are not inside the show. Upekkha comes in all sorts of shades. When the practice of upekkha matures, it is ‘abundant, exalted and immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will’.

The other Pali word for ‘equanimity’ is Tatra-majjhattata. I translated it as ‘Standing in the middle of whatever situation.’ It also means balance of mind and impartiality. There is an aspect of insight and wisdom. It is like you are rowing a boat in the middle of a river or a large lake. In whatever weather conditions, you are standing on the boat, using your skills of awareness, mindfulness, a clear mind and being totally present, together with your commitment to the Noble Eightfold Path, you row the boat to the destination. You are not running away from difficulties, but staying even though it is unpleasant, with steadiness, kindness and confidence. You have the understanding that  everything in life is impermanent, changeable, suffering and that it does not belong to me, it is not mine, it is not my self.

Equanimity is one of the Ten Perfections, one of the Four Divine Abidings and one of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment. Equanimity is a quality that is essential in our life, in the samsaric ocean of waves. It enables us to keep our seat in the ups and downs of life.

I am going to share with you a story that happened last year. Ayya Vayama’s brother visited us from Sydney for a few days. He is a Christian Minister who leads prayers and conducts funerals and weddings at his church. Before he left the Hermitage to return to his family in Sydney, he asked whether he could pray over Ayya Vayama. Ayya Vayama and myself looked at each other and said, ‘Why not!’

Ayya Vayama’s brother stood up next to her and started to say his prayer, asking God to bless his beloved sister, and me! I was sitting opposite Ayya Vayama and her brother and ‘looking on’ at what was happening. A devout Christian Minister saying prayers over two bald heads, brown robed Buddhist Nuns, Bhikkhunis. But there was no hostility, no ill will, no struggle or competition. It was inspiring and magical to be there to bear witness. There was great loving kindness, ease and harmony in the room. I could feel and see the loving kindness, the confidence in our hearts, the devotion and commitment in each one of us, to allow us to be able to open to human goodness, and yet keep our own seat. It was a beautiful and amazing present. 

SUFFUSION WITH THE DIVINE ABIDINGS

I will abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with loving kindness…
likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth;
so above and below, around and everywhere; and to all as to myself.
I will abide pervading the all-encompassing world with a mind
imbued with loving kindness;
abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill will.

I will abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with compassion…
likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth;
so above and below, around and everywhere; and to all as to myself.
I will abide pervading the all-encompassing world with a mind
imbued with compassion;
abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill will.

I will abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with gladness…
likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth;
so above and below, around and everywhere; and to all as to myself.
I will abide pervading the all-encompassing world with a mind
imbued with gladness;
abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill will.

I will abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with equanimity…
likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth;
so above and below, around and everywhere; and to all as to myself.
I will abide pervading the all-encompassing world with a mind
imbued with equanimity;
abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill will.

 

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni, Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni and the participants on 15th March 2015. Photo by Ming

 

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni, Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni and the participants on Meditation Day, 15th of March 2015. Photo by Ming.

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni, Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni and the participants on Meditation Day, 15th of March 2015. Photo by Ming.

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