Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni : 35 Years As A Nun 2020

Written by Chrissie Anderson

On the 17th of March this week it was an auspicious occassion for our dear Ajahn Vayama as this was the date she ordained as a Buddhist Nun in Sri Lanka 35 years ago. Previously to ordaining  Ajahn Vayama worked as a Social Worker and set up the first Womens’ Refuge in Sydney.

The Buddhist Society of W.A. was very grateful when she accepted our invitation to start from scratch the first Theravada Forest Nuns’ Monastery on 600 acres of bush in Gidgegannup in the year 1997. The monastery was named Dhammasara.
For the first 2 years Ajahn lived in a donated small caravan in a secluded bush setting. Ron Battersby and Bianca Di Bua dug her a pit toilet . Ajahn Vayama received dana firstly in a little tent then a tin shed we supporters built. I recall many days during the first 2 summers when it was 48 ‘c in her little caravan and the same outside. Not a word of complaint. No showers. No electricity. A kind female supporter soon offered to drive her to her house in the Swan Valley for a hot shower and the use of a washing machine once a week.
It was a long, slow, process but the first Nuns’ Cottage was built from our own rammed earth gravel. Then began the process of the very strict training of suitable women who showed interest in ordaining. Whilst training the first women who ordained, Ajahn also gave regular teachings at The Buddhist Society of WA.  She also led beautiful retreats.
She also coordinated cool burns in 10 acre lots with the local fire brigade in the Spring.
It was a time of  continuous serving with little time alone.
Sadly Ajahn Vayama’s health deteriorated  10 years ago and she was diagnosed with a very serious disease, Multiple System Atrophy, which she knew would require full time nursing care. Her disciple, Ayya Seri, very very generously offered to look after Ajahn Vayama. This has been a 10 year selfless time of devotion for Ayya Seri caring for Ajahn Vayama 24/7.
Ajahn Vayama and Ayya Seri are currently living in a kind layperson’s quiet home. This Hermitage is a very beautiful peaceful setting in which to practice.
Sahdu to Ajahn Vayama and Ayya Seri on  living an impeccable holy life.
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