Remembering Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni Theri on Her 70th Birthday – Story 31: I cannot meditate this evening anymore


by Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni

I started the monastic life in June 2002 and spent my first Rains Retreat at the monastery. Before I entered the monastic life, I only had the experience of a few weekend retreats and a three-day stay at the Nuns’ Monastery.

I used to work six days a week. I enjoyed regular coffee and lunch outings at cafés, shopping and relaxing with friends. When I entered the monastic life as a trainee, I was unplugged from ‘normal’ life and planted into the monastery in the middle of the bush. There was no electricity (except the main Nuns’ Cottage), no television, no music, having only breakfast and lunch and consuming food that I was not used to. I lived with other trainees who were strangers to me. It was very challenging.

During my first three months of the Rains Retreat in 2002, Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni Theri had scheduled at least once a month, a week of intensive group meditation practice. One afternoon of the intensive retreat, I had had enough and could not meditate anymore. I pleaded with Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni Theri and asked her: “Please, please, please, can we not have a meditation session this evening? Can we listen to a talk instead? Please. I cannot meditate this evening anymore.”

I could not remember the response from my teacher. I just remembered her smile. We did not have meditation session on that evening. We listened to a talk. I was surprised by my teacher’s compassion and kindness. I was very relieved!

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