Electronic Journal from Sakyadhita USA
Issue No. 7, Summer 2015
14th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women Yogyakarta, Indonesia: A Joyful and Empowering Experience
By Chrysanne Stathacos
This was my first time attending a Sakyadhita conference. For many years I had followed the conferences thanks to Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s posts in the Gatsal Newsletter and talks. I had always wished to attend one. This year I received my wish, and the conference exceeded my expectations by deepening my understanding of the female Buddhist monastic communities and the joy and dedication to the dharma that they embody.
The quality of the talks and papers were of exceptionally high level and I have enjoyed rereading many of the papers since the conference. It was a rare opportunity to see and hear scholarship and programs from such a wide spectrum of Buddhist women.
The presentations on the Bhikkhuni Ordination issue, the challenges facing non-Himalayan nuns (The Alliance of Non Himalayan Nuns) and social justice work were very informative and will be enormously helpful for me as a volunteer Director for Dongyu Gatsal Ling Initiatives (www.dgli.org), a USA non-profit organization inspired by the life work of Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo. DGLI works to help Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery and Tibetan Buddhist female monastics and nunneries. It was very important to be able to learn more about The Alliance of Non Himalayan Nuns (www.nonhimalayannunsalliance.com), an international, non-sectarian organization that supports women ordained as Tibetan Buddhist nuns from outside traditional Tibetan Buddhist regions.
I was pleased to have an opportunity to present a workshop entitled, Nature as a Vehicle for Healing and Compassion in Art which included a power point slide presentation featuring artworks by women artists, inspired by Buddhism, and practices of contemplation and reflection using natural materials. The participants in the workshop explored this theme by using flowers and leaves they found to create a mandala, which we sat around and then did a meditation.
The most meaningful moment at the conference for me was the opportunity to meet many new friends. The joyful atmosphere of monastic women and laywomen from so many Buddhist traditions and sanghas being together, sharing meals, and conversations was invigorating and empowering. Everyone was constantly smiling! The morning meditations, Dharma talks, workshops and presentations were all so inspiring.
Finally, the pilgrimage to Borobudur was a wonderful ending to the conference. This was a highlight so much so that after the conference I returned for two days so I could spend more time meditating at this most important Buddhist monument. The whole experience was one I will remember for my life.
Chrysanne Stathacos is a multi media artist who has exhibited internationally at museums, galleries, and public venues. She is founding Director of Dongyu Gatsal Ling Initiatives, a USA non-profit organization inspired by the life work of Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, which works to help Tibetan Buddhist women practitioners. As Director of Education at Artists Space, New York, she initiated Expanded Art Ideas, an innovative art education program. Most recently, she and artist Susan Silas launched MOMMY, a collaborative web site/distribution network that celebrates women artists. She lives between New York, Toronto and Athens.
Friends at Conference lunch
"Nature as Compassion" Workshop
Jetsunma at Borobudur
Karma Lekshe on Pilgrimage Tour
Click on panels below to view photos
by Chrysanne Stathacos