Electronic Journal from Sakyadhita USA

Issue No. 15 Summer 2017

In addition to the four nuns interviewed in this issue of American Buddhist Women, four more nuns now living or based in the United States received the 2016 Global Bhikkhuni Award presented by the Chinese Buddhist Bhikkhuni Association.


Bhikshuni Ru Dao

Bhikshuni Pema Chodron Photo credit: Christine Alicino

Bhikshuni Sudarshana.  Photo courtesy of Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery.

Bhikshuni Santacitta. Photo courtesy of Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery.

Bhikshuni Ru Dao

Chairperson of Hai Ming Temple in Taiwan, abbess of Hu Kuo Temple, Anaheim California


Venerable Master Ru Dao was born in Taiwan in 1924 during the Japanese occupation and received her education in Japan. At age twenty-one she went to the Taichung Fengyuan Long Yi Hall to learn the sutras and Chinese language.


"Gradually," says her official temple bio, "her past life virtuous aspiration ripened." At twenty-three she entered the Xinzhu Yitong temple to prepare for ordination and was ordained two years later. She received full ordination at Wugu Guanyinshan Lingyun temple in 1956. That same year she met Venerable Master Baisheng, a prominent Taiwanese bhikshu and founder of the Chinese Buddhist Tripitaka Institute, with whom she studied Vinaya for three years.


In 1959, Ven. Ru Dao met her principal teacher, Venerable Master Wuming.  She helped him to establish numerous Dharma projects, including the founding of Hai Ming Temple. In 1984, Venerable Master Wuming appointed Ven. Ru Dao as his successor, naming her Abbess of Hai Ming Temple, which she led for 27 years.


In 2001, Venerable Master Ru Dao retired from her abbess role and moved to Hue Kuo Temple in Anaheim, CA. She still serves as Chairman of the Hai Ming Temple organization. The temple says, "Her contributions over the decades serves as excellent learning examples for future generations."


Bhikshuni Pema Chodron

Author, teacher, and director of Gampo Abbey, Nova Scotia, Canada

2016 Global Bhikkhuni Award

Outstanding Women in Buddhism Award 2008


Ani Pema Chödrön became a novice nun in 1974 while studying with Lama Chime in London. His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa came to Scotland at that time, and Ani Pema received her ordination from him.


Ani Pema first met her root guru, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1972.  Lama Chime encouraged her to work with Rinpoche, and it was with him that she ultimately made her most profound connection, studying with him from 1974 until his death in 1987.  At the request of the Sixteenth Karmapa, she received the full bhikshuni ordination in the Chinese lineage of Buddhism in 1981 in Hong Kong.


In 1984 Ani Pema moved to rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to be the director of Gampo Abbey.  Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave her explicit instructions on establishing this monastery for Western monks and nuns.


Ani Pema currently teaches in the United States and Canada and plans for an increased amount of time in solitary retreat under the guidance of Venerable Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. She is also a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the oldest son and lineage holder of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.


Ani Pema is interested in helping establish Tibetan Buddhist monasticism in the West, as well as continuing her work with Western Buddhists of all traditions, sharing ideas and teachings. She has written many books including The Wisdom of No Escape, Start Where You Are, When Things Fall Apart, The Places that Scare You, No Time To Lose, How to Meditate, and Living Beautifully. All are available from Shambhala Publications and Sounds True.


Bhikkhuni Sudarshana

Teacher, scholar, and Abbess of the Samadhi Meditation Center in Florida

2016 Global Bhikkhuni Award

Outstanding Women in Buddhism Award 2007


Bhikkhuni Sudarshana Peliyagoda has been at the forefront of the bhikkhuni lineage revival in her native Sri Lanka, having been in the first group of bhikkhunis from Sri Lanka to be fully ordained in Sri Lanka. She now heads Samadhi Buddhist Meditation Center in Pinellas Park, Florida, founded in 2006.


Born in 1968, Ven. Sudarshana was 16 when she took novice ten-precept (dasa-sila-manava)  ordination in Sri Lanka. She went on to earn a bachelor's and two master's degrees, taught high school girls for 12 years, and studied for two years at the Maha Bodhi Society in Sarnath, India. She received bhikkhuni ordination in in Sarnath in 1996.


By winning the US State Department's lottery program, Ven. Sudarshana arrived in America in 2003. She has traveled widely to speak at international Buddhist events and was recognized with the Outstanding Women in Buddhism award in 2007.


Ven. Sudarshana has promoted the status of women in Buddhism by organizing international higher ordination ceremonies in Taiwan in 2001 and in Sri Lanka in 2002 and 2003. Author of the 2001 publication, Bhikkhuni Patimokkha and Vinaya Karma, she is also Vice President for Sri Lanka in the new World Buddhist Bhikkhuni Association.


Bhikkhuni Santacitta

Teacher and co-founder of Aloka Vihara Forest Hermitage, in Placerville, California

2016 Global Bhikkhuni Award

Outstanding Women in Buddhism Award 2012


Ayya Santacitta was born in Austria and has a multifaceted background in hotel management, ethnology, and avant-garde dance theatre. Her first teacher was Ajahn Buddhadasa, who sparked her interest in Buddhist monastic life. She has practiced meditation for almost 30 years and trained as a nun in both the East and West since 1993, primarily in the lineage of Ajahn Chah. Since meeting Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche in 2002, she also integrates Dzogchen teachings into her practice.


Ayya Santacitta is co-founder of Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery, where she has lived since 2009. She received bhikkhuni ordination in 2011. She is particularly interested in learning from nature and bringing faith traditions to the climate justice movement. Her award letter from the Chinese Buddhist Bhikkhuni Association noted for creating Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery and "For your creativity in Dhamma teachings which unite the East and the West." Ayya Santacitta is also a vice president in the new World Buddhist Bhikkhuni Association.


Issue No. 15 Summer 2017

Sakyadhita USA Encouraging Inclusion Across American Buddhisms

SUSA is the USA National Branch of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women

Sakyadhita USA

P. O. Box 1649, Ridgecrest, CA 93556