Electronic Journal from Sakyadhita USA
Issue No. 11, SPECIAL COMMEMORATIVE ISSUE
The whole assembled women's monastic community and friends blessing the site of the future stupa for the Buddha's relics. Photo: Lulu Cook.
The women's monastic community and gathered friends planting and blessing the venerable Ananda Bodhi tree sapling. Photo: Lulu Cook.
A long-awaited and momentous dedication of the new Dhammadharini Sonoma Mountain Bhikkhuni Monastery took place in Penngrove California in August. The bhikkhunīs of Dhammadharini, with the support of a broad sangha of dedicated dharma practitioners, recently received the gift of this space offered by the Dhammadharini Support Foundation, from which they will be able to practice and offer the teachings of the Buddha from a serene, safe, and conducive setting. After many years of the community’s fundraising, scouring Northern California for suitable possible properties, and months spent on initial repurposing of the building and grounds, a weekend of dedication and celebration was enjoyed by a broad group in the monastics’ new abode.
It was a true community observance, with over 150 lay friends and supporters, many children and young people, and dozens of female and male monastics gathered over the course of two days. Saturday was dedicated to the potency of the Fourfold Sangha as a vehicle for supporting awakening from suffering, while Sunday was a reflection and celebration of women Buddhist teachers and leaders, with both monastics and householder dharma teachers highlighted. As a participant on Sunday, and as a mother of a teenage daughter, I felt joyous appreciation to be gathered with so many women whom I consider to be mothers to me in the dharma, and I reflected on how the efforts of Ayya Tathaloka and the other Dhammadharini women monastics have opened an ancient door to ordination for a new generation of female practitioners.
It is with much mudita and heartfelt wishes for the flourishing of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha that we share a few pictures from the celebration.
Ayya Tathaloka leading women's monastic community in water blessing at the completion of the two-days of inaugural blessings. Photo: Lulu Cook.
Two young daughters look on. Used by permission of the girls' mothers. Photo: Lulu Cook.
Lulu Cook has been trained to facilitate dharma groups by Noah Levine (Against the Stream/Dharma Punx, www.againstthestream.org) and Amma Thanasanti Bhikkhuni. She is currently in the multi-year Community Dharma Leaders training program offered by Spirit Rock and IMS, and she leads the Oakland Against the Stream weekly meditation group. She is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in sustainable wellness for our personal health as well as for that of the environment. She finds that lay life, relationships, and parenting are fertile grounds for dharma practice and awakening. See her website at www.lulucook.com and follow Lulu on Twitter @DhammaDish.