Venerable Tathālokā: "Powerful Challenges, Powerful Rewards: Women Awakening Via the Renunciant Path in 21st Century Buddhism"
What was the Buddha’s unique and successful Middle Way vision of nekkhamma—“renunciation” which led to his goal of liberation? And why are an increasing number of 21st century women freely choosing such a renunciate path, aspiring to and entering Buddhist monastic life—and ordaining as bhikkhunīs—in light of all obstacles and hurdles, even with no traditional religious, social or family compulsion to do so? Ayyā Tathālokā will speak of the challenges, the rewards, and the surprising insights revealed in thirty years of monastic life, as founding teacher of the first Theravāda Buddhist bhikkhunīs monastic community in the Americas, and from a decade of lived experience as the first and only contemporary Western woman to be appointed and serve as a Theravāda bhikkhunī preceptor.
Venerable (Ayyā) Tathālokā is an American-born member of the Buddhist Monastic Sangha. She entered monastic life thirty years ago, and received bhikkhunī upasampadā (full ordination) with the Sri Lankan Sangha in California in 1997, with the late Ven. Havanpola Ratanasāra Mahāthera as preceptor. In 2005 she cofounded Dhammadharini Support Foundation together with the first monastic community for Theravāda bhikkhunīs in the Americas. Inspired by Buddhist Forest traditions, in 2008, she cofounded Aranya Bodhi Hermitage on the Sonoma Coast, and later Dhammadharini Monastery in the Sonoma Mountain area of Northern California. In 2009, she became the first contemporary western woman to be appointed a bhikkhunī preceptor. Ven. Tathālokā first received instruction in Mindfulness and Insight practices at age ten, further studying and training with Indian, Korean, Thai, Sri Lankan and Burmese meditation teachers, including the Thai forest traditions of the most venerable Ajahn Mun Bhuridatta and the Burmese Vipassana meditation masters Sayadaw U Pandita and Pa-auk Sayadaw. Her practice and teaching are profoundly influenced by the Buddha’s teachings as contained in the canonical Early Buddhist suttas, together with the teachings and practices of Forest and Insight meditation traditions.