Resident Community at Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery
The Aloka Vihara nuns are a community of bhikkhunis and samaneris dedicated to practicing the Buddha’s teaching in the style of the Theravada Forest Tradition. Their practice emphasizes simplicity, renunciation, service and an orientation towards learning from the natural world – all held within the context of the Buddha’s teaching. The nuns are embracing and integrating the realities and challenges of contemporary society into their practice.
Ayya Anandabodhi was born and raised at the foot of the sacred Preseli Mountains in Wales, UK. She first encountered the Buddha’s teaching in her early teens while reading a book on Buddhism. Reading the Four Noble Truths was life-changing and from that moment she experienced a deep confidence in the Buddha’s insight, and a wish to understand his teachings more deeply. At the age of 24, Ayya Anandabodhi began monastic training at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in England.
Seventeen years later, in 2009, she moved to the USA with a wish to create more opportunities for women monastics. In 2011 she took full Bhikkhuni Ordination, joining the worldwide revival of the Theravada Bhikkhuni Order. Ayya Anandabodhi’s practice and teaching are guided by early Buddhist scriptures, living in community, and through nature’s pure and immediate Dhamma.
Ayya Santacitta was born in Austria and did her graduate studies in Cultural Anthropology, focusing on dance, theatre and ritual. She also worked in avant-garde dance theatre as a performer and costume designer. In 1988 she met Ajahn Buddhadasa in southern Thailand, who sparked her interest in Buddhist monastic life. She trained as a nun in England and Asia from 1993 until 2009, primarily in the lineage of Ajahn Chah. Since 2002, she has also received teachings in the lineage of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
Ayya Ahimsa was born in Vancouver, BC in 1959. Her first career was as an orchestral clarinetist. Then, in order to be at home more when her two children were young, she taught preschool music. When her children were in elementary school she herself returned to university to obtain a Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology which enabled her to work with children with developmental differences.
She began to meditate in 2006 and soon after knew she wanted to completely devote her life to training the mind and purifying the heart. In 2008 she was first introduced to monasticism through visiting Ajahn Sona at Birken Forest Monastery. Due to aging parents and teenagers still at home she was not able to leave the householder life and go forth until 2012. Ayya Ahimsa took Anagarika Precepts in January 2012 and then Samaneri Precepts in September 2013 with Ayya Medhanandi at Sati Saraniya Hermitage near Perth, Ontario. In June 2016 she joined the nuns’ community at Aloka Vihara and was given Bhikkhuni Ordination in August 2017 with Ayya Gunasari Theri as her preceptor.
Before becoming a monastic, Ayya Niyyanika balanced life in Minnesota between work as an ontology consultant for building management and emergency response systems, and practicing with the Common Ground Meditation community.
They received their initial training with the Dhammadharini community from 2014 through 2019. Niyyanika Bhikkhuni gratefully practices monastic life within community. By learning from the Buddha’s teachings and monastic discipline, they cultivate wholesome and supportive factors for their own development on the path and the development of others. Embodiment based in compassion, wisdom, and equanimity is central to Ayya Niyyanika’s path development, as is understanding and living a life of wise and kind interdependence.