Organisations: Buddha-Haus, Germany; Metta Vihara, Germany; Sakyadhita
International; Wat Buddha-Dhamma Australia; International Buddhist Women's
Centre, Sri Lanka.
Ven. Narada Maha Thera of Vajirarama, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Ven. Matara
Sri Nanarama Maha Thera of Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya monastery - Sri
Lankan Forest Tradition.
Ayya Khema was born in Berlin in 1923 to Jewish parents. In 1938, she
escaped from Germany with two hundred other children and was taken to
Glasgow, Scotland. Her parents went to China and, two years later Ayya
Khema joined then in Shanghai. With the outbreak of the war, however,
the family was put into a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp and it was here
her father died. She later married, had a son and a daughter, and now
has four grand-children.
Four years after
the American liberation of the camp, Ayya Khema was able to emigrate
to the United States. Between 1960 and 1964 she travelled with her husband
and son throughout Asia, including the Himalayan countries, and it was
at this time she learned meditation. Ten years later she began to teach
meditation throughout Europe and Australia. Her experiences led her
to become a Buddhist nun in Sri Lanka in 1979, when she was given the
name of 'Khema' (Ayya means Venerable) meaning safety and security.
She helped to establish
Wat Buddha-Dhamma, a forest monastery in the Theravada tradition, near
Sydney, Australia, in 1978. In Colombo she set up the International
Buddhist Women's Centre as a training centre for Sri Lankan nuns, and
the Parappuduwa Nun's Island at Dodanduwa. (now unfortunately closed).
She was the spiritual director of Buddha-Haus in Germany, established
in 1989 under her auspices. In June 1997 "Metta Vihara", the
first Buddhist forest monastery in Germany, was inaugurated by her,
and the first ordinations in the German language took place there.
In 1987 she co-ordinated
the first international conference of Buddhist nuns in the history of
Buddhism, which resulted in the setting-up of Sakyadhita, a worldwide
Buddhist women's organisation. H.H. the Dalai Lama was the keynote speaker
at the conference. In May 1987, as an invited lecturer, she was the
first ever Buddhist nun to address the United Nations in New York on
the topic of Buddhism and World Peace.
Ayya Khema has written
twenty-five books on meditation and the Buddha's teachings in English
and German; her books have been translated into seven languages. In
1988, her book "Being Nobody, Going Nowhere" received the
Christmas Humphreys Memorial Award.
Ayya Khema ordained
Ven. Sister Sangamitta from Switzerland (now practising in Thailand)
Ven. Sister Dhammadina a graduate of Peradeniya University, Ven. Sister
Vayama from Australia and Ven. Sister Uttpalvanna of Galle and her pupils
in Sri Lanka.
Ayya Khema drew
her last breath on November 2, 1997 at Buddha Haus, Mittleberg Uttenbull
in Germany after a brief illness.
Ayya Khema (1923-1997) was the first Western woman to become a Theravadin
Buddhist nun. She has served as a model and inspiration for women from
all the Buddhist traditions who have sought to revive the practice of
women's monasticism in modern times. Founded women's Buddhist organisations.
Renown as a teacher is widespread.
Samannaphala sutta especially; Potthapada sutta; Mahanidana sutta; Rathavinita
sutta;: Dependent Arising; Metta Bhavana; Jhanas; Women in Buddhism.
87466 Oy-Mittelberg, Germany
Tel: 08376/502, Fax: 08376/592
Web site: www.buddha-haus.de
87474 Buchenberg, Germany
Web site: www.buddha-haus.de/site/html/metta_vihara/frame.htm
[English speakers are advised to navigate by searching Google.com and
clicking English translation]
The International Association of Buddhist Women
1143 Piikoi Place
Honolulu, HI 96822
(Bikkhuni Karma Lekshe Tsomo)
Web site: www.sakyadhita.org
Ten Mile Hollow
Wisemans Ferry, NSW 2775 Australia
Tel: (602) 43 233 193 (mornings only)
Web site: www.wbd.org.au
Sister Ajahn Vayama
I was ordained as
a Nun in Sri Lanka in 1985 with Venerable Piyaratana, the Chief Monk
of Polgasduwa Island Hermitage as my Preceptor, and Ven. Ayya Khema
as my Teacher. I lived at Parappuduwa Nuns' Island and in several towns
in the south of the country during my ten years in Sri Lanka. My senior
companion nun during that time was Sister Dhammadinna, a Sri Lankan.
In 1994 I was able to fulfill a long-standing wish and went on pilgrimage
to the Holy Places in India for six months. Later, at the invitation
of Venerable Ajahn Sumedho, I spent a year at Amaravati, his monastery
in England. In 1997 I returned to Australia, hoping to be able to contribute
to making the teachings of the Buddha available in my home country.