This seemed an appropriate choice of talk following our recent visit to the Buddhist Monastery at Chithurst. The nuns community there has been steadily diminishing in the wake of the controversy over Bhikkhuni ordination.
Some of the nuns left to form the Aloka Vihara in San Francisco, which is supported by the Saranaloka Foundation. This was established in 2004 to support nuns from Chithurst and Amaravati monasteries to come to the United States to teach. After numerous visits, enthusiasm for the presence of women monastics allowed Saranaloka to extend an invitation to the nuns' community to set up a permanent monastery in the United States.
The decision of the nuns to take bhikkhuni ordination was followed by a
decision of the Saranaloka Foundation to allow the evolution of Aloka
Vihara to include ordained bhikkhunis. It is the intention of the Board
of Directors to offer support to both the siladhara (10-precept nuns) in
England, when they come to America to teach or visit and to the Aloka
Vihara and its resident nuns who take bhikkhuni ordination.
The Aloka Vihara is well supported and both Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacitta are in residence there.
Gil Fronsdal is the primary teacher for the Insight Meditation Centre in Redwood City, California; he has been teaching since 1990. He has practised Zen and Vipassana in the U.S. and Asia since 1975. He was a Theravada monk in Burma in 1985, and in 1989 began training with Jack Kornfield to be a Vipassana teacher.
Gil teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Centre where he is part of its Teachers Council. Gil was ordained as a Soto Zen priest at the San Francisco Zen Centre in 1982, and in 1995 received Dharma Transmission from Mel Weitsman, the abbot of the Berkeley Zen Centre. He is currently serving on the SF Zen Centre Elders’ Council.