Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Sky Full of Dippers

Sky Full of Dippers: the Anagarika's Tale
by Marajina, Anagarika ~ Aranya Bodhi Hermitage, CA., USA
February 13, 2011

At night, from my bed on the floor of Samana Kuti, I look up at the starry sky over the canyon. It peaks through oak and redwood limbs passing panoramically through three large windows. The divide between inside and outside disappears, the walls disappear, the roof disappears… and the floor, as if suspended in the trees, finely, finely gives to the giving of the wind. I dwell in the divinity of the northern Sonoma coastline, resident steward at Aranya Bodhi Hermitage and the luckiest puggala on the planet.

A Theravadin bhikkhuni forest hermitage is a rare find in the world. I still marvel at how conditions coalesced to bring someone across the country to this precious situation so scarcely encountered. In this forest, cavernous grandmotherly stumps anchor their retinue of young redwoods to precipitous constantly shifting cliffs. Hillsides harbor the seasonal water color of wild orchids and native grasses... and landslides fell hillsides. Trees born in the mineral rock of the last tectonic upheaval cover millenia of stories as they pass to the soil their own earthen tales. Many voices, one samsara.

This February 19th, eight months after arriving on Ayya Tathaaloka's invitation to help Aranya Bodhi Hermitage on its first Vassa, I will go forth as a samaneri here. Eight months ago there were no kutis here. There were no outhouses, no showers, no meditation hall, no library, no laundry facilities, no electricity or phone. These were hardly missed in a benevolent forest of waterfalls and winding emerald trails. Ayya Sobhana, Venerable Adhimutta and I passed thirty degree nights with just a hot water bottle for warmth, remaining as residents after the area's coldest summer in fifty years to its wettest December in local memory while a hermitage slowly came to creation through the kindness and generosity of many faithful who believed a hermitage for bhikkhunis could be created here.

Here it is.

Arms around the area and around the world embrace Ayya Tathaaloka's long range vision of a Theravadin bhikkhuni forest hermitage. Arms around the area and around the world uphold, Ayya Sobhana's daily prioress task list. The support which houses, feeds, clothes and cares for this fledgling monastic community is utterly moving and inspiring.

When I look up at night, I am reminded of our friends who believe in the way of the bhikkhuni. I see a sky full of dippers filled with the promise of the savaka's path, showering down on us with faith and love, supporting the aspiration of our daughters, sisters and mothers by supporting the Buddha Sasana as the Blessed One left it for us. It is truly marvelous and wonderful. This Dhamma and Discipline is an amazing, amazing thing. Its continuity is enabled from the hearts and hands of the loveliest people in the world, into the heart of the bhikkhuni sangha. Those who share in Ayya Tathaaloka's and Ayya Sobhana's vision of a true fourfold sangha are unafraid of the commitment this unparalleled work in the world entails.

Marajina Anagarika at Samaneri Pabbaja w/ Ācarinī Ayya Sobhana 
Being witness to this, being here with this, sharing in this has been the greatest blessing of this puggala's life … and this is only the beginning.