Monday, December 28, 2015

Earning a Degree: Tibetan Nuns Break Through Barriers

Rio Helmi

Délek Dölma left her home in Kham in Tibet's eastern regions at the age of 20. Ordained but illiterate, she yearned to study Buddhism in a more profound way. Délek Wangmo was 16, also ordained, could barely read but was equally determined to deepen her knowledge and understanding of Buddhism. In traditional Tibetan society, when it comes to opportunity to study, nuns are at the bottom end of the priority list. Painfully aware of the fact that in Tibet they hardly stood a chance of studying, much less achieving a scholastic degree, they resolved to escape to India to pursue their dream within the Tibetan community in exile.

They also resolved to generate the "merit" -- which in Buddhist terms refers to the expansive power of the mind generated by virtuous acts -- for this bold undertaking in a uniquely Tibetan way. They journeyed from Lithang to Lhasa by doing full-length prostrations the whole way. To get an idea of what that entails: with your mind focused on the Buddha first you do a full-length prostration flat on the ground, with arms out, then stand up, and then move to the mark where the tips of your fingers touched the ground. And then you start again. Repeat for as many times as it takes to cover 1,475 kilometers. It took them a year and a half.

A philosophy class at Dolma Ling nunnery, via Rio Helmi
It would seem the merit they generated helped: once in India they were soon taken under the wing of the Tibetan Nun's Project created by the Tibetan Women's Association to provide education for nuns. By 1993 they were both were inscribed in a long-term study program, the first of its kind. In 2005 the Dolma Ling nunnery, spearheaded by His Holiness the Dalai Lama's sister-in-law Rinchen Khando, opened its doors. To date over 200 nuns have joined the two in this nunnery.

Reflections from the 14th Sakyadhita International Conference: Nurturing the Theravada Bhikkhuni Sangha

Munissara Bhikkhuni

Photo 1: The Stage at the 14th Sakyadhita Conference

At a Sakyadhita conference, you are in the company of a lot of “firsts” in Buddhism. You might find yourself sharing a meal with one of the first bhikkhunis ordained in the Theravada tradition in Thailand or Indonesia or Vietnam. Or sitting on a bus next to one of the first Western women ordained in the Tibetan or Korean tradition decades ago when such a thing was a real rarity. Or having tea with one of the first scholars to document the life and work of this or that under-studied, eminent woman in Buddhist history. Indeed, amazing, pioneering women (and men) from various Buddhist traditions were present in force at the 14th Sakyadhita International Conference in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, from 23–30 June this year, which was attended by over 1,000 monastic and lay participants from 40 countries.

The latest in a series of conferences organized every two years since 1987 by the Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women, this year’s conference was themed “Compassion and Social Justice.” One of the most important social justice issues in Buddhism’s own backyard, of course, is the lack of equal opportunity for ordination and Buddhist education for women. Although many other important matters were discussed at the conference, this article will report on this topic, and particularly the situation of Theravada nuns, while drawing on experiences shared by other traditions.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Interview with Tina Rasmussen

By Non-Duality Magazine

Tina Rasmussen learned to meditate at the age of thirteen and has been meditating for more than thirty years. In 2003, after many years of spiritual practice in non-dual and Buddhist traditions, she completed a yearlong silent solo retreat during which an awakening to true nature occurred. In 2005, she was ordained as a Theravada Buddhist nun by Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw of Burma, who later authorized her to teach. She is the co-author of Practicing the Jhanas (with teaching partner and husband Stephen Snyder), published in 2009 by Shambhala.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Wonderwell Mountain Refuge—A Flowering of Buddhism in America

Harsha Menon 

Wonderwell Mountain Refuge. Photo by Wonderwell Mountain Refuge

As I arrive at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge for a weekend stay, it is immediately evident that while Wonderwell is a place of meditation, it is also a place of great activity—from the people working in the rock garden to those cooking in the kitchen, each person is working with a strong sense of purpose. I feel that everyone is truly invested in his or her work, clearly stemming from a sense of ownership and belonging. . . .

Located in the small rural town of Springfield, New Hampshire, Wonderwell was established by the Natural Dharma Fellowship, an organization of Buddhist practitioners from across New England “dedicated to the joy of awakening.” Founded by Lama Willa Miller, a Dharma teacher for many years, and rooted in her own Buddhist training, the Natural Dharma Fellowship focuses on the transmission of the Tibetan traditions of Mahamudra and Dzogchen. A not-for-profit organization, it consists of local practice groups as well as intensive retreat and student and teacher training.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Announcement: Lopon Dr. Rita Gross


It is with sadness that we relay the news that world-renowned feminist-Buddhist scholar and practitioner Rita M. Gross passed from this life on Nov. 11, 2015 at her home in hospice care. She had a severe stroke in late October, but did not appear to suffer. Lopon Rita asked that her ashes be sprinkled into the Lotus Pond at Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche's retreat center in central Virginia, Lotus Garden.

Dear Friends,

Rita M. Gross
Today we have been notified with the sad news that Rita Gross has suffered a life-changing stroke. Please hold Rita, and all who are close to her, in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

The contributions that Rita has made are impossible to underestimate. As an academic, Dharma teacher, advocate and community builder, Rita has touched many lives with her work. Rita is one of six senior teachers at Lotus Garden who were appointed by Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche. Rita has also been a senior teacher in the Shambhala tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Rita's Buddhist teachings have been non-sectarian and she has taught for both Zen and Vipassana centers in addition to her work in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. She has been a founder and leader in the field of feminist studies in religion and has done groundbreaking work on women in Buddhism. In addition, she has focused on the theology of religious diversity and interreligious exchange, and has offered a variety of solo or co-taught workshops on this topic for seminaries and religious institutions. Rita helped to build the Society for Buddhist Christian Studies and co-edited their journal for more than a decade.

Rita’s approach has been a rare combination of academic and Dharmic perspectives. Her warm, humorous, and very clear teachings have reached thousands of highly appreciative students.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The First Bhikkhuni Ordination at Koh Yo, Thailand

By Venerable Varadhamma Bhikkhu

On Saturday, November 29, 2014 there was a higher ordination for bhikkhunis for the first time at Koh Yo in Songkhla Province, as well as the going forth of another 47 samaneris. Conducting ordinations for females to go forth as samaneris is one of the periodic Dhamma activities at “Tipaya Sathan Dhamma Bhikkhuni Arama.”

This, however, is not the first Bhikkhuni Ordination in Thailand. The first Bhikkhuni Ordination in Thailand took place in about 1928 when the two daughters of Mr. Narin Bhasit took samaneri ordination. His two daughters Jongdee and Sara were 13 and 18 years old respectively at the time of their going forth. After a period of two years, once Sara was fully 20 years old, she took higher ordination as a bhikkhuni. This happened 82 years ago. Nor was the ordination at Koh Yoh the second bhikkhuni ordination in Thailand. In recent times there have been a number of bhikkhuni ordinations held in Thailand, however they were not publicized.

This higher ordination can be considered to be the first ‘formal’ bhikkhuni ordination. Provincial officials were invited to take part in the event so that they could be aware of what was going on in the area under their responsibility. These included the officials from the Buddhist Office of Songkhla, the Provincial Governor of Songkhla, members of the Office for the Management of the Provinces on the Southern Border, represented by Suphanat Sirantavineti, and the Vice Governor of Naratiwat Province, who came to open the event. A letter was sent to inform the Prime Minister of Thailand of the event, which received a letter of thanks in return. Furthermore, a letter was sent to Phra Thep, the Crown Princess of Thailand to ask for her blessing in this event. We, likewise, received a letter from the Royal Office. Therefore, this was not a ‘secret’ ordination, but rather it was formal and openly publicized.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Finding My Way

Jessica Morey

When all of our lives are so similar and yet so different, where can we look for guidance? As Jessica Morey has learned—and what she now teaches to teenagers—the best guidance is discovered in ourselves.

The eighth grade was no picnic. Like a lot of 14-year-olds, I felt isolated and confused. Where to go in life? And the combination of pulling away from my parents and dealing with my peers didn’t help. Were my friends rapping with the same stuff I was? How could I know? I could barely name it for myself.

My mom made a proposal: “You and your brother should try a mindfulness retreat.” If I hadn’t seen over the years how she herself seemed different after her occasional retreats at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS)—when she came home, her eyes seemed filled with what I could only describe as joy—I never would have agreed.

But my brother and I did agree. So we headed off to IMS, full of skepticism and with a promise that if we didn’t like it, mom would come get us.

It was strange when we arrived. Everyone seemed a little too nice. But our fellow teenagers seemed pretty normal, so we both decided to give it a go.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Great Theris

by Roshi Joan Halifax

The Theris, or First Nuns, have long been a mystery to Buddhist women. They stand like a lovely mountain range covered in mist, not visible but their presence is felt. As Buddhism has met the modern world, more and more women are practicing. So also are women taking great responsibility as the heads of monasteries, as Dharma teachers and scholars. And many of us wish to know and express our gratitude to our women ancestors.

Photo 1: Artist Mayumi Oda with Upaya's
Mahapajapati Statue
It is in our generation that more is being learned about the women who joined the Buddha’s Sangha 2500 years ago. Their presence in early Buddhism created a revolution in social values that only now is beginning to come to fruition in our modern cultures.

I am a Western woman, a Dharma teacher, and the founder and abbot of a monastery in the United States. I went to Thailand in February 2002, to attend the Aryavinaya meeting inspired by the Thai social activist Sulak Shivaraksa. Prior to my journey to Thailand, I had learned about a brave woman and scholar who had been recently ordained as a Samaneri (novice nun) by Bhikkshunis in Sri Lanka. Her name was Samaneri Dhammananda. This was the first such ordination of a woman in Thailand in 1000 years as the nun’s line had died out a millenium ago. I asked one of the conference coordinators if I could possibly stay with the Samaneri after the meeting. I wanted to meet this courageous person, to practice with her friends, and learn more about her journey.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Buddhist Women As Agents of Change: Case Studies from Thailand and Indonesia

Lai Suat Yan

While in Thailand the majority of its population are adherents of the Theravada Buddhist ‘tradition’, in Indonesia, Buddhism is a minority religion with the Theravada Buddhist ‘tradition’ embraced by the majority of Buddhists. However, the development of the Theravada tradition in Indonesia is much influenced by its counterparts in Thailand.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Call for Submissions: 2015 Sakyadhita International Newsletter

We are now accepting submissions for the 2015 Sakyadhita International Newsletter. If you have stories, artwork, interviews, or other items you feel may be beneficial for our annual publication please share it with us.

Please review past issues of the Sakyadhita International Newsletter and email Danie with submissions or questions.

If we cannot use a piece for the newsletter we may have other options available, such as this blog, so please do not hesitate to reach out to us with your submissions.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Poetry of Laura West

The following poems are a selection from poetry I have written over several years. They could be viewed as the gleanings from a lifetime of spiritual searching. The mandalas accompanying the poems I created on a computer. Some of them are made of fractals. I do hope you enjoy these offerings. Laura West

A Wonder of Wonders

Blue Flame
A wonder of wonders
A time unspent
The echo of birds across the marsh
Someone opens a window
A lone dog barks
Sounds that punctuate space
Actually create it in the mind
The sun warms my face
Nothing to add
To a perfect day
How many perfect days fill this space,
One moment at a time?
Nothing to add
Nowhere to go
And most important
Nothing to do

Friday, August 28, 2015

Golden Ribbons in the Tree of Life

I first heard about the 14th Sakyadhita Conference from a friend at Buddha Prabha Vihara, my local Buddhist temple. I was asked to help recruit 100 volunteers. At that time, I thought it would be very complicated to prepare for such a large international conference. I was not brave enough to reject this assignment, but I also wasn’t confident that I could recruit 100 people. Luckily, I had my parents to consult! They told me it’s never wrong to try . . . so I decided to do it.

Just like my other volunteer experiences, I learned how to manage my time well, juggling my studies and my duties as a volunteer. But this time I got more! Although we received six weeks of training beforehand, I think the real training happened during the conference. We certainly ran into problems again and again, but none were insurmountable. I learned how to serve participants and the Bhikkhuni Sangha from all over the world wholeheartedly, and I also made many friends from different cultural and religious backgrounds. Especially, I want to thank Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo and our volunteer coordinators for their advice, which helped me become confident to serve the participants more sincerely.

Each and every single moment during the Sakyadhita conference is like a gold ribbon tied to one of the branches of my tree of life, and I'll never put it down.

The warmth will always be in my heart.

Pricella, Yogyakarta

Monday, August 24, 2015

White Robes, Saffron Dreams: A Look at Gender Inequality in Thai Buddhism

Hilary Cadigan 
June 6, 2014

One of the most distinct illustrations of gender inequality in Thailand is found in its most entrenched institution: religion. In her fascinating new documentary, White Robes, Saffron Dreams, acclaimed filmmaker Teena Amrit Gill explores the discriminatory treatment of women within Thai Buddhism, a topic that has gone largely unexamined in the past.

One of the Buddhist nuns depicted in the film.

The 43-minute documentary, which was released last year and is currently on the festival circuit, follows the story of a Buddhist monk and a Mae Chi (Buddhist nun), and explores the sharp difference in opportunities for males versus females in Thailand, a country that is 95% Buddhist.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Buddhist Reflections on Healing, Letting Go and How Suffering Can Lead to Freedom

Ayya Yeshe Bodhicitta

Letting go is a big theme in Buddhism. It has also been a big theme in my own life. Change and the need to let go are issues we don’t mind hearing about in the context of other people’s lives, but one we don’t really like taking place in our own. But the fact is, sooner or later we all have to accept change, whether we want it or not.

Change, cycles of life and death, creation, expansion and decline are as natural as the seasons. Change can also be a liberating thing, and without it, life would be stale. Change is not always negative. It means we can grow and learn and expand. It means unpleasant situations can transform into more positive situations, but it can also mean we suffer. We can all appreciate the beauty and tempests of nature. We enjoy the blossoming flowers in spring and the new life that emerges from the earth, bringing renewal. We can also enjoy the graceful surrender of autumn as leaves fall and dark comes earlier. Life would be very dull if nothing ever changed. But being born, things must also die. Meeting, they must part and reaching their highest arch, they must also decline. This is a natural law. Somehow because we live separate from nature and mostly in our heads, we have lost sight of this natural law. We hide from old age, try to create permanent security and try to insulate ourselves from anything nasty that could disturb our comfort too much.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Excerpt from Time to Stand Up

Excerpt from "Time to Stand Up"
An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth
The Buddha’s Life and Message through Feminine Eyes

North Atlantic Books
Berkeley, California 2015

Most scholars agree that what is recorded as the Buddha’s story—from conversations committed to memory for four hundred[1] years after his death before they were written down—is subject to interpretation.[2]  The men who recorded his teaching, while offering an extraordinary and vital service, did so with a natural bias for the worldview they inhabited, where women’s perspectives were largely invisible. In this book, I aim to bring a feminine view to a tradition that became one of the most androcentric in the world; Buddhism has been recorded almost entirely from a male perspective. I want to do this because the enlightenment narratives in contemporary Buddhist-inspired movements are deeply informed by a hierarchical, patriarchal, and often misogynist Buddhist monasticism.

Image 1: Before boarding the Climate Train, September 15, 2014, Oakland-Berkerly, CA. Ayya Santacitta and Ayya Santussika with poster made by her granddaughter.
In a very general, broad brushstroke, at the heart of androcentric Buddhism there tends to be a psychological bias toward nihilism. This is a life-denying and somewhat aloof disregard for the world, in which personal salvation and the transcendent are held as primary, and engaged compassionate action, while valued in rhetoric and as an ideal, doesn’t necessarily translate into a sharing of resources or support for the impoverished or marginalized. Followers of Buddhist traditions are just as prone as others to accumulating wealth and landed property for themselves, while displaying insensitivity to issues of economic equity and social justice around them. As we face a burning world that needs proactive and effective response, we have to evolve beyond our tendency toward introversion and narcissism as Dharma practitioners—which is often justified by a cynical ethos that sees the world as samsara[3] (illusory and bound to suffering), and therefore not overly worthy of redemption.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Joy is Hidden in Sorrow

Ayya Medhanandi

During these days of practice together, we have been reading the names of our departed loved ones as well as those of family and friends who are suffering untold agony and hardship at this time. There is so much misery around us. How do we accept it all? We've heard of young and vibrant people lost to suicide, aneurysm, AIDS, and motor neurone disease. And so many elderly who still cling to life even while suffering chronic poor health, physical and mental pain, poverty, disability, and isolation.

Death is all around us especially as we come to the end of the year and the start of the winter season. This is a law of nature. It's not something new. And yet we go about our lives oblivious to the fact or acting as if nothing will ever happen to us–as if we're not going to grow old or die, as if we'll always be healthy, active, and independent.

We are inclined to identify with our body and mind, defining ourselves by our appearance, profession, our possessions, social connections, even our thoughts. But when tragedy strikes, these habitual perceptions can destroy us: "I'm ugly, I'm redundant, I'm depressed, nobody loves me, I'm a traumatised person, I deserve better".

Dwelling in such negative perceptions, we are not able to stand like those oak trees along the boundary of the Amaravati meadow–patient through the long winter, weathering every storm that comes their way. In October they drop their leaves so gracefully. And in the spring they blossom again. For us, too, there are comings and goings, births and deaths–the seasons of our lives. When we are ready, and even if we are not ready, we will die. Even if we never fall sick a day in our lives, we still die–that's what bodies do.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Impressions from the 2015 Sakyadhita International Conference

They came in robes and in street clothes, with perfectly coiffed hair and with shaved heads, in sandals, in boots, and in high heels. They came from all over the world, on wings, on wheels, by foot. They came, the Buddhists, the Muslims, the Hindus, and the Christians, and some who have set aside all religion. They came, over 1,000 of them, in search of inspiration. And that is what they found.

The 2015 Sakyadhita Conference is the first I have attended, though it has been offered for nearly 30 years now. Organized by an ordained woman who practices Tibetan Buddhism and teaches at the University of California in San Diego, the Venerable Karma Lekshe Tsomo, this conference for Buddhist women was centered on the theme of compassion and social justice. It is supported by Venerable Lekshe, other nuns and monks, and dozens of women and men volunteers who gain nothing but the satisfaction of knowing that they have helped so many.

Monday, June 29, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 10

Shedding Light on the Bhikkhunīs & the Great Founding Women of Borobudur

Ayyā Tathālokā Bhikkhunī

the Bhikkhunīs of Borobudur
Image 1: Bhikkhunīs of Borobudur
This paper is the tenth and final post in a series of extracts from the larger article titled “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhunī Ancestors” which explores what is known of the ancient Buddhist women monastics and ascetics of the Indonesian archipelago.
Chronologically, this post falls between part 4 and part 5 in this Awakening Buddhist Women blog series. Prepared especially for the 14th Sakyadhita International Conference in Yogyakarta, this previously unpublished extract was presented live at the Sakyadhita Conference. 

“Light of the Kilis” is based on research materials gathered from travelogues, local oral traditions, dedicatory inscriptions, monuments, and statuary, or what remains of these within their cultural and historical context. The materials span a time period of more than 2000 years, from the 3rd century BCE up to modern times.

Here we focus on the 8th and 9th centuries and materials that are of direct relevance to the Sakyadhita Conference locale and of special interest and value to women in Buddhism. I touch on the feminine aspect of Indonesian candis, the appearance and role of both the esoteric Bhagavatī Aryā Tārā, the human queen Devī Tārā, and her daughter (or granddaughter) Śrī Sanjiwana Prāmodhavardhanī, the latter two Buddhist women being key persons involved with the foundation and establishment of the world-famous Borobudur monument. I also highlight images of bhikṣuṇīs and the dual sangha (bhikkhus and bhikkhunīs) that are portrayed on three levels of the wall reliefs of the Borobudur monument. These images are of outstanding historical value, because we can glean from them unparalleled visual knowledge of Buddhist women’s monastic way of life at the time they were created. I review and describe these images in the context of the Dharma teaching stories they illustrate – shining examples of women’s leadership and eminence in the Buddhist sangha, as they were conceived of and understood during this period.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Moms and Dads Wait -- A Lot

Jacqueline Kramer

As I sit in the waiting room while my granddaughter, Nai’a, has her weekly piano lesson, it occurs to me that all over the world, moms and dads wait. They wait on cold, wet benches during soccer practice, they wait at markets to procure ingredients for the evening meal, they wait in cars, they wait in lines, they wait on couches during lessons and doctors visits, and they wait outside on dusty roads. Waiting is a universal factor of being a parent and homemaker. It is a factor few discuss, except occasionally, and then only with contempt. Waiting can be mind numbing. We tend to see it as a waste of time, a waste of what could have been a real life. Because of these many hours spent waiting instead of utilizing our talents, writing our novel or moving up the ladder of success, parenting is often viewed as the bottom of the occupational food chain. Women, particularly Western women, may feel they are watching their lives slip away from them like sand through open fingers.

There is a Zen practice called shikantaza that has some features in common with waiting. Shikantaza translates as just sitting. Bonnie Myotai Treace describes shikantaza as, “The brightest pain, the dullest ride home on the subway: just mountains and rivers proclaiming the awakening way. Nothing excluded.” This is how shikantaza works: with eyes closed or open, wherever you find yourself, just sit. Don’t try to do anything. If a thought comes, watch the thought as it enters and exits. It doesn’t matter if the thought is pleasant or unpleasant, kind or cruel. Adding judgment to the thought takes us far away from the present moment. Thought is just an amorphous event passing through your field of awareness. If a sound arises, hear it until it fades, if a challenging feeling comes, feel it without turning away or distracting yourself. If a pleasant feeling comes, share the space with it without trying to make it last longer. Everything just happens within a field of consciousness that watches without our making any attempt to change, understand or judge the content. In other words, we just sit. We become a field in which things happen. There is no doing anything, no visualizing, no noting, no focusing, no trying to be more or less anything. All is welcome. We are like a tree or a boulder. This is an openhanded, openhearted, intimate way of being with life just as it is.

Monday, June 15, 2015

What Would I Do for the Dharma? Thinking about Ryonen

Susan Moon

Image 1: Calligraphy
by Ryonen Genso
Ryonen was a woman Zen teacher in 17th century Japan. A story about her has been cooking inside of me ever since I read it some years ago.

As a young woman, Ryonen Genso was an attendant to the empress, and was known for her beauty and intelligence. When the empress died, she felt the impermanence of life, and she went in search of a Zen master with whom she could practice.

She traveled to the monastery of Master Hakuo Dotai, who refused her because of her beauty, saying her womanly appearance would cause problems for the monks in his monastery.

Afterward, she saw some women pressing fabric by a river, and she took up a hot iron and held it against her face, scarring herself. Then she wrote this poem on the back of a small mirror:
To serve my Empress, I burned incense to perfume my exquisite clothes.
Now as a homeless mendicant I burn my face to enter a Zen temple.
The four seasons flow naturally like this.
Who is this now in the midst of these changes?
She returned to Hakuo and gave him the poem. Hakuo immediately accepted her as a disciple. She became abbess of his temple when he died, and later founded her own temple. Before her death she wrote the following poem:
This is the sixty-sixth autumn I have seen.
The moon still lights my face.
Don’t ask me about the meaning of Zen teachings—
Just listen to what the pines and cedars say on a windless night.

Monday, June 8, 2015

On the Front Lines

This essay was drawn from an interview conducted by Dennis Crean, former managing editor of Inquiring Mind (1998-2011) and Martha Kay Nelson, also an editor of the Mind (2011-present).
From Inquiring Mind, Vol. 31, #2 (Spring 2015). © 2015 by Inquiring Mind. Used by permission. 

Paper copies of the final issue of Inquiring Mind are available here only until 15 June 2015.

By Ayya Santacitta & Ayya Santussika

We women monastics don’t have the privilege of shutting ourselves off from the need for change. Because we are not part of the establishment, we live our lives on the front lines. As bhikkhunis, what pulls us to the front lines of climate change is the pioneering spirit of the bhikkhuni movement itself. We are already going against the grain to reestablish the order of fully ordained Theravada nuns; we’re willing to step out of a patriarchal system and create something new. And because we lack the “golden handcuffs” of abundant financial support, we don’t have to worry about keeping everybody happy. We have the freedom to respond to the urgent needs of the day, applying the Buddha’s teachings to the crises humanity faces now.

Image 1: Ayya Santussika and Ayya Santacitta 
teaching a daylong retreat on "Stable Heart, Stable 
Climate" at Insight Santa Cruz.
We are working to pass on to the next generation a presentation of the Dhamma that is applicable to this day and age. A contemporary Dhamma has to be embodied by both female and male monastics, otherwise many people will turn away, thinking this religion doesn’t recognize the clear truth that women and men alike are both sorely needed as leaders. The Dhamma must not be confined to the old order of things, which is very much about dominating nature, taking what you can get and throwing back what you don’t want. This is the way women—and the environment—have been treated for centuries. As bhikkhunis, we are stepping out of that.

Monday, June 1, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 9

Tomé Pires Witness & the Beguines, 

change comes to the roles of women in religion in Indonesia

Ayyā Tathālokā Bhikkhunī

In this ninth post in our “History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia” series leading up to the Sakyadhita International Buddhist Women’s Conference in Indonesia, we come to the last of the ancient and premodern records of Buddhist women leaders, kilis and bhikkhunīs in Indonesian Buddhism, with one final and telling glimpse from a surprising Western source, before sweeping social changes overtook Java, Sumatra and much of the archipelago. We touch on some of the changes brought by Islam and by Colonialism, and the impact they had on women in Indonesian religion and spirituality, and women in Buddhism.

Extracted from Ayyā Tathālokā’s paper “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhuni Ancestors,” this article is part of the series leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. This article is dedicated to the first Theravada bhikkhunī ordination in contemporary times in Indonesia which is planned to precede the Sakyadhita Conference in June 2015. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 8

Gāyatrī Rājapatni: Queen, Bhikkhunī & the Prajñāpāramitā

Ayyā Tathālokā Bhikkhunī[1]

In this eighth post in our “History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia” series leading up to the Sakyadhita International Buddhist Women’s Conference in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, we explore the life of one of Indonesia’s most interesting historical Buddhist women.  Earlier prominent women leaders and women ascetics/monastics/nuns that we’ve portrayed in this series such as Ken Dedes, Bhrikuti, Devi Kilisuci, Ratu Shima and Manimekhalai have been interesting in enigma--they are fascinating in that we catch such brief glimpses of their lives, leaving so much to be filled in by imagination, as we find in the many Indonesian, Indian and Tibetan legends, operas and ballets through which their lives are popularly remembered. In this post however, we have the benefit of a lengthy and highly-descriptive historical documentary poem written by a co-contemporary Buddhist monastic poet/biographer/documenteur passed down to us intact, and at least one very well-preserved mortuary portrait image, the Prajñāpāramitā.  Of further interest in addendum is the role that this image has come to play in the contemporary re-nascence of the Theravada Bhikkhunī Sangha on the other side of the world, in North America.

Extracted from Ayyā Tathālokā’s paper “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhuni Ancestors,” this article is part of the series leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.  This post coincides with the release of the first English-language edition of Earl Drake’s Gayatri Rajapatni: The Woman Behind the Glory of Majapahit by Areca Books.

Gāyatrī Rājapatni: Queen, Bhikkhunī & the Prajñāpāramitā

Image 1: Prajñāpāramitā image from East Java
at the National Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta
We will now meet one of the greatest of those women whose life has been passed down to us in memory, posthumously captured by the Buddhist monk poet of the court who knew and wrote of her with such reverence and appreciation.  This woman is the lady Gāyatrī, also known as the Rājapatni, in a way somewhat similar to and reminiscent of the lady Gotamī, also known as the Great Prajāpatī.[2]

Gāyatrī was a devout Buddhist, and the youngest daughter of the founder of Majapahit, the last of the great Indonesian royal dynasties, known as the Rajasa Dynasty.  She had three elder siblings, and together they were known as The Four Princesses of Singasari (Singosari).  The epics remember Gāyatrī as having been a keen student of literature, and political, social and religious matters. She possessed extraordinary beauty, charm, wisdom and intelligence.  And yet, in 1276 CE, at the tender age of sixteen, in a terrible repeat of what happened to Airlangga two hundred years earlier {in Post 5}, her world went mad. She witnessed the destruction of her home and kingdom and the murder of her father under the unsuspected attack of the Duke of Kederi.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Wisdom of Emotions

Extract from a Dhamma talk by Ajahn Sundara

Our emotions can be triggered by something very small: a physical sensation, a passing thought, a sense contact, a feeling. In the context of Dhamma we begin to notice that in fact emotions are constructs: amalgams of thought, feeling, perceptions, past conditioning, trauma, family stories; all these things come together to generate emotions. Sometimes we are in a situation where for no apparent reason we start crying, or we become angry or confused. When we search for a reason but can’t find one, we may think there is something wrong with us, that it’s our fault. We make ourselves miserable because we don’t understand that there is a bigger picture. Being human is like that.

Modern psychology has not been able to define emotion. Decades of brain research have failed to pin down what an emotion is. It fluctuates constantly; it is indefinable. So we may be sitting calmly in meditation, surrounded by a lot of other people, but when somebody else comes into the room our sense of calm changes. We are aware of a new feeling tone, perhaps an emotional charge in the body and we soon realize that letting go of it requires more than just awareness and willingness to let go. It also calls for wisdom, for understanding, so as to see deeply its true characteristics of anicca-dukkha-anattā – that it is impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self.

Monday, May 11, 2015

“We must get back to the real roots of our Buddhist culture”

An interview with Ven. Bodhicitta by Raymond Lam

Ven. Bodhicitta
In March, Buddhistdoor International published an editorial about the era of simultaneous crisis and opportunity for the Theravada sangha across the traditional Buddhist world. The problems for the sangha, while always influenced by politics, social forces, and shifting economic dynamics, are largely internal: nationalism, sexism (and in some cases institutional gynophobia) and a lack of education form a triple-pronged threat to the Theravada sangha’s moral authority (and for some critics, outright relevance). Yet the other face of crisis is opportunity:  In both Asia and the West, watchers and commentators of Buddhism’s story in the globalizing world are noticing several hotspots where events may well reverberate across Asia and influence social justice movements positively.

Take, for example, the recent establishment of a Buddhist college for nuns in Sri Lanka. Regardless of the politics (and monks are always political in Sri Lanka), it is difficult to disagree that this is a millennial milestone for the country’s Buddhist community, and it is one example of turning the crisis of women’s lack of opportunity to practice into a chance to strengthen and reform the sangha – something that all Buddhists surely agree is a good thing.

One of the nuns bearing witness to these changes is Ven. Bodhicitta, founder of the Nisala Arana in Molkawa. Like many pro-bhikkhuni teachers across the world, Ven. Bodhicitta believes that traditional Buddhist values were never patriarchal, androcentric, misogynistic or sexist to begin with. She therefore does not accept the a priori fusion of the Buddhist story with the male experience, and like many feminists, seeks to entangle social conditioning from reality. “Most traditional societies have been conservative, but I don’t think this is the issue. The problem in places like Thailand is more to do with an overarching patriarchy,” she says. “Men are seen as leaders and promoted to positions of authority in patriarchal society, whereas women always have to take a second place, a subordinated place, in society.”

Monday, May 4, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 7

Ardhanārīśvarī Ken Dedes & Gender in Ancient Indonesian Buddhism

Ayyā Tathālokā Bhikkhunī

In this seventh post in our “History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia” series, we continue to look at a topic about which questions have been raised in Part 6 - the subject of the compassionate manifestations of gender in Buddhism and its harmonious associations with Hinduism, in ancient Indonesian Buddhism. For, in Part 6, we encountered the Amoghapaśa form of the highly popular bodhisattva mahāsattva Avalokiteśvara (अवलोकितेश्वर), commonly known as Kwan Yin, 觀音, 觀世音 or 觀自在 菩薩摩诃萨埵 in Chinese, or Chenrezig, སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་ in Tibetan. This bodhisattva is well known not only in Mahāyāna Buddhism, but amidst the Theravāda Buddhists of Southeast Asia as well.

Originally, in India, Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva is known for having appeared in male form, as also in Indonesia, Tibet, Sri Lanka and Korea, but then for later having appeared in female form as Kwan Yin in China, to many contemporary observers’ wonder and curiosity. How and why did s/he do so? And, was this orthodox and legit? I’ve been asked these questions more than a few times... 

In our last post, we saw how, in India, in the Amoghapāśa Sādhana meditation text authored by 12th century Kashmiri monk Sakyaśrībhadra and in the highly popular earlier Hevajra Tantra, Avalokiteśvara appeared with both male and female emanations, the two primary female emanations being Green Tārā who represented the manifestation of karuṇā—the compassion, and Bhrikuti who manifested the prajñā—the wisdom of the bodhisattva. Thus, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama--himself widely thought to be an incarnation of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara--speaks about appearing in female incarnation, or when the Gyalwang Karmapa says it would be no problem in Dharma for the Karmapa to appear as a woman, they may not actually be saying anything strange or unorthodox at all.  Actually, the very high level of bodhisattva that Avalokiteśvara is, is taught to be basically androgynous, and to be able to appear in any form, as needed--and to have no trouble at all with appearing in either male or female form.

Monday, April 27, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 6

Bhrikutī & the Appearance of New Non-Bhikkhunī Forms of Women’s Asceticism in Buddhism

Ayyā Tathālokā Bhikkhunī

Image 1: Bhrikutī Devī, Nepal
In this sixth post in our “History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia” series, we pick up a topic that is only hinted at being possible in Part 5 - the subject of the appearance of non-bhikkhunī/bhikṣuṇī forms of women’s (and men’s) ascetic/spiritual ideals (and practices) in Buddhism.  It is a time in history or her-story when both royal blood and ascetic spiritual power and mastery appear to have become an essential qualification of the deification of the fe/male rulers of the land, often united with or balanced by their co-appearance as either awesome likenesses or living embodiments of the bodhisattvas and buddhas of Mantranāya and Tantrayāna Buddhism, which has been spreading and developing in Java now for a period of more than 500 years (from the 7th-13th century). We look at one such example in the image of Bhrikutī, an apparently royal female ascetic of spiritual power, who appears very close to the most exemplary Śaivite royal female ascetic and consort, Parvatī, and yet is a manifestation of both the Buddhist wisdom of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, and the fierce form of compassion of the savioress, Bhagavātī Aryā Tārā.
This post is specially dedicated to all those affected by the 25 April 2015 earthquakes in Nepal and the surrounding areas, to all those in need, and to all those who are helping. 
Extracted from Ayyā Tathālokā’s paper “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhunī Ancestors,” this is the sixth part in our “Women in Buddhism - Indonesia” mini-series leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Borobudur, Indonesia.

Monday, April 20, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 5

The Mystery Story of Devi Kili Suci ~ the 11th Century Vanishing Crown Princess Bhikkhunī Hermit & Her Selomangleng Goa Cave

Ayyā Tathālokā Bhikkhunī

Image 1: Putrī Sanggramawijaya/
Devi Kili Suci
In this fifth post in our “History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia” series, we skip over the Borobudur period ahead in time to the 11th century, to a time when royals’ renunciation of the throne for monastic life appears almost commonplace, and the Indonesian mountain hermitages and grottos are frequented by both male and female hermit ascetics of various faiths. Mantranāya/Vajrayāna Buddhism has been spreading in Java since at least the end of the seventh century and has grown strong. We explore the still-popular legendary story of one crown princess turned kili/wiksuni/bhikkhunī/mahāsiddhā, and visit the cave where she lived, practiced, and mysteriously vanished from corporeal existence.

Extracted from Ayyā Tathālokā’s paper “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhunī Ancestors,” this is the fifth part in our mini-series leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Borobudur, Indonesia.

Monday, April 13, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 4

International Buddhist Networking, Bhikkhunīs and Women’s Leadership in the 5th-7th Century Indonesian South Seas 

Ayyā Tathālokā Bhikkhunī

This fourth post in our "History of Women in Buddhism" series examines the International Buddhist networks that became well established between India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and China. 

This post specially coincides with Songkran/Saṃkrānti--the South and Southeast Asian Solar New Year in April, a time in which the sun appears to reach its zenith in the sky and maximum strength. We cover a time period when Buddhism rose in Indonesia, and International Buddhist networks and scholarship rose to a point of fluorescence. Powerful women leaders patronized Buddhist scholarship and the Bhikkhunī Sangha was widespread and well-established. 

Extracted from Ayyā Tathālokā’s paper “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhuni Ancestors,” it is the fourth part of the series leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Borobudur, Indonesia. [Also: read about worthy historical places to visit, the ancient terminology, and the journey of an Indian nun ]

Monday, April 6, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 3

South Indian Bhikkhunī Manimekalai Travels to Java

Article author: Āyyā Tathālokā Bhikkhunī
Introduction to this segment: Tathālokā Bhikkhunī and Ādhimuttā Bhikkhunī 

Image 1: Manimekalai distributing food to the needy
with her magic bowl. In contemporary South Indian 
paintings, of which there are many as she continues 
to be a legendary folk hero, she is almost always 
depicted more in appearance like a modern Hindu 
sannyāsinī than a Buddhist monastic.
This third post in our "History of Women in Buddhism" series records the dramatic and inspiring life story of a Buddhist woman saint, Manimekalai, second century South India’s Buddhist Mother Theresa.[1] It examines marks of the status and the mobility of ancient South and Southeast Asian Buddhist women monastics, their environmental and social justice ethics, their rights of self-determination, relationship with politics, and how Buddhism was proactively compared with regards gender issues and women’s rights to other faiths, doctrines and religions of the period. 

This post especially coincides with the Sri Lankan Buddhist observance of Bak Poya on the full moon of April, the commemorative date of the Buddha’s visit to the Isle of Manipallavam aka Nagadipa, which figures so prominently in the life story of Manimekalai.  

Extracted from Ayyā Tathālokā’s paper “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhuni Ancestors,” it is part of the series leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Borobudur, Indonesia. [Also: read the worthy historical places to visit and about the ancient terminology]

Monday, March 30, 2015

RAIN: Working With Difficulties

Tara Brach

About twelve years ago, a number of Buddhist teachers began to share a new mindfulness tool that offers in-the-trenches support for working with intense and difficult emotions. Called RAIN (an acronym for the four steps of the process), it can be accessed in almost any place or situation. It directs our attention in a clear, systematic way that cuts through confusion and stress. The steps give us somewhere to turn in a painful moment, and as we call on them more regularly, they strengthen our capacity to come home to our deepest truth. Like the clear sky and clean air after a cooling rain, this mindfulness practice brings a new openness and calm to our daily lives.

I have now taught RAIN to thousands of students, clients, and mental health professionals, adapting and expanding it into the version you’ll find in this chapter. I’ve also made it a core practice in my own life. Here are the four steps of RAIN presented in the way I’ve found most helpful:

R   Recognize what is happening
A  Allow life to be just as it is
I   Investigate inner experience with kindness
N  Non-Identification.

RAIN directly de-conditions the habitual ways in which you resist your moment-to-moment experience. It doesn’t matter whether you resist “what is” by lashing out in anger, by having a cigarette, or by getting immersed in obsessive thinking. Your attempt to control the life within and around you actually cuts you off from your own heart and from this living world. RAIN begins to undo these unconscious patterns as soon as we take the first step.

Monday, March 23, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 2

Indonesian Bhikkhuṇīs & Women Ascetics: A Historical Introduction & Survey of Terminology

Article by Tathālokā Bhikkhunī  
Intro by Ādhimuttā Bhikkhunī

This second part of History of Women in Buddhism series, leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Borobudur, is an extract from Ayyā Tathālokā’s paper “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhuni Ancestors.” It provides an overview of the Indonesian terminology and a brief historical overview. It explores something of what is known of the ancient Buddhist women monastics and ascetics of the Indonesian archipelago through the travelogues, local oral traditions, dedicatory inscriptions, monuments and statuary that remains of them within their cultural and historical context."

Monday, March 16, 2015

Does Mindfulness Make You More Compassionate?

Shauna Shapiro

I attended my first meditation retreat in Thailand seventeen years ago. When I arrived, I didn’t know very much about mindfulness and I certainly didn’t speak any Thai.

At the monastery, I vaguely understood the teachings of the beautiful Thai monk who instructed me to pay attention to the breath coming in and out of my nostrils. It sounded easy enough. So I sat down and attempted to pay attention, sixteen hours a day, and very quickly I had my first big realization: I was not in control of my mind.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Fear About the World: Confusing Compassion with Despair

Bhiksuni Thubten Chodron

There’s a lot going on in the news these days, which can lead thoughtful people to reflect on the state of the world. Generally, however, we don’t know how to do this in a skillful way. For many of us, reflecting on the state of the world creates a state of distress, and our minds get tight and fearful.

Within that fear there is a lot of “I-grasping,” which we sometimes confuse with compassion. We think, “When I look at the world, and see so much suffering I feel compassion for people.” But in fact, we’re miserable, feeling a sense of despair, fear, depression, and so on. That isn’t genuine compassion. Not recognizing this, some people get afraid of feeling compassion, thinking that it only makes us feel awful. This is a dangerous thought because it can lead us to closing our hearts to others.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Art of Devotion

A review of Tendrel—An Exhibition by Artists Who Are Inspired by the Lifework of Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

Harsha Menon

Tendrel Opening at Tibet House

On 15th street in Manhattan a woman stands stooped over a circular mirror on the ground. She places flower petals around the mirror; a mandala is taking shape on the floor of the Tibet House gallery. Chrysanne Stathacos is building a rose mandala as part of the art exhibition, Tendrel Interconnections.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bhikkhuni Nirodha on Ordaining and Renunciation: A Nun’s Journey

Interview by Eng Chin Ho
Buddhist Fellowship of Singapore

Question: Venerable Nirodha, please tell us about your background and what led you to take the Buddhist path?
I was born in Austria in 1945 and arrived in Australia age twenty. I married and divorced, and had no children. I enjoyed lots of travel, a relatively good life, but there slowly arose an increased awareness of no end of wanting and getting.

On a health retreat sometime in the late 1970s, feeling bored, trying to decide whether to play tennis or a card game of bridge, a sudden deep moment of stillness arose, a sense of giving up the endless choices and mental activity. From within that depth a clear question arose in my mind: Do I want to continue with this shallow, easy way of life, or do I want to look for the truth? Without hesitation there came the strong desperate answer and determination that I must look for the truth; even more, I wanted to become the truth.

Monday, February 9, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Introduction

Twelve Javanese Sites Worthy of Interest: Monuments & Sites Related to Women in Buddhism & Bhikkhunīs

Historical Site Article Extracts: Tathālokā Bhikkhunī, 
Maps: Ānandajoti Bhikkhu, 
Introduction: Ādhimuttā Bhikkhunī and all, 
Layout: Ānagarikā Michelle 

Buddhist monastics and lay community members from around the world are preparing to travel to Indonesia for the 14th Sakyadhita Conference at Yogyakarta. For those interested in Buddhist women's history and the history of the ancient Bhikkhuṇī/Bhikṣuṇī Sangha in Indonesia, we thought to make information available about some of the historical (and her-storical) sites worth visiting.

This will enrich the experience of Conference participants in Indonesia providing invaluable opportunities for both intellectual learning and onsite experiential learning, as well as give means for those who cannot travel to learn and grow in knowledge and benefit together from afar.

In the months leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Borobudur in June, from March thru May, we plan to publish a series of blog posts extracted from Ayyā Tathālokā's "Light of the Kilis: Our Ancient Bhikkhuṇī Ancestors" paper, researched and prepared for the Sakyadhita-Borobudur Conference. These extract posts will provide more in-depth discussion of various aspects of the History of Women in Buddhism in Indonesia, many with relationship to the historical sites highlighted here. One final site, Borobudur and its vicinity, will be covered and presented upon during the Conference itself, as the Conference will visit the Borobudur monument. At the time of the Conference, we hope to offer a complete downloadable pdf guide to the history and art of the Indonesian Buddhist women's historical sites presented in this series.

The map and information here offer a brief introduction to a few of the places on Java that we thought would be of greatest interest to know about beforehand, and potentially have the chance to plan to visit.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Tara Is Dancing in Arunachala Pradesh

Prema Dasara

At the Sakyadhita conference in Bihar India last year, we had the wonderful experience of sharing some of our Tara Dances with women from all over the world. Several months later I received an email from a young woman, Paki Tsering Droima, who lives in a remote village in northeast India. 

She wrote:

With immense love and respect to Prema Tara and the Tara Dhatu Dancing Group! I'm Paki Tsering Droima from Arunachala Pradesh, north-east India. In January 2013, I got the chance to leave my village for the first time in my life, and to attend the Sakyadhita International Conference in Vaishali, India with one of my friends who is a nun.

I'm an ordinary and inexperienced village girl, so I don’t know how to express how delighted I felt learning about and seeing you!! I never imagined the lovely dearest Goddess Tara would be manifested in such a beautiful real way. I haven't got the chance to know more about you and your wonderful work, but that short spiritual encounter had a deep impression on my soul. My English is poor, but I hope you can feel my gratitude! Spiritually we are connected for always.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Overcoming Doubt Through Direct Experience

by Shaila Catherine

Do you ever find yourself denying—or perhaps just doubting—the reality of experiences you have not yourself had?

In the Middle Length Discourses, there is a parable of a person born blind who could not see dark or light forms, colored forms, or the stars, sun, or moon, and so he says: “I do not know these. I do not see these. Therefore, these do not exist.”

This blind person denies what is outside his particular experience. This tendency—to doubt what has not yet been experienced—is relatively common in the Western Dhamma scene. For instance, I have heard people discount the potential for the stability of jhāna—maintaining that it is impossible to master such stable states of concentration in today's world. I have also heard people express doubt in the possibility of liberation from greed, hatred, and ignorance.

Some people, though interested in the Dhamma, have come to think full awakening itself is nearly impossible in today’s world.

But just because we have reviewed our circle of friends and found it devoid of enlightened beings doesn’t mean we should give up hope that awakening can happen to people like us.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Interview with Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel

by Olivia Clementine

Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel is a student, teacher, and practitioner in the Longchen Nyingtik lineage. She has studied under the direction of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, her teacher and husband. She is also an author and a mother, as well as the retreat master at Longchen Jigme Samten Ling retreat center in Colorado. Her knowledge and wisdom come out of her thirty years of personal study and practice and her schooling in both anthropology and Buddhism.

I am so grateful that we have the opportunity to be ignited with inspiration from Elizabeth. Finding Elizabeth’s teachings and hearing her point of view, especially from a Western female practitioner, has been very helpful in my own journey.What I appreciate most about Elizabeth’s presence and offerings is her impeccability, her devotion, and curiousity. Thank you Elizabeth for continually offering your insight and knowledge so big heartedly. Let us begin . . .