A Sri Lankan by birth, Ayya Sudinna was ordained as a samaneri in 1999 by Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society. She received the higher ordination (Upasampada) in 2002 in Sri Lanka. In lay life, Ayya Sudinna served as a teacher in Government schools and as a lecturer in English at the Government Teachers Training College, Maharagama, and later under the Higher Education Ministry in Sri Lanka. She has an honours degree in English and an M.A. in Buddhist philosophy. She is the author of a children’s story book titled ‘Delightful Tales.’
Ayya Yeshe Bodhicitta ordained as a nun in 2001. She discovered Buddhism whilst travelling in Nepal and India at the age of 17 on a search for the meaning of life. Coming back to Australia after a year of study and practice in monasteries, she helped run a Buddhist Centre in Sydney and trained with her teacher Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe for five years whilst working as well.
Upon ordaining as a nun at the age of 23 Venerable Yeshe, found like the majority of Western monastics before her that there was very little care or support for Western monastics, people preferring to access Tibetan Lamas who are already trained. She had no where to live and had to beg on traditional alms round to get food, she stayed with various friends and in garden sheds. She engaged in teaching Dharma in HIV hospices, schools, drug and alchohol rehab centres and trained as a yoga teacher.
Coming to India in 2004, Venerable Yeshe studied for two years in a monastery, but felt a need to make Buddhism accessable and socially engaged, whilst still trying to maintain her contemplative way of life. She met Indian Buddhists in 2005 and has been working with them ever since. Her teachers are Sakya Trizen (the second highest Lama in Tibetan Buddhism) and Ven Thich Nhat Hanh, the nobel peace prize poet and peace activist.
Ayya Yeshe Bodhicitta is the author of 'Everyday Enlightenment' published by Harper Collins and is featured in the documentaries 'life beyond the begging bowl' and 'Through the Eastern Gate'. She is also made a Buddhist chanting CD with one of Australia's top world music groups - India Jiva called 'Dakini'.
Abbess of Vajra Dakini Nunnery, Khenmo Konchog Nyima Drolma has trained with the foremost spiritual teachers of our time including H.H. Dalai Lama, H.H. Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche (the head of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage) and Ani Pema Chodron. After her novice ordiantaion by Drikung Kyabgon in 1997, she spent two years in training at Gampo Abbey guided by Ven. Pema Chödrön. In 2002 she took full ordination as a Buddhist nun in Taiwan. In 2004 she was installed as a Khenmo (Abbot) in the Drikung lineage, becoming the first woman and first westerner in her lineage to officially hold this responsibility. Since then she has worked continuously to establish Vajra Dakini Nunnery and teach the Dharma internationally.
Venerable Dhammadipa is a resident nun at Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery, having gone forth as a samaneri in the Theravada Forest Tradition in the West, in May 2018. Also a Dharma Heir in the Shunryu Suzuki lineage of Zen Buddhism, she serves as the Guiding Teacher of Ekan Zen Study Center, an online sangha which she co-founded in 2014. Dhammadipa took up the practice of Zen Buddhism in 1987, and was ordained a Zen priest in 2007. Her study and practice in the teachings of Early Buddhism evolved naturally from that practice. In addition to English, she teaches the Dhamma in Spanish, an expression of her Latin heritage. She is trained as an inter-faith chaplain, and has provided spiritual care in both hospital and hospice settings. Dhammadipa earned an MBA and worked in finance for many years before becoming a full-time practitioner. She greatly enjoys her relationship with her adult daughter, and sewing.
My teaching practice and my personal practice continually intertwine, each weaving a pattern in the larger tapestry of the Dharma. The theme that threads itself throughout my practice relates to the tremendous pain and suffering, the challenges and difficulties that so many beings face, and the possibility of awakening from this suffering. From this immediate calling I've woven the purpose of my life.
It is a deep honor for me to come together with others who feel a similar calling of connection to the Dharma to learn about the greatest gift of all: a happiness inside of us that is unconditional, and a depth of being that is infinite.
Together, our practice is dedicated to this effort of opening to our hearts' potential. To this I bring the flavor of my lineage--the continuation of the teachings of my root teachers, Ruth Denison and her teacher U Bha Khin; a commitment to learning how to live with each other in kindness; and my life as a lesbian in a long-term relationship.
Even though I have been involved in different traditions over the years, what I love about Buddhism is the simplicity of the practice; the fact that it isn't embodied by a lot of ritual, or special clothes, or the need for different props. I love the moment-to-moment calling of awareness to whatever one is doing. And vitally important, I appreciate the safety inherent in the teacher/student relationship, where the emphasis is on the practice itself and the teacher engages as a peer and spiritual friend.