NUNS INITIATIVE – AN OVERVIEW
Through our Nuns Initiative, established in 2019, Cloud Mountain is dedicating more of our retreat schedule to hosting retreats led by fully ordained nuns (bhikkhunis) and former female monastics. By doing so, it is our hope to fulfill the following goals:
- To ensure that our retreats continue to be led by highly qualified and realized teachers.
- To continue to offer retreats that are solidly rooted in Buddhadharma.
- To support momentum toward greater modern-day gender equality in the oldest Buddhist institution, Theravadin Buddhist monasticism.
- To fulfill the Buddha’s aspiration to maintain the Fourfold Sangha (nuns, monks, lay women and lay men).
Cloud Mountain is offering quite a few retreats annually with bhikkhunis and ex-nuns in order to provide a forum for the extraordinary depth of realization and understanding that exists within the women’s monastic and ex-monastic community. Many of the meditation teachings being offered in our culture, which supports lay teachers far more strongly than monastic teachers, are becoming untethered from the Buddha’s foundational teachings, particularly in the areas of ethics/morality and generosity. While we see some benefits to these evolutionary shifts, there are serious downsides as well, including diluted teachings being offered that are well termed “McMindfulness.” This is not the direction in which Cloud Mountain wishes to head. We wish to support teachings solidly grounded in the fullness of the Buddhadharma. So our response to these changes is to double down on what we truly believe in.
One way in which we are adapting our mission is to more strongly than ever before support and foster women’s voices and roles in the Dharma world. It is an extraordinary gift to receive teachings from those whose lives have been unconditionally dedicated to Buddhist practice and who have attained deep understanding and realization. We honor the brave commitment of the women who have challenged the Theravadin Buddhist patriarchy to take full monastic vows, and are deeply grateful that they make the depth and breadth of their many years of practice, understanding and cultivation available to us. These women have been a woefully underutilized resource in modern Dharma in both the East and West, and it is our intention to help change that by bringing their voices to the forefront at Cloud Mountain.
If you wish to support the Nuns Initiative through a financial gift, you can donate through our Donation Form. If you wish to offer other kinds of support to this project, please email us at email@example.com.
To read more about the Nuns Initiative, the attached pdf provides in-depth discussion of its nature and aspirations.
In this inaugural year for the Initiative, we engaged in the following activities:
“Evolving Our Capacity for Growth and Healing,” a week-long, all-dana retreat with Ayya Santacitta Bhikkhuni, Ayya Santussika Bhikkuni and Ayya Cittananda Bhikkhuni
“’Drop by Drop the Water Jar Fills’ – Spiritual Faculties Overflow in the Heart’s Release,” a 10-day retreat with former nuns Willa Thaniya Reid (formerly Ajah Thaniya) and Elizabeth Day (formerly Ven. Cittamani)
- Grew our community of supporters from 0 to nearly 100 individuals and Dharma groups.
- Received total donations of nearly $20,000.
- Distributed over $8000 of the donated funds directly to the bhikkhunis and ex-nuns who led this year’s retreats.
- Distributed an additional $8000 at the end of the year to the following bhikkhunis and their communities, plus several ex-nuns, in the US and beyond:
Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project (Great Britain)
Awakening Truth (California)
Dhammadarini/Aranya Bodhi (California)
Dhammasara Nuns Community (Australia)
Kihikihi Yoga & Meditation (New Zealand)
Mahāpajāpati Monastery (California)
Padukka Mathika Matha Bhikkhuni Aramaya (Sri Lanka)
Sati Saraniya Hermitage (Canada)
Treasure Human Life Foundation (Ven. Dr. Pannavati Bhikkhuni, North Carolina)
“Pure Heart, Unshakeable Peace,” a 6-day all-dana retreat with Ayya Medhanandi Bhikkhuni
“Supported Self-Retreat,” a two-week retreat for very experienced students, lightly guided by Amma Thanasanti
“Working with Emotions the Buddha’s Way,” a 5-day retreat with Ayya Sobhana Bhikkhuni
Other Accomplishments to Date:
- Grew our community of supporters to over 100 individuals and Dharma groups.
- A letter-writing campaign to express our gratitude to bhikkhus (monks) who support bhikkhuni ordination and to open dialogue with those who do not (yet).
- A program of study to be led by nuns and ex-nuns for committed lay practitioners.