11.12.2022, indeed, it is another long day.
Today we are celebrating the 20th vassa of our teacher, Venerable Dhammananda. Would it be just another official event to mark a title/ a status of ‘Mahatheri’, or what does it mean exactly? I am not entirely sure.
The event started with my teacher’s explanation on the meaning of the picture of a bhikkhu (monk) and a Bodhi tree which might have puzzled most of the audience and passersby. I had walked past this painting at our monastery the other day as the painter was finishing it. I had asked him what it was all about. The answer sounded more or less like a propaganda to me. A monk’s dream about a dead 1,000-year-old Bodhi tree coming back to life was now associated to the revival of Theravada bhikkhunis in Thailand. How could one person’s dream herald a phenomenon?
My attention, hence, was not on such a bedtime story but the way it was told on the stage. If my teacher were not in the holy yellow robe, people could have mistaken her for a veteran thespian. Not every day nor in every monastery would you find a teacher who could step onto the stage and speak like she was casting a spell. With her voice, her tone, her gestures, I felt that my teacher was not talking about a dream. She was telling a truth.
Towards the 3rd decade of bhikkhunis in Thailand, yes, things seem much more possible. Just today we saw three men pledging to support establishment of bhikkhunis in this country; including the Most Venerable B. Sri Saranankara Maha Nayaka Maha Thera, Chief High Priest Judiciary of Malaysia (originally Sri Lankan); Pra Rajavisudhiprajanath, the renown saint of Prabad Nampu Temple, widely praised for his charity works for over 30 years; and Venerable Dr. Sudhammanath of Plak Mai Lai Temple, the bhikkhu in the dream picture who has been an ally to our monastery and who has been giving ‘ovada’ (instruction) to our bhikkhunis for years. We also received commitment from the Fourfold Buddhists Association to include bhikkhunis in all its activities in which bhikkhus would be present. Many things look promising. Yet I would just wait and see if words would turn into actions before I fully buy all this good news.