The I.B.M.C. 2004 Grand Ordination
I.B.M.C. Grand Ordination was held on December 11, 2004 in the
Korea town section of Los Angeles California.
Bhikkhuni (Pali) lineage died out in Theravada countries almost
a thousand years ago, centuries before Buddhism entered Tibet
and the reason for the Bhikkhuni order not being established there.
Even today it's quite difficult for women following Theravada
or Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhism to become fully ordained. Women
need to be ordained by at least ten Bhikkhunis and accepted by
the Bhikkhu Sangha. The Bhikkhuni order never ended in China,
Korea or Vietnam, making it much easier for women in those traditions
to become fully ordained.
Karuna Dharma the abbess of the I.B.M.C. was one of the first
American born women ordained as a Bhiksuni in the Vietnamese
Zen tradition in America. In 1976, nuns from Fo Kwan Shan in
Taiwan stopped in Los Angeles,
hoping to establish a temple for their devotees. Ven. Dr. Thich
Thien-An expressed a desire to ordain a Bhiksuni (Sanskrit)
asked their permission. They readily agreed allowing Ven. Dr.
Thien-An to ordain Ven. Karuna Dharma in August
the years Bhiksunis have settled in Los Angeles from Taiwan, Hong
Kong, Korea and Vietnam. When Ven. Karuna decided to sponsor a
Grand Ordination in 1994, there were enough Bhikkhunis.
Dr. Thien-An originally wanted a Multi-Yana ordination for his
monks and nuns because Americans live in such a diverse society.
When Ven. Karuna Dharma was ordained as a novice (sramanerika),
Ven. Thich Thien-An, Ven. Hsuan Hua from Gold Mountain Monstery
in San Francisco, and a Japanese Archbishop were her ordaining
masters. This tradition have been carried on under Ven. Karuna
Dharma. The 2004 ordination had ordaining masters from the three
Buddhist traditions: Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana. They represented
Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, Korea, Vietnam, Tibet and Japan, as
well as America.
Tibetan nuns flew in from around the world to take the two week
training and Ordination. They came from Spain, Germany, Switzerland,
Austria, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and the U.S. They were
joined by three Vietnamese nuns, and an American born Korean nun. It was wonderful to see nuns who
ranged from 33 to 68 years of age and different backgrounds come
together, form a sangha, and work together with no acrimony. For
two weeks 20 nuns, six Zen priests, two novice Zen priests, one
sramanerika, one Anagarika, and four Atthanga s,ilas trained
together at the I.B.M.C.
The vice abbot of I.B.M.C. taught
in the mornings, and Ven. Karuna taught Vinaya in the afternoon.
Rev. Vajra an I.B.M.C. Zen Dharma teacher taught Buddhist history
and its application to the modern age in the evening. It was a
busy schedule. The early morning hours were put aside for meditation
and chanting, including the the 108 Bows Ceremony. There were
also discussions on how to start and live in community. The new
sangha split into six work groups: three cooked the breakfasts,
three cooked lunch and three cooked the evening meal, with a cleaning
crew for each meal. There was also samu... Cleaning the grounds
and buildings every day, with some time put aside for rest and
ceremony was led by Thuong Toa, Ven. Thich Man-Giac, and Su-Ba
Thich-nu An-Tu (Ven. Dr. Karuna Dharma) as Ordination Masters.
The Deputy Ordination Masters were, Ven. Ahangama Dhammarama,
Su-Ba Thich-nu Dieu-Tu. The Vinaya Acaharyas were, Ven. Bogalle
Sumana, and Ven. Il Ah Sunim. These six Masters were Vietnamese,
Sri Lankan, Korean and American. The fourteen Official Witnesses
were Tibetan, Vietnamese, Korean, Sri Lankan, and Thai: Ven. Drupon
Tinley Nagpo, Ven. Thich-nu Nhu Ngoc, Ven. Sumana Barua, Ven.
Thich-nu Tien Lien, Ven. Thich An-Hue, Ven. Lakkhana, Ven. Miao
Hsi, Ven. Havanpola Shanti, Ven. Thch Nu Hoa Dao, Ven. Palewala
Rahula, and Ven. Egyoku Roshi from Zen Center of Los Angeles.
ceremony began with the Masters crossing from Thien-An House to
the Zendo, where a private ceremony was held. They were led by
the I.B.M.C. resident Paula blowing a conch shell and holding
the Buddhist flag. Once the masters were seated, the ordainees
processed from Ananda Hall, led by Zen Dharma Teacher Rev. Vajra
Karuna. Once inside the Zendo they formally invited the masters
to perform the ordination ceremony and underwent questioning by
the Vinaya masters making sure they were appropriate candidates
and had the requisies for Ordination. As the masters and Ordainees
processed out of the Zendo to Ananda Hall, laypeople showered
rose petals upon them, and 100 white doves were released.
The actual ordination took place as a public ceremony in Ananda
Hall. The Bhiksunis repeated their vows in Pali and were handed
robes and kesas (rakasus for the 8 vow novices). The Bhiksunis
received ground cloths and alms bowls, water strainers, razors,
needles and thread. The ceremony lasted 2 1/2 hours, and ended
with the Theravada monks chanting blessings in Pali as everyone
held a sacred white thread. In addition, a gold cord went from
the Buddha to Ven. Karuna and the two female Ordaining masters
to all the bhiksunis, symbolizing the Bhiksuni lineage.
night nine Bhikshunis and two Dharma teacher burned incense into
their scalps, during a ceremony accepting the Bodhisattva Precepts,
symbolizing their vow to be reborn again and again and not enter
Nirvana until all beings achieve liberation.
Ani Trinlay Chödron Karuna
Ani Konchog Dolma Karuna
Ani Lobsang Chukyi Karuna
Ani Lodro Dronma Karuna
Ani Yeshe Tsomo Karuna
Ani Losang Pema Karuna
Ani Tsutrim Palmo Karuna
Ani Lodrö Palmo Karuna
Ani Losang Tenzin Karuna
Ani Yeshe Wangmo Karuna
Ani Lobsang Chunzom Karuna
Mudita Teresa Karuna
Ani Kelsang Chitta Karuna
Ani Tendzin Chödrön Karuna
Ani Konchog Drolkar Karuna
Novice Zen Dharma Teachers - 10 Precepts
Abayha Shingha Karuna
Zen Dharma Teachers - 25 precepts
Matri Dasi Karuna