Ajahn Nitho was invited to give a speech at the national Vesak 2022 celebration at Karma Tashi Ling, in Bjørndalen outside Oslo. It was an exciting international gathering, with many different traditions represented.
The picture above was taken with the Thai monks from Wat Thai Norway.
Ahead of the celebration, the Prime Minister of Norway sent a Vesak greeting:
The focus of Ajahn Nitho's speech was equal opportunities for men and women who want to practice, and especially for those who want to dedicate their lives to practice and teaching - which means taking an ordination. For men this is a bhikkhu ordination, and for women this is a bhikkhuni ordination. Unfortunately, the opportunities for women, are almost eliminated in some countries.
In 2009, Ajahn Nitho, along with monks in Australia, helped support the bhikkhuni ordination of four Australian women, led by Ayya Tathaloka from California. Because we chose to go against an established culture, and rather adhere to the 2500 year old standard defined by the Buddha, this became a conflict. In retrospect, Ayya Tathaloka called this ordination a groundbreaking event. So we contacted Ayya Tathaloka ahead of the Vesak celebration in 2022, and got the following information back, which was super inspiration on a Vesak day:
- There are now more than 5,000 bhikkhunis.
- 3000 of these are in Sri Lanka
- 300 of these are in Thailand
- 100 of these are in the west (North America, Europe and Australia / NZ) - and most of these have a western background.
- 20 of these are in Europe, in the following countries: Germany, England, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands.
At Ayya Tathaloka's place in California, they receive between 80 and 100 women each year, who want to take bhikkhuni ordination, but they can only take in 2 women each year. The situation in Australia is somewhat the same, with a very very long waiting list.
It was also mentioned, that British bhikkhuni Ayya Canda coming to Norway in November 2022, together with Ajahn Brahm, and then both a retreat and an event will be arranged at the House of Literature in Oslo, where the public can hear a western bhikkhuni's experience of living in Europe - to practice and teach. Ayya Canda is now on a quiet 6-month retreat, but travels back to her city center in Oxford, before she arrives in Norway.