International Women's Day 2021: DhiraprabhaOn Tue, 9 March, 2021 - 18:07
I’m Dhiraprabha. In 1983, I lived by the sea in North Norfolk, England, and taught in the local primary school. I loved it, especially the wide open skies, and never wanted to live in a city. Five years later I found myself in East London drawn by the desperate shortage of teachers “just for two years” - but I remained there until I retired in 2019. I was introduced to the London Buddhist Centre by Maitreyi in 1997 and was ordained by Anjali in 2002.
Now I am living by the sea again with the added delight of bluer skies and lush green tree-clad hills. I came to Aotearoa New Zealand to visit friends, to do a retreat and a solitary at Sudarshanaloka (retreat centre) and to tramp in the South Island this time last year. Before I could leave, the Covid pandemic cancelled my return flight and so I was invited to spend the April ‘Lockdown’ with two Dharmacharini (Order member) friends in Thames on the Corymandel.
It was for me an idyllically peaceful and domestic month. Together we repainted the outside walls of the house, created new garden beds, harvested and processed fruit and vegetables, and I learned how to make our staple sour dough rye bread. We also delighted in the opportunities afforded by Zoom to connect with the Order internationally through retreats and the weekly Bodhicitta Practice (meditation practice developing compassion for all beings). Our home became a community which we named Sugandha-giri (‘hill of beautiful fragrance’).
What challenged me most during this time was the absence of my assumed future and the impossibility of making plans. Noticing this deepened my anagarika vow to live free of attachments and strengthened my commitment to lead a life of service to others. We have been fortunate in Thames with no community transmission of Covid, mask-wearing or on-going restrictions. So I am able to participate in person in a fine Dharmacharini (Order member) Chapter (just as I met with my London Chapter, the Songsters, for over 16 years) and to attend weekly yoga sessions, Mitra (Dharma) study and Sangha (community) evenings at the Thames Buddhist Centre.
I have also been involved in various projects at Sudarshanaloka including participating in retreats, laying new water pipe through the bush, repainting a Solitary cabin and organizing the National Order weekend. Since November when I was granted a two year Religious Workers Visa to support the life of the Order based in Thames, I have joined the Sudarshanaloka Management Team. The Stupa here is engraved with Dhardo Rinpoche’s motto to cherish the Dharma; live united and radiate love. This is the practice I aspire to and it seems much more possible in my present circumstances than in my previous life teaching in an inner London primary school. May it be so.
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