Last year’s bhikkhuni ordination in Australia prompted an unprecedented outpouring of support for the Theravada bhikkhuni movement. It was certainly a tipping point. The center of discussion in the wider community has begun to shift from questions about ordination to questions about how to support and nurture the growing community of nuns. This was the first year that the “Theravada Buddhist women’s monastic community has gathered together to observe the vassatime retreat.” Tomorrow will mark their first Kathina ceremony at the Aranya Bodhi Hermitage.
The Kathina ceremony follows the end of Vassa, the rains retreat. Commonly known as the robe offering ceremony, it’s an important occasion for the laity to extend support to the monastic community. For those who have never before participated in Kathina, or provided direct support to the monastic sangha, this is a great opportunity to make a donation, either by purchasing an item off a “Useful Things List” (see here, for example) or just write a check, and let someone else handle the logistics. Spending your hard-earned cash is important. Aside from providing material benefit, every dollar spent towards the bhikkhuni community is a dollar that didn’t go to any other cause. And money speaks.
If you’re a little more ambitious, you could even sponsor an individual bhikkhuni. Everyone must deal with ongoing costs including food, shelter, transportation, health care, etc. These costs can be monetized. If you have the financial means to do so on your own, you could purchase a solid health insurance plan, for example. But sponsorship isn’t restricted to the wealthiest in the community. You could get a group of individuals to sponsor a nun together, spreading the costs across several individuals. Not only does this group sponsorship provide direct material support at a more affordable level, it also strengthens the relationship between the monastic community and the lay community. People pay attention to where their money goes.
Those are just a couple suggestions. What do you plan to do this Kathina?