This month we celebrate some of the women pioneers in Triratna both past and present.
We start by simply honouring the passing of Dharmacharini Anagarika Ratnasuri, the first woman to ordain women into our Order in the West. We then take you to Nagpur where young women from across India have been living and practicing together for a month on an ordination retreat made possible by FutureDharma supporters. And finally, we celebrate the Triratna Women project that is collecting stories of our amazing women to share with future generations.
We hope you enjoy the read and find the stories of these women as inspiring as we do.
on behalf of the FutureDharma Team
Dharmacharini Anagarika Ratnasuri
This month saw the funeral of Ratnasuri, one of Triratna’s most extraordinary and much-loved women elders. Ratnasuri was the first woman to ordain women into our Order in the West in 1989. She had ordained two women into the Indian wing two years previously only 4 years after joining the Order herself.
I’m really there. I feel that all of myself is there, and I think that helps to deepen my practice…. I really want to be there, so I’m there.
– Dharmacaharini Ratnasuri describes ordaining women.
Ratnasuri moved into Taraloka retreat centre when it was little more than a building site. She cooked for the small team of young women on basic gas burners, and if legend is to be believed, supported much of the team on her small state pension. Ratnasuri’s funeral was held at Taraloka on October 10th. Her ashes will be buried under a large copper beech tree she planted there. You can read Kamalagita’s obituary for Ratnasuri here.
Indian Women’s ordination training retreat
I came if from mud, from a village where we never knew what Dhamma is. Since I came from this village my villagers have a lot of hope from me. I wish to give them these things that no-one can ever take away from them.
– Asha (from Bihar)
Equal ordination for people of all genders is a central tenet of Triratna. Retreats are a key part of training for ordination, and yet going on retreat can seem an impossible dream for many women in India. Family responsibilities and expectations, cost of travelling and of not bringing in wages for that time, can all stack up and prevent women from attending an ordination training retreat.
Undeterred, Padmasuri, Karunamaya, and Abhayadana created a month-long ordination training retreat at Nagaloka and made it possible for women from all over India to take part. The women came from all walks of life, some married with families, others young and pursuing a career. Through studying, meditating and living in community together, they overcame differences as they shared their lives with one another.
This inspiring retreat was funded by all those who give to FutureDharma. If you give, thank you for sharing the Dharma with others and growing our international sangha. We hope you enjoy this film as much as we did.
Stories inspire us. Learning how others have created spaces to study and share the Dharma can help us do the same. Hearing the stories of Ratnasuri and the other pioneers at Taraloka, or the women in India going on retreat, can help us discover what is possible in our own lives.
Triratna has no shortage of stories of inspirational practitioners. But many of these are unrecorded, and risk being lost as we become older and our elders die. The Triratna Women project now records stories from women in our Order and makes them available for future generations.
FutureDharma supporters have launched the project with an initial gift. The project is coordinated by Danasamudra and Dharmaprabha. You can hear all about their plans in this talk and sign-up to their mailing list.
We can’t do it without you!
Projects like these are only possible because people give.
If you’re one of them – thank you!
Inspired by what you see and want to join us?
It couldn’t be easier – just click on the button and pass on some of what you’ve been given with a monthly gift.