Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage is a registered religious charity and Theravāda Buddhist monastery for bhikkhunis, the first of its kind in Canada. Located in rural Perth, Ontario, it serves as a sanctuary for meditation and retreat in spiritual community. It is also a ground-breaking opportunity for qualified women candidates to train as bhikkhunis in the ‘Elders’ or Theravāda tradition, following the ancient monastic system established by the Buddha more than two and a half millenia ago.
Programs include regular daily and weekly meditations, talks based on the teachings of the Buddha, pastoral support, and daylong retreats.
The vision for Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage was conceived in April, 2007 during Ayyā Medhānandī’s second teaching visit to Ottawa while she was still based overseas. A group of women supporters from Buddhist communities in Ottawa and Toronto invited her to return to Canada and offered to help plant the seed for a nun’s monastery in Ontario. By September, 2007, Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage was registered as a Canadian charity (#847237419RR0001) and became established in the city of Ottawa in April, 2008 before moving to a forested 47-acre property in Lanark County outside the town of Perth.
The Hermitage name was originally used for Ayyā Medhānandī’s ‘kuti’ (small nun’s dwelling) in New Zealand. It emulates two vital principles for skillful living: ‘sati‘ and ‘sārāņīya’. Sati or ‘mindfulness’ stands for wise insight; and ‘sārāņīya’ means harmony, friendliness, or fraternal living; also gladness. When pronounced without the Pāli diacriticals (long a’s and long i), the root of ‘saraniya’ is ‘sarana’, refuge, and it means ‘remembering’. So, to always remember mindfulness and true Refuge!
Contemplative nuns on a life path of virtue, wisdom, and compassionate action are rare in our modern chaotic and often troubled society. Their commitment to inner purification and peace creates an opportunity for women to undertake a life of simplicity, seclusion, moral integrity, and meditation practice. And their presence is a vital resource for spiritual resilience and social responsibility in the global community.
“Now is the time when our action is practice. . .
with a noble mind, pure and generous,
we will spread joy around us,
we will feel great peace,
and we will be able to communicate that peace
– His Holiness The Dalai Lama