Stepping Back Into the River

I seem always to be stepping back out into the River. Which river is it this time? The same river, but a different step, a mildness, a tender stopping, not to make sure that the bottom is there but to feel the current and…

Uncooked Rice and No Ice-Cream

Living with contentment sounds easy. And it can be, particularly for one already withdrawn from the world and committed to a life of simplicity and renunciation – until that inevitable day when we are confronted with not getting what we want or, conversely, getting…

I Gave Up the Froth

Monastic life can be a regime of intensifying renunciation. This turning away from worldy pleasure is not undertaken for its own sake but to keep us on our toes, clarify our truest goals and sweep away the many webs of desire that constantly deceive,…

Taming of the Shrewd

My personal identity was dismantled on the day I donned the robes of a Buddhist nun in Rangoon. After months of intensive meditation, I prayed at the Thursday Shrine of the Shwedagon Pagoda, being born on that day, to ordain as a nun. Within…

Composting the Heart

Just as church steeples or temple spires once symbolized the essence of what we cherished, these days, our tallest buildings tend to be commercial in nature – as if to signify the moral erosion of contemporary civilization. We are in a state of decline…

Lenten Feast

As a nun, I practice Lent every day – not just because I fast after midday but because my fast is a devotion. I choose this path out of love for a truth that reveals the depths of my humanity even in the humdrum…

The Ninth Patch

Everyday I proclaim my faith by wearing my robe. I have no special vestments or ceremonial dress. It is the same robe each day that protects me and steers me from worldly pursuits. It links me to the ancient roots of the path I…

Not Straying from Ancient Virtue

While living in monastic community, visitors often asked, “What do you do?” I would describe the daily schedule: rising early, morning and evening meditations, chanting, the almsgiving, work projects, meetings and other duties. But what I am is not just what I do or…

Setting the Pagoda Alight

When I was 37, I undertook an intensive meditation retreat at the Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha in Rangoon. Within several months, inspired by the purity and profound benefits of the practice, I felt called to the holy life and, in honour of that intention, navigated…

Sole Food

I live on faith – day by day, not knowing if I will eat. Far from the abundance of established community, the alms I do receive can range from feast to fasting. Whatever comes, I accept. Whatever the circumstances, I persevere. In monastic community,…