The community of nuns began in 1979 when four Western women became interested in the monastic lifestyle and were admitted as white-robed anagārikās (Eight Precept nuns) at Chithurst Monastery. For the first five years they lived in a cottage located on the edge of Chithurst Forest, about ten minutes’ walk from the monastery’s main house, observing a celibate, contemplative life. In 1983, with the permission of the Elders in Thailand, the first four anagārikās were given the opportunity to become Ten Precept sīladhārā nuns at Chithurst, with Ajahn Sumedho as preceptor. (Normally an anagārikā may be admitted as a sīladhārā after two years).
In 1984 the nuns’ cottage was no longer able to accommodate the increasing number of women interested in leading a monastic lifestyle, and the whole nuns’ community, by then five sīladhārās and three anagārikās, moved to Amaravati Monastery. Some years later a small group of nuns returned to Chithurst Monastery to establish a second sīladhārā community there. In 2015, Ajahn Candasirī established a nuns’ hermitage, Milntuim, near Perth in Scotland which is her main residence. Currently, the nuns’ community main place of residence is Amaravati.
Ajahn Sundarā was born in France in 1946. She studied dance in England and France. After working for a few years as a dancer and teacher of contemporary dance, she had the opportunity while living and studying in England to attend a talk and later a retreat led by Ajahn Sumedho. His teachings and experience of the monastic way of life in the Forest tradition impressed her deeply. Before long this led her to visit to Chithurst Monastery, where in 1979 she asked to join the monastic community as one of the first four women novices. In 1983 she received ordination as a sīladhāra, with Ajahn Sumedho as her preceptor. After spending five years at Chithurst Monastery she went to live at Amaravati Monastery, where she took part in establishing the nuns’ community.
Ajahn Sundarā spent the three years from 1995 until 1998 deepening her practice, mostly in forest monasteries in Thailand. In 2000, after spending a year as the senior incumbent of the nuns' community at the Devon vihāra, she went to live for some years at Abhayagiri Monastery in California. She returned to Amaravati in 2004 and has been senior nun here since then.
Ajahn Sundarā is interested in exploring ways of practising, sustaining and integrating Buddhist teachings in Western culture. Since the late eighties, she has taught and led meditation retreats worldwide.
Ajahn Candasirī was born in Scotland in 1947 and was brought up as a Christian. After university she trained and worked as an occupational therapist, mainly in the field of mental illness. In 1977, an interest in meditation led her to meet Ajahn Sumedho, shortly after his arrival from Thailand. Inspired by his teachings and example, she began her monastic training at Chithurst as one of the first four anagārikās.
Within the monastic community she has been actively involved in the evolution of the nuns’ Vinaya training. She has guided many meditation retreats for lay people, and particularly enjoys teaching young people and participating in Christian/Buddhist dialogue.
In 2015, Ajahn Candasirī established Milntuim Hermitage in Scotland, where she now normally resides.
Ajahn Bodhipālā was born in South-East Asia in 1940 and had three children with her now deceased husband. She also has five grandchildren. She studied applied mathematics and worked as a computer programmer for nearly twenty years. She was able to 'go forth' as an anagārikā in 1998 and received sīladhāra ordination in 1999. Venerable Ajahn Sumedho was her preceptor.
Her daily life in the monastery is challenging, since she has to simplify the complexity of her thoughts in order to give space to the intuitive knowledge to develop. Owing to her mathematical training, she is not surprised that this process involves a lot of patience and endurance, and is time-consuming. She considers her work in the monastery as a tool to measure her level of practice, and also as a litmus test of her ability in maintaining herself as an observer instead of as a doer. She realizes that no better place exists on earth for being able to observe the activities of her mind, and at the same time she can accumulate good deeds by serving the sangha at Amaravati.
Ajahn Cittapālā (Jutta Richter) was born in Germany in 1949. She worked for nearly twenty years as a teacher and artist in Hamburg. In 1990/91 she visited Indonesia to study awareness movement, a practice which connected her more and more with the Buddhist teachings. In 1994, overcoming her resistance to visiting a monastery, she followed a retreat with Luang Por Sumedho at Amaravati. His teachings on 'the way it is' were so supportive that she felt drawn to Amaravati, where she has been living since 1996. In 1999 she received ordination as a sīladhāra.
Ajahn Cittapālā now supports the sangha at Amaravati, where until recently she was involved with leading the family activities. She is still continuing to lead the Creative Weekends for adults. During these weekends, she is interested in exploring ways of practice which combine formal meditation with intuitive activities such as painting, play and movement as means of liberating insight. She uses her training in Source Breathwork, as a skilful means of using the breath to become aware and let go of unconscious holding patterns that are based on negative beliefs and reactions acquired during early childhood. She has integrated this into her own practice and teachings, focusing on cultivating loving awareness for the body and breath as gateways to a deeper understanding of how suffering arises and ceases and who we are and are not.
After a year on sabbatical, with visits, teachings and times of solitary retreat at different places in Thailand, Indonesia, Germany, Switzerland and the UK, Ajahn Cittapālā returned to live at Amaravati in November 2014.
Ajahn Brahmavarā (Susan Pritchard) was born on 6 August 1964 in Reading, England. She studied medicine at Sheffield University, trained as a doctor in Auckland, New Zealand and worked as a general practitioner in Shropshire. She started meditating under the guidance of SN Goenka while she was a medical student, and spent a few years in India at Goenka centres, studying Pali, meditating and serving on retreats. She came to live at Amaravati in October 2000 as manager of the Retreat Centre, but soon after arriving requested to 'go forth' as an anagārikā. She received ordination as a sīladhāra in October 2004.
Sister Tisārā (Miriam Dean) was born in England in 1967 and grew up in Belgium. Up until her thirties, she lived an independent and rather hedonistic life. Eventually, life’s disappointments and a bereavement made her take stock and make more of a buried but ever-present wish for contemplation. She encountered the Buddha’s teachings in 2002, notably through Bhante Bodhidhamma, with whom she did periodic intensive retreats from 2003 to 2005, and to whom she will always be grateful for his guidance and good humour. A heart-wish to live as a monastic came about at this time, and in autumn 2005 she left work and life in London to find a place of practice, initially travelling in South-east Asia. Events conspired to bring her to the community of sīladhārā in the UK, where she took anagārikā precepts in November 2006 and the sīladhāra pabbajjā in March 2010, with Luang Por Sumedho as her preceptor.
Sister Tejasā (Crystal Tan Hankiang) was born in Singapore in 1971. She graduated in the UK from the University of Buckingham in accounting. Her first interest in Buddhism came through the teaching of the Pure Land in Australia. After reading a book of Ajahn Chah that her teacher had given to her she became interested in the vipassana practice. She spent a year at Cittaviveka Monastery to explore the teaching and practice of Dhamma of the Ajahn Chah tradition. She then decided to become an Anagārikā and in 2016 she received the Going-Forth (Pabbajjā) as a Sīladharā, with Ajahn Amaro as preceptor.
Anagārikā Caraline was born in the UK in 1974. That life is unsatisfactory was apparent from an early age, but misunderstanding the cause, she sought to escape by living a non-mainstream life. She worked as a craniosacral therapist and lived by the sea, but still she suffered! In 2010 she chanced to visit Chithurst Monastery and felt immediately drawn to live there and to be a nun, although she knew nothing of Buddhism or monasticism. Investigating further, she saw it fit her values more than any 'alternative' way she had yet come across. She went to stay long-term at Chithurst in 2014 and took anagārikā precepts at Amaravati in 2015.
Anagārikā Eva was born in Slovakia in 1978. She was brought up in a religious Catholic family. She studied teaching and humanities at university and worked in the field of special needs education with hearing impaired, autistic children and young people. Pressures of life in a big city (London), dissatisfaction and a love of travelling led her to explore India, South East Asia and her own internal world. She came across Buddhism in Thailand and from there, her interest in meditation grew to the point where she decided to make it a full-time job. She first visited Amaravati in 2013 and eventually took her anagārikā precepts in November 2015.
Anagārikā Suttisa was born in Bangkok in 1976 into a Buddhist family. She was brought up in Bangkok and lived in Thailand until she finished her masters degree in Industrial Engineering at Kasetsart University. Instead of following her career path, she married and moved to England to be with her husband. In her teenage years, she had started to search for the purpose of life and become interested in meditation. In 2014, after attending a retreat there being taught by Ajahn Amaro, she became a regular guest at Amaravati. With support from her husband and her understanding Dhamma, she decided to fully walk on the Buddhist path and committed to the Anagārikā training in May 2016.
Anagārikā Huyn Kyung
Anagārikā Hyun Kyung was born on 3 Dec 1984 in Seoul, Korea. She studied Business at Sogang University and worked in the documentary film industry for 7 years. Her first contact with Ajahn Chah’s forest Sangha tradition was in May 2011 when she visited Amaravati to make a film about Buddhism. After that she came for several long-term stays in Amaravati. She took the 8 precepts on 22 May 2016.
Anagārikā Pei Ching
Anagārikā Pei Ching was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She learned about the Buddha’s teaching through her father when she was young. She began practising Buddhism and meditation more seriously after she finished her training as a Chartered Accountant. She moved to Dublin in 2007 to further her career and has been visiting Amaravati and Chithurst as a regular guest since 2009. She decided to spend more time on her spiritual practice and moved from Dublin to stay in Amaravati in 2016. She took her anagārikā precepts in November 2016.
Anagārikā Linzy was born in Taiwan. She graduated in English Literature in Fujen University in 1994. She furthered her studies in Lancaster University for a Master Degree in Education and taught at Wufen University for a few years. In 2014 she attended (obtained) her PhD in Religious Education at Bristol University. In 2015 encouraged by a friend, she visited Amaravati and discovered that the simplicity of the Thai Forest tradition was very similar to Chan. It was inspiring how the Thai Buddhist tradition had been transplanted into a western context without losing its authenticity. She joined the Winter Retreat Support Group for the 2016 and 2017 winter retreats, and greatly enjoyed Ajahn Amaro’s teaching. Although she had never considered becoming a nun, gradually the teaching of Ajahn Amaro and the nuns community changed her view and she took the anagārikā precepts in May 2017.