‘Ajahn Brahm for Sale’

Saturday, 15 June 2013 00:30 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The poster on the notice board at the Dhammaloka Centre in Nollamara, north of Perth – the headquarters of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia (BSWA) – was intriguing. ‘Ajahn Brahm For Sale’ it said. Knowing his knack for innovation, I knew it was yet another smart idea by Ajahn Brahmavamso. It’s his latest approach to fund-raising.

The fund-raising campaign is to expand the nuns’ monastery managed by BSWA headed by Ajahn Brahm. The Dhammasara Buddhist Nuns Monastery offering a sanctuary for women seeking the monastic life has been in existence since 1998.

The campaign is to collect funds by auctioning seven days of Ajahn Brahm’s time in 2014. Live online auctions started in mid-April this year when those interested were invited to register by donating A$ 1,450 after which a username and a password are given to each person. Those who register can then log in and submit initial bids. The auction closes on 14 June – exactly two months after it opened. The highest bidder wins and he or she will have to deposit the money before a specified date.

I spotted another poster with Ajahn Brahm’s picture announcing a gala dinner to collect funds for the same project on 22 June.

Addressing the devotees who gather every Friday at the Nollamara centre to listen to Ajhan Brahm, he explained the need to have decent accommodation for nuns.

“There should be equality and equity for women in Buddhism,” he said. “There are big monasteries for monks. They get all the facilities. The nuns get second rate treatment. I can’t stand it.”

He described his move to put himself up for sale as a joke. He recalled how his robe was auctioned in Hong Kong once. “When the cushion on which I sit at the Friday sessions was auctioned, it fetched 32,000 Australian dollars,” he said.

He told the gathering that everyone must be fed up of donating for numerous projects and he felt it was time something novel was done to collect funds. “People from all over the world invite me all the time. I have had invitations from Brazil and many other countries. I had two invitations from Paris. So here I am offering myself for sale! It’s good fun.”

Recently Ajahn Brahm is in Taiwan on invitation. This was his first visit to Taiwan.

The establishment of monastic facilities for monks and nuns was a central aim of the BSWA since its inception in the 1970s. The nuns’ monastery has been set up in a block of 583 acres of natural bush-land to the east of Perth. The pioneer nun and the founding abbot, Ajahn Vayama had first camped out in the Jarrah forest and gradually built up the place.

The proposed building complex will accommodate a meditation hall, an alms hall, reception area and two accommodation pods to house up to twelve persons both monastic and laity.

The project is aimed at furthering one of the monastery’s core aims: to provide the space for committed Buddhist women from all backgrounds to experience the monastic lifestyle firsthand.