Samaneri Jayasāra, a Theravādin renunciate in the Thai Forest tradition, became inspired to record readings of profound wisdom texts written by the great spiritual masters of all time and traditions, put them to music (in most cases), and post them on YouTube. Intending simply to share the gift of wisdom, Jayasāra didn’t expect much in the way of listeners, maybe 100 or so. But with her sublime understanding and exquisite voice, accompanied by beautiful music tailored to the individual texts, Jayasāra has turned mere readings into transmissions of wisdom and healing that are helping and inspiring people around the globe, and she now has upward of 70,000 followers. In this conversation, Jayasāra talks about the power of the spoken word to bypass intellectual filters and enter straight into your heart, how listening can result in unexpected awakenings, how contemplating death can shift our illusions and wake us up, and the story of how she came to be a contemplative. In this episode, she also treats listeners to two lovely samples of her readings, from St. John of the Cross and Chuang Tzu. Recorded October 14, 2021.
“Silence is God’s first language.” – St. John of the Cross
Topics & Time Stamps
- The inspiration behind reading wisdom texts on YouTube: the advantage of absorbing dharma wisdom through listening (03:11)
- The power of the spoken word to go straight to the heart (06:12)
- Samaneri Jayasāra, a rare Theravadin to have studied such a broad variety of religious traditions (13:38)
- Theravada: The Teaching of the Elders based on the Pali Sutras (15:37)
- The Thai Forest tradition focuses on practice (16:44)
- St. John of the Cross reading (17:49)
- The intention: a heartfelt sharing of the dharma; as the Buddha said, “The greatest gift you can give is the gift of the dharma.” (22:34)
- How Jayasāra came to be a contemplative: suffering, dissatisfaction, and the teachings of Buddha and Krishnamurti (24:44)
- How one can support Jayasāra’s practice and the Viveka Hermitage (33:15)
- Hearing teachings expressed in different ways, different conceptualizations with different traditions, can enliven your practice, make the wisdom go deeper, and help you not get stuck (33:48)
- The “flow and rhythm” of the spiritual life and the poetry of Ram Dass (35:28)
- How does Jayasāra choose which text to read? (37:58)
- On the transmission of wisdom (40:44)
- Chuang Tzu reading (46:24)
- When striving in our practice turns to opening to what is latent within us (51:35)
- Sudden awakening versus gradual awakening (54:44)
- How death contemplations can shift the illusion and wake us up (56:46)
- The story of Ramana: pure awareness and the deathless realm (01:02:26)
- The tendency to pick up a new identity after an ego death (01:04:24)
- What’s next? Mother Mountain Gulaga retreat (01:07:16)
- Choosing the music that goes with the readings (01:11:23)
Resources & References
- Samaneri Jayasāra, Wisdom of the Masters podcast
- Jayasāra’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/SamaneriJayasara/featured
- Samaneri Jayasāra’s hermitage: Viveka Hermitage
- Donations to the hermitage can be made via PayPal using the link: https://paypal.me/VivekaHermitage
- Or become a Jayasāra patron: https://www.patreon.com/jayasara
- Padmasambhava’s Self-Liberation Through Seeing Through Naked Awareness*
- Ramana Maharshi, Indian sage and liberated being, 1879-1950
- Lectio Divina (divine reading)
- Ajahn Sumedho, longtime abbot and one of the senior Western representatives of the Thai Forest tradition of Theravada Buddhism
- Theravada sutras, the Pali Canon
- Ajahn Mun, co-founder of the Thai Forest tradition
- St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul*
- Krishnamurti, philosopher, speaker, author focused on psychological revolution, inquiry, human relationships, and bringing about radical change in society
- Vipassana retreats
- St. John of the Cross, Spanish Catholic priest, mystic, and Carmelite friar
- Ram Dass, Love, Service, Devotion
- Chuang Tzu, Taoist sage, influential 4th century BC philosopher in China credited with writing Zhuangzi,* one of the two foundational texts of Taoism (along with the Tao Te Ching*).
- Thomas Merton, The Way of Chuang Tzu*
- Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre at the foot of Mother Mountain Gulaga
* As an Amazon Associate, Deep Transformation earns from qualifying purchases.
Samaneri Jayasāra is a Buddhist nun in the Theravadin Forest tradition. She has studied and practiced Buddhism and meditation in various capacities for over 35 years. Jayasāra has a Ph.D. and Master’s Degree in education, focusing on comparative spiritual traditions, Buddhism, and psychotherapy. She has taught at secondary, undergraduate, and postgraduate levels in psychology and counseling; and also worked as a trainer in mental health and crisis intervention in the welfare sector.
Jayasāra initially ordained as an Anagarika in 2003 living at both Dhammasara nun’s monastery, Western Australia, and Amaravati, UK. She re-entered the robes as a Samaneri in 2018 at Santi Forest Monastery where she lived and practiced for four years. Jayasāra now resides in a quiet hermitage (Viveka Hermitage) with another Dhamma sister in rural New South Wales.
Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell
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