Ayya Santacitta

Ayya Santacitta was born in Austria and did her graduate studies in Cultural Anthropology, focusing on dance, theatre and ritual. She also worked in avant-garde dance theatre as a performer and costume designer. In 1988 she met Ajahn Buddhadasa in southern Thailand, who sparked her interest in Buddhist monastic life. She has trained as a nun in both the East and West since 1993, primarily in the lineage of Ajahn Chah, and has practiced meditation for over 30 years. Since 2002, she has also received teachings in the lineage of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

Ayya Santacitta co-founded Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery in 2009 and received Bhikkhuni Ordination in 2011. Since moving to the U.S., she has also greatly benefited from Bhikkhu Analayo’s teachings on Early Buddhism and from the guidance of Khenmo Drolma. She is particularly interested in creating sanctuary close to nature, living in community and bringing wisdom traditions to the environmental movement.

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Personal Links

Links for Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery Nuns’ Community


Featured Audio Talk
December 26, 2020 - Mettā and Agapē Spring Forth from Going Through the Fire Santacitta Bhikkhunī

In the Christian tradition, agapē is the word for unconditional love. In our tradition it is called mettā. Agapē is unconditioned love, and eros is passionate love. Christian mystic Cynthia Bourgeault speaks about agapē as eros raised through the power of gnosis, which is insight or awareness. I think we could do the same equation with mettā. Mettā is desire, taṇhā, raised through the power of awareness, satipañña: mindfulness and wisdom. They are both a product of alchemical transformation, which happens either in one life or over many lifetimes, where we really face up to the fire of how our desire feels, the desire of wanting or not wanting something, and then really standing in that fire and being cooked in it.

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