|About the Book|
WONDERFUL LIGHT is the inspiring story of an American Buddhist nun, Helen Alexa Koclanes, born in Evanston, Illinois. As a child she was sensitive to persecution and discrimination suffered by other children. She went to India as a young woman, afterMoreWONDERFUL LIGHT is the inspiring story of an American Buddhist nun, Helen Alexa Koclanes, born in Evanston, Illinois. As a child she was sensitive to persecution and discrimination suffered by other children. She went to India as a young woman, after her marriage to an Indian man. Living near Calcutta under the watchful and hostile eye of her mother-in-law, she bore three children, the youngest of whom died in infancy. Lonely and surrounded by hatred, she persuaded her cold, dictatorial husband to take the family back to Illinois, where she informed him she wanted a divorce. Enraged, he kidnapped the children, took them to India, and cut off contact with their mother. After six more failed marriages, Alexa heard Alan Watts speak on Buddhism, with its promise of release from suffering, and wondered if this might be a path to peace. She traveled to Japan, lived in a monastery, worked with orphans, and was ordained as a Buddhist nun. In Sri Lanka, Bhikkhuni (Sister) Miao Kwang Sudharma, as she was now known, was ordained in the Theravadin tradition. She was ordained again in Taiwan. She lived and meditated in caves, sometimes finding herself sharing with wild animals and snakes, including cobras. She spent time in Buddhist convents, where she observed the many and complex rules for monastic life. Today Bhikkhuni Miao Kwang Sudharma lives a solitary, reclusive life in a jungle hut in Sri Lanka near the holy city of Anuradhapura and a tiny village she calls, The Village of a Million Goodbyes. Now seventy-nine, she is revered as a holy woman by local people, who often kneel, touch the hem of her robe, and ask for her blessing, which she freely gives. Instrumental in re-establishing theBhikkhuni order in Sri Lanka after a lapse of over a thousand years, she has found serenity and contentment, which radiate from her kindly presence.