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Ayya Tathaaloka Bhikkhuni is an American-born Theravada nun, scholar and Buddhist teacher. She is also the founder of Dhammadharini Vihara, co-founder of Aranya Bodhi Hermitage, recipient of the 2006 Outstanding Women in Buddhism Award, a presenting scholar at the 2007 International Congress on Buddhist Women's Role in the Sangha and appointed Preceptor for the historically significant 2009 Bhikkhuni Ordination held in Perth, Australia.
Born "Heather Buske" in Washington, D.C., 1968, Ayya Tathaaloka Theri's parents encouraged her to develop the skills necessary to look for what is true. She began pursuing monastic life at age 19. And at age 20, she left college after the sudden death of a friend, to take anagarika ordination.
Ayya Tathaaloka received the full bhikkhuni ordination in 1997, at a gathering of Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni Sanghas in Southern California. As of the 2006 Vassa, her 10th "rain" (a traditional Pali term for the annual three-month retreat during rainy season) after taking higher ordination, she is eligible to be called Ajahn, the Thai veneration for senior monastics who teach. But, she still prefers "Ayya." She has studied in South Korea, Thailand and other countries, and has taught around the world, including at Bhikkhuni Sangha University in South Korea. 
Ayya Tathaaloka's mentor, Ajahn Maha Prasert of the Thai Forest Tradition, and many others encouraged her to open the first Theravadan women monastics' retreat in Northern California. In 2005, with community support, she opened Dhammadharini Vihara (a monastic residence) in the Niles District of Fremont, California, United States, and served as Abbess. She was honored with the 2006 Outstanding Women in Buddhism award, at the United Nations in Bangkok, Thailand. Ayya Tathaaloka Theri was also a presenter at the International Congress on Buddhist Women's Role in the Sangha, in Hamburg, Germany, August 2007.
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