|School||Thai Forest Tradition|
|Thai Forest Tradition (Dhutanga Kammatthana)|
Ajahn Candasiri is one of the Theravada Buddhist monastics who co-founded Chithurst Buddhist Monastery in West Sussex, England, a branch monastery of the highly respected Ajahn Chah lineage. She is currently ordained at an unrecognized, junior level (a 10-precept Siladhara), the highest that is allowed for women in the Thai Forest Tradition. She is one of the more senior monastics in western Theravada and trained alongside women who later became fully ordained bhikkhunis and abbesses of monasteries.
Born in 1947, Ajahn Candasiri was raised as a Christian in Edinburgh, Scotland. She worked as an occupational therapist in the United Kingdom after graduation from university. She encountered the Buddha's teachings in 1977, through Ajahn Sumedho after she had explored several meditation traditions. She became a renunciant in 1979, a white-robed, eight-precept anagārika, at Chithurst Buddhist Monastery, England.
Candasiri was one of four anagārika women who carved out an existence in the early days of Chithurst Buddhist Monastery, along with a group of monks. In 1979, the monastery was little more than an abandoned, dilapidated house. After the group turned it into a functional residence, the nuns moved to a small house nearby and fixed it up. They called it Āloka Cottage and eventually founded the siladhara ordination community there. In 1983, Candasiri took siladhara ordination (brown robes and 10 precepts). It consisted of a unique set of 137 rules and a new version of the patimokkha recitation created by Ajahn Sumedo so that the women monastics could be trained in Ajahn Chah's lineage. Ajahn Candasiri was one of the pioneer siladhara monastics who were trained by bhikkhus (fully ordained monks), in parts of the Suttavibhanga and a version of the vinaya patimokkha. Some of the siladhara sisters became skilled Sangha members, capable of keeping the patimokkha, living in harmony and maintaining their community with very few resources.
For years, Ajahn Candasiri and the other siladharas remained with Chithurst Monastery despite the siladharas being subordinated to monastic men and being disrespected. Though the siladhara community grew over the years, some began leaving to seek full vinaya training. Ajahn Candasiri had stayed in the siladhara community which shrank to three nuns at one point. She is one of the siladhara who has been allowed to teach and lead retreats. She lived at Chithurst until 1999 when she moved to Amaravati monastery, a 1.5 hour drive. As of 2015, she is one of the most senior monastics, male or female, in the Amarvati community though she is not accorded that station.