Report: Bhikkhuni Ani Zambar

Monday 8th November 2010, Bhikkhuni Ani Zamba otherwise known as Bhikkhuni Zamba Chozom, came to Bangkok and gave a talk at the spacious Dance Studio on Suk. 24.

This was our first time at this venue – people had a tricky time finding it … but that is always the way with a new place. Photos were taken and there’ll be one of Little Bangkok Sangha’s famous proportional maps for next time 🙂

Ven. Bhikkhuni has been ordained for over 40 years. She initially dedicated herself to a life helping others during a serious paralysis from which she was not supposed to recover. An MS sufferer told her to be appreciative! From that point she decided that were she to get the opportunity, she would help others. Shortly thereafter a new drug became available, and Ani was the first human recipient. Slowly she regained mobility.

click for photo album

But now she had her vow to keep, and so she started various community clubs around London.

It was a few years later, finding herself penniless in Turkey, that some students joined together and bought her a ticket to India. She wound her way over there and followed the Guru trail (including Thailand), eventually ordaining as a Tibetan Buddhist Nun. Crippled by another illness her teacher told her to go back to Thailand to Wat Tham Krabok where she would have the chance to recover. It worked and she spent some years helping with their drug rehabilitation programs.

More recently she lived in Hong Kong, where she is still, visa-wise, a resident. However for the last ten years she has been based in Brazil, somewhere way out in the country. She was given several very large tracts of land (many hectares) but has not been able to develop them as they are so far out, and she is there alone. She does make regular teaching trips to many groups in Brazil though.


Ani Zambar’s approach is to look at the method of perception, with a ‘mind-only’ interpretation viz: you don’t really see what is ‘out there’ objectively, but only what is reflected in your mind. The mind throws up many layers of interpretation, so we learn to recognise this, and stop getting caught up in it as if it is an objective reality.

Compared to Theravada Buddhism, the mind- only angle is a later idea … in Theravada the external world is both confirmed and denied; Theravada does not bother too much about the philosophical implications, only on the practical process of dis-entanglement. These teachings are of course,  just models; any teaching that aids this disentangling is skillful.

Theravada suttas actually concentrate on this idea of mapping/analysing the process of perception as the key practise. Theravada looks at the 6 bases of consciousness (the 6 senses) where the Mahayana has 8 bases of consciousness – the six senses, plus ‘manas’ (roughly the sub/unconscious where defilements and delusion arise) and the ‘alaya’ (storehouse) consciousness which is your kammic repository.

…all emotion, good and bad, comes from a basic sense of insecurity. Nothing is lasting, so but you give things solidity in order to escape from insecurity, and so the world is created.

We gathered in the spacious Dance Studio on Sukhumvit 24. Drinks and biscuits were kindly provided by the owners, while donations all went to Bhikkhuni Ani Zambar to go towards travel expenses (which are quite something to Brazil). About 65 people were in attendance. The talk was well received, and on her next visit to Asia we will be glad to set up more talks with this interesting and engaging Bhikkhuni.

2 replies on “Report: Bhikkhuni Ani Zambar”

  1. If… if it’s true that is «mind only» and matter is product of mind?
    As H.Blavatsky said: ” Our world is form-thought created by supreme mind”
    In this case probably the are : MIND , mind and Mind, different level and quality?
    And what is nature of mind? What is different between mind and consciousness

    1. Well, the ‘mind-only’philosophy was a later change in Buddhism. Early Buddhism held the world to be both real (if you have subjectively seen it arising) and unreal (if you have subjectively seen it ceasing). According to Persaonl Construct Theory, the world is real, but you see your ‘constructs’ or expectations, which colour the world and your perception. The later Buddhist school of Madhamika moved to a mind only view. Theravada considers the mind to be ‘foremost’ but not the only ultimate reality. Basically all the different ideas are supposed to be tools for letting go of the mind, freeing it of constructs. You can see links to other talks by Bhikkhuni on this topic above, if you want to explore her angle.

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