Ven. Dr. Pannavati, a former Christian pastor, is co-founder and co-Abbot of Embracing-Simplicity Hermitage and Co-Director of Heartwood Refuge, a new intentional community, and residential retreat and conference center in Hendersonville, NC. She is president of the Treasure Human Life Foundation. A black, female Buddhist monk ordained in the Theravada and Chan traditions, she remains a disciple of Great Master Kuang Seng, continues Vajrayana empowerments and teachings with beloved Rinpoche Zhaxi Zhouma and received transmission from Roshi Bernie Glassman of Zen Peacemaker. Pannavati is both contemplative and empowered for compassionate service. She conducts retreats nationally at over 50 centers and churches each year sharing living truths that are deep, yet apprehendable. She advises the cultivation of both wisdom and compassionate action. She believes is it fine to sit in temples and meditate and pray when things are good; when they are not, we are compelled to get off our pillows and do something. Let our actions line up with our intentions.
Locally, Pannavati founded My Place and housed 85 youth over 4 years. After their graduation from high school she created a state licensed and funded jobs training program and successful social enterprise for 3 years, My Gluten Free Bread Company.
Pannavati advocates on behalf of disempowered women and youth globally, and insists on equality and respect in spiritual life for both female monastics and laity. She has adopted many “untouchable” villages in India, helping them establish an egalitarian community based on Buddhist principles of conduct and livelihood, providing wells, books, improving their schools and providing micro-grants. Approximately 30,000 people live in these villages. She ordained the first Tamili bhikkhuni and visits each year to encourage and promote spiritual well-being and socio-economic development.
She is a recipient of the Outstanding Buddhist Women’s Award; received a special commendation from the Princess of Thailand for Humanitarian Acts as she assisted Venerable Dr. Lee in guiding the first 50 Thai Bhikkhunis ordained on Thai soil with Thai monks witnessing and convened a platform of Bhikkhunis to ordain the first 10 Cambodian Samaneris in a Cambodian temple, witnessed by Cambodian abbots including Maha Thera Ven. Dhammathero Sao Khon, President of the Community of Khmer Buddhist Monks of the USA.
Pannavati remains committed to advocacy for social justice, the homeless, sick and disenfranchised, those who are marginalized, abused, neglected and unloved. She lives the Dhamma.