Ven. Sarika Dharma sarika

Transmission name Thich An-Tinh
May 8, 1938 - August 25, 1996

Ven. Sarika Dharma was a Zen Buddhist monk for over eighteen years. Her duties as head monk included training novices, teaching classes, giving dharma talks, and leading retreats.

Ven. Sarika began her Buddhist studies in 1974. Like many who were active in the anti-war movement of the '60's, she realized that demonstrations and other forms of activism were not having the intended effect. Inner peace must be the first step in spreading peace throughout the world, she believed. Her first forays into Eastern religion and especially into Buddhism, through academic explorations, confirmed her conviction.

She began to practice seriously as a disciple of Ven. Dr. Thich Thien-An, and became a fully ordained monk in 1977. Her teacher was one of the ordaining masters at the traditional ages-old ceremony, held at Fo Kwan Shan Monastery in Taiwan. After the death of her master in 1980, she left the monastery for a few years and worked in the business community, after which she returned to the IBMC and reaffirmed her monastic vows.

Rev. Sarika started a Lesbian Zen Group in Los Angeles, which expanded to connect Buddhist lesbians through an internet mailing list. She was also involved in the Lesbian and Gay Interfaith Clergy Association which presents interfaith services on important occasions during the year, such as World AIDs Day, Coming Out Day and the Gay Pride Festival. She also organized and lead workshops, classes and discussion groups on the status of women in Buddhism.

She held a Bachelor's degree in English and a Masters in Speech Communication, both from California State University at Northridge. Rev. Sarika taught junior high school students in the Los Angeles Public School System for over ten years. She was a frequent guest lecturer for World Religions classes at Southern California colleges.

Born as Renee Gail Richmond, she was married for five years, and upon her death left behind two brothers, two children, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Rev. Sarika Dharma; Head Monk at Buddhist Center in L.A. / L.A. TIMES ARCHIVES / AUG. 29, 1996

The Rev. Sarika Dharma, 58, head monk at the International Buddhist Meditation Center in Los Angeles. Brought up in Van Nuys as Renee Gail Richmond, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and master’s in speech communication at Cal State Northridge. She began studying Buddhism after the breakup of her 12-year marriage and was ordained in Taiwan in 1977. Seeing a need for ministry to gay women, Dharma established a Lesbian Zen Group in Los Angeles and expanded its reach through the Internet. She also was active in the Gay Interfaith Clergy Assn. Dharma conducted workshops, classes and discussion groups on the status of women in Buddhism. On Sunday in St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica of cardiac arrest.

We call to Venerable Sarika Dharma. From love and respect we call to you to come to this alter as we perform the memorial ceremony. Your family and friends wait to receive you. We pray that you hear and obey. May your karma be purified. May your consciousness be purified. May you find rebirth in a place of peace and serenity, where you may develop your compassion and wisdom and attain complete enlightenment.

The 49th day Ceremony was held on October 13, 1996.

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The writings of Ven. Sarika Dharma and tributes to her. - In PDF