The Letters to Sister Vajira documents the correspondence of the Ven. Ñanavira Thera with Sister Vajira (Hannelore Wolf, 1928-1991) between November 1961 and January 1962. The vivid exchange of letters and postcards starts shortly before Sister Vajira's second and last encounter with Ñanavira Thera at the Island Hermitage where they spent the whole day discussing Dhamma, and ends with the turbulent effects of a final breakthrough of right view (sammaditthi). In retrospect Ñanavira Thera wrote a few years later to his literary executor: I fully agree with you that the curtain came down on the drama too suddenly. I was hoping for a further letter but was disappointed. And when she was packed off there was no further chance of meeting her and filling in the gaps. But if in fact she really did cease to be a puthujjana (and I see no reason to doubt it), then we are perhaps fortunate in having as much as we do have in the way of a written record of an actual attainment of the magga (and probably also of the phala) as it took place. An account written afterwards from memory would not have the dramatic force of these letters which are so striking.
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Ven. Ņanavira Thera, formerly Harold Musson, was born in 1920 into a British military family, and attained the rank of Captain during World War II. After the war he graduated with First Class Honours in Modern Languages from Cambridge University, but dissatisfied with his mundane life, he left England for Sri Lanka in 1948 and became a samanera the following year. He ordained as a bhikkhu, taking the name of Ņanavira, at Vajirarama monastery (Colombo) in 1950, and spent his early years at the Island Hermitage. He later moved to a solitary kuti near Bundala, where he spent most of his ordained life until his death in 1965.
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