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I Give You My Life Paperback – August 8, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala (August 8, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570625719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570625718
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #743,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

You can imagine how their eyes grow round when Ayya Khema's students are treated to tidbits of her life. "There was that time with the anaconda in Brazil.... We crashed on a cliffside Himalayan road on our way to meet the mir of Hunza.... Torched by rebels, and I had to decide what to do with my nuns on our island..." Of course, her students badger her to write a book. The Jewish/German refugee, California housewife, Australian farmer, global nomad, and Buddhist nun comes through with a quiet, methodical story, that, if written in any other way, would seem more hyperbole than biography.

At the age of 55, when most people are mulling how many tulip bulbs to plant for next spring, Ayya Khema took Buddhist vows. She then established three monasteries, arranged Buddhist women's conferences, and gave teachings on a lost meditation technique at venues around the world. And that's only the second half of the book. With 25 titles to her credit and an established reputation, Ayya Khema hardly needed more publicity. Fortunately, she gave in to her students' goading, offering not only a fast-paced story but a model of freedom, energy, and accomplishment. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Very possibly, the central figures of these two books?one German, the other British?met during their Buddhist training and charitable work. They undergo similar transformations, abandoning established middle-class lives to adhere to strict Buddhist rules of self-denial, meditation, and hardship. Khema, however, escaped Nazi Germany and had a remarkably peripatetic life that entailed two marriages and much travel. Her telling of her search for Buddhism and life as a nun dwells on the facts of her travels and good works rather than inner thoughts. Despite professions of humility and selflessness, she appears arrogant and proud. But perhaps this impression comes from the process of dictation and a translation from German that is full of cliches and inappropriate expressions. On the other hand, in Cave in the Snow, Mackenzie, a journalist with a special interest in Buddhism, recounts with passion and beauty the story of Tenzin Palmo (nee Diane Perry), which involved 12 years of living in an Indian cave, snowbound for eight months of each year. She delves into Palmo's motivations, feelings, thoughts, and teachings, presenting the facts of her life while preserving the anguish, desire, conviction, and conflict that accompanied her conversion to Buddhism. The result is thoroughly engrossing.?Kitty Chen Dean, Nassau Coll., Garden City, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ayya Khema (1923-1997)played an important role in the ongoing revival of Western interest in Buddhism. Her autobiography "I give you my Life" (1997), completed just before her death, tells the story of the development of her commitment to Buddhism and spirituality and of her decision at age 55 to become a Buddhist nun. Each chapter in her brief book is introduced by a verse from the Dhammapada, a seminal Buddhist scriptural text consisting of short poems, which illuminates in a telling way the portion of her life under discussion.
Ayya Khema ("Ayya" is an honorific title for Buddhist nuns while "Khema" was the name of a nun during the Buddha's lifetime) was born Ilse Kussel in 1923 in Berlin to a prosperous, assimilated Jewish family. The family fled Germany before the Holocaust and Ilse, as a teenager, travelled by steamer to Glasgow, Scotland before joining her family shortly thereafter in Shanghai. She married in her late teens and travelled to California with her husband where she worked in a bank, had two children, and appeared settled into an American middle-class life. As a result, she tells us, of a deepening sense of spiritual unrest, she divorced her husband and married a childhood acquaintance named Gerd, whose family had also fled the Holocaust. She and Gern lived a wandering type of life in South America and Asia, where her husband was an engineer. The couple ultimately settled in Australia, bought a farm and raised shetland ponies. This marriage too ended with Ilse's, continued search for spiritual wisdom and her growing interest in meditation.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By LuelCanyon on January 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Ayya Khema's beautifully written account of her life reads like a rocket ship! From barely escaping Hitler's evil in Germany as a young Jewish girl, through marriages, children, and a thoroughgoing journey of sparkling life through myriad cultures and continents, to Buddhist nun and founder of a monastery -Nun's Island in Sri Lanka- to the final beautifully poignant full circle back with the founding of Buddha-Haus in Germany, here is an authentic story of liberation and of a gifted woman's joy of religion. Spiritual-odyssey-memoirs are a dime a dozen these days, many of them barely worth the effort, but 'I Give You My Life' has a genuine spirit attending it; not only a wonderful memoir, it contains a few memorable moments of supremely confident religious experience conveyed without guile, and with admirable simplicity. It's a pleasure to read and ends too quickly, yet everything has been covered beautifully and fully. Khema effortlessly leaves her spirit with you, the mark of a true teacher - and probably of a buddha. It's a wonderful book.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I met Ayya Khema a number of times and found an extraordinarily strong & uncompromising personality, one incidentally I didn't like at all. I have never met anyone who felt ambiguous about her, it seems we either "loved her or loathed her" This book gives a lot of information on how that personality was formed. She tells it as it was, no sense of anything other than someone simply saying "I began my journey here and this is what happened along the way". It is the commonality of her journey, all of us Westerners are making a similar if much less dramatic journey to Ayya Khema, that makes this a book a worthwhile read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Floyd J. Fantelli on June 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have read all of Ayya Khemas other books and many of her Dhamma talks on Buddhanet.net but this book is written from the heart of Ayya Khema descibing her and her family's incredible journey from Nazi Germany to Shanghai, to US then to South America and finally her journey to the far east and back to Germany where she established Buddha Haus. This is such a well written book that I simply could not put it down and felt her genuine sense wanting to give us her life on every page. I felt connected to sister Khema from the first to last page. I highly recommend it. Floyd in Idaho
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