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Be an Island: The Buddhist Practice of Inner Peace Paperback – March 1, 1999

4.7 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ayya Khema is like that pesky little angel on our shoulder, except instead of saying, "Don't do this" or "Don't do that," she reminds us to pay attention and keep growing. One of the best Western exponents of the Buddhist path, Khema organizes her lectures in Be an Island around the Buddha's exhortation to be an island unto yourself. By taking refuge in Buddhist teachings and the Buddhist community, you can escape the petty concerns of the self and become an anchor for others. In disarmingly practical language, Ayya Khema teaches us that true practice is getting the tiny details of life right, the middling moments--thinking before we speak, recognizing greed and generosity in ourselves and others, making the mind pliable at all times. Like a weekly lecture series, this is the type of book you'll want to go back to, placing it near an altar or spiritual nook for easy access. --Brian Bruya

From Library Journal

A collection of talks on Buddhist practice by the late Khema, a well-loved teacher in traditional Theravadan Buddhism. In her strongly feminine voice she covers such topics as harmonious living and controling the mind. An accessible guide for integrating practice into daily life. (LJ 5/1/99)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 135 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (March 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861711475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861711475
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #733,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Meng W. Goh on July 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
If you are serious about learning Dhamma, go to the bookstore and buy all Ayya Khema's books. Based on her personal experiences, she was able to explain many hard-to-understand Dhamma concepts in plain and simple words that make you go "ah!" and "wow!". Simple yet profound, she was very strict to the original teaching of Buddha's Dhamma yet present it in a way that we modern people can understand without any difficulties. You don't have to worry about any water-downed psuedo Buddhism teaching you found in the bookstore today. She was a revolutionist when it comes to improving the status of women sangha in Theravada tradition, a credit to the Buddhasasana. I am thankful to be able to learn from her writing, must be my good kamma. If you are reading this review, don't let the good kamma slip away. Get this book and learn to be an island.
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Format: Paperback
This marvelous little book gives hours of pleasure, confidence, and encouragement: as well as instant calming and vision for your spontaneous needs should you require immedicate assistance. I found it to provide guidance and inspiration on any occasion that presented itself-I had but to open randomly to any page. Here is only one example of its gifts: "Only one single moment exists, and that's the present one. The future is a figment of our imagination. When the future really happens it becomes the present." (This from the 'Nuts and Bolts' section.)
I was raised Roman Catholic and I find so much value and love from these practices. I am learning to love myself as I have always been taught to love God but somehow missed the part about loving yourself. Sister Khema makes a bridge between religious gulfs, feminine issues, and meditation practices. She has masterfully put together Buddist teachings in so understandable a method that you come away from reading, even just a paragraph or two, with inspiration and love. I recommend this book to all my friends.
Sincerely, Pat
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Format: Paperback
Ayya Khema, who personified Theravada Buddhism in her meditative practice and compassionate life, leads you as if by hand to the isle of inner peace. Warmth and practicality permeate this book, which is more a teaching than a tour guide. Ayya Khema reveals important insights in such a way that you hardly notice you've been taken well down the Noble Eightfold Path. You arrive at the end of the journey ready to believe her final assertion: "There is no reason why an intelligent, healthy, committed person should not be able to attain [mindfulness] with patience and perseverance." Add this to your list of desert island readings.
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Format: Paperback
The author is a leading Theravada Bhikkhuni (Southern Buddhist ordained nun), an American citizen, born Jewish in WWII Germany. It is evident how much Buddhism means to her. She's been included in a number of anthologies (e.g. by Bhikshuni Lekshe Tsomo). The title is from the Maha Paranibbana Sutta: "abide as an island...loving the Dhamma as an island & refuge." Per Theravada, she uses Pali spellings vs. Sanskrit equivalents. The Library of Congress Cataloging data lists it as Buddhism-Psychological Aspects; it addresses several major psychological issues:

p. 18: "eventually through practice, our intentions change & adapt themselves to the Dhamma."

p. 29: "Motives are like icebergs-1/3 visible & 2/3 hidden."

p. 43: "We confront ourselves in others [Jung calls this projection]

p. 81: "Sometimes people think of the teaching as a sort of therapy, which it undoubtedly is, but that is not its ultimate aim."

p. 93: "It's only an illusion that, through the presence of other people we confront the world around us. In reality, we are constantly meeting our own inner defilements or strengths. What goes on around us serves as a series of triggers for our reactions."

p. 94: "if we feel a serious lack in ourselves, this will color our attitudes & reactions."

p. 96: "cultivating love for ourselves ...makes it easy to be loving toward others."

p. 97: "The holy life means becoming whole, of one piece." [Jung's individuation]

p. 106: "more is not better." [scientifically the world is NOT linear]

She also describes some Buddhist terms unfamiliar to me (as a student of Vajrayana):

p. 117:3 kinds of liberation-signless (impermanence), wishless (suffering), & voidness (coreless)

p.
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Ayya Khema is the best writer on Buddhism I know. She has a unique ability to explain the sometimes esoteric meanings in Buddhist teachings in a way you can understand. Her books, including this one, are some of the few I find myself going back to again and again.
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Format: Paperback
Mesmerizing. If you have a true desire to seek inner peace and enlightenment - this is a must read. I could read it over and over. It is so soothing and honest and helpful. Very clear understanding of why we self sabotage and how to move forward in peace. Beautifully written.
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The author's theme of becoming independent in one's practice and looking inward for spiritual guidance, i.e. taking refuge inwardly, rather than searching elsewhere. She has some good practical examples and suggestions.
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