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#2215 - Friday, July 29, 2005 - Editor: Gloria Lee  

Dipa Ma
The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Master

Amy Schmidt, Foreword by Sharon Salzberg, Afterword by Jack Kornfield

"This book, like Dipa Ma, is simple, straightforward, and powerful." —Alice Walker, author, The Color Purple

"An inspiring and beautiful book about one of our most beloved elders, a modern Buddhist saint." —Jack Kornfield, author, A Path with Heart

"Reading these reflections of Dipa Ma rouses the faith that being in her presence always did." —Sylvia Boorstein, author, It's Easier Than You Think

"This is a real treasure. Dipa Ma comes through as such a gentle, disarming, fierce, sweet presence. She is completely irresistible." —Toinette Lippe, author, Nothing Left Over

"This book, like Dipa Ma, is simple, straightforward and powerful." —Alice Walker, author, The Color Purple

"Rarely does a story about another person contain so much heart. After reading Dipa Ma, you feel you have actually met her—and you will never forget her." —Paul Hawken, coauthor, Natural Capitalism

This life story of one of the few women in her generation to devote herself entirely to the pursuit of meditation also includes Dipa Ma's spiritual teachings, which have made her a major figure in contemporary Buddhism. Dipa Ma was the first truly accomplished female meditation master in the Thereavada tradition to teach in the United States and, while she had a deep devotion to the tradition, she also had a fierce understanding that the spiritual accomplishments of women could be in every way equal to those of the predominantly male religious hierarchy. Her influence on the teaching of insight meditation practice in the West is presented here through stories and encounters told by sources such as family members, her students in Calcutta, and several of America's leading Buddhist and meditation teachers.

Amy Schmidt is a resident teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts; a cofounder of Southwest Sangha, a self-retreat center in southern New Mexico; a licensed clinical social worker; and a cartoonist. She lives in Barre, Massachusetts.

Print Page

Price: $14.95
Category: Biography, Spirituality
Pages: 176
Book Type: Paper
Size: 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
ISBN: 0974240559


The following are 5 short pieces from "Knee Deep in Grace: The
Extraordinary Life and Teaching of Dipa Ma"

When the heart is not afraid

When Dipa Ma was about to leave the Insight Meditation Society, a
whole group of us, twenty or so, were standing near her, holding our
hands together at our hearts. For some reason, just before she got in
the van, she turned to me and put her hands on my hands, looked me
right in the eye, remarkably close, and held my hands in silence. She
stared at me with utter love, utter emptiness, utter care. During this
minute she gave me a complete heartfelt transmission of loving
kindness...there was shakti [spiritual energy] just pouring form her.
Then she turned around and slowly got in the car.
    In this one moment, she showed me a kind of love I had never
experienced before. It was a rare kind of love without separation or
differences. This was my first taste of what can happen in the
presence of an enlightened being. That moment is just as powerful as
if it happened yesterday.
    Knowing this love, and seeing that it's possible to give it to
others, has been a real inspiration for me on my path. Dipa Ma is an
example of how, when the heart is not afraid, the love can just pour
    Sharda Rogell (from Knee Deep in Grace by Amy Schmidt)

Only thoughts can hold you back

    In 1974, I stopped by Calcutta to say goodbye to Dipa Ma. I told
her, "I am going back to America for a short time to get my health
together, to get some more money, and then I'll be back"
    She shook her head and asserted, "No, when you go back to America
you'll be teaching meditation with Joseph."
    I said, "No, I won't," and she said, "Yes, you will," and I said,
"No, I won't."
    Finally, she just looked me in the eye and declared, "You can do
anything you want to do. It's only your thought that you can't do it
that's holding you back." She added, "You should teach because you
really understand suffering."
    This was a great blessing with which she sent me off, back to
America. That was twenty-eight years ago. And she was right.
    Sharon Salzberg (from Knee Deep in Grace by Amy Schmidt)

What is your intention?

One night a student showed up who began asking Dipa Ma a lot of
questions. He was quite challenging and confrontative and coming from
an abstract place and trying to get her to argue. At one point she
stopped and said in a very calm voice, "Why have you come here? What
is your intention?" The sincerity of her question immediately silenced
    Ajahn Thanasanti (from Knee Deep in Grace by Amy Schmidt)

Lovingkindness for your mother

    I met a man who had practiced in India in the late 1960's and
early 70's. He was an avid meditator. He shaved his head, he wore
white, he spent years in temples and ashrams and monasteries. His
parents hated it. He was probably in his early thirties at the time,
and his parents thought he should be in medical school or law school.
His mother was particularly unhappy. It was as if she had lost a son.
    Whenever he went to see Dipa Ma, she would ask him about his
mother: "How is your mother? How is she doing? When you do your
sittings, are you doing metta for your mother? Every time you sit, you
should put your mother in your heart and send her lovingkindness."
    One time she reached under the mattress in her back room and
pulled out a roll of Indian bank notes. She took out a hundred-rupee
note, worth about twelve dollars, which was a lot of money for her.
She put it in his hand, closed his fingers around it, and said, "Go
buy a present and send it to your mother." That was how she taught.
    Jack Kornfield (from Knee Deep in Grace by Amy Schmidt)

Light in Calcutta

    She went to that place in my heart that was beyond shame and fear,
a place that felt wholly new, childlike. That's who she was, and that
is what she saw in everyone. When I left her apartment, I could open
to that wonder, that purity. For the first time, I saw the pain and
poverty of Calcutta in another way. Light seemed to be glowing out of
the lepers and beggars, and I could see each person's essence.
    Steven Smith (from Knee Deep in Grace by Amy Schmidt)

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