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Dipa Ma: The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Masterby Amy Schmidt
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Schmidt, a resident teacher at Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Mass., offers a study of the life and teachings of Nani Bala Barua — the Indian saint more commonly known by her affectionate nickname, Dipa Ma (1911 — 1989). Schmidt begins by offering a swift but engaging outline of Dipa Ma's life, including her marriage at age 12, her struggle as a single mother to practice meditation, her mastery of such 'supernatural powers' as mind reading and time travel and her eventual establishment in a tiny Calcutta apartment as a gentle, playful and world-renowned teacher of mindfulness — indeed, Dipa Ma deeply influenced such American Buddhist heavyweights as Sharon Salzberg and Jack Kornfield, who provide the foreword and afterword, respectively. Schmidt then highlights a number of Dipa Ma's teachings, such as 'the mind is all stories'; 'you can do anything you want to do'; and despite strongly patriarchal economic and religious systems, 'you should not think that women are helpless.' Schmidt rounds out the book by exploring Dipa Ma's continuing legacy, including how many of her students continue to experience her presence even after her death. This is not a penetrating biography; in fact, later chapters are composed chiefly of brief but fond anecdotes shared by Dipa Ma's students. Nevertheless, it is a compelling tribute to a beloved teacher whose 'combination of gentleness, no pretense, and power' continues to inspire many interested in the Buddhist path." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This biography 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.
About the Author
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.
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