Ayya Khema quotes

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Ayya Khema (August 25, 1923 - November 2, 1997), a Buddhist teacher, was born as Ilse Ledermann in Berlin, Germany, to Jewish parents. She would be considered a "JuBu."


  • As we dislike our own dukkha, hate arises at the same time which results in "double dukkha."
  • These are fundamental aspects of ourselves which we need to investigate and experience. Spiritual practice involves one's whole being and the exploration of our reactions, developing sensitivity and vulnerability to others and being able to roll with the punches. We begin to realize that there are certain necessary learning situations in our lives and if we don't make use of them, we will get the same ones over and over again. If we look back for a moment, we may be able to see identical situations have arisen many times. They'll continue to do so many lifetimes, unless we change.
  • There is the Cartesian view: "I think, therefore I am." Actually it's the other way around: "I am, therefore I think." Unless we can get some kind of order into our thoughts and emotional reactions which follow the thinking process, our mind will constantly play havoc with our inner household.
  • The realization of where our dukkha comes from must be followed by the understanding that disliking it will not make it go away; only letting go of wanting makes dukkha disappear, which means unequivocal acceptance. Accepting oneself results in being able to accept others. The difficulty with other people is that they present a mirror in which we can see our own mistakes. How useful it is to have such a mirror. When we live with others we can see ourselves as if it were a mirror-image and eventually we learn to be together like milk with water, which completely blend. It is up to each one of us to blend; if we wait for others to do it we are not practicing. This is a difficult undertaking but also a very important one.
  • Eventually we will create the inner comfort to expand our consciousness and awareness to an understanding of universality.
  • Due to having made karma, rebirth consciousness arises. But we need not think of rebirth only in a future life. We are in actual fact reborn every moment with new thoughts and feelings, and we bring with us the karma that we made in past moments. If we were angry a moment ago, we are not going to feel good immediately. If we were loving a minute ago, we would be feeling fine now. Thus we live from moment to moment with the results of our karma. Every morning, particularly, can be seen as a rebirth. The day is young, we are full of energy, and have a whole day ahead of us. Every moment we get older and are tired enough in the evening to fall asleep and die a small death. All we can do then is toss and turn in bed, and our mind is dreamy and foggy. Every day can be regarded as a whole lifespan, since we can only live one day at a time; the past is gone and the future may or may not come; only this rebirth, this day, this moment, is important.
  • It’s impossible to buy security, even though many people would like to do so. Insurance companies have the largest buildings because people try to buy security. But when we create certainty within, through a genuinely loving and compassionate and kind heart; a heart that is warm, tender (not afraid to feel its own emotions, not ruled by fear of loss), generous, grateful—many of our fears will vanish.
  • If the whole universe can be found in our own body and mind, this is where we need to make our inquires. We all have the answers within ourselves, we just have not got in touch with them yet. The potential of finding the truth within requires faith in ourselves.
  • If we divide into two camps; even into violent and the nonviolent; and stand in one camp while attacking the other, the world will never have peace. We will always blame and condemn those we feel are responsible for wars and social injustice, without recognizing the degree of violence within ourselves. We must work on ourselves and also with those we condemn if we want to have a real impact.
  • It is important to experience and not to believe. In order to do that, we have to pay attention. In the famous and often quoted Kalama Sutta, the Buddha gives ten points which are not suitable as criteria to follow a teacher or a spiritual path. All of them have to do with a belief system because of traditional lineage or because of sacred books. Not to believe but to find out for ourselves is the often repeated injunction of the Buddha. Unless we do that, we cannot have an inner vision, which is the first step that takes us on to the noble path.