Day 31: Ayya Khema

Ayya Khema (1923-1997) was born into a Jewish family in Berlin, Germany. She escaped Nazi persecution with 200 other children who were taken to Scotland while her parents fled to China.  She re-joined her parents two years later in Shanghai. When war broke out, the family was put into a Japanese POW camp where her father died.  Four years after the liberation of the camp, Ayya Khema was able to emigrate to the US. From 1960-64, she traveled with her husband and son throughout Asia. It was during this time that she learned and eventually began teaching meditation. These experiences led her to become a Buddhist nun, and was given the name Khema, meaning safety and security.  (Ayya means Venerable). After receiving complete monastic ordination in China, she helped establish a forest monastery in Austrialia. She also set up the International Buddhist Women’s Centre for Sri Lankan nuns, and was the spiritual director of Buddha-Haus in Germany. Twenty-five books on meditation and the Buddha’s teachings have been assembled from her talks and published in seven languages. She also wrote the award-winning “Being Nobody, Going Nowhere”.


For today, consider these words of Ayya Khema:

“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.”


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