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Being Nobody, Going Nowhere: Meditations on the Buddhist Path
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Being Nobody, Going Nowhere: Meditations on the Buddhist Path

4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  459 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
In this lucid classic, beloved teacher Ayya Khema introduces the reader to the essence of the Buddhist path. She addresses the how and why of meditation, providing a clear framework for understanding the nature of karma and rebirth and the entirety of the eightfold path. With specific, practical advice Ayya Khema illuminates the practices of compassion and sympathetic joy ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 15th 1987 by Wisdom Publications (first published January 25th 1987)
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Siew Ee
Dec 14, 2011 Siew Ee rated it it was amazing
“Being Nobody, Going Nowhere” is based on a series of talks by Ayya Khema at a ten-day meditation course at Sri Lanka. A wonderful book, but I feel that the synopsis given is a little misleading. For Buddhists and non-Buddhists who have never meditated before and would like to learn how, please do not rely solely on this book as an instruction booklet on meditation techniques. While it does provide clear and simple instructions on meditation, the strength and beauty of this book lies more in Ayy ...more
Jan 24, 2010 Happyreader rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
A very practical and accessible book on the basics of Buddhist thought and the importance of meditation practice. Since the book is a collection of her talks given during a retreat, her teachings are focused on what to pay attention to during practice paired with the benefits of such practice to motivate everyone to stay present on and off the cushion. She begins with the reminder that meditation is how we rest our minds and develop the mental muscles to respond more wisely to whatever arises. L ...more
Steve Woods
Aug 14, 2014 Steve Woods rated it it was amazing
The path of practice isn't easy. Ayya Khemma writes in this book her sense and personal experience with important aspects of Buddhist teaching; 4 Noble Truths, 4 Friends, 5 Aggregates etc and explores the experience of meditation in the Buddhist context. She writes with tremendous depth of understanding that derives from her decades as a Buddhist nun and with clarity and insight that helps the western practitioner come to terms with what are concepts foreign to our own traditions. It certainly h ...more
Kari Shankar
Mar 02, 2011 Kari Shankar rated it it was amazing
Very simple. Very practical. Truly one of the best books on Buddhist philosophy. Very simple to follow. Very measurable progress from within. Very easy read. Started reading it hesitantly. Never really finished many good books on religion or philosophy. This book is different. Keeps the pages turning. While she tries to present a complicated subject in as simple a format as possible, somewhere near the last last half of the book the reader can still feel a tad lost. Best to start re reading it a ...more
Dec 15, 2013 Marcyr. rated it it was amazing
This book completely changed my life. It is the most influential Buddhism book I have read, thoroughly covering the entire practice including the Four Noble Truths, The Noble eightfold Path, The way things exist, meditation etc. It should be required reading for everyone, it is that good! I love Ayya Khema!! Just wish I could afford to get her other books. My Dad gave me the copy I own and I have shared it with many people despite it's being incredibly important to me. I just cannot keep it all ...more
Jul 21, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
To be fair, the four star rating may be more of a reflection of my state of mind than the quality of the book. I don't feel I am ready for what it had to say, but I can certainly accept the beauty of much of the message. Perhaps this is a five star book I desperately tried to filter through my four star brain.
Dharmamitra Jeff Stefani
Wow, This wonderful, german-born Buddhist nun, explains with utter simplicity, the reason for, the why, and the how of mindfulness and Meditation. Going Nowhere, Being Nobody, sounds kind of drab...but it is anything but. It is the reason we choose the spiritual Path.
Aug 15, 2012 Kev rated it it was amazing
One of the best Buddhist based books I've ever read. Perfect for the western reader or maybe not so perfect as western readers don't usually desire to be nobody and on the road to nowhere as well! :)
Leif Steenson
Jul 07, 2011 Leif Steenson rated it really liked it
This is a very straightforward, 170 something page explanation of the attributes and purpose of the Buddhist philosophy. Every once and a while the author will write something like "Congratulations all of you sitting here before me, you have greatly improved your meditation techniques over the past few weeks!", which leads me to think the author pretty much transcribed exactly what she said during at least one of the apparently extremely popular meditation retreats she has apparently lead. If th ...more
Dec 10, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dhamma
I read this over a year ago so the content isn't fresh, but it was one of the first Buddhist books I read from beginning to end with a sense of craving. I found it to be incredibly well written and easy to follow with so many practical nuggets of truth to guide my mind into different states of thinking. I would not recommend it as an introductory book on meditation and I don't believe it's advertised as such, but for a novice on the Buddhist path I think it's an absolute must read.
Daniel Swensen
May 31, 2016 Daniel Swensen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I found this book from reading Leigh Brasington's "Right Concentration: A Practical Guide to the Jhanas," in which he recommended it as a great introduction to the basics of the Buddhist path. He wasn't wrong. Comprehensive and insightful. I suspect I will be referring to it again and again.
Dana Larose
Aug 04, 2015 Dana Larose rated it it was amazing
Ayya Khema gives me the impression from her books that she was a no-nonsense, stern but kind Buddhist grandmother. Great overview of Theravadan practice and this'll be one to reread several times.
Jun 18, 2014 Dean rated it really liked it
An excellent summary and overall introduction to Buddhism in the Theravada or classical school, written in easy to understand language. The book is introductory enough for people beginning meditation or seeking information on what will aid them in their practice (Buddhist or spiritual alike), and yet offers deep insights into the nature of practice, virtue, concentration and wisdom. The information seems to have been transcribed from retreats given by the author. The book is also applicable toda ...more
Tom Nadolski
Jan 24, 2016 Tom Nadolski rated it it was amazing
This is the single best introduction to Buddhist principles and dharma practice that I have read.
Isaac Spencer
Sep 01, 2011 Isaac Spencer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
Clear, direct, simple, inspiring, digestible, accessible, gentle, powerful. I would give this book to any practicing Buddhist, any one interested in starting a Buddhist practice, or any one interested in learning about Buddhism.

One reason I find this work valuable is that Ayya Khema points out so clearly what ego-driven behavior looks like and what it would look like to live a life free of the ego. She's very practical and down-to-earth, which, I think, is such a valuable quality when dealing wi
Oct 17, 2014 Jen rated it it was amazing
This is a book to which I will return many times.
Mar 16, 2011 Simone rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked it, but it is a lot to take in. It is one of those books I will need to read again in a few years and it will have a completely different impact on me the it did now. One thing that I really took away from the book was the subject of mindfulness and that fact that I do not have any. I need to work on that.
Viv JM
Mar 24, 2016 Viv JM rated it it was amazing
I found this to be a very readable and easily understood guide to meditation and Buddhism. Ayya Khema's tone is stern and no-nonsense, but at the same time wise and kind. Contains the clearest explanation of kamma in Buddhism that I have yet read.

This will be a book I return to time and again I think.
Bobby Spiecher
May 16, 2013 Bobby Spiecher rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buddhism, philosophy
This book was very accessible, it offered meditation techniques that were simple and very effective. It also offered ideas that were tangible. Reading it was a meditation in itself, this is one of the most potent books on my Buddhist shelf to date.
Josh hill
This was a good overview. Just the Loving-Kindness meditation in is is worth keeping around. For a more in depth description of the basic philosophies discussed in this book check out Awakening the Buddha Within, by Lama Surya Das
Lindsay Vigue
Nov 06, 2007 Lindsay Vigue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who's like to read something introspective
This book was a wonderful read. It was a book I went to for solace. It introduced thoughts that I had had in my head for so long, in written form. It was like holding a mirror up to myself.
Wppolkjr Polk
Feb 11, 2010 Wppolkjr Polk rated it really liked it
An outstanding primer on our thought life and how to ignore it. Great reminder on doing good things for people just because. Alll about kamma...yes, kamma.
Sep 05, 2013 Tera rated it it was amazing
Started me out in Buddhism. I took a whole notebook full of notes out of this book. I'm now reading Ayya Khema Be an island. Love Buddhism!
Randy Howard
Aug 07, 2010 Randy Howard rated it it was amazing
This book was just what the doctor ordered. It helped me to think about "right living" in ways I'd not considered.
Jan 11, 2008 megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book is dog-eared and highlighted throughout. i have read and re-read it. and i love the title.
Feb 10, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really good book which explains Buddhist teachings in a very readable volume.
Apr 13, 2011 Daniel rated it really liked it
A good read, take your time to read as it will enable you to 'see' things differently
Jul 15, 2007 Sabio rated it liked it
Shelves: buddhism
Gentle teacher (German Nun) in Theravada tradition with very traditional teaching.
Joseph Harriott
Mar 09, 2010 Joseph Harriott rated it it was amazing
Snappy, and to the point. Stop wasting time and get on the path!
Feb 02, 2009 Lisa rated it did not like it
Not the most accessible introduction to meditation.
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Has anyone found this useful over the years? 1 1 Apr 30, 2016 04:17AM  
Establish Mindful...: Have you read? 1 4 Apr 30, 2016 03:35AM  
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  • The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya
  • Dancing With Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering
  • Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: A Meditator's Handbook
  • A Still Forest Pool: The Insight Meditation of Achaan Chah
  • Breath by Breath: The Liberating Practice of Insight Meditation
  • The Path of Purification: Visuddhimagga
  • Being Zen: Bringing Meditation to Life
  • Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience
  • Buddhism Is Not What You Think: Finding Freedom Beyond Beliefs
  • Stepping Out of Self-Deception: The Buddha's Liberating Teaching of No-Self
  • The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya
  • The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya
  • The Issue at Hand:  Essays on Buddhist Mindfulness Practice

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“The temptations in our heart are there practically all the time, and because we don’t recognize them, we are often in a quandary. We are being pulled this way and that. For instance, right now: we know it’s better to hear Dhamma, but wouldn’t it also be nice to go to sleep? If we were left alone, without a lot of people sitting here, it is quite likely we’d wander off to bed.” 0 likes
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