Dipa Ma

DipaMaPOSTCARD #216: Somehow I’ve been thinking about Dipa Ma lately; the Bengali meditation teacher who had such a large influence on IMS teachers like Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield and others who believe she was an enlightened being. Just looking at her face on the cover of the book, such a welcoming presence. There are accounts of people who never met Dipa Ma having seen/felt Dipa Ma’s grace, her loving kindness – not in a strange or exceptional way, quite ordinary. Whenever there’s a moment that requires special compassion, the presence of Dipa Ma is there.

That’s how it is for me now; it’s like she’s here by my side. It’s as if she is saying to me that this present moment is absolutely right as it is, no need for anything else. Gone are all stray and wandering thoughts that tend to cling; they just disappear. How can it be possible to have the feeling you are close to someone you’ve never met and all you know is what you’ve read about her? I think it’s because that’s just how she was; always approachable, she welcomed everyone. Dipa Ma was asked once about loving-kindness and mindfulness: ‘From my own experience, there is no difference between mindfulness and loving kindness.’ For her, love and awareness were one…. When you are fully loving, aren’t you also mindful? When you are mindful, is this not also the essence of love?’[Amy Schmidt]

These days I often think about her, whenever I’m in a difficult situation I find Dipa Ma is here too, deep breaths, and everything is ok.


‘Saintly beings, whether they are the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Dipa Ma, or one thousand unknown saintly beings living amongst us, share the same fundamental characteristic of selflessness, great compassion, and peace. Each one of us can carry Dipa Ma’s legacy in terms of having that much peace and love. It takes its own time, yet it’s possible for anyone. In the end the point is not to be like Dipa Ma or some other great yogi or saint you might read about. The point is something much more difficult: to be yourself and to discover that all you seek is to be found, here and now, in your own heart.’ [Jack Kornfield]

This post reblogged from 2012

15 thoughts on “Dipa Ma

  1. Your post prompted me to get the book Dipa Ma – The life and legacy of a Buddhist Master by Amy Schmidt off my book shelf again. I can’t find any trace of having opened the book, or read it, so I assume I received it as a free gift from Shambhala Publications in the U.S. back some 10 years ago with an order and never actually got around to reading it. (I think I have 4-5 books on my shelf unread – mainly free books i might add).

    Thanks for the prompt – I’ll now start reading.

    I find solace and calm in watching the DVD – Amongst White Clouds by Edward (Ted) Burger. I must have watched that documentary 200 times since I bought it. It’s a wonder it isn’t worn out!

    • Thanks for reminding me about that astonishing video, I saw it once and forgot the title, lost the link and now I’ve found it again. Yes this is Dipa Ma’s doing! Read the book (it’s a fairly short read) and you’ll find Dipa Ma is with you, a quiet simple penetrating presence…

      • I just read half the book (since I commented on your blog) and yes, I already feel a sense of her persona. I can feel her talking to me (or is it just Amy Schmidt’s words?). She certainly had a profound effect on many lives. I always say those who have suffered and felt loss can be more insightful than those who have led a charmed life too….whatever ‘charmed life’ might be to each of us. She seemed to have that unique combination of strength and determination combined with loving kindness and radiant calm. I just thought of Tenzin Palmo when I typed that previous sentence. Perhaps there is a strength and quiet determination they share.

      • They both have that special ability of hitting the spot. Being there with so much presence it must be they were born with it. I was affected by Dipa Ma immediately – you could say it’s Amy Schmidt putting it into words but it’s the face. I looked at every available photo in google and the face of Dipa Ma always has that effect. Also, of course she was a tiny person. And how she absorbed the suffering, stepped over that line…

  2. I can associate with this feeling also with couple of spiritual teachers that I feel closely attached to. Having read this and spoken to you about her before, I’m also beginning to feel the knowing of Dipa Ma. Some of these spiritually advanced friend/ teachers really pull us with their Love by helping us transcend the mind-barrier. Imagination, in my view, is a strong tool I often find very helpful for spiritual practices and mental development.

    • Hey Manish! Glad you noticed the love emanating from her face. I agree that through ‘imagination’ it’s possible to transcend the mind barrier and this is a way to help us in our practice. For me just one look at her face, gently focussed, holds my attention…

      • You are welcome, tiramit…
        ‘…the Sufi recognises the Murshid in all beings of the world, and is ready to learn from young and old, educated and uneducated, rich and poor without questioning from whom he learns. Then he begins to see the light of Risalat, the torch of truth which shines before him in every being and thing in the universe, thus he sees Rasul, his Divine Message Bearer, a living identity before him…’

  3. I love that feeling that love is with us. Sometimes we personify it differently, as Dipa Ma, as this one or that one, and it is such a rich offering we are given. That love would touch us personally, even as love is far grander than we can fathom. It is like these faces provide the bridge, make it tangible, accessible, near and intimate. We make love human to one another…

    Hope all is well!

  4. “We make love human to one another”, before that it’s only an encounter now and again, deeply felt but too brief to identify. It’s a recognition, something innate. Thanks Michael for drawing my attention to this…

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