- Paperback: 74 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (28 Jan. 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1490567305
- ISBN-13: 978-1490567303
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 0.5 x 22.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,539,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Heart Of The Bitter Almond Hedge Sutra Paperback – 28 Jan 2014
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About the Author
Thanissara is Anglo/Irish and originally from London. She was a Buddhist nun for 12 years in the Forest School of Ajahn Chah and has taught meditation internationally the last 25 years. She is co-founder of Dharmagiri, a small meditation center in the Southern Drakensberg in South Africa which also initiates and supports local community engagement projects. Thanissara currently resides between South Africa and the USA. www.dharmagiri.org
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From this bitter hedge, South Africa’s cancerous apartheid system grew. But, as Thanissara gently points out, we can't simply point fingers at South Africa, because “the ultimate apartheid is the mind’s own division against the heart.” And that apartheid lives everywhere—everywhere we can destroy the earth without feeling; destroy each other without feeling; betray ourselves without feeling so that we can “get along.”
Through the voices of bushmen, through images of wild Africa, through the heartless terrors of warfare, genocide, and ecocide upon which our modern lives are based, Thanissara makes us feel how much we have lost, and makes us grieve our own cold callousness. And then she calls us to wake up.
“There is no suffering, no origin of suffering, no end of suffering, and no path,” the Buddha teaches. So “Allow the cries that tumble across/the peaceful vast veldt/of mountainous struggles/to flow through you. Let the hot sun melt your shield/as you walk the dusty street/of warm, black, skin softly smiles/where the boy with satchel and dreams/wanders the thin, wishful highway/of no jobs.” Is this so hard?
It is the haunting images of this beautiful book that will stay with me. I love how Thanissara juxtaposes them—often heartbreakingly—with the words of the indigenous people who speak before each chapter. And I love how she ultimately calls us to courage: “Move beyond your walled pastimes/to join the Awakening./Time yourself out/from the needle of craving/and boogie down with intense/flamenco, disciplined passion/so we can crash the machine.
“Soar over the edge/on the breath of our heart’s sorrow/and make a beloved circle/outside the wall/where the storehouse of untamed dreams/will decolonize our mind.” May we do so before it’s too late.