After leading an active life that included marriage and children, Ayya Khema was ordained a Theravadin Buddhist nun in 1979. She established a forest monastery near Sydney, Australia; a training center for nuns in Colombo, Sri Lanka; and Buddha-Haus, a meditation center in the Allgäu, Germany. The author of several books including Who Is My Self?, she passed away in 1997.
This sturdy and ethically challenging meditation and commentary on "the Samannaphala-sutta," the Buddha's discourse on the benefits of the spiritual life, is filled with insights into enlightenment. Among these are moral behavior, limiting and guarding sense contacts, mindfulness and clear comprehension, mindfulness of feeling, and contentment and patience.
Again and again Ayya Khema points out that letting go is crucial to spiritual growth: "The more we cling, the harder it gets. . . . If we have learned above all to let go of our opinion of ourselves, there won't be any more problems." Letting go also is part of contentment; we only find fulfillment in the present moment by not being attached to fleeting desires for more.
In the final sections of the book, Khema assesses the eight meditative absorptions or jhanas states of mind that can lead to joy, serenity, and peace. Here is an especially beautiful image of silence: "A person is wrapped up from head to foot in a white cloth, with not a single spot uncovered. That's how it is with silence. We feel ourselves swathed in it." Visible Here and Now by Ayya Khema salutes the inner riches of a life of spiritual practice.