Breath Of The Greater Life –


Amogasiddhi mandala (female aspect) Upper storey, Sumtsek, Alchi
“Just as a white summer cloud, in harmony with heaven and earth freely floats in the blue sky from horizon to horizon following the breath of the atmosphere – in the same way the pilgrim abandons himself to the breath of the greater life that… leads him beyond the farthest horizons to an aim which is already present within him, though yet hidden from his sight.”  -Lama Govinda

What does compassion mean? it means to be compassionate to all including self.For those of us striving to be more conscious in our actions, and perhaps, more spiritual, the task requires compassion as well. But compassion does not mean becoming a “door mat” for someone to walk all over you. Yet this is often the case.  Rather, compassion means creating a mental and emotional space in yourself to allow other people to be themselves, even if you don’t understand or agree with them. It’s not an easy task when faced with an ordeal in a relationship, or faced with fair-weather friends. Compassion does not, however, mean that we let others intrude into our emotional space. Nor does compassion mean that the others count  more than you. As we grow in spiritual strength, we may find that we are no longer comfortable with certain persons or lifestyles. They do not seem to fit in with our new lives . What seemed, at one time,  to be nourishing or at least neutral, is now perceived as toxic. We are no longer comfortable with our old ideals. We have moved on.

This sometimes happens with family members, spouses and friends. I am noticing that, for many of us, this phenomenon looks like it is increasing. One reason might be that people are less stable than before. They do not hold to old values as in years gone by. Perhaps it is because things are speeding up and more seems to be happening in less time. Perhaps it is simply the price of self-evolution. As we pass over a line in ourselves from unconscious to conscious (I should probably say semi-conscious, to be more exact), we may find ourselves having to set boundaries with past relationships. This can be very challenging to say the least. For those of us caught in this dilemma, I suggest,  the book  ‘The Way of the White Cloud.’  (see below) where we see all things and all situations as essentially devoid of substance. What appears to be very real at the moment becomes only a memory. The apparent solidity of things and the gravity of a situation is actually a mirage, an illusion. Buddhists call this samsara. And we are caught up in it by virtue of having an embodiment. The art of living, from this viewpoint, is to live and take action without getting caught up in the snares of the illusion.

-The Way of The White Cloud by Lama Anagarika Govinda





Fresco painting of Tara (upper floors Tumtsek, Alchi)




mandalanSumtsek 2nd storey. Centre of mandala.
Vairocana “The omniscient Lord’ (female aspect) (Alchi, 12th cent)

29 thoughts on “Breath Of The Greater Life –

  1. Indeed, Eve, one often cannot avoid the “trap” of feeling as though you need to “give yourself away” in order to appear truly compassionate and, rightly, you say to be compassionate one musn’t become a “mat” for others to walk over. Compassion to me means to acknowledge the “troubles” of others, not to judge them or situation they’re in, and try and help them salvage that which can be salvaged or make changes that would make them feel better, a bit better at least


    1. Dear Inavukic, Never deny the wind – says the sages! Yes, sometimes we do seem to say the oddest things, often we make no sense to others. Words are not always good conveyers of our true inner feelings. Words come directly from our thoughts and thoughts are wiggerly things. Here is a wonderful you tube – hope you watch, at least, the first five minutes. The video is called. No Wrong Feelings. Alan Watts calls the world the “Moral-Sphere” which is a pretty good description.. Eve x

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  2. So much has changed at such a rapid pace that it truly is challenging just keeping up. I know for myself that what I once accepted as tolerable, is no longer true. I am also seeing some extremely dark behaviors surface in people as well as a severe disentanglement from society. To be subject to some pretty bizzare behaviors and circumstances is not easy to stay detached, realizing this is only maya, an illusion, seemingly instead so real. Excellent post, Eve. It makes one very thougthtful. Thank you. Love, Amy


      1. Yes. “From out of chaos order arises, birthing a New Way to a New Life.” Or at least that is how I see it. Bless you, Eve, I just wrote one of my little sayings. (((HUGS))) Amy


  3. ‘. . . compassion means creating a mental and emotional space in yourself to allow other people to be themselves.’

    Thank you for this Eve; it is a wonderfully subtle aspect of compassion which I think is widely overlooked. Once might also say it is an act of great generosity too perhaps. Compassion is not merely another word for empathy, and neither is it pity alone; it is, you may well agree, the highest expression of wisdom.

    With gratitude and respect as ever.

    Hariod. ❤


    1. Thank you Hariod. I read once, that Buddhist cannot understand why we berate ourselves. It is an alien trait in their culture. Perhaps the reason why “The Westerner” is so dominant and often without tact or warmth is because they have not first practiced self-love?


      1. I don’t recognise this aspect of Buddhism I’m afraid Eve; though of course, when you refer to their culture, then I suspect you mean either Indian or South-East Asian societal norms. Still, I was trained in, and read widely on, orthodox Theravada Buddhism, and I cannot see where this idea might apply in relation to that strain of doctrine. The Buddhist conception ‘Dosa’ (anger, hatred, animosity, ill-will, and aversion) applies equally to one’s own self-construct as it does to others, and would certainly include within those categories any irrational censure of oneself. What’s more, these are considered to be universal psychological traits (inherent volitional tendencies) and not particular to certain character types, regions, ethnicities etc. Are you able to give further detail on what you say above as regards ‘alien traits’ Eve?


        1. Hi Hariod, 🙂 The comment was not a good one to begin with. Let’s say I was not thinking well enough. I read somewhere, oh! years ago, that when someone told the Dalai Lama, they had a hard time in loving themselves, the Dalai Lama was amazed. He could not understand how anyone could not love themselves. The idea of one not loving one’s self was something he could not understand.

          He replied,

          “How can you love someone else if you do not love yourself?” I think I may had read this little gem in Sharon Salzberg’s book – Loving Kindness. Anyway that particular piece of information has stuck with me.
          Certainly, there is anger, hatred animosity, in Buddhist too as in all of us.

          Just found this in S.S. book. Loving Kindness..

          Exercise: Phrases of loving Kindness:

          We begin by “befriending ourselves.” The aspiration we articulate should be deeply felt and somewhat enduring and not something shallow.. Classically there are four phrases used:

          May I be free from danger
          May I have mental happiness
          May I have physical happiness
          May i have ease of well-being.

          from page 30-31 loving kindness.. The pages hold much information about loving oneself or befriending oneself…

          Hope this helps. Let me know. Eve
          It is almost 11 p.m. here, so must go.. (We are one hour ahead of you.)


          1. sorry to have misled you. I write late at night so often make mistakes. Also my husband cannot walk right now, so extra stress! I hope soon I will be in a better place.. I will keep this private. thanks Eve


          2. Yes, Sharon Salzberg’s book on metta is amongst the very best Eve. Metta is, as you know, a wonderful and very powerful meditation, one that has great relevance in The West due to what you have rightly identified as a cultural propensity for low self-esteem, personal criticism, and so forth.

            Hariod. ❤


          1. hi, in the post right under the body of text. You can see the blue link, eh? – this is the link to the bio and photos of Lama Govinda.



  4. ‘The Way of the White Cloud’ where we see all things and all situations as essentially devoid of substance. What appears to be very real at the moment becomes only a memory. —> So it’s a bit like watching the tele, but you just can’t change the channel :-}


    1. I think in a way yes, but the real strength of this quote, is that true freedom, true bliss is found inside. I think by breath, the meaning here might mean yoga breath, the breath that leads us inward and away from the world ‘out there’. I do believe we have come to an end of an age, with the only option left is to get in touch with our own refuge. eve


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