To the chagrin of her parents—Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust—Ellen became a Buddhist at 19, nearly tearing her family apart. Over three decades later, in January 2005, while riding a German train, she felt the presence of spirits who died in the Holocaust. It was 60 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, and the question “How can you still believe in basic goodness?” sent her on a series of life-changing journeys to Poland to find an answer.
Beyond recovering a lost family history, Buried Rivers reveals powerful connections between spirituality and trauma, and intimately explores family loyalties, religious boundaries, and the invisible blessing of ancestors. Her memoir includes an Auschwitz survivor account dictated by her uncle before his death.
About the Author
Ellen Korman Mains was trained by the late Tibetan Buddhist master, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and has led meditation retreats in North America and Europe. A former instructor of Kyudo (Zen Archery) at Naropa University, she enjoys guiding individuals in cultivating compassionate self-awareness. Born and raised in Montreal, she has lived in Boulder for 40 years. Since 2006, she has traveled regularly to Poland to engage with her family history while making friendships, teaching meditation, and helping to promote dialog.
Her memoir will be released locally September 11th, and released nationally (Amazon and elsewhere) October 13th. For more information, visit Ellen’s website at www.EllenKormanMains.com
Praise for Buried Rivers
“. . . provides a fresh take not only on the Holocaust, but also the proper response to the seemingly inerasable stain left by profound anguish.”
“A rich prose journey into the author’s ancestral homeland where she unearths her Jewish family's trauma legacy. Her search for answers is gutsy, yet elegant. Hers is a tempered soul, refined by her spiritual practice—Tibetan Buddhism—which adds a surprising layer of complexity to her quest. A beautiful and important memoir that uplifts as much as it compels.”
—Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, PhD, author of With Roots in Heaven and
Wounds into Wisdom: Healing Intergenerational Jewish Trauma (2019)
“A powerful testament to human resilience and courage, this book reflects the power of inquiry in a world riven with suffering, and the capacity to transform that suffering into wisdom.”
—Rev. Joan Jiko Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center and author of Standing at the Edge
"An evocative and deeply spiritual book about a journey through space and time that also unfolds into a mystery about how the body carries and receives messages from the past. Read this and be prepared to think about your own ancestors in a new way."
—Sonya Huber, author of Opa Nobody
"A compelling personal spiritual journey that crosses religious boundaries in order to tackle some of the deepest mysteries of life and death. Revealing how the past, present, and future intersect in the very cells of our bodies, Buried Rivers shows how we can more fully discover spiritual truth and personal healing through the conscious meeting of our ancestors as they appear to us in the here and now. Ellen's journey inspires us to see how the light of basic goodness can shine even in the darkest of times."
—Zvi Ish-Shalom, Ph.D., founder of the Kedumah Institute and author of
The Kedumah Experience: The Primordial Torah
"A courageous personal and historical journey into the world of the author’s Jewish ancestors and the atrocities of the Holocaust. What makes her venture so remarkable is the haunting question that accompanies her and a deep conviction in the human disposition for goodness. By shedding light on something so dark, she demonstrates that healing, opportunity, and magic can emerge from the densest suffering."
— Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel, author of The Power of an Open Question and The Logic of Faith
“Deepening insights culled from years of Buddhist contemplative practice, and courageously assembling the puzzle pieces of her family’s past in Polish cities and remote villages, the author shares a colorful and revealing picture of contemporary life in post-Communist Poland and her own inner life. An intimate and illuminating memoir that depicts how trusting in the spontaneous wisdom of one’s own body and heart can heal intergenerational trauma.”
—David I. Rome, author of Your Body Knows the Answer
“Part memoir, part spiritual chronicle, Buried Rivers takes the reader on a journey into our most pressing real-life questions about good and evil. This Buddhist reflection on the intimate legacy of the Holocaust is a riveting page-turner.”
—Judith Simmer-Brown, Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies
Naropa University, author of Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism
“A wise and deeply stirring memoir that takes us on a powerful journey of body, mind, and heart.”
—Lama Tsultrim Allione, author of Wisdom Rising: Journey into the Mandala of the Empowered