Pema Chödrön

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Pema Chödrön in 2007

Pema Chödrön (born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown, July 14, 1936) is an American Tibetan Buddhist. She is an ordained nun, formerAcharya of Shambhala Buddhism and disciple of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Chödrön has written books and audiobooks, and is principal teacher at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia. Chödrön teaches the traditional "Yarne" retreat at Gampo Abbey each winter and the Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life in Berkeley each summer.


We all need to be reminded and encouraged to relax with whatever arises

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (1997)


(Full text online)

  • We all need to be reminded and encouraged to relax with whatever arises and bring whatever we encounter to the path.
  • Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.
  • Impermanence becomes vivid in the present moment; so do compassion and wonder and courage. And so does fear.
  • In fact, anyone who stands on the edge of the unknown, fully in the present without reference point, experiences groundlessness.
  • The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought... Nothing is what we thought.
  • Emptiness is not what we thought. Neither is mindfulness or fear. Compassion—not what we thought. Love. Buddha nature. Courage.
  • When things fall apart and we’re on the verge of we know not what, the test of each of us is to stay on that brink and not concretize.
  • The spiritual journey is not about heaven and finally getting to a place that’s really swell. In fact, that way of looking at things is what keeps us miserable.
  • Thinking that we can find some lasting pleasure and avoid pain is what in Buddhism is called samsara, a hopeless cycle that goes round and round endlessly and causes us to suffer greatly.
  • The very first noble truth of the Buddha points out that suffering is inevitable for human beings as long as we believe that things last — that they don’t disintegrate, that they can be counted on to satisfy our hunger for security.
  • From this point of view, the only time we ever know what’s really going on is when the rug’s been pulled out and we can’t find anywhere to land. We use these situations either to wake ourselves up or to put ourselves to sleep.
  • When anyone asks me how I got involved in Buddhism, I always say it was because I was so angry with my husband... When that marriage fell apart, I tried hard—very, very hard—to go back to some kind of comfort, some kind of security, some kind of familiar resting place... I knew that annihilation of my old dependent, clinging self was the only way to go.
  • Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it.
  • Every day, at the moment when things get edgy, we can just ask ourselves, “Am I going to practice peace, or am I going to war?”
  • Generally speaking, we regard discomfort in any form as bad news. But for practitioners or spiritual warriors — people who have a certain hunger to know what is true — feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that... teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away.
  • This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.
  • Meditation is an invitation to notice when we reach our limit and to not get carried away by hope and fear.
  • Through meditation, we’re able to see clearly what’s going on with our thoughts and emotions, and we can also let them go.

How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind (2008)


How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind

  • The natural quality of mind is clear, awake, alert, and knowing. Free from fixation. By training in being present, we come to know the nature of our mind. So the more you train in being present - being right here - the more you begin to feel like your mind is sharpening up. The mind that can come back to the present is clearer and more refreshed, and it can better weather all the ambiguities, pains, and paradoxes of life.
  • The principle of nowness is very important to any effort to establish an enlightened society.
  • Meditation is just gently coming back again and again to what's right here.
  • But the Buddhist teachings are not only about removing the symptoms of suffering, they’re about actually removing the cause, or the root, of suffering.
  • When we multitask and split up our mind into a million directions, we are actually creating our own suffering, because these habits strengthen strong emotional reactivity and discursive thought.
  • We can't control what's going to happen but we can grow in awareness of what is happening.
  • But there is that feeling. And there’s always another challenge, and that keeps us humble. Life knocks you off your pedestal.
  • The experience of a sad and tender heart is what gives birth to fearlessness.
  • Meditation helps you to meet your edge; it’s where you actually come up against it and you start to lose it.
  • This is a standard meditation instruction that you can embody in the entirety of your life: do not act out and do not repress. See what happens if you don’t do either of those things.
Wikipedia has an article about:

Modern Buddhist writers 19th century to date
Theravada / Vipassana movement B. R. AmbedkarṬhānissaro BhikkhuAjahn ChahAnagarika DharmapalaJoseph GoldsteinHenepola GunaratanaNoah LevineNyanaponika Thera
Mahayana Daisaku IkedaYin ShunAlfred Bloom
Vajrayana Pema ChödrönKelsang GyatsoTenzin GyatsoMatthieu RicardRobert ThurmanChögyam Trungpa
Zen Taisen DeshimaruThích Nhất HạnhPhilip KapleauD. T. SuzukiHan Yong-unHsing YunSheng Yen
Other and Secular Buddhism Stephen BatchelorRobert Wright
Scholars Lokesh ChandraWalter Evans-WentzRichard GombrichThomas Rhys Davids
Non-Buddhists influenced by Buddhism Edwin ArnoldHelena BlavatskyFritjof CapraLeonard CohenAlexandra David-NéelHermann HesseCarl JungJon Kabat-ZinnFriedrich NietzscheHenry Steel OlcottRajneeshHelena RoerichJ. D. SalingerArthur SchopenhauerGary SnyderAlan WattsAlfred North Whitehead