chodron pema

Learning how to be kind to ourselves, learning how to respect ourselves, is important. The reason it’s important is that, fundamentally, when we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn’t just ourselves that we’re discovering. We’re discovering the universe.
—  Pema Chodron
An Understanding of Karma

‘Karma is a difficult subject. Basically it means that what happens in your life is somehow the result of things that you have done before. That’s why you are encouraged to work with what happens to you rather than blame it on others. This kind of teaching on karma can easily be misunderstood. people get into a heavy-duty sin-and-guilt trip. They feel that if things are going wrong, it means they did something bad and they’re being punished. But that’s not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings you need in order to open your heart. To the degree that you didn’t understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, now you’re given this gift of teachings in the form of your life. Your life gives you everything you need to learn how to open further.’

- Pema Chodron, Comfortable With Uncertainty.

We’re encouraged to meditate every day, even for a short time, in order to cultivate this steadfastness with ourselves. We sit under all kinds of circumstances - whether we are feeling healthy or sick, whether we’re in a good mood or depressed, whether we feel our meditation is going well or is completely falling apart. As we continue to sit we see that meditation isn’t about getting it right or attaining some ideal state. It becomes increasingly clear that we won’t be free of self-destructive patterns unless we develop a compassionate understanding of what they are.
—  The Places That Scare You, Pema Chodron
It’s not impermanence per se, or even knowing we’re going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it’s our resistance to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation. Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundless-ness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. Another word for that is freedom—freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human.
—  Pema Chodron

anonymous asked:

Is there a book that has changed your life or has made you a better human, in a way?

Sure. I get asked this a lot so I’ll just make a kind of master post. I’ve worked through a few books but these have been the most transformative:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo
(great for clearing room for a new era in your life)

The Power of Now and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle (both helped me get a sense of awareness and control over my thoughts, helped me understand myself, people around me, society in general. Indispensible)

The Places That Scare you by Pema Chodron
(helped me learn to make peace with my negative emotions, to stop running from the moment, to be present for the whole of life, not just the ‘good’ bits)

Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations by Jules Evans (a great overview of various philosophical techniques that people have used over the ages to cope with life)

Also, there are a couple of talks that I love to listen to. They always bring me a sense of peace. They’re like 1-2 hours long and really condense the spirit of the books I mentioned above.

This Moment is the Perfect Teacher by Pema Chodron (I listen to this like once every two weeks or something. Really amazing talk, funny, compassionate, enlightening. I think this is available to buy, but it’s like $30 or something, idk. I’m broke so I just downloaded it as a torrent from here)

In the Presence of a Great Mystery by Eckhart Tolle (again, a super transformative, warm and funny talk about personal growth etc. again, I got this as a torrent here)

I also use an app called Headspace which taught me the basics of meditation, I use it daily to help keep my mind somewhat grounded.

Hope that helps! x

The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.
—  Pema Chodron
Start Where You Are

‘Start where you are. This is very important. Tonglen practice (and all meditation practice) is not about later, when you get it all together and you’re this person you really respect. You may be the most violent person in the world - that’s a fine place to start. That’s a very rich place to start - juicy, smelly. You might be the most depressed person in the world, the most addicted person in the world, the most jealous person in the world. You might think that there are no others on the planet who hate themselves as much as you do. All that is a good place to start.

What you do for yourself, any gesture of kindness, any gesture of gentleness, any gesture of honesty and clear seeing toward yourself, will affect how you experience the world. In fact, it will transform how you experience the world. What you do for yourself, you’re doing for others, and what you do for others, you’re doing for yourself. When you exchange yourself for others in the practice of tonglen, it becomes increasingly uncertain what is out there and what is in here.’

- Pema Chodron, Comfortable With Uncertainty.

Being conscious means bearing witness to the “horrible beauty” as Ram Dass would say.
“A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us.”
― Pema Chödrön, The Places that Scare You

Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.
—  Pema Chodron
The Paradoxical Nature of Change

‘Fruition implies that at some future time you will feel good. One of the most powerful Buddhist teachings is that as long as you are wishing for things to change, they never will. As long as you’re wanting yourself to get better you won’t. As long as you are oriented toward the future, you can never just relax into what you already have or already are.

One of the deepest habitual patterns that we have is the feeling that the present moment is not good enough. We frequently think back to the past, which maybe was better than now, or perhaps worse. We also think ahead quite a lot to the future, always holding out hope that it will be a little better than now. Even if things are going really well now, we usually don’t give ourselves full credit for who we are in the present.

For example, it’s easy to hope that things will improve as a result of meditation: we won’t have such a bad temper or people will like us more than they do now. Or perhaps we will fully connect with that awake, brilliant, sacred world that we hope to find. We use our practice to reinforce the implication that if we just did the right things, we’d being to connect with a bigger world, a vaster world, a world different from the one we’re in just now.

Instead of looking for fruition, we could just try to stay with our open heart and open mind. This is very much oriented to the present. By entering into this kind of unconditional relationship with ourselves, we can begin to connect with the awake quality that we already have.

Right now, can you make an unconditional relationship with yourself? Just at the height you are, the weight you are, the intelligence that you have, and your current burden of pain? Can you enter into an unconditional relationship with that?’

- Pema Chodron, Comfortable With Uncertainty.

Heaven and Hell

‘A big burly samurai comes to a Zen master and says,“Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.”

The Zen master looks him in the face and says, “Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you? A worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?”

Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword and raises it to cut off the master’s head.

The Zen master says, “That’s hell.”

Instantly the samurai understands that he has just created his own hell - black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment. He sees that he was so deep in hell that he was ready to kill someone. Tears filled his eyes as he put his palms together to bow in gratitude for this insight.

The Zen master says, “That’s heaven.”

The view of the warrior-bodhisattva is not “Hell is bad and heaven is good” or “Get rid of hell and just seek heaven.” Instead, we encourage ourselves to developing an open heart and an open mind to heaven, to hell, to everything. Only with this kind of equanimity can we realize that no matter what comes along, we’re always standing in the middle of open space. Only with equanimity can we see that everything that comes into our circle has come to teach us what we need to know.’

- Pema Chodron, Comfortable With Uncertainty.