Pema Chödrön, born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown

Chödrön, born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown

American Buddhist Nun, Author and Teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist Lineage

Author Quotes

We can step into uncharted territory and relax with the groundlessness of our situation; [we can] dissolve the dualistic tension between us and them, this and that, good and bad, by inviting in what we usually avoid. My teacher described this as leaning into the sharp points.

What we hate in ourselves, we?ll hate in others. To the degree that we have compassion for ourselves, we will also have compassion for others. Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves, all those imperfections that we don?t even want to look at. Compassion isn?t some kind of self-improvement project or ideal that we?re trying to live up to.

When we touch the center of sorrow, when we sit with discomfort without trying to fix it, when we stay present to the pain of disapproval or betrayal and let it soften us, these are times that we connect with bohdichitta.

You could endlessly try to have suffering cease by dealing with outer circumstances?and that?s usually what all of us do. It is the usual approach; you just try to solve the outer problem again and again and again. But the Buddha said something quite revolutionary, which most of us don?t really buy: if you work with your mind, you will alleviate all the suffering that seems to come from the outside. When something is bothering you?a person is bugging you, a situation is irritating you, or physical pain is troubling you?you must work with your mind, and that is done through meditation. Working with our minds is the only means through which we?ll actually begin to feel happy and contented with the world that we live in.

The meditation technique itself cultivate precision, gentleness, and the ability to let go - qualities that are innate within us.

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.

Throughout my life, until this very moment, whatever virtue I have accomplished, including any benefit that may come from this book, I dedicate to the welfare of all beings.

We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The point is not to try to change ourselves. Meditation practice isn't about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It's about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That's the ground, that's what we study, that's what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.

What you do for yourself- any gesture of kindness, any gesture of gentleness, any gesture of honesty, will affect how you experience your world.

When we've seen ourselves completely, there's a stillness of body that is like a mountain.

You must learn to sit with the restless, painful energy and not let the momentum pull you under and cause you to do the same thing over and over that's ruining your life and the lives of those around you.

The middle way is wide open, but it's tough going, because it goes against the grain of an ancient neurotic pattern that we all share. When we feel lonely, when we feel hopeless, what we want to do is move to the right or the left. We don't want to sit and feel what we feel. We don't want to go through the detox. Yet the middle way encourages us to do just that. It encourages us to awaken the bravery that exists in everyone without exception, including you and me.

The whole process of meditation is one of creating that good ground, that cradle of loving-kindness where we actually are nurtured. What's being nurtured is our confidence in our own wisdom, our own health, and our own courage, our own good heartedness. We develop some sense that the way we are the kind of personality that we have and the way we express life - is good, and that by being who we are completely and by totally accepting that and having respect for ourselves, we are standing on the ground of warriorship.

Times are difficult globally; awakening is no longer a luxury or an ideal. It's becoming critical. We don't need to add more depression, more discouragement, or more anger to what's already here. It's becoming essential that we learn how to relate sanely with difficult times. The earth seems to be beseeching us to connect with joy and discover our innermost essence. This is the best way that we can benefit others.

We cannot be present and run our story-line at the same time.

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 your 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 are working, it's so easy to become consumed, particularly by computers. They have a way of hypnotizing you, but you could have a timer on your computer that reminds you to create a gap. No matter how engrossing your work is, no matter how much it is sweeping you up, just keep pausing, keep allowing for a gap. When you get hooked by your habit patterns, don't see it as a big problem; allow for a gap.

You're the only one who knows when you're using things to protect yourself and keep your ego together and when you're opening and letting things fall apart, letting the world come as it is - working with it rather than struggling against it. You're the only one who knows.

The most heartbreaking thing of all is how we cheat ourselves of the present moment.

There are four maras... The descriptions of these four maras show us four ways in which we, just like the buddha, are seemingly attacked: The first mara is called devaputra mara. It has to do with seeking pleasure. The second one called skandha mara, has to do with how we always try to re-create ourselves, try to get some ground back, try to be who we think we are. The third mara is called klesha mara. It has to do with how we use our emotions to keep ourselves dumb or asleep. The fourth one, yama mara, has to do with the fear of death.

True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings.

We don?t set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people?s hearts.

When one of the emperors of China asked Bodhidharma (the Zen master who brought Zen from India to China) what enlightenment was, his answer was, Lots of space, nothing holy. Meditation is nothing holy. Therefore there?s nothing that you think or feel that somehow gets put in the category of sin. There?s nothing that you can think or feel that gets put in the category of bad. There?s nothing that you can think or feel that gets put in the category of wrong. It?s all good juicy stuff?the manure of waking up, the manure of achieving enlightenment, the art of living in the present moment.

When you have made good friends with yourself, your situation will be more friendly too.

The basic creative energy of life - life force - bubbles up and courses through all of existence.

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Chödrön, born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown
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American Buddhist Nun, Author and Teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist Lineage