Pema Chödrön, born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown

Chödrön, born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown

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

Author Quotes

When we protect ourselves so we won't feel pain, that protection becomes like armor, like armor that imprisons the softness of the heart.

Without loving-kindness, staying in pain is just warfare.

The first noble truth of the Buddha is that when we feel suffering, it doesn?t mean that something is wrong. What a relief. Finally somebody told the truth. Suffering is part of life, and we don?t have to feel it?s happening because we personally made the wrong move. In reality, however, when we feel suffering, we think that something is wrong. As long as we?re addicted to hope, we feel that we can tone our experience down or liven it up or change it somehow, and we continue to suffer a lot.

The process of becoming unstuck requires tremendous bravery, because basically we are completely changing our way of perceiving reality.

Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don?t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It?s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.

We awaken this bodhichitta, this tenderness for life, when we can no longer shield ourselves from the vulnerability of our condition, from the basic fragility of existence. In the words of the sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, You take it all in. You let the pain of the world touch your heart and you turn it into compassion. It is said that in difficult times, it is only bodhichitta that heals.

We're here to get to know and study ourselves. The path, the way to do that, our main vehicle, is going to be meditation, and some sense of general wakefulness.

When we reach our limit, if we aspire to know that place fully- which is to say that we aspire to neither indulge nor repress- a hardness in us will dissolve.

Words themselves are neutral. It's the charge we add to them that matters

The ground of not causing harm is mindfulness, a sense of clear seeing with respect and compassion for what it is we see. This is what basic practice shows us. But mindfulness doesn?t stop with formal meditation. It helps us relate with all the details of our lives. It helps us see and hear and smell, without closing our eyes or our ears or our noses. It?s a lifetime?s journey to relate honestly to the immediacy of our experience and to respect ourselves enough not to judge it. As we become more wholehearted in this journey of gentle honesty, it comes as quite a shock to realize how much we?ve blinded ourselves to some of the ways in which we cause harm. Our style is so ingrained that we can?t hear when people try to tell us, either kindly or rudely, that maybe we?re causing some harm by the way we are or the way we relate with others. We?ve become so used to the way we do things that somehow we think that others are used to it too. It?s painful to face how we harm others, and it takes a while.

The real thing that we renounce is the tenacious hope that we could be saved from being who we are.

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.

We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don't know.

What happens with you when you begin to feel uneasy, unsettled, queasy? Notice the panic, notice

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 groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that?s called enlightenment

Working with obstacles is life's journey. The warrior is always coming up against dragons. Of course the warrior gets scared, particularly before the battle. It's frightening. But with a shaky, tender heart the warrior realizes that he or she is just about to step into the unknown, and then goes forth to meet the dragon. The warrior realizes that the dragon is nothing but unfinished business presenting itself, and that it's fear that really needs to be worked with. The dragon is just a motion picture that appears there, and it appears in many forms: as the lover who jilted us, as the parent who never loved us enough, as someone who abused us. Basically what we work with is our fear and our holding back, which are not necessarily obstacles. The only obstacle is ignorance, this refusal to look at our unfinished business. If every time the warrior goes out and meets the dragon, he or she says, "Hah! It's a dragon again. No way am I going to face this," and just splits, then life becomes a recurring story of getting up in the morning, going out, meeting the dragon, saying, "No way," and splitting. In that case you become more and more timid and more and more afraid and more of a baby. No one's nurturing you, but you're still in that cradle, and you never go through your puberty rites.

The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are.

The slogan "Be grateful to everyone" is about making peace with the aspects of ourselves that we have rejected. Through doing that, we also make peace with people we dislike. More to the point, being around people we dislike is often a catalyst for making friends with ourselves.

This meditation is called nontheistic, which doesn't have anything to do with believing in God or not believing in God, but means that nobody but yourself can tell you what to accept and what to reject.

We can bring ourselves back to the spiritual path countless times every day simply by exercising our willingness to rest in the uncertainty of the present moment - over and over again.

What I have realized through practicing is that practice isn't about being the best horse or the good horse or the poor horse or the worst horse.

When we scratch the wound and give into our addictions we do not allow the wound to heal.

Yesterday I talked about cultivating precision, gentleness, and openness, and described how the meditation technique helps us to remember the qualities that we already possess.

The happiness we seek cannot be found through grasping, trying to hold on to things. It cannot be found through getting serious and uptight about wanting things to go in the direction we think will bring happiness. We are always taking hold of the wrong end of the stick. The point is that the happiness we seek is already here and it will be found through relaxation and letting go rather than through struggle.

The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought. that is what we're going to discover again and again and again. Nothing is what we thought.

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