American Buddhist Nun, Author and Teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist Lineage
Pema Chödrön, born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown
American Buddhist Nun, Author and Teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist Lineage
Often peace is taught as the fourth mark of existence. This isn't the peace that's the opposite of war. It's the well-being that comes when we can see the infinite pairs of opposites as complementary.
Patience has a quality of honesty and it also has a quality of holding our seat. We don?t automatically react, even though inside we are reacting. We let all the words go and are just there with the rawness of our experience.
Remind yourself, in whatever way is personally meaningful, that it is not in your best interest to reinforce thoughts and feelings of unworthiness. Even if you've already taken the bait and feel the familiar pull of self-denigration, marshal your intelligence, courage, and humor in order to turn the tide. Ask yourself: Do I want to strengthen what I'm feeling now? Do I want to cut myself off from my basic goodness? Remind yourself that your fundamental nature is unconditionally open and free.
Being fully present isn't something that happens once and then you have achieved it; it's being awake to the ebb and flow and movement and creation of life, being alive to the process of life itself.
Ego is something that you come to know - something that you befriend by not acting out or by repressing all the feelings that you feel.
Healing comes from letting there be room for all of "this" to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.
In every human life (whether there are puberty rites or not) you are born, and you are born alone. You go through that birth canal alone, and then you pop out alone, and then a whole process begins. And when you die, you die alone. No one goes with you. The journey that you make, no matter what your belief about that journey is, is made alone. The fundamental idea of taking refuge is that between birth and death we are alone. Therefore, taking refuge in the buddha, the dharma, and the sangha does not mean finding consolation in them, as a child might find consolation in Mommy and Daddy. Rather, it's a basic expression of your aspiration to leap out of the nest, whether you feel ready for it or not, to go through your puberty rites and be an adult with no hand to hold. It expresses your realization that the only way to begin the real journey of life is to feel the ground of loving-kindness and respect for yourself and then to leap. In some sense, however, we never get to the point where we feel one hundred percent sure: "I have had my nurturing cradle. It's finished. Now I can leap." We are always continuing to develop maitri and continuing to leap. The other day I was talking about meeting our edge and our desire to grab on to something when we reach our limits. Then we see that there's more loving-kindness, more respect for ourselves, more confidence that needs to be nurtured. We work on that and we just keep leaping.
It's hard to know whether to laugh or to cry at the human predicament. Here we are with so much wisdom and tenderness, and?without even knowing it?we cover it over to protect ourselves from insecurity. Although we have the potential to experience the freedom of a butterfly, we mysteriously prefer the small and fearful cocoon of ego.
Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss, or tranquility, nor is it attempting to become a better person. It is simply the creation of a space in which we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games, our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes.
Often we get carried away. Without judging, without buying into likes and dislikes, we can always encourage ourselves to just be here again and again and again.
Patience is not learned in safety.
Self-improvement can have temporary results, but lasting transformation occurs only when we honor ourselves as the source of wisdom and compassion.
After some time, Rinpoche added another refinement to the instruction. He began to ask us to label our thoughts "thinking." We'd be sitting there with the out-breath and before we knew what had happened we were going- planning, worrying, fantasizing- completely in another world, a world totally made of thoughts. At the point when we realized we'd gone off we were instructed to say to ourselves "thinking" and, without making it a big deal, to simply return again to the out-breath.
Being satisfied with what we already have is a magical golden key to being alive in a full, unrestricted, and inspired way.
Even if you don't feel appreciation, just look. Feel what you feel; take an interest and be curious.
Honesty without kindness, humor, and goodheartedness can be just mean.
In his talk, Suzuki Roshi says that meditation and the whole process of finding your own true nature is one continuous mistake, and that rather than that being a reason for depression or discouragement, it's actually the motivation.
It's helpful to remind yourself that meditation is about opening and relaxing with whatever arises, without picking and choosing.
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.
On the journey of the warrior-bodhisattva, the path goes down, not up, as if the mountain pointed toward the earth instead of the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we let it be as it is. At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear.
Patience is the training in abiding with the restlessness of our energy and letting things evolve at their own speed.
Sit. Stay. Heal.
All situations teach you, and often it's the tough ones that teach you best.
Buddha is our inherent nature?our buddha nature?and what that means is that if you?re going to grow up fully, the way that it happens is that you begin to connect with the intelligence that you already have. It?s not like some intelligence that?s going to be transplanted into you. If you?re going to be fully mature, you will no longer be imprisoned in the childhood feeling that you always need to protect yourself or shield yourself because things are too harsh. If you?re going to be a grown-up?which I would define as being completely at home in your world no matter how difficult the situation?it?s because you will allow something that?s already in you to be nurtured. You allow it to grow, you allow it to come out, instead of all the time shielding it and protecting it and keeping it buried. Someone once told me, When you feel afraid, that?s ?fearful buddha.? That could be applied to whatever you feel. Maybe anger is your thing. You just go out of control and you see red, and the next thing you know you?re yelling or throwing something or hitting someone. At that time, begin to accept the fact that that?s enraged buddha. If you feel jealous, that?s jealous buddha. If you have indigestion, that?s buddha with heartburn. If you?re happy, happy buddha; if bored, bored buddha. In other words, anything that you can experience or think is worthy of compassion; anything you could think or feel is worthy of appreciation.
Even though peak experiences might show us the truth and inform us about why we are training, they are essentially no big deal. If we can't integrate them into the ups and downs of our lives, if we cling to them, they will hinder us. We can trust our experiences as valid, but then we have to move on and learn how to get along with our neighbors. Then even the most remarkable insights can begin to permeate our lives. As the twelfth-century Tibetian yogi Milarepa said when he heard of his student Gampopa's peak experiences, 'They are neither good not bad. Keep meditation.'