Pema Chödrön, born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown

Chödrön, born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown

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

Author Quotes

Personal discovery and growth come from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.

So for us, taking refuge means that we feel that the way to live is to cut the ties, to cut the umbilical cord and alone start the journey of being fully human, without confirmation from others. Taking refuge is the way that we begin cultivating the openness and the goodheartedness that allow us to be less and less dependent. We might say, "We shouldn't be dependent anymore, we should be open," but that isn't the point. The point is that you begin where you are, you see what a child you are, and you don't criticize that. You begin to explore, with a lot of humor and generosity toward yourself, all the places where you cling, and every time you cling, you realize, "Ah! This is where, through my mindfulness and my tonglen and everything that I do, my whole life is a process of learning how to make friends with myself." On the other hand, this need to cling, this need to hold the hand, this cry for Mom, also shows you that that's the edge of the nest. Stepping through right there-making a leap-becomes the motivation for cultivating maitri. You realize that if you can step through that doorway you're going forward, you're becoming more of an adult, more of a complete person, more whole.

As soon as you begin to believe in something, then you can no longer see anything else. The truth you believe in and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.

But the instruction that the awareness is only twenty-five percent really brings home the idea that it's not a concentration practice - there's a very light touch on the breath as it goes out.

Every small problem most likely stems from the same root as large problems, and so there is no need to always go deep. One can use anything for the therapeutic process and/if this link is made.

I would not look upon anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight. I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, with nonviolence. 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.

In practicing meditation, we're not trying to live up to some kind of ideal -- quite the opposite. We're just being with our experience, whatever it is.

Laziness is not particularly terrible or wonderful. Rather it has a basic living quality that deserves to be experienced just as it is. Perhaps we?ll find an irritating, pulsating quality in laziness. We might feel it as dull and heavy or as vulnerable and raw. Whatever we discover, as we explore it further, we find nothing to hold on to, nothing solid, only groundless, wakeful energy.

My moods are continuously shifting like the weather.

One of the main discoveries of meditation is seeing how we continually run away from the present moment, how we avoid being here just as we are.

Practicing compassionate inquiry into our reactions and strategies is fundamental to the process of awakening.

So how do we celebrate impermanence, suffering, and egolessness in our everyday lives? When impermanence presents itself in our lives, we can recognize it as impermanence. We don't have to look for opportunities to do this. When your pen runs out of ink- recognize it as impermanence. Then we can recognize our reaction to impermanence. This is where curiosity comes in. Usually we just react habitually to events in our lives. We become resentful or delighted, excited or disappointed. There's no intelligence involved, no cheerfulness. But when we recognize impermanence as impermanence, we can also notice what our reaction to impermanence is. This is called mindfulness, awareness, curiosity, inquisitiveness, paying attention. Whatever we call it, it's a very helpful practice. The practice of coming to know ourselves completely.

As the twelfth-century Tibetan yogi Milarepa said when he heard of his student Gampopa's peak experiences, 'They are neither good nor bad. Keep meditating.'

Committing to benefit others is traditionally called the path of the bodhisattva, the path of hero and heroine, the path of the spiritual warrior whose weapons are gentleness, clarity of mind, and an open heart. The Tibetan word for warrior, paw for a male warrior or pawmo for a female warrior, means ?the one who cultivates bravery.? As warriors in training, we cultivate the courage and flexibility to live with uncertainty ? with the shaky, tender feeling of anxiety, of nothing to hold on to ? and to dedicate our lives to making ourselves available to every person, in every situation.

Everybody loves something, even if it's only tortillas.

If it weren't for my mind, my meditation would be excellent.

In sitting practice, there?s no way you can go wrong, wherever you find yourself. Just relax. Relax your shoulders, relax your stomach, relax your heart, relax your mind. Bring in as much gentleness as you can. The technique is already quite precise. It has a structure, it has a form. So within that form, move with warmth and gentleness. That?s how we awaken bodhichitta.

Lean into the sharp points and fully experience them. The essence of bravery is being without self-deception. Wisdom is inherent in (understanding) emotions.

Never give up on yourself. Then you will never give up on others.

Only to the degree that we?ve gotten to know our personal pain, only to the degree that we?ve related with pain at all, will we be fearless enough, brave enough, and enough of a warrior to be willing to feel the pain of others. To that degree we will be able to take on the pain of others because we will have discovered that their pain and our pain are not different.

Precision is a very important part of your meditation practice. You should be wakeful every minute. Mindfulness literally means being fully minded, so no activity permits you to take time off. Every activity during the day, such has eating a meal, is part of that mindfulness. So you?ll be right on the dot. Here being right on the dot just means to be there. Every waking moment you communicate with the sights, sounds, feelings, and temperatures around you. The point is to be in contact with reality as much as you can.

So we say we take refuge in the buddha, we take refuge in the dharma, we take refuge in the sangha. In the oryoki meal chant we say, "The buddha's virtues are inconceivable, the dharma's virtues are inconceivable, the sangha's virtues are inconceivable," and "I prostrate to the buddha, I prostrate to the dharma, I prostrate to the sangha, I prostrate respectfully and always to these three.--Well, we aren't talking about finding comfort in the buddha, dharma, and sangha. We aren't talking about prostrating in order to be safe. The buddha, we say traditionally, is the example of what we also can be. The buddha is the awakened one, and we too are the buddha. It's simple. We are the buddha. It's not just a way of speaking.

As we practice, we begin to know the difference between our fantasy and reality.

Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.

Finding the courage to go to the places that scare us cannot happen without compassionate inquiry into the workings of ego... Openness doesn't come from resisting our fears but from getting to know them well.

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