The “down-to-earth, unsentimental, [and] high-humored” Pema Chödrön classic on learning to face our lives just as they are (Los Angeles Times)
It's true, as they say, that we can only love others when we first love ourselves—and we can only experience real joy when we stop running from pain. The key to understanding these truisms is simple but not easy: we must learn to open ourselves up to life in all its manifestations. Here, spiritual teacher and When Things Fall Apart author Pema Chödrön presents a uniquely practical approach to doing just that, showing us the true value in having “no escape” from the ups and downs of life.
Drawing from her own experiences with marriage, divorce, motherhood, and more, Pema reveals that when we embrace the happiness and heartache, the inspiration and confusion—all the twists and turns that are part of natural life—we can begin to discover a true wellspring of courageous love that’s been within our hearts all along. As she writes in chapter four: “Our neurosis and our wisdom are made out of the same material. If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom.”
Ch dr n packs a wide range of explanations and practice suggestions into this accessible guide to Buddhist thought. Composed of 18 short lectures originally given in 1989 at a monastery in Nova Scotia, the book circles around the idea of accepting the process of enlightenment with gentleness. Rather than fighting against or constantly being discouraged by failures, Ch dr n argues that one should lean into weaknesses and adjust practices based on individual needs. She articulates the middle way by urging students to not forgo all joy, and to balance the striving for nirvana with being fully present in samsara. Moments of humor and her own humanity provide comforting color to her teachings. Some sections, such as the rapid exposition on the four noble truths or the chapter on tonglen, presuppose an audience familiar with the basics, but even beginners will find useful tips on meditation and parables involving hiking up mountains, baking bread, making tea, and many other experiences simplify complicated ideas. This deceptively straightforward book is an excellent introduction to the thinking of a major Western Buddhist leader who gracefully bridges contemporary life with traditional practices.
Pema is a great teacher. I love this book. I look forward to reading more of what she has written.