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review 2016-04-24 15:39
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times - Pema Chödrön

This book’s title caught my eye at a time when I felt like things were falling apart for me. I’ve long been open to the teachings of Buddhism and so I thought I might find some insight, even comfort, in Ms Chodron’s words.

 

And I did, but this is not a “hand-holding,” “feel good” book. It’s blunt in its view of life as, I suppose, Buddhism tends to be. The feel of the whole was, to me, “suck it up and soldier on.” But do so with the insights of Buddhism and an enlightened point-of-view. And so when facing one of those inevitable times when we are losing it all, we can find an understanding of what we’re feeling when Ms Chodron says:

 

We react against the possibility of loneliness, of death, of not having anything to hold on to. Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.

 

She illustrates this by describing a pivotal moment in her life when things fell apart. In her youth, her husband left her and she felt that loss of her whole world with anger and fear. But out of that experience she found Buddhism, a new life and a new vocation. She eventually became thankful for the experience, and that is a major theme of the book—the idea that life is all beginnings and endings. If we can understand that, and accept it, we can go a long way in coping with the bad times.

 

Fear is what we’re trying to cope with in those bad times. As she stated in the above quote, we are afraid of loneliness, death, and aimlessness. She asks us to understand that at the start of the book, and then goes on to offer insight to help us deal with it. She states what her whole book is about when she says:

 

What we’re talking about is getting to know fear, becoming familiar with fear, looking it right in the eye—not as a way to solve problems, but as a complete undoing of old ways of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and thinking.

 

I could go on and on with such quotes—there are so many quotable passages in this book. Also ideas that have helped me. Such as that things are just not what we think they are; we really don’t know anything and so we must be careful in our judgments, even judgments as to what is good and what is bad (see chapter 1). Because we never know how things will turn out.

 

When in emotional pain, people tend to return to those places they’ve found comfort in the past. There are times, though, when those places fail us, or don’t offer enough comfort. If you’re at such a place, then this book might be of help. It is likely to be, if you can understand and accept the basic cause of our unhappiness according to Buddhism. Ms Chodron states it as:

 

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.

 

From there, you can go on to find out what you can do in your life to address samsara. And if you can find, ironically, that chasing happiness does not bring happiness, and running from pain does not eliminate pain, then you’ll be at a point where this book can help.

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text 2015-11-21 02:28
Review: Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better
Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better: Wise Advice for Leaning into the Unknown - Pema Chödrön,Seth Godin

It's strange that I picked up this book, even more so that I read it. This isn't my thing. But I was having one of those moments when I felt like stepping out of my comfort zone and there before me was this book and its pretty cover. I started to read it and by the time I realized I was bored, I was more than half way through and figured I might as well finish it.

So, yeah, pretty typical self-help zen writing, but with a pretty, albeit simple, cover. Embrace your failures. Learn from them. That's all this book needs to say and all it does say. *shrug* It was a fast read.

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review 2015-10-22 14:02
The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness
The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times - Pema Chödrön

"We cling to a fixed idea of who we are and it cripples us. Nothing and no one is fixed. Whether the reality of change is a source of freedom for us or a source of horrific anxiety makes a significant difference. Do the days of our lives add up to further suffering or to increased capacity for joy? That’s an important question."

 

Not much to say about this one: Pema has a great way of explaining concepts relating to meditation, but I would not recommend this book to someone who is new to Buddhism or meditation practice. If anything, this book is a good accompaniment but it does require some familiarity with terms and concepts.

 

Nevertheless, a thoughtful compilation of stories and advice which invites readers and practitioners to question everything. 

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quote 2015-03-09 22:18
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.
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review 2014-09-09 04:59
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times - Pema Chödrön

This is no insult because I am only three starring this compared to all my other newfound buddhism, and Pema Chodron specifically.  Whew, what a lifesaver!!  

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