Visiting Pema Chodron

I’m reading a book by a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron which is really wonderful. I don’t think she’s written anything that isn’t wonderful. The book I’m currently reading is called, The Places that Scare You.


Here is a collection of quotes from her:

• The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.

• We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves.

• When we start out on a spiritual path we often have ideals we think we’re supposed to live up to. We feel we’re supposed to be better than we are in some way. But with this practice you take yourself completely as you are. Then ironically, taking in pain – breathing it in for yourself and all others in the same boat as you are – heightens your awareness of exactly where you’re stuck.

• If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.

• There’s a reason you can learn from everything: you have basic wisdom, basic intelligence, and basic goodness.

• Compassionate action starts with seeing yourself when you start to make yourself right and when you start to make yourself wrong. At that point you could just contemplate the fact that there is a larger alternative to either of those, a more tender, shaky kind of place where you could live.

• We habitually erect a barrier called blame that keeps us from communicating genuinely with others, and we fortify it with our concepts of who’s right and who’s wrong. We do that with the people who are closest to us and we do it with political systems, with all kinds of things that we don’t like about our associates or our society. It is a very common, ancient, well-perfected device for trying to feel better. Blame others. Blaming is a way to protect your heart, trying to protect what is soft and open and tender in yourself. Rather than own that pain, we scramble to find some comfortable ground.

• When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.

• 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.

• Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us.

• People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, that means that they did something bad and they are being punished. That’s not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn’t understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you’re given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further.

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