Pema Chodron

Life is a good teacher and a good friend

Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don't get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit. It's a very tender, non-aggressive, open-ended state of affairs.

To stay with that shakiness — to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness — that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic — this is the spiritual path. Getting the knack of catching ourselves, of gently and compassionately catching ourselves, is the path of the warrior.
~ Pema Chödrön in WHEN THINGS FALL APART

Our kinship with all beings

We think that by protecting ourselves from suffering, we are being kind to ourselves. The truth is we only become more fearful, more hardened and more alienated. We experience ourselves as being separate from the whole. This separateness becomes like a prison for us—a prison that restricts us to our personal hopes and fears, and to caring only for the people nearest to us. Curiously enough, if we primarily try to shield ourselves from discomfort, we suffer. Yet, when we don't close off, when we let our hearts break, we discover our kinship with all beings.
~ Pema Chodron in WHEN THINGS FALL APART

Awakeness is found

Awakeness is found in our pleasure and our pain, our confusion and our wisdom, available in each moment of our weird, unfathomable, ordinary, everyday lives.

~ Pema Chodron from WHEN THINGS FALL APART

This very moment is the perfect teacher

Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we're holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we'd rather collapse and back away. They're like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we're stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it's with us wherever we are ... The greatest obstacle to connecting with our joy is resentment.
~ Pema Chödrön from WHEN THINGS FALL APART

Compassion for others

Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.
~ Pema Chodron

Authentic joy

Authentic joy is not a euphoric state or a feeling of being high. Rather, it is a state of appreciation that allows us to participate fully in our lives.
~ Pema Chodron

Welcome the present moment as if you had invited it

Welcome the present moment as if you had invited it. Why? Because it is all we ever have.

~ Pema Chödrön

Kinship with the suffering of others

This tenderness for life, bodhichitta, awakens when we no longer shield ourselves from the vulnerability of our condition, from the basic fragility of existence. It awakens through kinship with the suffering of others. We train in the bodhichitta practices in order to become so open that we can take the pain of the world in, let it touch our hearts, and turn it into compassion.

~ from THE HEALING POWER OF BODHICHITTA by Pema Chodron

Resting in the uncertainty of the present moment

For those of us with a hunger to know the truth, painful emotions are like flags going up to say, "You're stuck!"... such uncomfortable feelings are messages that tell us to perk up and lean into a situation when we'd rather cave in and back away. When the flag goes up, we have an opportunity: we can stay with our painful emotion instead of spinning out. Staying is how we get the hang of gently catching ourselves when we're about to let resentment harden into blame, righteousness, or alienation. It's also how we keep from smoothing things over by talking ourselves into a sense of relief or inspiration...With practice, however, we learn to stay with a broken heart, with a nameless fear, with the desire for revenge. Sticking with uncertainty is how we learn to relax in the midst of chaos, how we learn to be cool when the ground beneath us suddenly disappears.

~ Pema Chödrön in COMFORTABLE WITH UNCERTAINTY

Kindness to ourselves

We are all in this together. So when you realize that you're talking to yourself, label it "thinking" and notice your tone of voice. Let it be compassionate and gentle and humorous. Then you'll be changing old stuck patterns that are shared by the whole human race. Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.
~ Pema Chodron
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