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How to Handle Change & Uncertainty with Buddhist Nun Pema Chödrön

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"I equate ego with trying to figure everything out instead of going with the flow. That closes your heart and your mind to the person or situation that's right in front of you, and you miss so much" - Pema Chödrön

Who is Pema Chödrön?

Pema Chödrön, also known as Bodhisattva Warrior, is an American Tibetan Buddhist Nun. She was born in New York on July, 14th 1936. Born and raised in a Catholic family, Pema married at the age of 21 and had two beautiful children. She completed her studies at the University of California and became an elementary school teacher. After the end of her first marriage, Pema found love for a second time but her happiness didn't last long due to the infidelity of her second husband. She relied on her spirituality for support through this painful experience.

Her Spiritual Journey

Pema Chödrön attempted various types of therapy but nothing seemed to work until she came across an article about Buddhism written by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. She then went to study Buddhism and in 1974, she became a novice Buddhist nun under Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. She kept studying and developing her spirituality and in 1981, she became the first American in the Vajrayana tradition to convert into a fully ordained nun. She continued to study with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche until his death in 1987.

In 2016 Pema was awarded the Global Bhikkhuni Award, introduced by the Chinese Buddhist Bhikkhuni Association of Taiwan. She appeared on Oprah Winfrey's "Super Soul Sunday" as one of the best-known profiles of American Buddhism, where she revealed her retirement as a teacher in the Halifax, Nova Scotia-based global community.

Her Books

Not only did Pema become an expert in spirituality and how to face the most painful moments with kindness, but she also became an influence for so many in the Buddhist community, but she also wrote 18 books until the date of today. Her first book was published in 1991 and the latest in 2019.

'The Wisdom of No Escape: And the Path of Loving Kindness' was published on the 14th of November in 1991, which was a spiritual guide to make the most out of life and it became a best seller. From then on Pema kept on fascinating her readers with amazing books that became influential references to change so many people's lives. Her next edition was then issued on May 1st of 1994, the 'Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living' where she shared how to become friends with yourself.

'When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times' was published on Christmas eve in 1996, and it's probably one of Pema's most well-known book, that features how to move on from painful situations. Every single book that Pema wrote has a beautiful meaning and an insightful vision on how to live a better life while overcoming painful moments.

Pema Chödrön is a remarkable and exceptional human being who gave so much of her life to help others to heal themselves and teach them how to embrace painful moments with kindness and positive energy. She is an important piece of what connects us with the spiritual world. Every word is so beautiful that it's impossible not to touch your soul. Her words are the light in the darkness, and a sign of hope.

 

"Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others." 

 

Pema Chodron has the unique ability to write in a way that you feel like a loving friend is giving you really solid, helpful, kind advice that is accessible.  Her books are life-changing, healing, thought-provoking, and awakening. 

 

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

How can we live our lives when everything seems to fall apart—when we are continually overcome by fear, anxiety, and pain? The answer, Pema Chödrön suggests, might be just the opposite of what you expect. Here, in her most beloved and acclaimed work, Pema shows that moving toward painful situations and becoming intimate with them can open up our hearts in ways we never before imagined. Drawing from traditional Buddhist wisdom, she offers life-changing tools for transforming suffering and negative patterns into habitual ease and boundless joy. 

 

“To be fully alive, fully human and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.”

Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

We all want to be fearless, joyful, and fully alive. And we all know that it’s not so easy. We’re bombarded every day with false promises of ways to make our lives better—buy this, go here, eat this, don’t do that; the list goes on and on. But Pema Chödrön shows that, until we get to the heart of who we are and really make friends with ourselves, everything we do will always be superficial. Here she offers down-to-earth guidance on how we can go beyond the fleeting attempts to “fix” our pain and, instead, to take our lives as they are as the only path to achieve what we all yearn for most deeply—to embrace rather than deny the difficulties of our lives.

 

“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart.”

 

The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times 

Lifelong guidance for learning to change the way we relate to the scary and difficult moments of our lives, showing us how we can use all of our difficulties and fears as a way to soften our hearts and open us to greater kindness. We always have a choice in how we react to the circumstances of our lives. We can let them harden us and make us increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and allow our inherent human kindness to shine through. Here Pema Chödrön provides essential tools for dealing with the many difficulties that life throws our way, teaching us how to awaken our basic human goodness and connect deeply with others—to accept ourselves and everything around us complete with faults and imperfections. She shows the strength that comes from staying in touch with what’s happening in our lives right now and helps us unmask the ways in which our egos cause us to resist life as it is. If we go to the places that scare us, Pema suggests, we just might find the boundless life we’ve always dreamed of. 

 

“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.”

 

Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change

Pema Chödrön shares life-changing practices for living with wisdom, confidence, and integrity amidst confusing situations and uncertain times. We live in difficult times. Life so often seems like a turbulent river threatening to drown us and destroy our world. Why, then, shouldn’t we cling to the certainty of the comfortable—to our deep-seated habits and familiar ways? Because, Pema Chödrön teaches, that kind of fear-based clinging keeps us from the infinitely more powerful experience of being fully alive. The teachings she presents here—known as the “Three Commitments”—provide a treasure trove of wisdom for learning to step right into the unknown, to completely and fearlessly embrace the groundlessness of being human. When we do, we begin to see not only how much better it feels to live an openhearted life, but we find that we begin to naturally and more effectively reach out to help and heal all those around us.

 

“We have a choice. We can spend our whole life suffering because we can't relax with how things really are, or we can relax and embrace the open-endedness of the human situation, which is fresh, unfixated, unbiased.”

 

The Wisdom of No Escape: and the Path of Loving-Kindness

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: learn to open ourselves up to life in all circumstances. In this guide to true kindness for self and others, Pema Chödrön presents a uniquely practical approach to doing just that. And she reveals that when we embrace the happiness and heartache, inspiration and confusion, and all the twists and turns that are a natural part of life, we can begin to discover a true wellspring of courageous love that's been within our hearts all along.

“The truth you believe in and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.”

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