Quotes by Pema Chodron
Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Pema Chodron. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
Wikipedia Summary for Pema Chodron
Pema Chödrön (པད་མ་ཆོས་སགྲོན padma chos sgron “lotus dharma lamp”; born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown, July 14, 1936) is an American Tibetan Buddhist. She is an ordained nun, former acharya of Shambhala Buddhism and disciple of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Chödrön has written several dozen books and audiobooks, and is principal teacher at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia.
Trying to run away is never the answer to being fully human.
Trying to run away is never the answer to being a fully human. Running away from the immediacy of our experience is like preferring death to life.
When I was first married, my husband said I was one of the bravest people he knew. When I asked him why, he said because I was a complete coward but went ahead and did things anyhow.
When we stop seeking the familiarity of samsara, when we stop fighting the groundlessness of freedom from imputed meaning, emptiness becomes an experience of awe, of the infinite, of limitless pace.
What we call obstacles are really the way the world and our entire experience teach us where we're stuck.
The point is that we can dissolve the sense of dualism between us and them, between this and that, between here and there, by moving toward what we find difficult and wish to push away.
Whether we're eating or working or meditating or listening or talking, the reason that we're here in this world at all is to study ourselves. In fact, it has been said that studying ourselves provides all the books we need.
Without giving up hope--that there's somewhere better to be, that there's someone better to be--we will never relax with where we are or who we are.
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.
You just can't fly when you're wearing socks, and shoes, and coats, and pants, and underwear. Everything has to go.
We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves.
The most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect, to look at ourselves honestly and gently.
The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.
We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us.
We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.
When we resist change, it's called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that's called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness.
We use all kinds of ways to escape -- all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can't stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain.
We don't sit in meditation to become good meditators. We sit in meditation so that we'll become more awake in our lives.
Dharma is the study of what is, and the only way you can find out what is true is through studying yourself.
Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.
Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. Even if we run a hundred miles an hour to the other side of the continent, we find the very same problem awaiting us when we arrive.
Patience takes courage. It is not an ideal state of calm. In fact, when we practice patience we will see our agitation far more clearly.
It is only to the extent that we are willing to expose ourselves again and again to annihilation that we are able to find that part of ourselves that is indestructible.
The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought.
The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought. That's what we're going to discover again and again and again. Nothing is what we thought. I can say that with great confidence. Emptiness is not what we thought. Neither is mindfulness or fear. Compassion -- -- not what we thought. Love. Buddha nature. Courage. These are code words for things we don't know in our minds, but any of us could experience them. These are words that point to what life really is when we let things fall apart and let ourselves be nailed to the present moment.
How will we experience the world a month, a year, or five years from now? Will we be even angrier, more grasping and fearful, or will some shift have occurred? This depends entirely on the tendencies we reinforce today.
We can gradually drop our ideals of who we think we ought to be, or who we think we want to be, or who we think other people think we want to be or ought to be.
We can begin to open our hearts to others when we have no hope of getting anything back. We just do it for its own sake.
Each person's life is like a mandala -- a vast, limitless circle. We stand in the center of our own circle, and everything we see, hear and think forms the mandala of our life ... everything that shows up in your mandala is a vehicle for your awakening.
By not knowing, not hoping to know and not acting like we know what's happening, we begin to access our inner strength.
As long as our orientation is toward perfection or success, we will never learn about unconditional friendship with ourselves, nor will we find compassion.
Our neurosis and our wisdom are made out of the same material. If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom.
The Buddha taught that flexibility and openness bring strength and that running from groundlessness weakens us and brings pain. But do we understand that becoming familiar with the running away is the key? Openness doesn't come from resisting our fears but from getting to know them well.
Being satisfied with what we already have is a magical golden key to being alive in a full, unrestricted, and inspired way.
Awareness is the key. Do we see the stories that we're telling ourselves and question their validity?
Awareness is the key. Do we see the stories that we're telling ourselves and question their validity? When we are distracted by strong emotion, do we remember that it is our path? Can we feel the emotion and breathe it into our hearts for ourselves and everyone else? If we can remember to experiment like this even occasionally, we are training as a warrior. And when we can't practice when distracted but KNOW we can't, we are still training well. Never underestimate the power of compassionately recognizing what's going on.
This genuine heart of sadness can teach us great compassion. It can humble us when we're arrogant and soften us when we are unkind.
Wholeheartedly do what it takes to awaken your clear-seeing intelligence, but one day at a time, one moment at a time. If we live that way, we will benefit this earth.
The approach is that the best way to use unwanted circumstances on the path of enlightenment is not to resist but to lean into them.
If you work with your mind, that will alleviate all the suffering that seems to come from the outside.
Until we stop clinging to the concept of good and evil, the world will continue to manifest as friendly goddesses and harmful demons.
Like all explorers, we are drawn to discover what's out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it.
It's important to remember, when we're out there aggressively working for reform, that, even if our particular issue doesn't get resolved, we are adding peace to the world. We have to do our best and at the same time give up all hope of fruition.
A thoroughly good relationship with ourselves results in being still, which doesn't mean we don't run and jump and dance about. It means there's no compulsiveness. We don't overwork, overeat, oversmoke, overseduce. In short, we begin to stop causing harm.
No one ever tells us to stop running away from fear...the advice we usually get is to sweeten it up, smooth it over, take a pill, or distract ourselves, but by all means make it go away. (5).
To cultivate equanimity we practice catching ourselves when we feel attraction or aversion, before it hardens into grasping or negativity.
The still lake without ripples is an image of our minds at ease, so full of unlimited friendliness for all the junk at the bottom of the lake that we don't feel the need to churn up the waters just to avoid looking at what's there.
Ego is something that you come to know -- something that you befriend by not acting out or by repressing all the feelings that you feel.
That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. Everything is in process.
The biggest obstacle to taking a bigger perspective on life is that our emotions capture and blind us.
But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.
It's also helpful to realize that this very body that we have, that's sitting right here right now... with its aches and it pleasures... is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.
It is possible to move through the drama of our lives without believing so earnestly in the character that we play.
It is possible to move through the drama of our lives without believing so earnestly in the character that we play. That we take ourselves so seriously, that we are so absurdly important in our own minds, is a problem for us. We feel justified in being annoyed with everything. We feel justified in denigrating ourselves or in feeling that we are more clever than other people. Self-importance hurts us, limiting us to the narrow world of our likes and dislikes. We end up bored to death with ourselves and our world. We end up never satisfied.
Honesty without kindness, humor, and goodheartedness can be just mean. From the very beginning to the very end, pointing to our own hearts to discover what is true isn't just a matter of honesty but also of compassion and respect for what we see.
If you see a homeless person on the street, and they need food, housing, medical attention -- if you can give that, do it. But at the same time, work with tonglen, because that is how you start dissolving the barrier between you and them.
If right now our emotional reaction to seeing a certain person or hearing certain news is to fly into a rage or to get despondent or something equally extreme, it's because we have been
cultivating that particular habit for a very long time.
When people are hurting, what they really need is someone who is fully there for them -- not someone who is condescending or officious. The only way for you to be there for them is by facing your fear or anger, whatever feelings cause you to shut down.
When we struggle agains our energy we reject the source of wisdom. Anger without the fixation is none other than clear-seeing wisdom. Pride without fixation is experienced as equanimity. The energy of passion when it's free of grasping is wisdom that sees all the angles.
When there's a disappointment, I don't know if it's the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure.
The way I regard those who hurt me today will affect how I experience the world in the future. In any encounter, we have a choice: we can strengthen our resentment or our understanding and empathy. We can widen the gap between ourselves and others or lessen it.
In practicing meditation, we're not trying to live up to some kind of ideal -- quite the opposite. We're just being with our experience, whatever it is.
Life is like that. We don't know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don't know.
Without loving-kindness for ourselves, it is difficult, if not impossible, to genuinely feel it for others.
Everything is material for the seed of happiness, if you look into it with inquisitiveness and curiosity. The future is completely open, and we are writing it moment to moment. There always is the potential to create an environment of blame -or one that is conducive to loving-kindness.
Are you experiencing restlessness? Stay! Are fear and loathing out of control? Stay! Aching knees and throbbing back? Stay! What's for lunch? Stay! I can't stand this another minute! Stay!
Mindfulness is loving all the details of our lives, and awareness is the natural thing that happens: life begins to open up, and you realize that you're always standing at the center of the world.
Fear is a natural reaction of moving closer to the truth. If we commit ourselves to staying right where we are, then our experience becomes very vivid. Things become very clear when there is nowhere to escape.
The most complete and true happiness comes in moments when you feel right there, completely present, with no ideas about good and bad, right and wrong -- just a sense of open heart and open mind.
You're the only one who knows when you're using things to protect yourself and keep your ego together and when you're opening and letting things fall apart, letting the world come as it is -- working with it rather than struggling against it. You're the only one who knows.
Hold the sadness and pain of samsara suffering, confusion in your heart and at the same time the power and vision of the Great Eastern Sun fundamental awake human nature. Then the warrior brave enough to look at and work with reality can make a proper cup of tea.
It becomes increasingly clear that we won't be free of self-destructive patterns unless we develop a compassionate understanding of what they are.
The essence of practice is always the same: instead of falling prey to a chain reaction of revenge or self-hatred, we gradually learn to catch the emotional reaction and drop the story lines.
Every small problem most likely stems from the same root as large problems, and so there is no need to always go deep. One can use anything for the therapeutic process and if this link is made.
If we knew that tonight we were going to go blind, we would take a long, last real look at every blade of grass, every cloud formation, every speck of dust, every rainbow, raindrop-everything.
There comes a time when the bubble of ego is popped and you can't get the ground back for an extended period of time. Those times, when you absolutely cannot get it back together, are the most rich and powerful times in our lives.
As for our inner level of obstacle, perhaps the only enemy we have is that we don't like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. But what we need to acknowledge is that nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.
Ordinarily we are swept away by habitual momentum and don't interrupt our patterns slightly. When we feel betrayed or disappointed, does it occur to us to practice?
Ordinarily we are swept away by habitual momentum. We don't interrupt our patterns even slightly. 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.
If you aren't feeding the fire of anger or the fire of craving by talking to yourself, then the fire doesn't have anything to feed on.
True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings.
Sitting meditation gives us a way to move closer to our thoughts and emotions and to get in touch with our bodies.
Trying to change ourselves doesn't work in the long run because we're resisting our own energy. Self-improvemen t can have temporary results, but lasting transformation occurs only when we honor ourselves as the source of wisdom and compassion.
The only way to ease our pain is to experience it fully. Learn to stay with uneasiness, learn to stay with the tightening, so that the habitual chain reaction doesn't continue to rule your life.
Don't get caught up in hopes of what you'll achieve and how good your situation will be some day in the future. What you do right now is what matters.
If you're aggressive in your dealings, that's how you'll be regarded in the world. You might smile and give generously, but if you frequently explode in anger, people never feel comfortable in your presence and you'll never have peace of mind.
The painful thing is that when we buy into disapproval,we are practicing disapproval. When we buy into harshness,we are practicing harshness.
The painful thing is that when we buy into disapproval, we are practicing disapproval. When we buy into harshness, we are practicing harshness. The more we do it, the stronger these qualities become. How sad it is that we become so expert at causing harm to ourselves and others. The trick then is to practice gentleness and letting go. We can learn to meet whatever arises with curiosity and not make it such a big deal.
You build inner strength through embracing the totality of your experience, both the delightful parts and the difficult parts.
When you open the door and invite in all sentient beings as your guests, you have to drop your agenda.
One way to practice staying present is to simply sit still for a while and listen. For one minute, listen to the sounds close to you. For one minute, listen to the sounds at a distance. Just listen attentively.
The next step is to learn to communicate with the people that you feel are causing your pain and misery- not to learn how to prove them wrong and yourself right but how to communicate from the heart.
I can't overestimate the importance of accepting ourselves exactly as we are right now, not as we wish we were or think we ought to be.
Although we have the potential to experience the freedom of a butterfly, we mysteriously prefer the small and fearful cocoon of ego.
Somehow, in the process of trying to deny that things are always changing, we lose our sense of the sacredness of life. We tend to forget that we are part of the natural scheme of things.
We see how beautiful and wonderful and amazing things are, and we see how caught up we are. It isn't that one is the bad part and one is the good part, but that it's a kind of interesting, smelly, rich, fertile mess of stuff. When it's all mixed up together, it's us: humanness.
When we protect ourselves so we won't feel pain, that protection becomes like armor, like armor that imprisons the softness of of the heart.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience and Infinite love is the only truth; everything else is an illusion.
Most spiritual experiences begin with suffering. They begin with groundlessness. They begin when the rug has been pulled out from under us.
Constantly apply cheerfulness, if for no other reason than because you are on this spiritual path. Have a sense of gratitude to everything, even difficult emotions, because of their potential to wake you up.
There isn't anything except your own life that can be used as ground for your spiritual practice. Spiritual practice is your life, twenty-four hours a day.
Patience has nothing to do with suppression. In fact, it has everything to do with a gentle, honest relationship with yourself.
We are undoing a pattern... It's the human pattern: we project onto the world a zillion possibilities of attaining resolution.
The point is that our true nature is not some ideal that we have to live up to. It's who we are right now, and that's what we can make friends with and celebrate.
Maybe the most important teaching is to lighten up and relax. It's such a huge help in working with our crazy mixed-up minds to remember that what we're doing is unlocking a softness that is in us and letting it spread. We're letting it blur the sharp corners of self-criticism and complaint.
Tonglen dissolves your solid sense of I'm the wise person, I'm going to help this poor, unfortunate loser.
Deep down in the human spirit, there is a reservoir of courage. It is always available, always waiting to be discovered.
Welcome the present moment as if you had invited it. Why? Because it is all we ever have.
Welcome the present moment as if you had invited it. It is all we ever have, so we night as well work with it rather than struggling against it. We might as well make it our friend and teacher rather than our enemy.
This moving away from comfort and security, this stepping out into what is unknown, uncharted and shaky -- that's called liberation.
When things are shaky and nothing is working, we might realize that we are on the verge of something.
When things are shaky and nothing is working, we might realize that we are on the verge of something. We might realize that this is a very vulnerable and tender place, and that tenderness can go either way. We can shut down and feel resentful or we can touch in on that throbbing quality. (9).
We don't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts.
It isn't what happens to us that causes us to suffer; it's what we say to ourselves about what happens.
Each time you stay present with fear and uncertainty, you're letting go of a habitual way of finding security and comfort.
Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior's world.
Anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the in-between state. It's the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint. The challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid.
Meditation practice isn't about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It's about befriending who we are already.
Meditation practice isn't about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It's about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That's the ground, that's what we study, that's what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.
Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss, or tranquillity, nor is it attempting to become a better person. It is simply the creation of a space in which we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games, our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes.
The essence of generosity is letting go. Pain is always a sign that we are holding on to something -- usually ourselves.
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.
When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it's bottomless.
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.
We can become extremely wise and sensitive to all of humanity and the whole universe simply by knowing ourselves, just as we are.
While we are sitting in meditation, we are simply exploring humanity and all of creation in the form of ourselves.
While we are sitting in meditation, we are simply exploring humanity and all of creation in the form of ourselves. We can become the world's greatest experts on anger, jealousy, and self-deprecatio n, as well as on joyfulness, clarity, and insight. Everything that human beings feel, we feel. We can become extremely wise and sensitive to all of humanity and the whole universe simply by knowing ourselves, just as we are.
According to the Buddhist belief, you can go on and on indefinitely, so you see your life as just a brief moment in time.
As Buddhism moved to the West, one of the big characteristics was the strong place of women. That didn't exist in the countries of origin. It's just a sign of our culture.
There's something delicious about finding fault with something. And that can be including finding fault with one's self, you know?
The Buddha taught that we're not actually in control, which is a pretty scary idea. But when you let things be as they are, you will be a much happier, more balanced, compassionate person.
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