When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
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Pema Chödrön reveals the vast potential for happiness, wisdom and courage even in the most painful circumstances.
Pema Chödrön teaches that there is a fundamental opportunity for happiness right within our reach, yet we usually miss it – ironically, while we are caught up in attempt to escape pain and suffering.
This accessible guide to compassionate living shows us how we can use painful emotions to cultivate wisdom, compassion and courage, ways of communication that lead to openness and true intimacy with others, practices for reversing our negative habitual patterns, methods for working with chaotic situations and ways to cultivate compassionate, energetic social action
Recently profiled in Oprah’s O magazine, Pema Chödrön is a spiritual teacher for anyone – whether they have a spiritual path or not. Her heartfelt advice and wisdom (developed in her 20 years of practice as a Tibetan Buddhist nun as well as her years previously as a normal ‘housewife and mother’) give her a wide appeal. This advice strikes just the right note, offering us comfort and challenging us to live deeply and contribute to creating a more loving world.
loneliness is not seeking security from one’s discursive thoughts. The rug’s been pulled; the jig is up; there is no way to get out of this one! We don’t even seek the companionship of our own constant conversation with ourselves about how it is and how it isn’t, whether it is or whether it isn’t, whether it should or whether it shouldn’t, whether it can or whether it can’t. With cool loneliness we do not expect security from our own internal chatter. That’s why we are instructed to label it
itself to us in any form whatsoever, we run like crazy to try to become comfortable. Any obstacle we encounter has the power to completely pull the rug out, to completely pop the bubble of reality that we have come to regard as secure and certain. When we are threatened that way, we can’t stand to feel the pain, the edginess, the anxiety, the queasiness in our stomach, the heat of anger rising, the bitter taste of resentment. Therefore, we try to grasp something pleasant. We react with this
meditation period or a two-hour class on the dharma. Probably the best example is the meditation technique. We sit down in a certain position and are as faithful to the technique as possible. We simply put light attention on the outbreath over and over through mood swings, through memories, through dramas and boredom. This simple repetitive process is like inviting that basic richness into our lives. So we follow the instruction just as centuries of meditators have done before. Within this
seeing our opinions of ourselves and of others as simply our take on reality and not making them a reason to increase the negativity on the planet. The key is to realize the difference between opinions and clear-seeing intelligence. Intelligence is like seeing thoughts as thinking, not having opinions about whether those thoughts are right or wrong. In the context of social action, we can see that what a 144 Opinions government or corporation or individual is doing is clearly causing rivers
the more they will communicate, not only to the people who are polluting the rivers, but also to those who are going to put pressure on the people who are polluting the rivers. Just as the Buddha taught, it’s important to see suffering as suffering. We are not talking about ignoring or keeping quiet. When we don’t buy into our opinions and solidify the sense of enemy, we will accomplish something. If we don’t get swept away by our outrage, then we will see the cause of suffering more clearly.