A mentor and dear friend introduced me to Pema Chodron’s writings when I first started meditating in 2005.
I love her writing because it is nondenominational and it encourages us to start where we are and get comfortable with uncertainty – some of the main challenges I’ve had in my life. Meditation and prayer, more than anything else, help me to cultivate courage. I care so much about being fearless because I believe that love and faith reward the bravest among us.
Whenever I’ve been emotionally or mentally overwhelmed, just reading a little Pema Chodron has done wonders for my spirit. Here are a few quotes I hope will be helpful for you, too.
“We act out because, ironically, we think it will bring us some relief. We equate it with happiness. Often there is some relief, for the moment. When you have an addiction and you fulfill that addiction, there is a moment in which you feel some relief. Then the nightmare gets worse. So it is with aggression. When you get to tell someone off, you might feel pretty good for a while, but somehow the sense of righteous indignation and hatred grows, and it hurts you. It’s as if you pick up hot coals with your bare hands and throw them at your enemy. If the coals happen to hit him he will be hurt. But in the meantime, you are guaranteed to be burned.” From Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living
The following quotes are from Pema Chodron’s latest book, Living Beautifully, which was scheduled to be published this week:
Committing to benefit others is traditionally called the path of the bodhisattva, the path of hero and heroine, the path of the spiritual warrior whose weapons are gentleness, clarity of mind, and an open heart. The Tibetan word for warrior, paw for a male warrior or pawmo for a female warrior, means “the one who cultivates bravery.” As warriors in training, we cultivate the courage and flexibility to live with uncertainty — with the shaky, tender feeling of anxiety, of nothing to hold on to — and to dedicate our lives to making ourselves available to every person, in every situation.
It is only to the degree that we become willing to face our own feelings that we can really help others. So we make a commitment that for the rest of our lives, we’ll train in freeing ourselves from the tyranny of our own reactivity, our own survival mechanisms, our own propensities to be hooked.
Our wish for all beings, including ourselves, is to live fearlessly with uncertainty and change. The warrior commitment involves understanding that there is nothing static about human beings.
I also recommend When Things Fall Apart and The Wisdom of No Escape, which I loved. I wrote a bit more about my meditation practice here.