Saturday, July 14, 2012

In Honor of Pema Chödrön

Today is the seventy-sixth birthday of Pema Chödrön, the resident teacher of Gampo Abbey on Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Ani Pema is on yearlong retreat for 2012. She has made the suggestion that to honor her, those grateful for her teachings should practice in solidarity with her today.

Here are two excerpts from her writings:

When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they're going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are. It's a bit like saying, "If I jog, I'll be a much better person." "If I could only get a nicer house, I'd be a better person." "If I could meditate and calm down, I'd be a better person." Or the scenario might be that they find fault with others; they might say, "If it weren't for my husband, I'd have a perfect marriage." "If it weren't for the fact that my boss and I can't get along, my job would be just great." And "If it weren't for my mind, my meditation would be excellent." But loving-kindness, or maitri, toward ourselves doesn't mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy after all these years. We can still be angry after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous of full of feelings of unworthiness. The point is not to try to change ourselves. 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. (The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness, pp. 3-4)

How are we going to spend this brief lifetime? Are we going to strengthen our well-perfected ability to struggle against uncertainty, or are we going to train in letting go? Are we going to hold on stubbornly to "I'm like this and you're like that"? Or are we going to move beyond that narrow mind? Could we start to train as a warrior, aspiring to reconnect with the natural flexibility of our being and to help others do the same? If we start to move in this direction, limitless possibilities will begin to open up. (The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, p. 20)

1 comment:

  1. I was looking for her and here she is! Thank you, David <3