Pema Chödrön is an American Tibetan Buddhist. She is an ordained nun, former acharya of Shambhala Buddhism and disciple of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
Pema Chödrön has written several dozen books and audiobooks and is the principal teacher at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936 in New York City.
Pema Chödrön began studying with Lama Chime Rinpoche during frequent trips to London over a period of several years. While in the US she studied with Trungpa Rinpoche in San Francisco.
In 1974, she became a novice Buddhist nun under Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa. In Hong Kong, in 1981 she became the first American in the Vajrayana tradition to become a fully ordained nun or bhiksuni.
Chödrön moved to Gampo Abbey in 1984, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in North America for Western men and women, and became its first director in 1986. Chödrön’s first book, The Wisdom of No Escape, was published in 1991.
Pema Chödrön teaches the traditional “Yarne” retreat at Gampo Abbey each winter and the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life in Berkeley each summer.
A central theme of her teaching is the principle of “shenpa,” or “attachment,” which she interprets as the moment one is hooked into a cycle of habitual negative or self-destructive thoughts and actions. According to Chödrön, this occurs when something in the present stimulates a reaction to a past experience.
Pema Chödrön Quotes:
1. “You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”
2. “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.”
3. “The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. ”
4. “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. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
5. “The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.”
6. “People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, that means that they did something bad and they are being punished. That’s not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn’t understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you’re given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further.”
7. “As human beings, not only do we seek resolution, but we also feel that we deserve resolution. However, not only do we not deserve resolution, we suffer from resolution. We don’t deserve resolution; we deserve something better than that. We deserve our birthright, which is the middle way, an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity.”
8. “Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what is going on, but that there is something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world.”
9. “None of us is ever OK, but we all get through everything just fine.”
10. “Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.”
11. “In truth, there is enormous space in which to live our everyday lives.”
12. “In a nutshell, when life is pleasant, think of others. When life is a burden, think of others.”
13. “The more we make friends with ourselves, the more we can see that our ways of shutting down and closing off are rooted in the mistaken thinking that the way to get happy is to blame somebody else.”
14. “Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know-how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.”