Spiritual Awakening

Last week, Pema Chodron began her 80th year and we wished her a Happy Continuation! She has been pursuing spiritual awakening for more than half of her life!

Here is what she says about it:

Pema-and-Obama-Shambhala-SunSpace-lg-vert“Spiritual awakening is frequently described as a journey to the top of a mountain. We leave our attachments and our worldliness behind and slowly make our way to the top. At the peak we have transcended all pain. The only problem with this metaphor is that we leave all the others behind—our drunken brother, our schizophrenic sister, our tormented animals and friends. Their suffering continues, unrelieved by our personal escape.

In the process of discovering bodhichitta, the journey goes down, not up. It’s as if the mountain pointed toward the center of the earth instead of reaching into the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward the turbulence and doubt. We jump into it. We slide into it. We tiptoe into it. We move toward it however we can. We explore the reality and unpredictably of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is. At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear. At the bottom we discover water, the healing water of bodhichitta. Right down there in the thick of things, we discover the love that will not die.”
—Pema Chödrön from When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

I first listened to When Things Fall Apart in 2008. I must have played it a dozen times since then. Things have fallen apart for me many times in my life, especially having to do with two episodes of muscle invasive bladder cancer in 1997 and 2013. Through these difficult times, I discovered “the love that will not die” from family and friends.

What do you do when things fall apart? Do you have a sense of resilience when they happen and come back to center? Or do you stew for a while and try to ride out the waves of confusion?

Either way, When Things Fall Apart provides guidance.

Books by Pema Chodron

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Shambhala Classics)

Pema Chodron

The beautiful practicality of her teaching has made Pema Chödrön one of the most beloved of contemporary American spiritual authors among Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. A collection of talks she gave between 1987 and 1994, the book is a treasury of wisdom for going on living when we are overco… [Read More…]

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