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Reviews of books that have inspired, enlightened or enriched our life, recent or past.

Dec 17
Friday

A Beginner’s Guide to the Teachings of Pema Chödrön

Filed under book reviews, book reviews, Favorite Books

Reposted with permission from Lion’s Roar

She’s a powerful teacher—and a prolific one. There’s a Pema teaching for every stage of your life. Here are some of the best.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Shambhala Publications

Difficult moments abound in life but we can meet them with confidence and grace. The key, Pema Chödrön says, is having the courage to rest in the open space of uncertainty, instead of trying to put things back together when they fall apart. This classic feels in some ways like the pep talk we all need sometimes, but there’s plenty of practicality, too, thanks to concise meditation instructions and teachings on compassion, nonaggression, and non-attachment.

Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better

Sounds True

Pema Chödrön’s newest book presents her 2014 commencement address at Naropa University, in which she shared tips in the “fine art of failing.” Also included is a Q&A in which Pema addresses failure and success, motherhood, why she became a nun, and more.

The Wisdom of No Escape

Shambhala Publications

Drawn from talks at a one-month retreat in 1989, this bestselling book presents Pema at her upbeat best, teaching on loving-kindness, satisfaction, and the joys of committing to the Buddhist path. “Whatever life you’re in,” she says, “is a vehicle for waking up.”

No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva

Shambhala Publications

The Way of the Bodhisattva by Shanti-deva is a classic Mahayana Buddhist text for all those who aspire to be more fearless and compassionate. Pema reveals how its lessons apply to working with anger, developing patience and joy, and coming to terms with heartbreak and death, all in plain language and with good humor.

Karma: Finding Freedom in This Moment

Sounds True

Famed as a teacher, Pema nonetheless remains a student. Here, in this audio, she joins her teacher Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche for a discussion that explores karma and all the ways we might relate to it—and how karma impacts our present and future.

Be Grateful to Everyone: An In-Depth Guide to the Practice of Lojong

Shambhala Audio

Pema has said that when she first encountered the lojong (“mind training”) teachings, she was struck by their presentation of life’s unwanted aspects as “raw material necessary for awakening genuine uncontrived compassion.” In this seven-hour course, she unpacks the fifty-nine lojong slogans, leading meditations and exercises to deepen our interaction with them.

About Pema Chödron

Note: Pema Chödrön is a course presenter for the upcoming Shambhala Online course, Meditation: The Way of the Buddha. For more information, click here.

Ani Pema Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, in New York City.  She attended Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley.  She taught as an elementary school teacher for many years in both New Mexico and California. Pema has two children and three grandchildren. While in her mid-thirties, Ani Pema traveled to the French Alps and encountered Lama Chime Rinpoche, with whom she studied for several years. She became a novice nun in 1974 while studying with Lama Chime in London. His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa came to Scotland at that time, and Ani Pema received her ordination from him. Pema first met her root guru, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1972. Lama Chime encouraged her to work with Rinpoche, and it was with him that she ultimately made her most profound connection, studying with him from 1974 until his death in 1987.  At the request of the Sixteenth Karmapa, she received the full bikshuni ordination in the Chinese lineage of Buddhism in 1981 in Hong Kong. Ani Pema served as the director of Karma Dzong in Boulder, Colorado until moving in 1984 to rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to be the director of Gampo Abbey.  Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave her explicit instructions on establishing this monastery for western monks and nuns. Ani Pema currently teaches in the United States and Canada and plans for an increased amount of time in solitary retreat under the guidance of Venerable Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. Ani Pema is interested in helping establish Tibetan Buddhist monasticism in the West, as well as continuing her work with western Buddhists of all traditions, sharing ideas and teachings.  Her non-profit, The Pema Chödrön Foundation, was set up to assist in this purpose. She has written several books: The Wisdom of No Escape, Start Where You Are, When Things Fall Apart, The Places that Scare You, No Time To Lose, Practicing Peace in Times of War, How to Meditate, and Living Beautifully. All are available from Shambhala Publications and Sounds True.

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