Saturday, September 5, 2009

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

Chodron is an American Buddhist nun and is apparently a prolific writer. Going through some difficult times now, this book called to me from the Border's book shelf.

I'm going to admit that I started off reading this book thinking "What the hell are you talking about?" Leaning into the sharp points, facing your demons, embracing suffering - all sounds well and good but HOW do you do it? Buddhism is all abut guidelines and rarely ever says "Here is how you do this"

The more I read, though, the more I got it. I need to be kinder to myself. Less critical, less admonishment. The underlying factor here is if you can't have compassion for yourself, it's going to be difficult to be compassionate towards others. There is no right or wrong, no good or evil. Things just ARE. We're all here for a short time, so why not give yourself a break and lighten up a little?

I'm a classic case of escapism. When things are difficult, I do my best but I always retreat; into books, classes, knitting, what have you. Chodron encourages us to not reach for comfort when things go rotten. That's going to be mighty hard to do.

There's a really good chapter about not harming others. While you may not deliberately harm people, chances are you are doing harm when you're upset, embarrassed, angry, etc. Words, actions, emotions all mean the world and you have to be aware of what you say, do and feel. Being aware of how you react to things is even applauded as a great first step.

I'm going to try to put these things into practice. We'll see how it goes :)
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