From the author of When Things Fall Apart and Welcoming the Unwelcome come so many beautiful, empowering and life-changing lessons.
Today we will just be focusing on a part of them that will most definitely serve as a source of inspiration and growth on this wonderful journey called life. Here they are:
33 Life-Changing Lessons to Learn from the Wise Pema Chodron
1. Live your life as an experiment.
“Live your life as an experiment.”~ Pema Chodron
2. When you drop your complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire you, you enter the warrior’s world.
“Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.”~ Pema Chodron
3. Our future hell or happiness depend on the way we open or close our minds right now.
“We sow the seeds of our future hell or happiness by the way we open or close our minds right now.”~ Pema Chodron
4. Blaming is a way to protect our hearts.
“Blaming is a way to protect our hearts, to try to protect what is soft and open and tender in ourselves.”~ Pema Chodron
5. When we help others we also help ourselves.
“We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves.”~ Pema Chodron
6. In order not to break our vow of compassion we have to learn when to stop aggression and draw the line.
“The third near enemy of compassion is idiot compassion. This is when we avoid conflict and protect our good image by being kind when we should definitely say “no.” Compassion doesn’t only imply trying to be good. When we find ourgeves in an aggressive relationship, we need to set clear boundaries. The kindest thing we can do for everyone concerned is to know when to say “enough.”
Many people use Buddhist ideals to justify self-debasement. In the name of not shutting our heart we let people walk all over us. It is said that in order not to break our vow of compassion we have to learn when to stop aggression and draw the line. There are times when the only way to bring down barriers is to set boundaries.”~ Pema Chodron
7. You must face annihilation over and over again to find what is indestructible in yourself.
“You must face annihilation over and over again to find what is indestructible in yourself.”~ Pema Chodron
8. Approach what you find repulsive, help the ones you think you cannot help, and go to places that scare you.
“Approach what you find repulsive, help the ones you think you cannot help, and go to places that scare you.”~ Pema Chodron
9. We don’t open our hearts and mind to other people because they trigger confusion in us.
“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. ”~ Pema Chodron
10. Have the courage and respect to look at yourself honestly and gently.
“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.”~ Pema Chodron
11. Let there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.
“The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”~ Pema Chodron
12. If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.
“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”~ Pema Chodron
13. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.
“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.”~ Pema Chodron
14. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.
“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”~ Pema Chodron
15. Turn your attention to where it is actually needed.
“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart…”~ Pema Chodron
16. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.”~ Pema Chodron
17. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all.
“Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.”~ Pema Chodron
18. Don’t let people pull you into their storm. Pull them into your peace.
“Don’t let people pull you into their storm. Pull them into your peace.“~ Pema Chodron
19. It is difficult to genuinely feel it for others without loving-kindness for ourselves.
“Without loving-kindness for ourselves, it is difficult to genuinely feel it for others.”~ Pema Chodron
20. Darkness is too a gift.
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too was a gift.”~ Pema Chodron
21. When you open yourself to the dynamic nature of your own being you increase your capacity to love and care about others.
“When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dynamic nature of your own being and of reality, you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity not to be afraid.”~ Pema Chodron
22. Patience is the antidote to anger, a way to learn to love and care for whatever we meet on the path.
“Patience is the antidote to anger, a way to learn to love and care for whatever we meet on the path.”~ Pema Chodron
23. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart.
“People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, it means 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.”~ Pema Chodron
24. When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.
“When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.”~ Pema Chodron
25. The more we witness our emotional reactions and understand how they work, the easier it is to refrain.
“The more we witness our emotional reactions and understand how they work, the easier it is to refrain.”~ Pema Chodron
26. Be grateful to everyone.
“Be grateful to everyone” is about making peace with the aspects of ourselves that we have rejected… If we were to make a list of people we don’t like – people we find obnoxious, threatening, or worthy of contempt – we would discover much about those aspects of ourselves that we can’t face… other people trigger the karma that we haven’t worked out.”~ Pema Chodron
27. To try to force forgiveness is not really forgiveness.
“My experience with forgiveness is that it sort of comes spontaneously at a certain point and to try to force it it’s not really forgiveness. It’s Buddhist philosophy or something spiritual jargon that you’re trying to live up to but you’re just using it against yourself as a reason why you’re not okay.”~ Pema Chodron
28. Appreciate and celebrate each moment. There’s nothing more.
“One can appreciate and celebrate each moment — there’s nothing more sacred. There’s nothing more vast or absolute. In fact, there’s nothing more!”~ Pema Chodron
29. The circumstances of our lives either harden or soften us. We always have the choice.
“We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.”~ Pema Chodron
30. Peace is an experience that’s expansive enough to include all that arises without feeling threatened.
“Whether we’re seeking inner peace or global peace or a combination of the two, the way to experience it is to build on the foundation of unconditional openness to all that arises. Peace isn’t an experience free of challenges, free of rough and smooth, it’s an experience that’s expansive enough to include all that arises without feeling threatened.”~ Pema Chodron
31. Lighten up and relax. This is the most important teaching in life.
“Maybe the most important teaching is to lighten up and relax. It’s such a huge help in working with our crazy mixed-up minds to remember that what we’re doing is unlocking a softness that is in us and letting it spread. We’re letting it blur the sharp corners of self-criticism and complaint.”~ Pema Chodron
32. Never give up on yourself. Then you will never give up on others.
“Finally, never give up on yourself. Then you will never give up on others.”~ Pema Chodron
33. Happiness often comes in ways we don’t even notice.
“We can learn to rejoice in even the smallest blessings our life holds. It is easy to miss our own good fortune; often happiness comes in ways we don’t even notice.”~ Pema Chodron
“Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. The trick to doing this is to stay with emotional distress without tightening into aversion, to let fear soften us rather than harden into resistance.”
“Let the hard things in life break you. Let them effect you. Let them change you. Let these hard moments inform you. Let this pain be your teacher. The experiences of your life are trying to tell you something about yourself. Don’t cop out on that. Don’t run away and hide under your covers. Lean into it.”
“Compassionate action starts with seeing yourself when you start to make yourself right and when you start to make yourself wrong. At that point you could just contemplate the fact that there is a larger alternative to either of those, a more tender, shaky kind of place where you could live.”
“A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next. We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe. But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty. This not knowing is part of the adventure, and it’s also what makes us afraid.”
“We are not striving to make pain go away or to become a better person. In fact, we are giving up control altogether and letting concepts and ideals fall apart. This starts with realizing that whatever occurs is neither the beginning nor the end. It is just the same kind of normal human experience that’s been happening to everyday people from the beginning of time.”
“Resentment, bitterness, and holding a grudge prevent us from seeing and hearing and tasting and delighting.”
“Meditation takes us just as we are, with our confusion and our sanity. This complete acceptance of ourselves as we are is called maitri, or unconditional friendliness, a simple, direct relationship with the way we are.”
“The essence of this practice is that when we encounter pain in our life we breathe into our heart with the recognition that others also feel this. It’s a way of acknowledging when we are closing down and of training to open up. When we encounter any pleasure or tenderness in our life, we cherish that and rejoice.”
“Our personal demons come in many guises. We experience them as shame, as jealousy, as abandonment, as rage. They are anything that makes us so uncomfortable that we continually run away. We do the big escape: we act out, say something, slam a door, hit someone, or throw a pot as a way of not facing what’s happening in our hearts.
Or we shove the feelings under and somehow deaden the pain. We can spend our whole lives escaping from the monsters of our minds. All over the world, people are so caught in running that they forget to take advantage of the beauty around them. We become so accustomed to speeding ahead that we rob ourselves of joy.”
“This is a good time to remember that when we harden our heart against anyone, we hurt ourselves. The fear habit, the anger habit, the self-pity habit—all are strengthened and empowered when we continue to buy into them.
The most compassionate thing we can do is to interrupt these habits. Instead of always pulling back and putting up walls, we can do something unpredictable and make a compassionate aspiration. We can visualize this difficult person’s face and say his name if it helps us. Then we say the words: “May this person who irritates me be free of suffering and the roots of suffering.” By doing this, we start to dissolve our fear.”
“A much more interesting, kind, adventurous, and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object of our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet.
To lead a life that goes beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our own terms, to lead a more passionate, full, and delightful life than that, we must realize that we can endure a lot of pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what this world is, how we tick and how our world ticks, how the whole thing just is.”