Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Transforming confusion into wisdom

How can you shift the sense of confusion you sometimes feel upon waking into a new day with a sense of anxiety about who you are, where you are, what the hell you are doing in your life?

The Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, is someone I always turn to when morning anxieties clutch me in their grip. Her YouTube clips are just a click away and can be a great meditative antidote to your morning malaise.

One of my YouTube favorites  - view Smile at Fear here.

Pema Chodron met her teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1972. He is credited as being the first to bring Tibetan Buddhism to the west, setting up centres in Scotland, USA and Canada including the first Buddhist University in the west — Naropa University in Colarado. (The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poets at Naropa founded by poets Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, Diane Di Prima became a hub for the Beat Poets).

 Pema became one of Trungpa Rinpoche's main students and since his death in 1987 she has been instrumental in carrying on his vision, establishing an abbey for monks and nuns at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia. She also teaches in the US and her books have become best sellers: “The Wisdom of No Escape”, “Start Where You Are”, “When Things Fall Apart”, “The Places that Scare You”, “No Time to Lose” and “Practicing Peace in Times of War”, and most recently, “Smile at Fear”. All are available from Shambhala Publications as well as CDs and DVDs.

Even just glancing at one of her quotes is enough to set you right for the day.
You can find an abundance of them at Goodreads.

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. (10)”
Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Hard Times

“There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.”
Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World 

“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 Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

Writer/performer Jan Cornall has been a student of Tibetan Buddhism for 25 years. 

(c) Jan Cornall 2014

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