DailyOM-Coming Closer to Ourselves

Coming Closer to Ourselves by Pema Chodron

A student of renowned Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Pema Chödrön is the grand dame of contemporary western Buddhism, helping American listeners and practitioners move closer to a full understanding of the eightfold path and the Buddha’s other teachings. A Buddhist nun living at a monastery in Nova Scotia, Chödrön regularly travels the world teaching the principle tenets of Buddhism: nonjudgmental curiosity; groundlessness; “transcending even transcending of transcending”; suchness; the eight worldly dharmas (pleasure and pain; loss and gain, praise and blame, fame and disgrace˜you can’t have one without the other); the eightfold path; tantric energy; and lovingkindness.

Among the realms of thinking Chödrön explores in these five discs is the concept of suffering. She notes that “we want the sensation of suffering” in a way we can’t quite admit. She stresses the importance of a slow movement forward into groundlessness, the feeling of being ordinary rather than our built-in desire to rush up the mountain top, to claim enlightenment like a prize at the end of a sprint rather than a slow, endless stroll forward: “Rinpoche used to really stress this word, ‘ordinary,'” she says. Citing examples of going too far too fast like “dropping acid˜you have this big breakthrough” that eventually wears off. The goals stressed in Coming Closer to Ourselves by contrast are meant to be absorbed slowly and made permanent, bringing us closer to a more permanent and enduring sense of self-knowledge and curiosity about the moment, an ability to react without judgment to any situation we find ourselves in. When practicing Buddhism properly “you will never ! notice anything is happening until you look back.”

There’s a lot of material here that’s best absorbed in the relaxed openness of driving, jogging, or walking, like a book on tape rather than as a straight-up meditation disc. Pema Chödrön is never a dull or obtuse speaker and fills her talks with funny examples, stories, and anecdotes from both her teachers’ and her own life experience, making these valuable tenets as pleasurable as listening to a book on tape by, say, David Sedaris or Garrison Keillor. But as the Buddhist principles are absorbed, the benefits should be felt almost immediately. Coming Closer to Ourselves is no idle promise, and Chödrön brings us closer to that goal even as reminding us we may not immediately like what we see. With her help we’ll realize that what we see is not what is, as it is always in the process of becoming something. “Everything is tentative,” she teaches. “That ever-changing sense of becoming, that is the one thing that’s permanent.”

Reprinted from DailyOM – Inspirational thoughts for a happy, healthy and fulfilling day.

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About the Author | Kelly McNelis, LLC

Women’s advocate and bestselling author of Your Messy Brilliance.

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