The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times (Shambhala Classics)

Pema Chodron

Language: English

Pages: 140

ISBN: 1570629218

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


We always have a choice, Pema Chödrön teaches: We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us and make us increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder. Here Pema provides the tools to deal with the problems and difficulties that life throws our way. This wisdom is always available to us, she teaches, but we usually block it with habitual patterns rooted in fear. Beyond that fear lies a state of openheartedness and tenderness. This book teaches us how to awaken our basic goodness and connect with others, to accept ourselves and others complete with faults and imperfections, and to stay in the present moment by seeing through the strategies of ego that cause us to resist life as it is.

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who easily inspire these feelings. Traditionally we begin the practice with ourselves, but sometimes people find that too hard. It’s important to include ourselves, but whom we start with isn’t critical. The point is to contact an honest feeling of goodwill and encourage it to expand. If you can easily open your heart to your dog or cat, start there and then move out to more challenging relationships. The practice is about connecting with the soft spot in a way that is real to us, not about

this soft spot. Even the most vicious animals love their offspring. As Trungpa Rinpoche put it, “Everybody loves something, even if it’s only tortillas.” Bodhichitta is also equated, in part, with compassion—our ability to feel the pain that we share with others. Without realizing it we continually shield ourselves from this pain because it scares us. We put up protective walls made of opinions, prejudices, and strategies, barriers that are built on a deep fear of being hurt. These walls are

Scare 2nd ptg 2/20/07 11:05 AM Thinking Bigger Page 95 95 vast mind that doesn’t narrow reality into for and against, liking and disliking. To cultivate equanimity we practice catching ourselves when we feel attraction or aversion, before it hardens into grasping or negativity. We train in staying with the soft spot and use our biases as stepping-stones for connecting with the confusion of others. Strong emotions are useful in this regard. Whatever arises, no matter how bad it feels, can be

we can stop. We aren’t disciplining our badness; we’re simply getting smart about what brings suffering and what brings happiness. We’re finally giving ourselves a break. The fifth strength is the strength that comes from Places that Scare 2nd ptg 118 2/20/07 11:05 AM Page 118 The Places That Scare You aspiration. We may not yet feel ready to act, but even in very difficult situations, we can do something to help. We can aspire to arouse bodhichitta, to free ourselves from neurosis and be

This happens because we don’t properly understand why we are practicing. Why do we meditate? This is a question we’d be wise to ask. Why would we even bother to spend time alone with ourselves? First of all, it is helpful to understand that meditation is not just about feeling good. To think that this is why we meditate is to set ourselves up for failure. We’ll assume we are doing it wrong almost every time we sit down: even the most settled meditator Places that Scare 2nd ptg 2/20/07 11:05

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