December 5, 2007

"Start Where You Are"

A Guide to
Compassionate Living
by Pema Chodron

"Start Where You Are" is an indispensable handbook for cultivating fearlessness and awakening a compassionate heart. With insight and humor, Pema Chödrön presents down-to-earth guidance on how we can "start where we are" — embracing rather than denying the painful aspects of our lives. Pema Chödrön frames her teachings on compassion around fifty-nine traditional Tibetan Buddhist maxims, or slogans, such as: "Always apply only a joyful state of mind," "Don't seek others' pain as the limbs of your own happiness," and "Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment." Working with these slogans and through the practice of meditation, "Start Where You Are" shows how we can all develop the courage to work with our inner pain and discover joy, well-being, and confidence.

Meaningful Quotes:

With our minds we make a big deal out ourselves, out of our pain, and out of our problems.

I'd like to encourage us all to lighten up, to practice with a lot of gentleness.

"Well, mylife has taught me to be more curious than afraid." Ishi

There's nothing really wrong with passion or aggression or ignorance, except we take it so personally...

By acting out or repressing we invite suffering, bewilderment, or confusion to intensify.

Underneath all that craving or aversion or jealousy or feeling wretched about yourself, underneath all that hopelessness and despair and depression, there's something extremely soft, which is called bodhichitta.

...compassion starts with making friends with ourselves, and particularly with our poisons - the messy areas. this is very important, this making friends with ourselves. It's the key to a more sane, compassionate planet.

What you do for yourself - any gesture of kindness, any gesture of gentleness, any gesture of honesty and clear seeing toward yourself - will affect how you experience the world.

How can we help? The way we can help is by making friends with our own feelings of hatred, bewilderment and so forth. Then we can accept them in others.

The only way to effect real reform is without hatred.

...other people trigger the karma that we haven't worked out.

"You should never have expectations for other people. Just be kind to them." Trungpa Rinpoche

"But you only get two minutes for regret." unknown

The happiness we seek is our birthright. To discover it we need to be more gentle with ourselves, more compassionate toward ourselves and our universe. The happiness we seek cannot be found through grasping, trying to hold on to things. It cannot be found through getting serious and uptight about wanting things to go in the direction we think will bring happiness. We are always taking hold of the wrong end of the stick. The point is that the happiness we seek is already here and it will be found through relaxation and letting go rather than through struggle.

You begin to realize that all the (Buddhist) teachings are about yourself; you're here to study yourself.

Dharma is basically a good recipe for how to cook yourself, how to soften the hardest, toughest piece of meat. Dharma is good instruction on how to stop cheating yourself, how to stop robbing yourself, how to find out who you really are...

Searching for happiness prevents us from ever finding it.

Buddhism itself is all about empowering yourself, not about getting what you want.

The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need in order to open your heart.

The key to feeling at home with your body, mind, and emotions, to feeling worthy to live on this planet, comes from being able to lighten up.

The key to compassionate action is this: Everybody needs someone to be there for them, simply to be there.

If we really want to communicate, we have to give up knowing what to do. When we come in with our agendas, they only block us from seeing the person in front of us.

Patience implies willingness to be alive rather than trying to seek harmony.

Other Books by Pema Chodron:
Always Maintain a Joyful Mind
Awakening Compassion
Awakening Loving-kindness
Comfortable with Uncertainty
Don't Bite the Hook
From Fear to Fearlessness
Getting Unstuck
Good Medicine
Noble Heart
No Time to Lose
Pema Chodron and Alice Walker in Conversation
The Pema Chodron Collection
The Places That Scare You
Practicing Peace in Times of War
Pure Meditation
When Things Fall Apart
Wisdom of No Escape