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Buddhist Wisdom From Pema Chödrön

Buddhist nun and author Pema Chödrön is renowned for her teachings on what she calls "the wisdom of no escape," which emphasizes the importance of facing our fears instead of avoiding them, and embracing life for what it is, ups and downs alike.

Throughout her life, Chödrön has been a dedicated practitioner and teacher of Buddhism whose words have inspired and guided people around the world. Born in New York City in 1936, she traveled in 1974 to the Karma Dzong Meditation Center in Colorado, where she learned from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the founder of the Shambhala Buddhist community in North America. She became one of Trungpa Rinpoche's closest disciples and was one of the first Westerners to receive full monastic ordination in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

In the years since, Chödrön has been a key figure in bringing Buddhism to the West, and has played an important role in the growth of the Shambhala community in North America. She has trained many Western Buddhist teachers, and has served as a mentor to countless students. Her message of fearlessness, compassion, and wisdom is a beacon of hope and a reminder of the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity and find peace and happiness in the midst of life's challenges.

Here, we're sharing just a few of the quotes that have earned Chödrön a reputation for wisdom and insight.

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!

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The happiness we seek is already here and it will be found through relaxation and letting go rather than through struggle.

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Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.

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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.

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Whether we experience what happens to us as obstacle and enemy or as teacher and friend depends entirely on our perception of reality. It depends on our relationship with ourselves.

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We think that brave people have no fear. The truth is that they are intimate with fear.

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Clarity and decisiveness come from the willingness to slow down, to listen and look at what’s happening.

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When we are willing to stay even a moment with uncomfortable energy, we gradually learn not to fear it.

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No one ever tells us to stop running away from fear. We are very rarely told to move closer, to just be there … The advice we usually get is to sweeten it up, smooth it over, take a pill, distract ourselves, but by all means make it go away.

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In practicing meditation, we’re not trying to live up to some kind of ideal — quite the opposite. We’re just being with our experience, whatever it is.

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When things are shaky and nothing is working, we might realize that we are on the verge of something.

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Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.

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We don’t sit in meditation to become good meditators. We sit in meditation so that we’ll become more awake in our lives.

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When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment.

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Sometimes when things fall apart, well, that’s the big opportunity to change.

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Featured image credit: Maciej Koza/ iStock

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About the Author
April Dávila
April Dávila is a lover of words. Her debut novel "142 Ostriches" was released in 2020.
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