Friday, June 24, 2011

The Places that Scare You by Pema Chodron

The Places that Scare You:  A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron is one of those treasures that comes in a surprisingly succinct package.  Barely over 200 pages, Buddhist teachings are presented with just enough personal stories from the author to put some of the more abstract ideas into a relatable context.

Maitri is one of the several teachings Chodron explores and it seems everywhere I turn self-compassion is being touted.  Or at least it is in this book and this other book.  As Chodron interprets maitri as unconditional friendliness towards oneself.  It doesn’t take much to listen to the various thoughts that slip through the mind to quickly realize that we often say things about ourselves we would never consider saying to someone we love.  And it is this essential concept that Chodron uses to reinforce the first piece of a metta meditation practice.

For those who haven’t read my blabbering about metta before, the concept is simple.  You begin by repeating a series of phrases by focusing first on yourself.  Chodron invites the reader to change the phrasing she suggests:
May I enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
May I be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May I never be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering.
May I dwell in great equanimity free from passion, aggression, and prejudice. (131)
The author moves on to discuss the tonglen practice, another way of experiencing the compassion that removes the illusion of separation by entering into another person’s suffering through a meditation practice.

This is another of those books I wished I were reading with another person so we could discuss the ideas and concepts, perhaps put into practice some of the concepts, and share our experience.  Unfortunately, I read this book alone.

This is also a book I would eagerly recommend.  Unfortunately, I only have a single copy which I am choosing to send to my mother.  If I could, I would send copies to Rossana, to Saila, and to Janice.  And then I’d give a copy to each of my children.   And my local library so they would have a copy for the community at large.

Oh well.  It’s a very good book and worth reading if you’re remotely interested in learning about Buddhism or metta meditation or tonglen practice.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...