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I have not always been the best listener. Shhhh…no one knows that. Um, right.
I’m pretty sure that the universe has been clear on that one little factoid from the get, because it’s developed some wily ways to hammer ideas into my head. One of my favorites is when something I should be ‘getting’ keeps popping up into my screen like a ninja. Catching me unawares, hoping that the shock factor will make an impression. It’s always when I least expect it, and sometimes the very oddness of the situation has been enough to make it rank highly enough in importance to garner notice.
Another favorite is when it seems like no matter which way I turn, or who I strike up a conversation with, that idea is there – I call that the ‘saturation’ technique. It’s like they (being who exactly – pronouns are tricky in metaphysics) figure if they just tell me often enough, it will finally erode my belligerence enough to get in there and make an impression.
The one that’s most apparent is the “I can’t get any further” technique. This almost always happens when I’m reading something that will end up being pretty darn important to me – I start, and get only so far. And then I keep picking that book up and reading from the beginning, because a part of me must realize that I need to read it again. And again. And again.
For the past week, I’ve picked up Pema Chodron’s book Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living about seventy-five times, only to read and reread the first page, and never get any further. I love Pema Chodron. She has a way of phrasing complex and abstract spiritual principles in a way that even the most philosophically stunted or spiritually stubborn among us can access, understand, and implement.
And that simplicity is something that attracts me – because deep down, I know that it doesn’t need to be hard. I make it hard.
Here’s a little spiritual snack for all of you – and a taste of what I’m hung up on this week:
We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves – the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and addictions of all kinds – never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. (Chodron, Start Where You Are)
If you knew me, I’m sure you could pick out about fifteen different spots where my brain is getting in the way of this. And that’s okay. Because I’ll get it when I get it. What she’s trying to hand me is easy…and when I get tired of making it hard, it’ll finally sink in and I’ll be able to read page two.