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95 of 97 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I have read numerous titles of Pema Chodron and this is some of her most succint and insightful work yet. Her interpretations of Shantideva's poem are accessible and applicable to anyone's life regardless of your religion or lack thereof. She has the ability to tap into all the the "hooks" that catch us and make us want to fuel the fire of our own anger, irritation etc. She illuminates the road to walk away from those reactions and explains how to not engage with those thoughts even though it is tempting to engage because of past habits. I appreciate her honesty as someone who has "been there" and her way of making an 8th century text something that applies right now. I have found myself listening to it repeatedly so that the teachings permeate my thinking. Loved it.
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93 of 95 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
-This book represents something wonderful happening with Eastern spirituality during its exile. Gradually, teachers are finding ways to communicate deep spiritual concepts, in a way that Westerners can really understand and find the "juice". This CD deals with a fundamental Buddhist concept, "attachment". I've been aware of this term for many years, but it didn't really mean much to me at all.
-Buddhists are supposed to eliminate their "attachments", but what does this mean? Should you abandon your loved ones? Leave the healthy things in your life that you love the most? It doesn't mean that!
-Working with her guru, Ani Pema has found language to explain the concept of attachment to Americans. Our attachments are not the objects of our love, but the way that happenings in our life "hook" us. A driver cuts you off, and calls you a "meathead!", say. Within less than a second, you are in a rage. You may even "see red"--yes, seeing red is a possible human physical experience of anger. Assuming you restrain yourself from retaliating, for the next few hours your mind is a turmoil of anger, revenge fantasies, thoughts of what you should have done, self- recrimination perhaps, and a deeply buried sick feeling you may not even be aware of.
-You've been "hooked"! Deep emotional and behavioral patterns have been triggered, so fast that you couldn't dodge them. Ani Pema shows how to do the hard work of coming to terms with these reactions, so you can walk through the world doing a bit less damage, leaving a more beautiful footprint. This can be a labor of years, no mistake. But through this CD you can see clear to the end of where you're going, and start on a path you can understand somewhat, and which becomes much clearer the further you go.
-There is a Buddhist joke about a Samurai who comes to a Zen monk and asks what "hell" and "heaven" are. The Buddhist starts insulting the Samurai and the Samurai pulls out his sword to kill him. The monk says "That's hell." The Samurai experiences a moment of awakening. The monk says "That's heaven."
-Your habitual and naive reactions are a good way of understanding one aspect of the concept of "Karma", your inherited and unconsciously built up destructive behavior. Karma is not a mystical concept of "fate". In fact, Buddhists emphasize that your destiny isn't unchangeable.
-One reviewer here comments that this shows you how not to engage with these thoughts. In fact, you DO engage with them--you just don't give them complete power over you. You come to terms with your deeper self including your faults. You may feel disgust at being so subject to manipulation by events, but you can then apply "loving kindness" to yourself, not excusing your mistakes, but coming to terms with your true self as a loving parent might help you to do. Anger itself isn't bad. In fact, many times it is fully "justified", Lord knows. But losing your mind because of it is something to avoid.
-You might like to know that anger will still hurt, after you have taken most of its power over you. Buddhists are not invulnerable. In fact they must expose their tender, awakened hearts to suffering, in order to learn the lessons of their lives.
-Anger is one example of an attachment. There are many others, including the sick idea that you must never lose your loved ones, because you will then fall apart. Everything in life passes, but there is always room for love without self-deception.
- There is nothing in these CDs to offend other religions. Nothing urges you to convert to the Buddhist religion (if it is a religion at all.) Christians can practice these down-to-earth spiritual exercises, and become better Christians through doing so. I'm a Christian myself. Catholics may like to know that some of the Dalai Lama's books on spiritual exercises have received the Imprimatur.
-Intellectual understanding isn't enough; you have to practice these ideas to understand them fully. If you want to move from dry concepts to fresh, vital, "juicy" experience and deep understanding, this CD is a wonderful start.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 28, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Do you find yourself caught in maybe a lifetime of negative reactions to certain events, people, or addictive behaviors in certain situations? Do you find it almost impossible to control yourself from reacting negatively to certain relatives, TV shows, or politicians? Have you ever bought something just because you felt like it was something you should buy, or it was "you," and then gotten it home and felt sick because you didn't need it or shouldn't have spent the money? Who hasn't? Pema Chodron's easy to understand discourse can help you get beyond these self-destructive behaviors in no time. The freedom and peace that lies outside of living in reaction is your reward for listening to this teaching. There is nothing here that will contradict any religious beliefs you may hold, but if more churches, for example, were teaching what she offers here in this simple and straightforward way, utterly without judgment, I think they would find their Sunday attendance would increase significantly. Pema Chodron is entirely sympathetic to the human condition, and rather than condemn it, she helps us clearly identify the behaviors that keep us from living in lovingkindness and joy. I recommend all her books and tapes highly, but if you can only get one to start with, start here.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2009
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I have listened to these three Pema "tapes" (CDs) at home on my clock radio and in the car on the way to or from the school where I teach. I find that there is a noticeable, positive, more peaceful difference in the way I react to stress and others throughout the whole say on my Pema days. Others have started to notice. The middle school students I teach notice that I don't raise my voice as often. one of my buddhist students and one of my buddhist teacher friends honed in on the different energy levels when I had been listening to Pema before school. My niece, who is five years my junior noticed, too, and I let her listen to the "tapes." She is much calmer with her two small and energetic children and the things that used to get ehr riled with her husband dont' pack the same negative energy "punch." What she says about anger being an addiction we train ourself to beahve and feel over time rings so very true. It does, however, take training. i am so very glad to have these discs. They are such a lovely gift from Pema to us and from us to whoever we interact with ona daily basis.
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119 of 145 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 22, 2007
Format: Audio CD
This is a seemingly extemporaneous western commentary (in front of an audience) on the 1st 51 verses of Shantideva's 8th c. The Way of the Bodhisattva: A Translation of the Bodhicharyavatara (Shambhala Dragon Editions). It complements Pema's recent book No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva & (probably, since I haven't heard it yet) her Bodhisattva Mind: Teachings to Cultivate Courage and Awareness in the Midst of Suffering 7 CD set which covers 106 verses of the text. So this is a shorter version. The 1st CD is 54:11 in 13 tracks with an avg. of 4:10 & max. of 8:24; the 2nd CD is 77:31 in 20 tracks with an avg. of 3:53 & max. of 11:04; the 3rd CD is 51:15 in 16 tracks with an avg. of 3:12 & max. of 15:52. Overall avg. is 3:53 per track. Total exceeds 3 hours, 9 minutes. The very last track is Q&A of 3 questions--practice vs. repression, medications, & crying. Robert Walker reads each verse before Pema comments on it. She believes Shantideva wrote it in response to his own anger. As usual, she compassionately teaches compassion, using humor, graphic examples (e.g. the Gregory Peck classic "To Kill a Mockingbird" & personal experiences (e.g. visiting prisons). Interestingly, she succeeds in relating lojong mind training to Bodhisattva compassion training. While much of the teaching is not new (see her other fine works) it bears repeating. It's easy to learn the theory but not to actually practice it--repetition & reinforcement can help, but mindfulness & alertness are essential.

More specifically, Pema extensively addresses "the austerity of patience" as armor against Karma, noting that humor aids patience. This helps to defuse the us/them binary mentality at the root of suffering = seeing people as "other." Rather, one can use life's difficulties to awaken your kinship with others--developing empathy. This ties in with Pema's tonglen practice--sending & receiving practice, esp. tonglen-on-the-spot (mentioned briefly here). Indeed, our anger can be our teacher (a la Vajrayana's propensity to turn poison into elixir). We can practice using small annoyances (Bourgeois suffering)--being patient rather than aggravating them by complaining--thus avoiding self-inflicted pain & negative habit-building. Rather than following addictive urges, "we are always working with our potential to be bothered" by reframing our attitude to discomfort & "finding out what intolerable feels like w/o reacting to it." As she points out, by practicing mind training, we have tools that others don't, so have patience, compassion, & tolerance for them as well as for yourself. Thus, we can develop Herbert Guenther's water logic vs. rock logic--flowing/open vs. rigid/fixed--fluidity vs. structure, resting in ambiguity. Thus, we ease our attachment (shenpa), the Hook in the title, the charge behind our likes & dislikes--even our commitment to the environment can be an obstacle (turning elixir into poison). We tend to identify with our own thoughts [my bumper sticker says: "You don't have to believe everything you think"]. Rather, per Mahamudra/Dzogchen teachings, "taming the mind is returning to the natural state of openness" & joyously appreciating the "magical apparition" (display). This is a lovely, user-friendly CD set.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2007
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Pema Chodron explains the Buddhist philosophy in this as well as her many other CDs in a clear, relevant manner with just the right touch of humor relating to the human condition. She has mastered the philosophy, yet her modesty lets the listener know that she has been where we listeners often are. Easier to absorb than reading, for me, and a lot more fun. A great way to clear the mind at night when trying to get negative thoughts out of my head and helpful to prepare for sleep. I actually fall asleep with the headphones on and hope that perhaps my subconscious is learning her explanations of various instructions. Super for the novice or the more advanced student.
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40 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2008
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This recording is ok. I had not heard Pema speak before and she does have an engaging speakers voice. I was disappointed however as I did not realize this recording is mostly about interpreting verses from Shantideva's writings. I wanted more practical advice (from a buddhist perspective) on how to deal with anger. I don't believe this recording provided that. Would I buy it again knowing what I know now? No, there is not a lot of substance to it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2010
Format: Audio CD
There are so many excellent and detailed reviews, so I will just add a few words. I have been listening to this set over and over for more than a year now, and it has changed my life in terms of my ability to cope with people, with life, and with myself without resorting to counterproductive strategies. I did not even know where I was going with it when I bought it, but I keep finding more and more in it each time I replay it. Pema's teachings mostly address anger and hatred, but she repeatedly counsels that what she is discussing also applies to any habitual response we have to not getting what we want (and getting what we don't want), including addictions and numbing out. I really like the practical and down to earth way she phrases things, and her personal and revealing examples. I have since purchased many of Pema's CD's and books, but I would recommend this as the best, or at least the first, one to study. I am so grateful that I found it, and look forward to continuing to grow with Pema's teachings.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
The entire book is wonderful -- after reading so many works (and listening to some talks) by noted teachers and other Buddhist practitioners about this or that element of the philosophy/faith, it's refreshing to just hear someone talk. That is, rather than innundating a lay listening like myself with this or that concept in Sanskrit or Pali and using confusing allegories that made perfect sense when they were related several thousand years ago, listening to the wonderful words of Pema Chodron is so nice.
Above all other teachers, she talks to me -- and the many thousands of others who listen to hear -- as if she were a friend. She tells me about her own experiences and then makes fun of herself and so I don't feel like she's someone above me, someone to work at trying to be. She just seems to be someone who is further along the same path I'm walking down.
The only reason that I have any problem with this audio book is that the idea of Shenpa in the book was still a little unclear to me after I had finished it. Although now I know that Shenpa is a bit ephemeral; this was never explained, clearly at least, in the book.
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82 of 106 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2007
Format: Audio CD
This is an advisory not a review. The content of these three CD's is excellent. When Pema speaks there is a continual popping-clicking sound which is not present when Robert Walker the reader speaks. This indicates to me a defect in the original recording, perhaps in her attached microphone. I'm surprised these weren't picked up by the sound technicians and the noises eliminated during the recording. These odd sounds exist through the entire recording and for me were disconcerting.
Listening to Pema speak I was getting annoyed by the strange crackling sounds when I realized she was discussing "bourgeois suffering"--those minor things that irritate all of us, traffic jams, rude people, not getting your correct seat in an airplane, etc. I laughed and finished all three CD's, crackling sounds and all. If odd noises like this bother you, be forewarned.
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