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Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living (Shambhala Library) Hardcover


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Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living (Shambhala Library) + When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Shambhala Library) + Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change
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Product Details

  • Series: Shambhala Library
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 1St Edition edition (March 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590301420
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590301425
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Pema Chodron is a Buddhist nun for regular folks. Having raised a family of her own, she doesn't shy away from persistent troubles and the basic meatiness of life. In fact, in Start Where You Are, Chodron tries to get us to see that the faults and foibles in each of us now are the perfect ingredients for creating a better life. No need to wait for a quieter time or a more settled mind. The trick Chodron says is to repattern ourselves, to transform bad habits into good by first opening ourselves to the groundlessness of existence. When the cliff dissolves beneath our feet, fear has a way of actually lessening. Fearlessness opens the way to recognizing our pushy egos and that rather than being cursed with original sin, we are blessed with an original soft spot--the squishy feeling inside that we all have, that is the seat of true compassion, and that we all do our best to armor over. Chodron is the kind of teacher who has seen it all and keeps pushing us back into ourselves until there's no one left to wrestle with but a certain recalcitrant image in the mirror. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"This book is about awakening the heart," writes the American Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chodron. "If you have every wondered how to awaken your genuine compassionate heart, this book will serve you as a guide." This is a broad and simple statement, and those unfamiliar with When Things Fall Apart or other titles by Chodron may rightfully fear that a volley of nonsensical fuzzballs is on the way. Good bedtime reading, perhaps, but in the decade since its original 1994 publication, there seems to be even less grounds to claim that all humans are innately capable of openness, clarity and compassion (or "bodhichitta"). What follows, however, is a savvy, down-to-earth contemporary version of an old Tibetan Buddhist technique for mind training, or "lojong," supported by instructions in basic sitting meditation practice (to cultivate tranquility and insight) and "tonglen"—a meditative technique that involves taking in the dark, heavy, negative emotions and sending out an attitude of light, compassionate embrace, a warm spaciousness, in its place. Chodron supplies a pithy contemporary analysis for each of 59 "slogans" that make up the teaching behind this practice. "There is a saying that is the underlying principle of tonglen and slogan practice: ‘Gain and victory to others, loss and defeat to myself,’" she writes. Far from being as masochistic as this may sound to Western ears, however, the aim is get people to unclench the heart and mind, to dare to taste defeat. Although far from easy, Chodron’s humane, incisive approach can help any sincere reader learn to relate to fear and pain and pleasure and joy in a way that will open their hearts to the richness of their own lives and all life.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Pema Chödrön is an American Buddhist nun in the lineage of Chögyam Trungpa. She is resident teacher at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, the first Tibetan monastery in North America established for Westerners. She is also the author of many books and audiobooks, including the best-selling When Things Fall Apart and Don't Bite the Hook.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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A book worth reading and re-reading.
David Enzel
Pema Chodron has a wonderfully practical down-to-Earth way of putting things, and she has a delightful sense of humor.
Chersteen A. Colby
I've purchased a few of her other books on "tape" and have enjoyed listening to them all.
Svadhyaya

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

160 of 169 people found the following review helpful By KTB on December 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
I absolutely loved this book. I read it for a class about wisdom and of the 10 books we had to read I'm only keeping three; this is one. I didn't know anything about Buddhism before reading this and I don't feel that I need to be a Buddhist in order to benefit from Pema's insights. Her advice for living (taken right from lojong slogans from Buddhist traditions) can be taken on many different levels. I don't feel that you need to go deep into the practice in order to benefit from any of this books teachings. You take from it what you need to. I'm adding my voice to the many here who have praised her, Pema Chodron has written a wonderful, helpful book. If you're in pain emotionally I highly recommend it. If you just want to get some peace in your life I highly recommend it. Everyone needs help coping with living, even if it's just a little. Pema has given us a guide to one way of coping.
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65 of 66 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
I highly recommend Start Where You Are for anyone who is serious about meditation practice and wants an earthy, no frills, no pretentions guide to compassionate living. Pema Chodron stresses that in order to act with compassion toward others, one must start with themselves, openning up that can of worms full of all the messy stuff that we would all rather not fess up to.
At a very difficult time in my life, I just kept starting at the beginning every time I finished reading it. I felt as if I knew Pema Chodron personally by reading her books. And having read everything of Chogyam Trungpa's that I could find prior, I had a strong grasp of the foundation from which she learned, but that is certainly not a prerequisite to benefiting from her teachings.
I would also strongly recommend her earlier book: The Wisdom of No Escape.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
I'm not a Buddhist and I'm allergic to meditation, but I work in a bookstore. Seeing lots of Pema Chodron books (and a lot of different kinds of people buying them), I decided to take a peek one day. I wound up buying this book, reading a chapter or two that night. I slept more peacefully than I had in years.
Also, unlike a lot of other books on Eastern religion that I've read, she uses really western metaphors, which makes the book very accessible.
Besides, how could you NOT like a book that contains the line:
"One of my favorite dharma teachers is Dr. Seuss; he captures the human condition so beautifully."
So, if you'd like to know what Star-Belly Sneetches have to do with compassionate living with an open heart, this is definitely the book for you.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
Pema Chodron is a wonderful teacher, who shares time honored techniques of breathing in suffering and anger and breathing out compassion and love in a way that is so guileless and disarming that it is almost guaranteed to touch your heart.
This book works on many levels... I am not a 'serious practitioner,' by any means, but someone who goes to work every day and has to deal with many frustrations and stresses, but this book offers practical methods that help you deal with just these impediments in your life, so that you can be happier, and give more happiness to others.
I also sense that for someone who is more dedicated to making their life centered on spiritual practice, this book is a foundation for such a disciplined path as well.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy P on February 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
My girlfriend bought me this book over the holidays, and I blew it off but finally had a chance read it from start to finish in a matter of 2 days. Pema Chodron wrote this book with clarity for everyone to understand her beliefs. I've read numerous other books pertaining to Buddhism and this one is by the far the easiest one to understand and comprehend. This book is based around the idea of being compassionate to yourself which in turn will penetrate others around you to develop some level of compassion. Chodron does an excellent job of motivating oneself to clear their mind and avoid unnecessary feelings of anger, aggression, pleasure, etc. Not only does Chodron explain the necessary steps to clear your mind, but she compliments this explanation with examples from her personal experience with students and teachers. The verbage outlined in this book is very easy to comprehend versus other Buddhist books I picked up and read. I've noticed in the past I've had to re-read certain passages quite a few times to fully understand it's meaning, but not with this book. This book motivates me to "start" working on myself, and in doing so it will encourage me to open my eyes to everyone and everything in this world.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is bound to become a classic! One of the Buddhist practices, called The Seven Points of Training the Mind, is very complex and is comprised of over 50 "slogans" or "proverbs" to live by. In this book, Pema Chodron ingeniously weaves all of them into the contents with caring, humor, and inspired examples of how these slogans 'work' in our every day lives. Throughout, the goal is always tonglen, a special meditative practice that can be done in formal practice or while walking, at work or with the family. This book is insightful, practical wisdom for today's world to expand into lovingkindness ... individual by individual.
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