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4.7 out of 5 stars
Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living (Shambhala Library)
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173 of 184 people found the following review helpful
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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75 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 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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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
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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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
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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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
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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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book presents Buddhist ideas and practice based around the idea that your current situation, however good or bad, is the perfect starting point for your journey toward spiritual wellness. I found the book to be very compelling. Ive read it numerous times, and each time it has an impact me. Pema Chodron has a very down-to-earth, casual and genuine writing style that I think a lot of people would respond well to. I highly recommend this book. Especially to those who constantly feel they are 'waiting' for woes and challenges to pass before tackling inner obstacles.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 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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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
Chodron's book was such a fresh breath! While most books are giving us the top ten reasons why we should deny, hide or get rid of our not-so-good feelings and emotions, she suggests that we start right there and breathe them in. She points out that as our feelings are shared simultaneously with millions of others, we are never alone. This is so obvious, but the point is rarely made.
Chodron teaches us that the self-improvement market can join the human experience! We are worthy as is.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
A guru, teacher, master etc. in Tibetan Buddhism is often called a "spiritual friend." Indeed, one of the great contemporary classics in this genre is "Advice from a Spiritual Friend" (a fine book, too). Pema Chodron's style typifies such a friend. Of course, a Buddha is supposed to have the rare ability to perceive what another person needs (vs. wants). A guru is supposed to try and do that. In a book, it's impossible to personalize the instruction. (Though you could get her wonderful 6-cassette set, "Awakening Compassion" which covers much of the same material = Lojong mind training). Nevertheless, her writing style makes it easy to read her books and her empathy seems to me to shine through her writing so that one can more easily adjust ones perspective to attune to the book and the point she is making. In this particular book she addresses the Lojong mind training she received from Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, her Guru. It includes many very helpful and useful precepts. This is a great book, but I did like some of her others a bit better. I'd give it 4.5 stars if I could.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one of the very best Buddhist books I've read (and for better or worse I've read tons). Pema Chodron's guide is a skillful and relevant spin on ancient Tibetan Buddhist teachings, known as "lojong" or spiritual development. Give this book to yourself, or to a friend, Buddhist or non-Buddhist matters not.
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