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The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times Hardcover – August 21, 2001


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The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times + When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Shambhala Library) + Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 1st edition (August 21, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570624097
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570624094
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Pema Chödrön may have more good one-liners than a Groucho Marx retrospective, but this nun's stingers go straight to the heart: "The essence of bravery is being without self-deception"; "When we practice generosity, we become intimate with our grasping"; "Difficult people are the greatest teachers." These are the punctuations to specific teachings of fearlessness. In The Places That Scare You, Chödrön introduces a host of the compassionate warriors' tools and concepts for transforming anxieties and negative emotions into positive living. Rather than steeling ourselves against hardship, she suggests we open ourselves to vulnerability; from this comes the loving kindness and compassion that are the wellsprings of joy. How do we achieve it? Through meditation, mindfulness, slogans, aspiration, and several other practices, such as tonglen, which is taking in the pain and suffering of others while sending out happiness to all--emphasis on the all. Chödrön introduces each of these practices in turn, backing them up with succinct practical reasoning and a framework of ideas that offers fresh interpretations of familiar words like strength, laziness, and groundlessness. Chödrön is the type of person you'd like to have with you in an emergency, and to deal with the extremes of daily life. In her absence, The Places That Scare You will do nicely. --Brian Bruya

From Publishers Weekly

American Tibetan Buddhist nun Chodron (When Things Fall Apart) teaches an intense form of meditation in which readers are encouraged to become "warrior-bodhisattvas," those who courageously confront suffering. Warrior-bodhisattvas, according to Chodron, are willing to have their inner selves broken, while keeping their minds and hearts from shutting down. They take on suffering with compassion and loving-kindness, working through their own emotions of fear or anger to help alleviate others' pain. Chodron highlights six traditional paramitas to model (generosity, discipline, patience, enthusiasm, meditation and unconditional wisdom) and cautions that ego, self-deception, unforgiveness and a grasping for permanence all present barriers to compassion. True meditation cultivates the qualities of steadfastness, clarity of vision and attention to the present moment. Despite the title, this book is more about generating compassion than facing fears. A few humorous vignettes are interspersed with the deeply philosophical text, such as when Chodron describes discovering her boyfriend in an intimate embrace with another woman. She tried to throw something at the couple, but the thing she picked up was a priceless piece of pottery that belonged to their millionaire host. "The absurdity of the situation totally cut through my rage," she explains, noting that many times "wisdom is inherent in emotions." Moments such as these mitigate the intensity of this highly cerebral book, which will offer meaty reflections for the serious practitioner, but less guidance for the mere bookstore Buddhist. (Sept.)Forecast: This title will receive some terrific exposure this fall. Shambhala Sun will excerpt two chapters and feature Chodron on the cover of its August/September issue, and New Age Journal will run an excerpt in September. In the piece de resistance, O magazine will run a substantial profile on Chodron in the October issue.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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

I've read this book three times in two weeks.
"aregulardad"
It helps us understand how to live life in an open, balanced and fearless way.
C. Ghezzo
Buddhisim in an easy and very well explained way.
Doly Mallet Flores

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

177 of 181 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Scheer on November 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the current age of anxiety, Pema Chödrön is both a refreshing and challenging voice. Basically, she encourages us to see problems as spiritual opportunities. Instead of trying to run from discomfort, she advocates staying put and learning about ourselves. Instead of habitually reaching for whatever palliative gives relief -- always temporary -- she suggests feeling and observing our discomforts, becoming more fully present in our lives, learning how to be truly here now. Only through this process, she says, can we experience the deep joy of being alive.
This is a great companion volume to her book "When Things Fall Apart." It elaborates on themes introduced there, describing several practices of Tibetan Buddhism, some ancient and long forgotten, which help us not only cope with anxiety but use it to overcome fearfulness. This is an important spiritual effort because while we typically think of hate as the enemy of love, it is really fear that makes love difficult. Fear immobilizes us, makes us pull the covers over our heads, and isolates us from others.
Chödrön, a student of Chögyam Trungpa, encourages the consistent practice of meditation. And she discounts the usual results-driven expectations people associate with it, pointing out that as we confront our true selves in meditation, it often becomes more and more difficult, not easier. And for those who have found meditation fiercely frustrating, as I have, she has alternatives. The practice of "tonglen" is one simple spiritual ritual that can be done anywhere, anytime, providing a dramatic and freeing shift in emotional perspective.
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150 of 157 people found the following review helpful By "aregulardad" on April 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I've read this book three times in two weeks. I read so many books about wisdom. The Four Agreements (not so good), meditation by Jack Kornfeld books, Nietzche, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. I've read Pema Chodron's previous books, and those didn't speak to me as deeply as this one does. I don't read just to pass the time. I read to find wisdom. This book contains deep wisdom.
The author lays out ways to analyze ourselves, our emotions and our thoughts. She discusses how we as humans react to our thoughts and pain. Her book analyzes the causes and roots of suffering. She then asks "why do must people suffer in such a similar way?". Decades of acquired wisdom are then offered.
The causes and roots of suffering are our fleeing from pain, running for comfort. Fleeing without knowing why, fleeing without knowing where we are going. The descriptions of human behaivor are spot on accurate. This describes so many Western philosophers, political reformers, talented artists, and many people who are looking to find 'the one true way'.
After laying out the causes of suffering, she distills her understanding of human behaivor, and gives us ways to approach these problems. Practical, approachable ways that you can build on over time. This isn't a set of principles of "Look at the world with happiness, and you too will be happy", or a collection of trite sayings to convince yourself "You're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggone it, people like you". Slogans don't allow us to analyze and understand the root causes of our pain and suffering. This book lays out those causes. And it lays out ways we can study suffering, and use our efforts to transform our lives from unsure, troubled beings to people who have a firm grasp of themselves.
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85 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Sandra D. Peters on September 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Pema Chodron, a Tibetan Buddhis nun, is the one inspirational person you would choose to have with you when your world falls apart. Being a follower of Buddhist Philosophies for many years, I have found inner peace, strength, love and fulfillment through my beliefs. Each one of us must find "enlightenment" from whatever source we alone believe in, but for me, personally, Buddhism has been the answer. As the author reminds us, "Loving kindness comes from opening ourselves to vulnerability."
Meditation, mindfulness and practices such as "tonglen" (taking in the pain and suffering of others while sending out happiness) can be key tools in ridding ourselves of negativity, anxiety and fear. Each of us has within us the power to overcome that which causes us fear. Chodron explains how we can use these tools to overcome almost any obstacle or challenge.
Another book by the same author which is highly recommended is "When Things Fall Apart." Both offer excellent words of wisdom and advice and both are deserving of a five-star rating. Chodron is a teacher, a sage, an inspirationalist, a mentor and a prime example of one who is good, compassionate, understanding, kind and loving.
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66 of 69 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
Pema Chodron seems to get mostly favorable reactions from reviewers, although a few are turned off by what they see as her complacency and hard-edged analysis. To the latter, I suggest reading "traditional" self-help books (there are plenty out there) that are either squishy (John Bradshaw and Wayne Dwyer come to mind) or tell you to "Just Do It" (Eat That Frog, Who Moved My Cheese).
I like Chodron and this book because I think she takes a middle path between compassion and "tough love". So many books tell us to be in the moment and experience life just as it is, warts and all. I think this book goes into a little more depth regarding the many aspects of awareness and the mind-games we play with ourselves. I also get a sense that Ms. Chodron has been through a lot in life, from both a personal and a spiritual perspective. That makes her writing a little more down to earth than, say, Deepak Chopra (many of you will cringe that I even mentioned his name in this review).
An interesting insight that I got from this book is the concept of groundlessness. In 12-step programs and some Christian circles they talk about being "spiritually grounded", which means to have beliefs that are not whimsical or based on hunches, but are well-established principles espoused by your program/religion. Chodron would appear to disagree with this description somewhat, and I'm on her side, in that you should always question what the truth is, even the Buddha's teachings. Even enlightenment is not the end, she says, but really is just the start of truly living. Groundlessness, then, is being able to be in the moment with no pre-conceived ideas or desires for a particular outcome. It could also be called egolessness.
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