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When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Shambhala Library) Hardcover – September 17, 2002
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Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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It is nearly impossible to summarize or characterize this fine book. In some 150 pages it covers more than a person could hope to absorb in many years, if not a lifetime. We may know the Buddha's famous insight that human pain and suffering result from desire and aversion. But few writers have been able to articulate as well as Chödrön the implications of that insight in ways that make sense to the Western mind. As just one example from this book, her discussion of the "six kinds of loneliness" (chap. 9) illustrates how our desires to achieve intimacy with others are an attempt to run away from a deep encounter with ourselves. Our continuing efforts to establish security for ourselves are a denial of fundamental truths, which prevents our deep experience of the joy of living. Our reluctance to love ourselves and others closes down our hearts.
Chödrön invites us to be fascinated, as she is, by paradox. On hopelessness and death (chap. 7) she writes: "If we're willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation. This is the first step on the path.Read more ›
When I attended a Pema Chodron lecture some years ago she announced that her favorite manta is "Om, grow up!" It takes great courage to meet life on life's terms and accept responsiblity for our actions. And since life invariably brings challenges associated with disappointment and loss, the work continues to the moment of death. In our addicted society, that is a message all too readily rejected. Pema is not for the faint of heart! But if you intend to claim your aliveness, to risk intimacy, to share joy, her words are worth attending to. Namaste.
This is not a book of "thought" filled advice from the mind, but a book (as the subtitle states) of heart advice. Pema openly shares some of her own experience as things fall apart, when her old way of doing things was no longer working.
I bought it to give to my (fully grown) son when he was going through some difficult times. It wasn't what he needed or related to, so I read it myself.
I like the way she points out that when things fall apart, that usually means we are on the brink of a change of some kind. My usual practice is to try to hold on to the familiar ways, but as I am finding out, that just doesn't work. And if it does, I am usually even more miserable. Depending on the kind of change you are experiencing, allowing it to happen with less resistance, without fear, can ease the opening to a new way.
This is a disturbing thought to many of us. Give in? No way. Why, what if your spouse is cheating and you lose your job and you have a fatal illness and the sky is falling and you don't resist? (Ah, well -- most probably your spouse will still have cheated, that job will be lost, you will still have the illness and the sky will continue to fall.)
On page 10 she says, "To stay with that shakiness -- to stay wth a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge-- that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic-- that is the spirtual path.Read more ›
This book is the opposite of the quick fix, life-is-a-bowl-of-cherries self-help manual. Reading it was an experience laced with sadness, relief, and finally a kind of temperate joy.
All I can really say is that it's a masterpiece in my view; entirely sane, liberating, full of truth and light.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I wish I was able to read this like 10 years ago. Maybe my life would have been better.Published 7 days ago by Ariel Adrian Gonzales
How to overcome suffering the Buddhist way - through meditation. This Buddhist philosophy is a poignant way to overcome those mental habits that stand in the way of happiness. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Modesta Belzer
Pema Chodron lets you look into yourself to find what you need to heal yourself.
Her writing is so clear and concise and very helpful. 'Loved it!
Pema is a great inspirational writer. Well faceted enabling me to view things from different perspectives.Published 17 days ago by Tim Martin
Wonderful wonderful book. I read this on my daily commute and it has been such a balm to the heart. It has helped me to delve deeper into Buddhism in really easy-to-understand... Read morePublished 28 days ago by Amazon Customer
Maybe not for those in the depths of depression but for those of us prone to fall in this is a gem. It is about staying on the narrow path in the first place. Be diligent. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Frederick S. Hees