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The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times (Shambhala Classics) Paperback – August 13, 2002
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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 --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
From Publishers Weekly
The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron. Chodron, a Buddhist nun, offers plans of action for coping with anxiety, fear and uncertainty.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Where this book comes up short is that it is highly repetitive, especially in the middle chapters. She basically repeats the same exercise for practicing lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. I didn't get as much as I would like out of those sections; I think they're more for someone who's in a heavy-duty meditation practice.
I think this book could be easily misinterpreted by someone who picks it at random from a library or bookstore. The stuff that's talked about in here may seem simple or even counter-intuitive, but I believe it's the result of the author's long spiritual journey. Many self-help books and religions advertise that they can cure whatever your problem was in X easy steps (and have testimonials to prove it). The Places That Scare You says that there is relief from suffering, but finding relief is just the beginning.
I bought the paperback version of this book years ago, before I had my first Kindle. Currently the Kindle price is 62 percent higher than the paperback price. Ridiculous. I’d like to get Pema Chodron’s books in Kindle format, but that will never happen at these prices.