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Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living Paperback – May 24, 1994
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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
From Library Journal
American Buddhist nun Chodron, who was trained in the Tibetan tradition by the late Chogyam Trungpa, provides a book of meditative insights and instructions based on the 59 Tibetan Buddhist slogans for developing compassion, e.g., "When we find that we are holding back, here is instruction on how to give." While some of the slogans depend on Buddhist teaching, many-such as "be grateful to everyone"-are widely applicable. Chodron's teachings are supported by personal reflections, clear explanations, and an attention to how one may achieve the goal of compassion. Useful both for Buddhist meditators and those wanting to understand Buddhist spirituality, this is recommended for large public and academic libraries.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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My initial thoughts are that this book could be summed appropriately with the philosophy "Don't sweat the small stuff. And don't sweat the big stuff either. In fact, don't sweat at all."
Equally though, it also counsels not to get overly ecstatic or confident when things go your way.
The key seems to be not to let hurdles, obstacles or setbacks get you too down for too long. Equally, to not let successes think you cannot fail. Be calm and mild, either way.
So, wherever you are, at any time, start from there, taking a middle path of not too much fear or sadness as well as not too much confidence and elation. After all, all feelings and situations are temporary.
I'm glad I read it and look forward to having time to read it again slowly and contemplatively.
I picked this book after reading Eckart Tolle's New Earth. Pema Chodron speaks to many of the same issues from a little different perspective that, while perhaps more religious, seems clearer to me; more understandable. At the same time, I also think it's possible that many of us need to read both perspectives to gain a better understanding.
I was attracted to this book by the title. Being able to Start Where You Are was an empowering notion. It was the idea that I don't need to wait till I (grow up, finish school, lose weight, get married, get divorced, get a job, retire) to (develop spiritually, be happy, find peace). Most particularly I don't need to stop suffering to be happy, or start my journey. Instead, I can use my suffering to facilitate my development & growth. The CD version is true to all of these ideas.