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By Pema Chodron
Published by Shambhala on 2018-06-26
RELIGION, HEALTH and FITNESS, SELF-HELP, BODY, MIND and SPIRIT
It’s true, as they say, that we can only love others when we first love ourselves. And we can only experience real joy when we stop running from pain. The key to understanding these truisms is simple but not easy: learn to open ourselves up to life in all circumstances. In this guide to true kindness for self and others, Pema Chödrön presents a uniquely practical approach to doing just that. And she reveals that when we embrace the happiness and heartache, inspiration and confusion, and all the twists and turns that are a natural part of life, we can begin to discover a true wellspring of courageous love that’s been within our hearts all along.
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? d r ? n Awakening Loving-Kindness Comfortable with Uncertainty The Compassion Book Living Beautifully No Time to Lose The Places That Scare You The Pocket Pema Ch'dr'n Practicing Peace Start Where You Are Taking the Leap When Things Fall Apart The Wisdom of No Escape Wisdom of No Escape 3rd pass.indd 2 4/12/18 10:49 AM
THE WISDOM OF NO ESCAPE and the Path of Loving-Kindness Pema Ch'dr'n shambhala Boulder 2018 Wisdom of No Escape 3rd pass.indd 3 4/12/18 10:49 AM
shambhala publications, inc. 4720 Walnut Street Boulder, Colorado 80301 www.shambhala.com '1991 Pema Ch'dr'n All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The author's proceeds from this book will be donated to the Pema Ch'dr'n Foundation. 9? 8? 7? 6? 5? 4? 3? 2? 1 Printed in the United States of America o This edition is printed on acid-free paper that meets the American National Standards Institute z39.48 Standard. k This book is printed on 30% postconsumer recycled paper. For more information please visit www.shambhala.com. Distributed in the United States by Penguin Random House LLC and in Canada by Random House of Canada Ltd Designed by Lora Zorian The Library of Congress catalogues the original edition of this book as follows: Ch'dron, Pema. The wisdom of no escape: and the path of loving-kindness/ Pema Ch'dr'n. p.' cm. isbn 978-1-57062-872-6 (Shambhala Classics) isbn 978-1-61180-605-2 (Paperback) 1. Meditation'Buddhism. I. Title. bq5625.c48 1991 294.3'443'dc20 90-53585 cip Wisdom of No Escape 3rd pass.indd 4 4/12/18 10:49 AM
To my teacher, Vidyadhara the Venerable Ch'gyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, and to my children, Arlyn and Edward Wisdom of No Escape 3rd pass.indd 5 4/12/18 10:49 AM
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'? vii? ? c on t e n t s Preface? ix 1. Loving-Kindness? 1 2. Satisfaction? 5 3. Finding Our Own True Nature? 7 4. Precision, Gentleness, and Letting Go? 13 5. The Wisdom of No Escape? 21 6. Joy? 25 7. Taking a Bigger Perspective? 29 8. No Such Thing as a True Story? 35 9. Weather and the Four Noble Truths? 41 10. Not Too Tight, Not Too Loose? 47 11. Renunciation? 55 12. Sending and Taking? 61 13. Taking Refuge? 71 14. Not Preferring Samsara or Nirvana? 81 15. The Dharma That Is Taught and the Dharma That Is Experienced? 89 16. Sticking to One Boat? 95 17. Inconvenience? 99 18. The Four Reminders? 105 Bibliography? 117 Wisdom of No Escape 3rd pass.indd 7 4/12/18 10:49 AM
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'? ix? ? p r e f ac e The talks in this book were given during a one-month practice period (dathun) in the spring of 1989. During that month the participants, both lay and monastic, used the meditation technique presented by Ch'gyam Trungpa that is described in this book. The formal sitting meditation was balanced by walking meditation and eating meditation (oryoki) and by maintaining the environment of the monastery and helping to prepare the meals. Early each morning these talks were presented. They were intended to inspire and encourage the participants to remain wholeheartedly awake to everything that occurred and to use the abundant material of daily life as their primary teacher and guide. The natural beauty of Gampo Abbey, a Buddhist monastery for Western men and women founded in 1983 by Ch'gyam Trungpa, was an important element in the talks. The abbey is located on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, at the end of a long dirt road, on cliffs high above the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, where the wildness and playfulness of the weather, the animals, and the landscape permeate the atmosphere. As one sits in the meditation hall, the vastness of the sky and water permeates the mind and heart. The silence of the place, intensified by the sounds of sea and wind, birds and animals, permeates the senses. During the dathun (as always at the abbey), the participants kept the five monastic vows: not to lie, not to steal, not to engage in sexual activity, not to take life, and not to use alcohol or drugs. The resulting collaboration of nature, solitude, meditation, and vows made an alternatingly painful and delightful 'no exit? Wisdom of No Escape 3rd pass.indd 9 4/12/18 10:49 AM
x? '? p r e f ac e situation. With nowhere to hide, one could more easily hear the teachings given in these simple talks in a wholehearted, openminded way. The message for the dathun as well as for the reader is to be with oneself without embarrassment or harshness. This is instruction on how to love oneself and one's world. It is therefore simple, accessible instruction on how to alleviate human misery at a personal and global level. I wish to thank Ane Trime Lhamo; Jonathan Green of Shambhala Publications, who encouraged me to publish a book; Migme Ch'dr'n of Gampo Abbey, who transcribed and edited the talks; and Emily Hilburn Sell of Shambhala Publications, who shaped them into their present form. Whatever is said here is but my very limited understanding, thus far, of what my teacher, Ch'gyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, compassionately and with great patience showed to me. May it be of benefit. Wisdom of No Escape 3rd pass.indd 10 4/12/18 10:49 AM
'? 1? ? on e LOVING-KINDNESS T here's a common misunderstanding among all the human beings who have ever been born on the earth that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just try to get comfortable. You can see this even in insects and animals and birds. All of us are the same. A much more interesting, kind, adventurous, and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object of our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet. To lead a life that goes beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our own terms, to lead a more passionate, full, and delightful life than that, we must realize that we can endure a lot of pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what this world is, how we tick and how our world ticks, how the whole thing just is. If we're committed to comfort at any cost, as soon as we come up against the least edge of pain, we're going to run; we'll never know what's beyond that particular barrier or wall or fearful thing. When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they're going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are. It's a bit like saying, 'If I jog, I'll be a much better person.' 'If I could only get a nicer house, I'd be a better person.' 'If I could meditate and calm down, I'd be a better person.' Or the scenario may be that they find fault with others; they might say, 'If it weren't for my husband, I'd have a perfect marriage.' Wisdom of No Escape 3rd pass.indd 1 4/12/18 10:49 AM
2? '? t h e w i s d om o f no e s c a p e 'If it weren't for the fact that my boss and I can't get on, my job would be just great.' And 'If it weren't for my mind, my meditation would be excellent.' But loving-kindness'maitri'toward ourselves doesn't mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy after all these years. We can still be angry after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The point is not to try to change ourselves. Meditation practice isn't about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It's about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That's the ground, that's what we study, that's what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest. Sometimes among Buddhists the word ego is used in a derogatory sense, with a different connotation than the Freudian term. As Buddhists, we might say, 'My ego causes me so many problems.' Then we might think, 'Well, then, we're supposed to get rid of it, right? Then there'd be no problem.' On the contrary, the idea isn't to get rid of ego but actually to begin to take an interest in ourselves, to investigate and be inquisitive about ourselves. The path of meditation and the path of our lives altogether has to do with curiosity, inquisitiveness. The ground is ourselves; we're here to study ourselves and to get to know ourselves now, not later. People often say to me, 'I wanted to come and have an interview with you, I wanted to write you a letter, I wanted to call you on the phone, but I wanted to wait until I was more together.' And I think, 'Well, if you're anything like me, you could wait forever!' So come as you are. The magic is being willing to open to that, being willing to be fully awake to that. One of the main discoveries of meditation is seeing how we continually run away from the present moment, how we avoid being here just as we are. That's not considered to be a problem; the point is to see it. Inquisitiveness or curiosity involves being gentle, precise, and open'actually being able to let go and open. Gentleness is a sense of goodheartedness toward ourselves. Precision is being able to Wisdom of No Escape 3rd pass.indd 2 4/12/18 10:49 AM