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Adrian Gray
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Start Where You Are: How Pema Chodron Teaches Us to Live with Compassion



Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron




Introduction




Do you want to live a more fearless, joyful, and fully alive life? Do you want to transform your pains and difficulties into opportunities for genuine joy and personal growth? Do you want to learn how to make friends with yourself and embrace your life as it is?




Start Where You Are Pema Chodron Pdf 61



If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might be interested in reading Start Where You Are, a book by Pema Chodron, a beloved Buddhist nun and author of When Things Fall Apart. In this book, Pema offers down-to-earth guidance on how we can go beyond the fleeting attempts to "fix" our pain and, instead, to take our lives as they are as the only path to achieve what we all yearn for most deeplyto embrace rather than deny the difficulties of our lives.


In this article, we will summarize the main points of the book and provide some insights on how to apply them in our daily lives. We will also answer some frequently asked questions about the book and its author.


Summary of the book




The book is based on a set of fifty-nine traditional Tibetan Buddhist maxims, called lojong teachings, which are designed to help us cultivate compassion, wisdom, and courage in the face of suffering. Pema explains each maxim in a simple and accessible way, using stories, anecdotes, and examples from her own experience. She also provides practical exercises and meditations that we can use to practice the teachings in our everyday situations.


The book is divided into four parts, each corresponding to a different aspect of working with ourselves and others:


Part One: No Escape, No Problem




In this part, Pema introduces us to the basic premise of the book: that we cannot escape from our problems or ourselves, and that trying to do so only creates more suffering. Instead, we should face our reality with openness and curiosity, and use it as a way to awaken our true nature.


Chapter 1: No Escape, No Problem




In this chapter, Pema explains that we often try to avoid or change our unpleasant feelings, thoughts, and situations, hoping that they will go away or get better. However, this only makes them stronger and more persistent, and prevents us from seeing the truth of our experience. She suggests that we should stop running away from our pain and, instead, learn to stay with it and explore it with gentleness and compassion. She says that this is the only way to discover the wisdom and freedom that lie within us.


Chapter 2: No Big Deal




In this chapter, Pema warns us against making a big deal out of ourselves or our problems, which only leads to pride, arrogance, or self-pity. She advises us to cultivate a sense of humor and lightness about our situation, and to remember that we are not alone in our suffering. She also encourages us to practice tonglen, a meditation technique that involves breathing in the pain of ourselves and others, and breathing out relief and happiness. She says that this practice helps us to connect with our basic goodness and compassion, and to dissolve the barriers between us and others.


Chapter 3: Pulling Out the Rug




In this chapter, Pema talks about how we often rely on external sources of security and comfort, such as money, relationships, or opinions, to make us feel good about ourselves. However, she warns us that these sources are unreliable and impermanent, and that they can be taken away from us at any moment. She says that we should not be afraid of losing our ground or our reference points, but rather see them as opportunities to let go of our attachments and expectations, and to open up to the unknown and the unpredictable. She says that this is how we can develop trust in ourselves and in the basic goodness of life.


Chapter 4: Let the World Speak for Itself




In this chapter, Pema explains that we often filter our perception of reality through our preconceptions, judgments, and opinions, which prevent us from seeing things as they are. She suggests that we should drop our labels and categories, and let the world speak for itself, without imposing our own interpretations or agendas on it. She says that this is how we can develop a fresh and unbiased perspective on ourselves and others, and appreciate the richness and diversity of life.


Chapter 5: Poison as Medicine




In this chapter, Pema introduces us to the concept of klesha, which are the negative emotions and mental states that cause us suffering, such as anger, jealousy, greed, or ignorance. She says that we usually try to suppress or indulge in these emotions, which only makes them stronger and more harmful. She proposes that we should use them as medicine instead, by recognizing them as signs of our confusion and ignorance, and by using them as triggers for awakening our wisdom and compassion. She says that this is how we can transform poison into medicine.


Part Two: Start Where You Are




In this part, Pema teaches us how to start where we are, with whatever we have or feel in the present moment. She shows us how to use our ordinary experiences as the basis for developing compassion for ourselves and others.


Chapter 6: Start Where You Are




In this chapter, Pema reminds us that we don't need to wait for the perfect conditions or qualifications to start practicing compassion. She says that we can start where we are, with whatever we have or feel in the present moment. She says that we should not judge ourselves or compare ourselves with others, but rather accept ourselves as we are, with all our flaws and imperfections. She says that this is how we can develop unconditional love for ourselves and others.


Chapter 7: Bringing All That We Meet to the Path




In this chapter, Pema teaches us how to bring all that we meet to the path of compassion. She says that we should not reject or avoid anything that happens to us or around us, but rather use it as an opportunity to practice compassion. She says that we should not discriminate between good and bad situations or people, but rather see them all as teachers who can help us grow and learn. She says that this is how we can make everything part of our spiritual journey.


Chapter 8: Drive All Blames into One




Chapter 9: Be Grateful to Everyone




In this chapter, Pema teaches us how to be grateful to everyone. She says that we often take for granted or resent the people who help us or challenge us in our lives, which only creates more separation and conflict. She suggests that we should cultivate a sense of gratitude for everyone we encounter, regardless of how they treat us or what they do for us. She says that this is how we can recognize the interdependence and kindness of all beings, and how we can develop a generous and joyful attitude.


Chapter 10: Cutting the Solidity of Thoughts




In this chapter, Pema teaches us how to cut the solidity of thoughts. She says that we often get stuck in our thoughts and beliefs, which make us rigid and narrow-minded. She advises us to loosen up our grip on our thoughts and to see them as transient and insubstantial phenomena. She says that this is how we can develop a flexible and open-minded outlook, and how we can avoid being trapped by our own mental constructs.


Part Three: Working with Others




In this part, Pema teaches us how to work with others in a compassionate and skillful way. She shows us how to overcome our resistance and fear of others, and how to communicate and act from the heart.


Chapter 11: Overcoming Resistance




In this chapter, Pema teaches us how to overcome resistance. She says that we often resist or avoid the people or situations that trigger our negative emotions or challenge our comfort zones, which only makes us more isolated and unhappy. She encourages us to face our resistance and to work with it as a way to grow and learn. She says that this is how we can develop courage and confidence, and how we can transform our obstacles into opportunities.


Chapter 12: Empty Boat




In this chapter, Pema teaches us how to use the metaphor of an empty boat to deal with our anger and resentment towards others. She says that we often get angry or offended by the actions or words of others, which we perceive as intentional or personal attacks. However, she suggests that we should see them as empty boats that are floating on the water without any driver or direction, and that bump into us by accident or coincidence. She says that this is how we can avoid taking things personally and reacting emotionally, and how we can maintain our peace and equanimity.


Chapter 13: Teachings for Life and Death




In this chapter, Pema teaches us how to use the teachings for life and death. She says that we often ignore or deny the reality of death, which makes us live in fear and attachment. She advises us to contemplate and accept the inevitability and unpredictability of death, and to use it as a motivation to live fully and meaningfully. She says that this is how we can prepare ourselves for death and help others who are dying.


Chapter 14: Loving-Kindness and Compassion




In this chapter, Pema teaches us how to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves and others. She says that we often lack these qualities because we are too harsh or critical of ourselves or others, or because we are too indifferent or distant from ourselves or others. She instructs us to practice loving-kindness meditation, which involves sending positive wishes of happiness, health, safety, and peace to ourselves and others. She also instructs us to practice compassion meditation, which involves feeling the suffering of ourselves and others, and wishing them relief and freedom from suffering. She says that these practices help us to heal our wounds and connect with our hearts.


Chapter 15: Lighten Up




Part Four: Working with the World




In this part, Pema teaches us how to work with the world in a compassionate and wise way. She shows us how to abandon our hope of fruition, and how to act with integrity and responsibility.


Chapter 16: Abandon Any Hope of Fruition




In this chapter, Pema teaches us how to abandon any hope of fruition. She says that we often have unrealistic expectations or goals for ourselves or others, which make us dissatisfied and frustrated. She suggests that we should give up our hope of achieving a certain outcome or result, and instead focus on the process and the present moment. She says that this is how we can free ourselves from attachment and anxiety, and how we can enjoy the journey rather than the destination.


Chapter 17: Compassionate Action




In this chapter, Pema teaches us how to act compassionately in the world. She says that we often hesitate or procrastinate when it comes to helping others or making a positive difference, because we are afraid of failure or criticism. She encourages us to overcome our fear and doubt, and to act with courage and confidence. She says that we should not worry about the outcome or the feedback, but rather do what we feel is right and beneficial. She says that this is how we can express our compassion in action.


Chapter 18: Taking Responsibility for Your Own Actions




In this chapter, Pema teaches us how to take responsibility for our own actions. She says that we often blame others or external factors for our mistakes or failures, which makes us irresponsible and dishonest. She advises us to admit our faults and apologize for our harms, and to learn from our experiences. She says that we should not justify or rationalize our actions, but rather acknowledge and correct them. She says that this is how we can develop integrity and accountability.


Chapter 19: Communication from the Heart




In this chapter, Pema teaches us how to communicate from the heart. She says that we often communicate from our ego or our agenda, which makes us manipulative or defensive. She recommends us to communicate from our heart or our genuine feelings, which makes us authentic and respectful. She says that we should not hide or exaggerate our emotions, but rather express them honestly and kindly. She says that this is how we can develop trust and harmony.


Conclusion




In conclusion, Start Where You Are is a book that offers practical and profound guidance on how to live a more compassionate and joyful life. It is based on a set of ancient Buddhist teachings that help us to face our reality with openness and curiosity, and to use it as a way to awaken our true nature. It also provides exercises and meditations that help us to practice the teachings in our daily lives.


The book is divided into four parts, each covering a different aspect of working with ourselves and others: no escape, no problem; start where you are; working with others; and working with the world. Each part contains several chapters that explain each teaching in a simple and accessible way, using stories, anecdotes, and examples from the author's own experience.


The book is suitable for anyone who wants to learn more about Buddhism or compassion, or who wants to improve their personal or professional relationships. It is also helpful for anyone who is going through a difficult time or who wants to find more meaning and purpose in their life.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about the book and its author:



  • Who is Pema Chodron?



Pema Chodron is an American Buddhist nun who belongs to the Tibetan tradition. She is a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, two prominent Tibetan teachers who brought Buddhism to the West. She is also an author of several bestselling books on Buddhism and compassion, such as When Things Fall Apart, The Places That Scare You, The Wisdom of No Escape, The Pocket Pema Chodron, Living Beautifully, Welcoming the Unwelcome, and Failing Bravely. She is also a teacher at Gampo Abbey, a Buddhist monastery in Nova Scotia, Canada, where she lives and works.


  • What is the meaning of the title "Start Where You Are"?



The title "Start Where You Are" means that we don't need to wait for the perfect conditions or qualifications to start practicing compassion. We can start where we are, with whatever we have or feel in the present moment. We can accept ourselves as we are, with all our flaws and imperfections, and use them as a way to grow and learn. We can also use our ordinary experiences as the basis for developing compassion for ourselves and others.


  • What are the main benefits of reading this book?



The main benefits of reading this book are:


  • It helps us to face our reality with openness and curiosity, and to use it as a way to awaken our true nature.



  • It helps us to develop compassion, wisdom, and courage in the face of suffering.



  • It helps us to transform our pains and difficulties into opportunities for genuine joy and personal growth.



  • It helps us to make friends with ourselves and embrace our lives as they are.



  • It helps us to work with others in a compassionate and skillful way.



  • It helps us to act with integrity and responsibility in the world.



  • Where can I find more information about the book or the author?



You can find more information about the book or the author on the following websites:


  • Shambhala Publications, the publisher of the book.



  • Pema Chodron Foundation, the official website of the author.



  • Gampo Abbey, the Buddhist monastery where the author lives and works.



  • How can I get a copy of the book?



You can get a copy of the book from various sources, such as:


  • Amazon, where you can buy a paperback, hardcover, Kindle, or audiobook version of the book.



  • Internet Archive, where you can borrow a PDF version of the book for free.



  • WorldCat, where you can find a library near you that has a copy of the book.



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