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Pema Chödrön: Dealing with Difficult Times

2017-12-11 | 🔗

Born in New York City, Pema Chödrön is one of the first Western women to be fully ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun. Pema explains how difficult times can be an opportunity for growth and change if you're willing to embrace the situation and the feelings that come with it. One of the basic Buddhist tenets, Pema says, is that change is constant. "Things are going to keep changing," she says. "If you're invested in security and certainty, then you're not going to feel good a lot of the time."

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I'm over Winfrey welcome to supersede conversations the podcast. I believe that one of the most valuable gives you can give yourself is time taking time to be more fully present. Your journey to become more inspired and connected to the deeper world around us starts right now.
Today- she is a best selling author and world renowned Buddhists teacher, but for many years permit children was simply known as Deirdre born in nineteen thirty six Deirdre blood fell. Brown grew up on a farm in New Jersey and live what she calls a perfectly conventional life. With the help of scholarships, she attended a prestigious prep, school and college before marrying a lawyer and having to children while working towards her masters degree her marriage crumbled soon after she married her second husband, a free spirit writer after eight years that marriage also ended in a devastating divorce had brought her to her knees. She try different therapies at the time and spiritual paths to heal, but nothing seemed to help until she began exploring Buddhism, which he says spoke directly to her pain.
And suffering in nineteen. Eighty, one after years of study with Buddhist masters, she became one of the first western women to be fully ordained as a Buddhist done in the tibetan tradition. She changed her name to Emma children, which loosely translated means. Lamp of the truth today permit teaches how ancient buddhist principles can apply to our modern everyday life. She has written many popular books, including one of my favorites when things fall apart. Heart advice for difficult times, so welcome. I need for my children and you thank you so much. I have to tell you that this book, when things fall apart, hearted vice for difficult times has been like talisman. For me, it's been a resource and many times to remind me to come back to centre, and I know
that your work in this book and in many teachings have been a stable in force for people. So I want to thank you for that. I thank him so honoured to be able to talk to you what's a fascinating about understanding how to come back to centre when things while apart is that usually in the space is well and times when we most fall apart is where there is the most to learn, and what struck me about Your life story is that it was a moment of falling apart? You say your second husband has been one of your greatest teachers. Can you tell us why? Well, he was one of my greatest teachers because he left me, that's the simple truth. I mean it was really clear that he was out there. Do you take me back to that day.
You describe it in the book described in the Balkan. What actually happened, as I was in northern New Mexico, near Taos out in full. If our Adobe House Drinking CUP of tea and then the car drove up sort of behind the house, I heard the door Lamb, came around the corner of the house and just said it red blood. The doubt. You know that You haven't been going well with us from having an affair with somebody else, and we need to get a divorce, and so I described that's kind of stunning yeah, so it was so shocking. I suppose even traumatized that I had that experience at I describe where it was just timeless. In total, eternal silence because had you suspected than affair, you know, looking back, things were really bad between us. Anyway, but I saw how I wanted it to keep going, but it still came. As a total.
There you are drinking your copy. Your second husband pulls up and says this: is it I'm having an affair yeah, so everything fell apart? I, I guess I couldn't get it all come back together, and I think I also say that in the work, which is that I wanted to come back together because for me, happiness seem to represent going back to what I had had, which was not very happy, but it represents. Security and the known and everything, and then this happened and suddenly I was just out there and I couldn't get it to come back. It wasn't going to come back, and so I actually had to learn some that thing in that space of everything not no ground at all is groundless. You know where you are those women who do. Find your life by that picture. Playing that role. The man
being married being dependent. Were you those who I was definitely one of those people, and so big big lesson from coming out of it out, took about three. Or, more years before I really was thrill of water, grieving and so forth. But the big lesson was: I would call non attachment I didn't realize how attached I was too having and have somebody else confirm me as being ok like, in other words, didn't come from inside me. It came from someone else's view. Yeah. So when I was twenty years old, I got married the first time, so I went my family, my first marriage and then left the my first husband, the children's father for the second husband and so
From the time I was twenty till one I was like thirty five. I was always like somebody's else's person. You know so. All of a sudden I was right out there and that's what I really learned. I came through it and I don't have that kind of attachment anymore for I don't have that need at all. I haven't for a long time that need to be confirmed by something from outside and myself that's what your husband, Looking out on. You actually lead to Africa so that some amazing thing you know my Angelo, whose was meant her mother teacher. For me one of the things that she really in planted and imprinted, I think with so many of us, may particular remember the day that she was telling me to say. Thank you when I was going through some crisis to say thank you because there's always a rainbow in the clouds, and in many cases, not even now, even
the Rainbow Rainbow, there's a whole another open field waiting for you, that's right. So what is the first thing we should do when our lives fall apart? well, first of all you what you're saying here is at some point: if you, if you continue to be human, it will fire welfare. I guess graduation speech at Nairobi University in Boulder, because my granddaughter just graduated from there and the title of the talk was fail, fail again fail better. So I sent, I think, the most important thing for you, kids, going out into the world right now, is to know how Fail really well scales. Skill of knowing how how to hold the pain of things happening that you really don't want to be happening like training to be able to welcome or a wow
that kind of unwanted feelings that pain the wrong. I called at the wrong this of vulnerability. Yes, yes and o K, something terrible is happening, and then it's an opportunity. It's like what my Angelo set is there. Is there something something is going to come out of this something new. This can and you up in a whole new place, a better place a much more that if you know that, yes, you have said that the Buddha has only really talk to things suffering and the end of suffering and suffering comes in so many forms, Can you speak to a moment about how we can begin the practice of ending our suffering sure?
That's why I think that's why you ve got right. That's right! I'm here to try. So one way is this practice that I began teaching that we called compassionate abiding so compassion and abiding is a practice where, when your suffering, then someone might say first like located in your body and just feel it completely feel as completely as you can just what's going on, then on inbred just breathe. It online like, as agreed in the lover, agree that in the or the discontent or the deuce that that whole unwanted unwanted, just what you mean that that is, I just want to clarify for our audience. Does
I first started reading Buddhist material. In hearing the about the Buddhist into teachings about suffering. I was thinking what am I suffering out. I'm suffering as I used to think of suffering as saw Rhine right dry. Are you like a child like your task of your childhood, with suffering? Yes, yeah yeah, but then you might say one not one Not now that now I sadly life yet, but you suffer in different ways. The word suffering is usually associated with something tragic like war, poverty or the death of a love one when pimp uses the word suffering. However, she's also talking about times it or disruptive that give us inside he or despair like losing a job, a stressful conflict in your family or when you believe life isn't going your way every time,
you have something that is unwanted. That is, makes you uncomfortable. Were you really don't want to go? Go linear! Any over here in secure, that's what we mean by suffering, yeah, yes, in another way, sometimes translated this discontent discontent, that's the perfect world. How do we solve designers had discontent and you recognize it and you wish to They free of it, so it's instead of running away, are eating something drinking something whenever yelling at someone. Instead, you breathe that in, and sometimes I use the image of an says if you breathe it into your heart and your heart just gets bigger they are very timely Bree then the heart gets bigger and bigger is so no matter how bad it feels you just give it more space. So when you breathing you open to it, I guess you could say
Oh, I, like you, breathe out, you just send out a lot of space. So what you really saying is- and I think this is so important for anybody going for anything you have to first, except that one is happy. Does really happened so that breathing in is like being with it and fully accepting at this moment instead of trying to resisted and push it away, sometimes I say feel: what is your hard feel like people will say it feels like, like a rock where's, your stomach feel like it feels like a not you know it's as if my whole body was clenched fists in mind this, because I'm so miserable and say okay so breathe in this. Let that an open letter stomach only let it's as if you when you breathe anyone going like back. I surrender surrender, you know and you breathe in deeply. You breathe
deeply and if you wanted just to six in breast, we emphasise that go out. I had you know, but usually it's on the medium of the breath, breathing in kind of allowing it welcoming at even racing. In any event, I mean you can use whatever word works. You know, that's all compassionate abiding, yeah, compassion and abiding with yourself and at a certain point mean sometimes right away. Sometimes a long time down. The line I have people say When you re, then you can recognize all over the world right now and in the past and in the future, people are gonna feel exactly what you're feeling now feel and being rejected, the feeling of being a love feeling of it. Security. The feeling of fear rage whenever it is you're feeling than human beings have always felt this at all.
His will and so you breathing for everyone they could welcome at that they could say I haven't done anything wrong, embrace it so DC, because by really knowing are having on that kind of deep friendship with yourself. Yes, it translates into being merciful for others in compassionate for others, and the reason why I see it is so important is again, the first step in being able to move forward is to be able to accept fully accept where you are. Situation. You gotta first accepted that's running away from. It is the exact opposite of acceptance, so everybody tries to The way we try to run away from here that that that's that's almost like knee jerk reactions, so this is this is doing something else just be with it. That's the first thing I want to deal with it yeah that sounds so hard.
Cuz, that's the opposite of what you wanted me, because I wanted to go away, spend a lot of time just trying to encourage people that they have the capacity to feel pain or unpleasant feelings or suffering whatever you want to call it allow yourself to be fully human. Human beings. Don't just feel good. Have you noticed that and animals too. You know we don't you feel good. The the richness of life includes the whole tapestry of good and bad and happy and sad, and so but happy good winning all of that people. Don't have too much problem with you know, but it's as soon as the even get near something that feels uncombed, uncomfortable, viewed, substance abuse comes from that all kinds of addictions come from that
I think, all like violence and domestic violence and about violence, kid sense and all- I think it all comes comes from that everyone, access and thing everyone's trying to feel good, and they do terrible things to make themselves. Everybody trying to make themselves feel good, too quiet the noise. That's here, beware that and they reach out external to do that at one of the things I like so much is at the very beginning of love when things fall apart, you talk about fear, and I love this court. You say fear, is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth. I went whoa whoa, This rather sad that has come almost come with fear.
That is good. That is the fear, is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth. I guess that's what I meant by that sometimes the more you like me. Sometimes I see something and they'll say Olympia. Did I say that I am more citizen, I thought, but now that that was powerful. Fear is a natural real moving closer to the truth, and I think probably partially anyway. What I meant by that was that fear comes with not knowing what's gonna happen, the unknown yap me, you don't know, what's going to happen next, but fear in fact, in the,
Shambhala teachings on part of a you know the the Lenny said, I'm part of his called chihuahua, and so one of the Shambhala teachings is not. If you don't know the nature of fear, if you don't know what fear feels like, then you can never be fearless. How's that for cod, not knowing the nature of fair, you can never be fearless who that's good, that's good. It is good as net and taking it in. And I think people need to know member on the upper shell. I've been talking about these principles and this is for a long time- and I remember talking It was on the show, any sense and freight and nothing because a lot of people think of it is, you know, activated physical fear, but when we're so Fear, and those of you who are super sellers obviously know this. But if your a first timer we're talking about
all of the ramifications of manifestations of fear and anxiety is fear? Yang jealousy is fear, whale JAG atmosphere. Rage is nothing but fear. Ass rages severe to the TIM Power right. That's what you think loneliness fear. Yes, I do I thought of it before. While I love Mama them, I've never thought what a great question do. I think lonely, MRS Fear, will you tell her? I see her life to think about how call you my first responds off by me, for what is my first response. Is yes, because, as a girl, I think I was a May. I did this exercise with John Bradshaw ones. Who was he
master teacher on the inner child and he do this exercise? Will you go back to your walk yourself, your sexual self, home from school and get to the door and looked through the window? And what do you see? You look inside and what do you see it's the only time I ever felt overwhelmed by a sense of loneliness as little as a little girl, speaking of lonely, I can ask you: have you ever been lonely? Ah yeah, I used to be useful, but The last time I remember being lonely was maybe about twenty years ago, when I see something happened where everybody left me so to speak. Was all alone in a remote cabin and and the feeling of loneliness was just desperateness. I start calling up my friends first Ike hold up a man friend of mine and I called up woman friend of mine. They are both very helpful and compassionate, and then I put down the phone, I said you know. Actually nobody can help you out
You just have to be lonely, unjust, relate to it and somehow, after that, never lonely ever, because I realized that you didn't those other people work bring me Alex. If they can't say can fix it, and then I thought about death, you know That's gonna, be all alone, so might as well Certainly I do it alone. We need the european budget, but it's in go, buy yourself, go buy yourself. So what do you think death is? What do I think death is Well, personally, myself, I'm not afraid of it, because I think of it as a transition. To what happens when we do well, I'm gonna say what I feel, but I also always liked to say this is what I think happened,
but I'm willing I'm ready to be surprised. Therefore- and I love you, but I think just the way you go to sleep at night. There's this whole dream world. I think when you die you enter into that in a up. I think everything continues. And, and then I think you end up getting again in life goes on in it. I do. I do think merrily merrily merrily merrily life is, but a train, timid children. Often talks about a phenomenon that Buddhist call Shin pot. It's a tibetan word for those obsessed, feelings and urges that we just can't seem to release like the result. That remains long after somebody has been unkind to us or getting overwhelmed by
situation when we fail that craving for a cigarette or something sweet to ease stressful day, that's a ship pon, it's how we get hooked or taken over by a negative experience. So you lose yourself in whatever that moment. Is I lost my job? I didn't get the grades. I thought I was gonna. Have I didn't years yet point man disappoint me you get taken over by that when I feel that now you are that exact right, that's what someplace yeah Champlain that failing of being hooked. So, for instance, I was just talking to someone yesterday was going through a crisis, and I said ah, first of all remove yourself from the situation by which I mean just go for a walk. You know get yet out when, when the, when the rings getting intense, so do suppose you lost your job.
Observe the same thing would be true fight give yourself some space and fine make it a priority to give yourself literally some space vote. All library, if you have enough or a park or somewhere, where no one's gonna talk to you, you're, not gonna, talk to them and be be right there with the feeling without without trying to run away from it. It would be like go and walk on the beach with a feeling, the alone with it. And then this is the hard part, and this is where meditation actually really comes here, It's a big help, notice your thoughts and notice what you're saying tears and notice how it's all about about you're wrong or they're wrong, somehow you're blaming yourself that self hatred cellular integration we'll work, I do what did I do? What really feeling bad about? Why me? Why more just strike out strike
Blame blame. Blame the husband blame the boss blame the teacher who gave you the greater so notice that and then, with meditation, you actually train notice. Your thinking come back to just being present notice. Your thinking has come back to being present. Call that Europe's results come back to the above, I observed the thought and then be aware that you are the observer and that you are not the thought. That's right, yeah and come back to just the immediacy of your experience, rather than coming back to being someone like the observer is heaven I'm saying like it. It's more like come not so much about self as about just genuine experiencing on the present like touchingness, chair on feeling the warmth of the cop? Yes, so be aware of everything in the present moment yourself back to present moment. That's right. So this is the end.
Same thing. When you turn toward unwanted unpleasant and secure feelings. Some transforms you in some kind of way What I think are we on them? That's for I literally owned, that's right and what I think really happens as people connect with the fact that they are basically good air, basically good they're, not basically messed up or broken goods, there is something fundamentally wrong. Yes, but then the next question becomes I'm a good person. Why did this happen to me, and I know something people lose their faith around issues like this because their praise- God, you didn't, do it right to do so. I would just say Nothing wrong has actually happened here. You have lost your job law. Life is pointing you in a different direction, like another opportunities opened up here, for you
and at the very least- and this is probably the most important thing is. This is an opportunity to really start to welcome those kind of really stuck activated, painful kind of feelings and it's happening. So you will go there, tat S happening You will go there so for me and a lot of people I've encountered the losing their jobs, the failure coming in any kind of form really what it really gets too is at the core of it. You feel, like you really messed up and you are fundamentally a mess amass, yeah yeah and that's an eagle thing. Isn't it
Is it that's the crux of Vigo: that's the mayor s temper. The main attachment is to that that. But if you just say, let's just say, let's make friends with the ego rather than you know, try to obliterated or called ban and making friends with it means no, it a hundred per cent, completely dont rejected and believe it or not, that's how you begin to become more eagerness person, because the only reason we do this grasping and fixating and all of this, which would call and go if I'm making sense in here is because we feel we have something to protect me, don't want to go to that place. We don't want to feel that way, and this is why I teach his because if people can
How will the or embrace or allow or get there and nervous system so they can handle the suffering the uncomfortable, Leslie, insecurity to then the discontent, then there is a chance of letting the evolution happen. So use was it? Would you would you say? Even now that was there was a full circle, drastic turn you may from wife, mother dependent on somebody else's view of yourself and was it happenstance or was it just a calling that you felt to become a nun? I had never felt any calling. In fact, once when I was living in northern New Mexico in the area of the communes, I was at a commune and I'm right had this long purple dress and I have long straight hair, and I was thinking
like great standing out in a garden and this rabbi, who happened to be it the commune at that time came up to me. So I just had a vision of you as a nun and he might as well have just said. I had a vision of you as a werewolf for something like I was so inside yeah, so I was ass thing I ever thought of, but then when when all of everything came to pass within marriage to marriage is breaking up and everything and began to get interested in spirituality and then that lead to Buddhism, then I was living at this sun community in England, a buddhist community and awe, and this too there came through, who is very important to me and he was giving them or nation
coordination, nuns or nation and them every one in the whole place which was about thirty people was trying to decide whether to do it or not do so. The topic and for some reason I thought doing it is forward not doing it is backward. I don't know I just four at that point, It meant forward. I can't I don't can't say any other way. You know my whole life that instinct of what's forward. I I don't know if that makes any sense makes all the same to me. I think everybody has patterns and ensure jobs. Figure out what you're pattern is mine. Is I've learned as much as I can learn doing this thing now? I need to go forward happens when, when I've learned as much as I can learn that thing and then something else opens and now a days forward. I never know we're forward. Is gonna, be these dance, you know, but but somehow always for afford s?
think along as are still breast, there's four yeah, I think. So, how do you define spirituality verses, religion? What is spirituality? Well, let it like going out and about our right like getting until and leaving the shore and going out where you can't see the shore line and you and you're not really sure if he ever gonna get back assets astronauts arise, and I guess there would be a lot of different ways. People would talk about religion, but now days, I think we think of it on Fourchan, We as that which separates people like people holding onto beliefs where a spirituality could be a definition that it's about going beyond beliefs, slay of that, that's what I mean about when you stop being fixed about how it has to be who you have to be, and you let it
because we're like a river in more like a river than Iraq, if I think like it keeps moving forward because that's natural, that's just that should be human eye. Things is to know the change is Art of are being here, and you know, that's a basic put his ten. It also changes just the way things are. So I suppose you did say things not to changes, and so maybe that's another way of saying fail, fail again fail better. You know, like. Things are going to keep changing and if you're invested security and certainty. Then you're gonna be here. I'm going to feel that they are on the wrong. You are landing, but I always hear things are changing around here. I love you say in a guide to compassionate living, we already have
everything we need. That is so a powerful line that such a powerful line, we already Have everyone the thing we may I really believe that, but you say we have everything, made. There is no need for self improvement. Can ask about that all these trips that we lay on ourselves the heavy duty, fearing that were bad and hoping that were good, the identity, that we so dearly cling to the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds never touch our basic wealth. I love that they are like clouds that temporarily block the sun, but all the time are warmth and brilliance.
Our right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. There is some brilliant right and says then, again self critical resides wrote that learn something from room yearbook. Start where you are a guide to compassion living in its actually page three. But what do you mean that we don't need self improvement? I now that's the only thing I don't need seldom I understand fundamentally what you're saying that, who you who you really are re is already just fine. You are that which comes from all from the source of all things, but the idea of constantly trying to get better even fail better, is something that I,
I think so, like you call it self improvement, yeah yeah. Well, I and I'm using self improvement. There are sort of derogatory, meaning the big self somebody I'm really meaning. There's something wrong with me and I have to like. I like the way I look is enough the way I way I keep my house and good enough. I think that's. What I'm getting at is if self improvement means that I'm gonna be different than I am now. So, if the view instead, is that there's nothing wrong here. I haven't done anything wrong, but there's things that are obstructing me from really fully feeling that. Well, then, let us look at those things tell them completely and utterly. Let's know our raves. Let's know our fear. Let's no are resentment, it assumes a guy and
thy, knowing it listening to what he said. About yourself and letting some of that negative self talk go. You know, then the new mental thing is there like? The sun is always shining, but there's clouds instructing. So that's why I love that moment in the plane when, if it's raining, if its pouring rain on the ground and you get in the airplane and you shoot up above the clouds, and there is this- have kids always there now it too and never went anywhere, never win that's that that is a classic image for basic wholeness are basic.
Ah worthiness or grace, and goodness you no thank you. I'm ruined free and you ve been listening to supersede conversations podcast, you can follow supersonic on Instagram, twitter and Facebook. If you haven't yet go to apple podcast, unsubscribe rate and review this plugins join me next,
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-02.