by Pema Chodron
Paperback, 147 pages
When things fall apart
"Read this book," my Buddhist friend said to me. "Take it with you."
Why would I need to read a book like this when everything is finally falling in place? In the last 15 months of a job-free existence, I have had my wish come true -- an abundance of personal time and personal space. I have managed to let go of things that bothered me. I have moved from living in the past to looking forward to the future. How would this book help me now?
The author Pema Chodron (two double dots on the two o's) is an American Buddhist nun who lives and teaches at the first Tibetan monastery in North America established for Westerners. Before becoming a nun, she was an average American housewife. Pema Chodron is her Buddhist name.
This thin paperback is the result of her one year sabbatical during which time she condensed and edited several boxes of lecture notes. As a result, it is full of wisdom that's been tested on students over time.
One thing I learned straight away was to live in the present. Don't postpone anything. Learn from the now.
Another is to confront our fears. We learn from the negative, from our enemies, from our fears. So we should be thankful for that!
Thinking back, I deliberately raised my hand to ask questions in a big intimidating audience dominated by senior male executives. I deliberately played piano at hotels I stayed in. I deliberated got up to speak at traders' meetings. Why? To overcome stagefright and fear of public speaking.
Some lessons are paradoxical. But I would imagine most adults would be able to understand the paradoxes.
The last chapter is titled "The Path is the Goal." This reminds me of Singapore Airline's slogan - the journey is the destination.
This book offers hope. It shows a way that is contradictory to some of the self-help books I've read. It's not a self-help book but a spiritual book - for all those lost souls that seek hope.
8 October 2003 Wednesday