When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron is a classic book about Buddhist meditation in the Tibetan Shambala tradition that I periodically lean on. I lean on it like a large-breed dog leans heavily into your leg for comfort (an experience I have mostly with weimaraners).[More books “for those looking to master mindfulness and perhaps ascend to higher plane.”]
I heart Heart Advice for Difficult Times is because it reads like it has been translated for you by a lovely hippy aunt with whom you could sip tea.
Pema uses a lot of ’60s-era slang. Like far out, heavy, scene, and don’t lay such a big trip on yourself. She’s on to you nonsense, to your scene.
Pema (and I feel like I can call her first name, like Oprah) writing on the spiritual life is like, Lighten up, man. Don’t get so solid and hang on so tightly. Everything is change and impermanence. Have some compassion. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Pema Chodron’s Heart Advice
Pema reminds you, You are essentially good.
What you need to do to realize your basic goodness is simple. Just get out of your own way. Of your opinions and judgments. (Of course this is my challenge. Without opinions and judgments who am I? A being of horizonless blue sky? Gaak! I have a fear of wide open spaces!)
Pema’s familiar with all the the trips you lay on yourself. The pride, guilt, the less-than-ness. And the wonderful Brene Brown-ish vulnerability and daring, too.
Not everyone can become a Buddhist nun with an abbey in Nova Scotia (or Brene Brown) but we can all be more compassionate beings and this is necessary.
Pema Chodron is smart and insightful and funny ha-ha (her own laughter itself is a bell, just listen to some of her talks online) and this is what keeps me coming back to lean on her (like a weimaraner) for the comfort of being near an awakened heart, bodhichitta.