Taking the Leap [Hardback]
Free Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears
In this book Pema Chodron shows us how to break free of destructive patterns in our lives and experience a new sense of freedom and happiness. She helps us to see how certain habits of mind tend to "hook " us and get us stuck in states of anger, blame, self-hatred, and addiction - but the good news is that once we start to see these patterns, we can begin to change our lives for the better.
Have you ever had an itch - and not scratched it? In the Buddhist tradition, this points to a vast paradox: that by refraining from our urge to "scratch" great peace and happiness is available. We reinforce our cravings, habits, and addictions by giving in to them repeatedly. Buddhist nun Pema Chodron guides us through this "sticky feeling" and explores the moments when we get hooked - and offers us a look at the freedom available when we uncover what in Tibetan is called Shenpa - and work with it intelligently and compassionately. Pema Chodron introduces us to this valuable teaching and teaches how to unravel patterns of self-denigration and develop fundamental loving-kindness, how to cultivate acceptance of your irritability, insecurity, plus the ways of recognizing, refraining, relaxing and resolving.
"The path entails uncovering three basic human qualities. These qualities have always been with us but perhaps have gotten buried and almost forgotten. They are natural intelligence, natural warmth, and natural openness. Everyone, everywhere, all over the globe, has these qualities and can call on them to help themselves and others." Pema Chodron.br>This book gives us the insights and practices we can immediately put to use in our lives to awaken these essential qualities. In her friendly and encouraging style, Pema Chodron helps us to take a bold leap toward a new way of living - one that will bring about positive transformation for ourselves and for our troubled world.
Read an extract of this title
In order to make this choice skillfully, many ofus turn to spiritual practices of various kinds with the wish that our lives will lighten up and that we'll find the strength to cope with our difficulties. Yet in these times it seems crucial that we also keep in mind the wider context in which we make choices about how to live: this is the context of our beloved earth and the rather rocky condition it's in.
For many, spiritual practice represents a way to relax and a way to access peace of mind. We want to feel more calm, more focused; and with our frantic and stressful lives, who can blame us? Nevertheless, we have a responsibility to think bigger than that these days. If spiritual practice is relaxing, if it gives us some peace of mind, that's great-but is this personal satisfaction helping us to address what's happening in the world? The main question is, are we living in a way that adds further aggression and self-centeredness to the mix, or are we adding some much-needed sanity?
Many of us feel deeply concerned about the state of the world. I know how sincerely people wish for things to change and for beings everywhere to be free of suffering. But if we're honest with ourselves, do we have any idea how to put this aspiration into practice when it comes to our own lives? Do we have any clarity about how our own words and actions may be causing suffering? And even if we do recognize that we're making a mess of things, do we have a clue about how to stop? These have always been important questions, but they are especially so today. This is a time when disentangling ourselves is about more than our personal happiness. Working on ourselves and becoming more conscious about our own minds and emotions may be the only way for us to find solutions that address the welfare of all beings and the survival of the earth itself.
There was a story that was widely circulated a few days after the attacks of September 11, 2001, that illustrates our dilemma. A Native American grandfather was speaking to his grandson about violence and cruelty in the world and how it comes about. He said it was as if two wolves were fighting in his heart. One wolf was vengeful and angry, and the other wolf was understanding and kind. The young man asked his grandfather which wolf would win the fight in his heart. And the grandfather answered, "The one that wins will be the one I choose to feed."
So this is our challenge, the challenge for our spiritual practice and the challenge for the world-how can we train right now, not later, in feeding the right wolf? How can we call on our innate intelligence to see what helps and what hurts, what escalates aggression and what uncovers our good-heartedness? With the global economy in chaos and the environment of the planet at risk, with war raging and suffering escalating, it is time for each of us in our own lives to take the leap and do whatever we can to help turn things around. Even the slightest gesture toward feeding the right wolf will help. Now more than ever, we are all in this together.
Taking the leap involves making a commitment to ourselves and to the earth itself-making a commitment to let go of old grudges, to not avoid people and situations and emotions that make us feel uneasy, to not cling to our fears, our closedmindedness, our hardheartedness, our hesitation. Now is the time to develop trust in our basic goodness and the basic goodness of our sisters and brothers on this earth; a time to develop confidence in our ability to drop our old ways of staying stuck and to choose wisely. We could do that right here and right now.
Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche