Finding Pema

8_pemaNot long ago, I discovered the writings of this amazing woman. Pema Chödrön is a Buddhist nun who has written books, lectured around the world, and shown many the beautiful teachings of Tibetan Buddhism.

I was reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown which was recommended to me a friend. While that was a terrific read which I highly recommend, its was Brené’s recommendation of Pema writings that I will be forever grateful for.

If, like me, you have never done any reading on Buddhist philosophy, I can’t overstate what you are missing out on. Even if you are a firm believer in what you would consider an opposing or simply different belief system, you will find their teachings, especially with Pema’s amazing gift for articulating them, to be challenging and life affirming. You may even find that it will enable you to appreciate your currently held beliefs in a new and fresh way as a result of the unique light they shine upon universal truths.

I’m currently reading Pema’s book The Places that Scare You.  While it’s a short book, I’m taking my time reading it a few pages at a time because its so good. Each page is packed with depth and wisdom. Like a fine wine, you have to allow it time to roll over your palate to catch all the subtle flavors and beautiful notes. To read it quickly would be a disservice.

Her presentation of the principle of bodhichitta is one that deeply moved me.  Bodhichitta is that soft spot that we all have.  That vulnerable, open, compassionate place that we all too often build up protective walls around to save ourselves from being hurt. A bodhisattva is one who choosed to be a compassionate warrior for bodhichitta.  One who choses to allow the difficult experiences in life to soften rather then harden them.  They fight to tap into the bodhichitta in themselves and all those around them.  The introduction of this principle into my life could not have been timed more perfectly and it has changed the way I do life on a daily basis.

Its my hope that we can all learn to see the beauty and truth in the wise  teaching of all those that have dedicated their lives to the service and mentoring of others, indiscriminate of the religious label under which Barnes and Noble choses to shelve their writings.

If you are interested in reading Pema, her books are published and available for purchase at Shambhala Publications.


  1. Gianna

    I’m not trying to be snide or anything. Please know that. I’m just wondering what makes Pema easier to digest for you than the Bible? How did it hit home? So you were in a place to either be hardened by hurt or softened. And you chose to be softened because of her writings?

    • gymdeeds

      No worries Gianna, you would have to try really hard to come off as snide! 🙂

      My point really isn’t that Pema was easier to digest then the Bible. The Bible has some amazing things to say as well. I wanted to point people in Pema’s direction because I believe she has some extremely valuable things to share. She gave me some much needed perspective at a critical time in my life that I don’t believe I would have found elsewhere. Bodhichitta really struck a chord with me and is a principle you won’t find in be Bible but you won’t find the Bible contradicting it either. I could provide quite a few examples of this, which is why I would recommend her to you. Would you be hesitant to read her? If so, why? I’m not trying to be snide either, just curious.

      • Gianna

        I guess I would read her, but probably with a couple of friends. I’m in an exhausting place in life right now and I want to be able to think clearly and comprehend a bigger picture. Reading with others, For a couple of reasons. 1. I don’t always understand what is being said. Even before I was a mom (and completely exhausted) I didn’t always understand concepts people were trying to convey. I failed horribly at Argumentative persuasive writing or whatever that class was called–no I didn’t fail it technically, but I totally should have. I need someone to say, “This is what I am saying. Here’s my point.” Instead of trying to float an idea above me to understand myself. If it’s not simply stated, I won’t understand it. No. Just say it, please. And philosophy isn’t known to be direct. As aggravating as it is. 2. Just because something sounds good doesn’t mean I should believe it. It sounds AWESOME to eat ice cream everyday for every meal, but I shouldn’t believe I can do it and live a LONG wonderful life. (emphasis on long) So if others are reading it and we are discussing it, I would feel more grounded. If I was curious about a point, I could discuss it with someone whom I trust and respect. Someone who thinks like I do and yet doesn’t think like I do. Someone who can help keep my feet on the ground. I’m not hurting horribly right now. So it’s easy to say this, but I think even more I would want this if I was hurting. Thanks for chatting!

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