I am no book worm to be honest. I used to be. My pre- and early teens were spent in my room, shades rolled down reading everything from Huxley, Moravia, Bukowski, Camus. I was doing good, right? I have no idea what happened next, but for years my reading was based mostly on occasional magazine and online reads. Well I actually do know, I was just running away for sitting in peace and ''just reading''. It resulted in me getting bored or nervous and my attention was like a trapped bat in a room. All over the place.
I am slowly getting back into my book routine. And it's not easy for me. I am still very inconsistent and I end up reading 3 books at a time; needless to say, not finish any.
But there are exceptions, even for a trapped bat like me. I guess when something hits THE spot, you get sucked into it, your attention is double espresso shot focused and you are just feeling the words.
For me that happens every time I put my hands on one of the Pema Chödrön books.
Writings of this Buddhist nun always feel like they bring to life thoughts I have in me, but couldn't just grab or verbalise them, but feel them so much. And then there are the ''Yes, exactly!'' moments. You know the ones, when you have the exactly the same perception or belief about something and then your read it written with perfect wording and tone? Well, this happens to me all the time while reading Pema's books.
“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.”
When I was going through my darkest times and the time after my divorce, when I was for the first time really starting to face myself, I often turned to Pema. I have never done that before. I am no fan of any kind of self help books. No disrespect to them, they are just not my cup of tea. And it helped. I guess it helped because everything she was saying was what I was feeling inside already. Sometimes when I couldn't even read, I would put on a Youtube footage of a speak she held and just listened. Already her voice is very calming and she is a witty elderly lady. She has humour! And I have a soft spot for people with good sense of humour. If it is self oriented double the points!
But the absolute main thing I love about her teachings is perfectly summed up in this passage:
“There is a common misunderstanding among the human beings who have ever been born on earth that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just try to get comfortable. You see this even in insects and animals and birds. All of us are the some. A much more interesting, kind and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object of our curiosity is bitter or sweet. To lead to a life that goes beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our own terms, to lead a more passionate, full, and delightful life than that, we must realize that we can endure a lot of pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what this world is, how we tick and how our world ticks, how the whole thing just is. If we are committed to comfort at any cost, as soon as we come up against the least edge of pain, we’re going to run; we’ll never know what’s beyond that particular barrier or wall or fearful thing.”
So if you are looking for honest, but still encouraging reads, I really recommend to get yourself one of the following books:
When things fall apart
The places that scare you
Start where You are: A Guide to Compassionate Living
Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears
How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind
Here is an interview with Pema that will give you a feeling about what her teachings are all about.