Who does not face difficult times at some stage in their lives? Pema Chodron is one of those special people whose down to earth teachings, books and inspirational quotes give courage to people across the world.
In this post, we share 10 of her most inspirational quotes to brighten up your day and stimulate reflection. We also provide a little background about Pema’s life history to understand her transformation from a regular girl to America’s first ordained Buddhist nun.
From American Farm Girl To Buddhist Nun
Pema Chodron’s life history does make you listen up. Born in New York City on July 14 1936 by the name of Deirdre Blomfield-Brown, she grew up on a farm in New Jersey. Subsequently, she went to study at the University of California and started work as an elementary school teacher.
Pema married early at age 21 and had two children. However, her first marriage did not succeed and it was dissolved by her mid-20s. Similarly, her second marriage failed when she found out that her husband had an affair.
The shock and trauma of these early failed relationships deeply challenged Pema’s values and beliefs. In order to come to terms with her traumatic experiences, she explored various forms of therapy. For a while, she experimented with living in an ashram and even sought out Scientology. However, she found that nothing helped ease the fear and rage she felt.
Eventually, her path eventually became a spiritual journey. This truly started when she came across writings by her future teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Buddhist meditation master from Tibet. Amazingly, Pema Chodron had met him once before when he visited her classroom to talk to her students. His insights greatly resonated with her.
Eventually, Chögyam became Pema’s spiritual teacher and encouraged her to pursue a monastic life. After extended studies with him, Pema was ordained as a novice Buddhist nun in 1982, and given her proper Tibetan Buddhist name Pema Chodron (Chödrön). Subsequently, she continued to study with Chögyam Trungpa until his death in 1987.
Gampa Abbey and Pema Chodron Foundation
Once ordained as a nun, Pema initially became director of the Boulder Shambhala Center. In 1984, she took on the role of spiritual director of Gampo Abbey in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, following the death of her teacher.
Pema describes the Abbey as the place where she was finally able to let go of all her fears and ego and describes it as her true home.
She shares her wisdom and insights regularly through her teachings, books and courses. Check out our article on unmissable books and courses by Pema Chodron to find out more.
Mostly, she is dedicated to teaching the Buddhist monastic tradition and wisdom in the West.
Pema also raises funds for good causes through the Pema Chodron Foundation.
10 Inspirational Pema Chodron Quotes
Buddhism – and especially a monastic life – is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, as with any spiritual philosophy, Buddhism offers much wisdom to anyone, no matter what background or creed. And Pema’s version of Buddhism is somehow especially accessible. Her many quotes are a testimony to this.
The 10 Pema Chodron quotes we have chosen are very powerful, encouraging us to contemplate their meaning and apply this to our own life.
- “Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves”: We can’t truly love others unless we can love ourselves. Being kind to ourselves – even in the face of failure or imperfection – is a great place to start.
2. “You are the Sky. Everything else is just the weather”: Don’t sweat the small things. Often, life is full of everyday mishaps, problems in relationships, making mistakes – etc. Once you see them as just distractions in the face of the overall meaning in life, they cease to be important.
3. “The most difficult times for many are the ones we give to ourselves”: We can be our own toughest taskmaster. Open your eyes to any negative self-talk and try to add inject a little forgiveness and humor into your self-judgment.
4. “If we open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teachers”. Opening our hearts, even to those who make our lives most difficult, can open new horizons. Not only that, we can learn much about ourselves by exploring our reaction to other people and practice forgiveness.
5. ” Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth”: Often, nothing is scarier than facing the truth. By accepting that fear and moving through it, our lives will develop in unexpected ways.
6. “Life is a good teacher and a good friend”: Life has everything to teach us if our eyes, minds and hearts are open and we are willing to take on the lessons. In this way, we can accept our fears and move closer to the truth.
7. “The Ego seeks to divide and separate. Spirit seeks to unify and heal”: Life is a “mine” field: the more attached we are to people and possessions, the less we can share and let go. Allowing a spiritual dimension into our lives helps us let go of attachment, and foster goodwill and healing.
“8. “Each moment is an opportunity to make a fresh start”: We can change our lives at any time in very profound ways. Therefore, each moment is a new opportunity.
9. “We can learn to rejoice even in the smallest blessings our life holds. It is easy to miss our good fortune; often happiness comes in ways we don’t even notice”: Happiness lies in the small things that give our lives meaning. A butterfly on a flower, a smile from a stranger, a lovely meal with a friend – the list is extremely long! But first, we need to notice these blessings.
10. “If we are willing to stand fully in our own shoes and never give up on ourselves then we will be able to put ourselves in the shoes of others and never give up on them”. This Pema Chodron quote encourages us to look after ourselves first. As a result of this, we will be in a much better place to fully understand and support people around us.
Did you enjoy these Pema Chodron quotes? Then you will love her books and courses even more.