Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. ~ Pema Chodron
The Buddhist principle of Basic Goodness not particularly religious or secular. It’s not something esoteric or unrelated to us. It’s about how we feel about ourselves at the core. We are fundamentally open-minded, open-hearted, worthy, and good.
To be sure, the basic goodness of humanity is fully intact. Uncertainty, fear, doubt, and aggression, however, can make it difficult for us to access. But if we can each feel confident in our innate basic goodness, it will have a profound effect on shifting the cultural paradigm ravaging this precious earth.
During this retreat, we explore practices that can help us contact our fundamental goodness even when we are under stress, overwhelmed, and overburdened, or when we feel we’ve failed at something important to us.
The weekend includes talks, guided meditations, and question-and-answer sessions that are also open to live stream participants. Additional sessions are led by Dale Asrael, a longtime friend of Pema’s and fellow acharya (senior teacher) in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition.
To help you recreate the retreat experience at home, you are also welcome to participate in a period of silence from the end of the retreat session on Friday night until Saturday dinner.
If we’re willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation. ~ Pema Chodron
In 1972 her husband announced that he was having an affair and wanted a divorce.
“It had the effect of throwing me into a totally groundless state. I couldn’t feel any ground under my feet…it was devastating.. I was scared and I was angry and I couldn’t get anything to come back together.”
“Then one day on the front seat of someone’s pickup I saw a magazine called Garuda. I opened it up and there was an article by Chögyam Trungpa called Working with Negativity.” When I read it, it was like a bell going off. It was the only thing that I came across that acknowledged that this was something creative, that this crisis was pointing to some deeper meaning. I think the first line of the article was: ‘There’s nothing wrong with negativity … that it’s actually creative and very direct and very real …’ and I’m reading this just nodding and nodding. I took this to mean: There’s nothing wrong with what you’re going through. It’s very real, and it brings you closer to the truth.”
“It was the first sane advice I had heard for someone in my situation. As I read, I kept nodding and saying to myself: ‘This is true.’ I didn’t even know that Chögyam Trungpa was a Buddhist teacher, or that it was Buddhism I was reading about.”
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
~ Pema Chodron
The beautiful practicality of her teaching has made Pema Chödrön one of the most beloved of contemporary American spiritual authors among Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. A collection of talks she gave between 1987 and 1994, the book is a treasury of wisdom for going on living when we are overcome by pain and difficulties. She discusses:
• Using painful emotions to cultivate wisdom, compassion, and courage
• Communicating so as to encourage others to open up rather than shut down
• Practices for reversing habitual patterns
• Methods for working with chaotic situations
• Ways for creating effective social action
A book to read and reread, always new By Ronald Scheer
I was just finishing this book in September 2001 when the events of 9-11 turned the world upside down, and things truly fell apart. There suddenly were all the vulnerable feelings that Pema Chödrön encourages us to embrace: fear, sorrow, loneliness, groundlessness. And in the days of shock and grief that followed, there was that brief and abundant display of “maitri,” or loving kindness, which emerged in waves of generosity and compassion for one another. For a while, we were in the world that she points to as an alternative to the everyday routine of getting, spending, and constant activity.
It is nearly impossible to summarize or characterize this fine book. In some 150 pages it covers more than a person could hope to absorb in many years, if not a lifetime. We may know the Buddha’s famous insight that human pain and suffering result from desire and aversion. But few writers have been able to articulate as well as Chödrön the implications of that insight in ways that make sense to the Western mind. As just one example from this book, her discussion of the “six kinds of loneliness” (chap. 9) illustrates how our desires to achieve intimacy with others are an attempt to run away from a deep encounter with ourselves. Our continuing efforts to establish security for ourselves are a denial of fundamental truths, which prevents our deep experience of the joy of living. Our reluctance to love ourselves and others closes down our hearts.
Freedom is generally thought of as the ability to achieve goals and satisfy desires. But what are the sources of these goals and desires? If they arise from ignorance, habitual patterns, and negative emotions, is the freedom to pursue these goals true freedom—or is it just a myth?
In this book, Chögyam Trungpa explores the meaning of freedom in the profound context of Tibetan Buddhism. He shows how our attitudes, preconceptions, and even our spiritual practices can become chains that bind us to repetitive patterns of frustration and despair. He also explains how meditation can bring into focus the causes of frustration, and how these negative forces can aid us in advancing toward true freedom.
Trungpa’s unique ability to express the essence of Buddhist teachings in the language and imagery of contemporary American culture makes this book one of the best sources of the Buddhist doctrine ever written.
This edition also contains a foreword by Pema Chödrön, a close student of Chögyam Trungpa and the best-selling author of When Things Fall Apart.
What Buddhist practice is really all about By Kim Boykin
Incisive teachings by one of the most influential Tibetan Buddhist teachers in the West. A central theme: giving up our hopes that meditation will bring us bliss or tranquility or make us better or wiser people or otherwise serve our ego’s purposes, and realizing the liberation that is right here within our pain and confusion and neurosis.