using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Winter 2005
buddhadharma| 29 |winter 2005 incarnation is. When you sit with someone, you can see that they too have their measure of sorrows, just as you do. If you can share with them how you’ve struggled with your own sorrows, and how you’ve worked with them, it softens the conversation and shares the vulnerability. It makes connection pos- sible. It’s not a matter of being platitudinous or idealistic about this. The heart opens and closes, and there may be times, very sensibly, when you need to back off and protect yourself, as you say. You have to include yourself in compassion, not just everybody else. We get in trouble if the circle of compassion leaves out one person, “Moi!” as Miss Piggy would say. Once you’ve included yourself in the compassion, the fundamental practice is to wit- ness somebody else’s suffering. Michael Krasny: Pema, you’ve recounted in your books some of the suffering you’ve experienced – a difficult marriage breakup, chronic fatigue syn- drome, and so forth. Was compassion toward yourself a key part of transforming those experi- ences into something you could work with? Pema Chödrön: Compassion toward yourself is something worth exploring more. In teaching Buddhism in the West, one of the first things that all of us as Western dharma teachers realized very early on was that most people we were teaching were really hard on themselves. Without self-com- passion or some kind of loving-kindness toward oneself, nothing is ever going to happen on the spiritual path. It will never get off the ground. You can find that out very fast at the beginning. In my own case, for some reason I seemed to have had a lot of self-compassion from the beginning. I learned in teaching people that almost any- thing you say to them can get twisted into some- thing they use against themselves: “Oh, I can’t do that. I’m not good enough to do that.” If you sug- gest to someone that if they were patient and could do all those wonderful things that Jack read earlier in the “you’d be a dog” story, they will simply feel worse and worse about themselves and stress how inadequate they are. When they look into them- selves, they find impatience, bad tempers, and lots of right and wrong. Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, the teacher I am studying with right now, says that in order to progress along the spiritual path, you need to be able to self-reflect, to really look at yourself honestly. He says that’s where most Western people get stopped right away. They sit down, they start to meditate, then they begin to self-reflect and to see clearly their habitual patterns, thoughts, and emotions. Then everything is immediately twisted into self-loathing, self-disapproval, or self-denigra- tion. Consequently, he teaches a lot about guiltless- ness. He discusses the poison of guilt and how it never lets you grow. When you are guilty, you can never go any further. Somehow for self-reflection to work, there has to be a lot of emphasis on lov- ing-kindness and friendliness toward yourself. But that doesn’t mean self-indulgence. Michael Krasny: It doesn’t mean self-pity. Pema Chödrön: Exactly. The best analogy I’ve heard is to treat yourself as though you’re raising a child. Imagine you are a child that you are raising and that you love very dearly. You know you need to give the child a lot of love and nurturing, but the child also needs some boundaries. You’re not going to let yourself eat all the candy and run out into traffic. In your heart, you know what is going to help you grow. In the beginning, of course, you don’t really know that very well, but you will learn, and that will include learning what helps you to become more patient, loving, and less aggressive. You find that out through self-reflection, but if it twists, and you use what you see against yourself, you will lose track and get angry at yourself without noticing it anymore: “How could I even consider myself a meditator or a Buddhist? I’ve been medi- tating now for fifteen years and look at me! I still have this bad temper and all the other stuff!” You need to be kind as you look at yourself and not let it turn into loathing. Michael Krasny: Wasn’t the Dalai Lama quite interested to learn how much of an obstacle this kind of self-loathing is for Western students? Jack Kornfield: Yes, Pema and I were at a con- ference for Western Buddhist teachers with His Without self-compassion or some kind of loving- kindness toward oneself, nothing is ever going to happen on the spiritual path. It will never get off the ground. — Pema Chödrön