Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday #7: “The Wisdom of No Escape And the Path of Loving-Kindness” by Pema Chodron

Dear kids,

So many great quotes in The Wisdom of No Escape And the Path of Loving-Kindness by Pema Chodron. The whole book, practically, is just one big quotable quote. The essential message, though, is simple: suffering is part of life. Don’t fight it, or you’ll just make it worse.

Sometimes, I hate this message, and I hate books like this. What about making the effort to, you know, improve ourselves? But eventually I come around, and seek out books by Chodron in order to find peace in the midst of chaos.

Here is just a sampling of her amazing writing:

  • THERE’S A COMMON misunderstanding among all the human beings who have ever been born on the earth that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just try to get comfortable . . . A much more interesting, kind, adventurous, and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object of our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet.
  • I was quite miserable because everybody else seemed to be having all kinds of visualizations and doing very well. He said, “I’m always suspicious of the ones who say everything’s going well. If you think that things are going well, then it’s usually some kind of arrogance. If it’s too easy for you, you just relax. You don’t make a real effort, and therefore you never find out what it is to be fully human.”
  • There isn’t any hell or heaven except for how we relate to our world. Hell is just resistance to life.
  • When you want to say no to the situation you’re in, it’s fine to say no, but when you build up a big case to the point where you’re so convinced that you would draw your sword and cut off someone’s head, that kind of resistance to life is hell.
  • The first noble truth says simply that it’s part of being human to feel discomfort. We don’t even have to call it suffering anymore, we don’t even have to call it discomfort. It’s simply coming to know the fieriness of fire, the wildness of wind, the turbulence of water, the upheaval of earth, as well as the warmth of fire, the coolness and smoothness of water, the gentleness of the breezes, and the goodness, solidness, and dependability of the earth.
  • Nothing in its essence is one way or the other.
  • The second noble truth says that this resistance is the fundamental operating mechanism of what we call ego, that resisting life causes suffering.

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