Summer Reading

Quote for the Day

We need self-compassion to stabilize our minds.

Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You

She’s writing about what a person needs in order to stay with a meditation practice when reaching places on the inside in which it is difficult to reside. I think this is true of any spiritual practice we may undertake, or any deep commitment of action or purpose. Coming at it from a perspective of self-denial or self-abnegation or self-punishment won’t work in the long run. Love your neighbor as you love yourself, right?

Why is that so hard? And why is it so easy to find ourselves caught up on the carnival ride of anxiety or self-blame or self-torture?

Around the time I was getting divorced, I read another of her books, When Things Fall Apart. I did not have a lot of context at that time for Buddhist practices, but I found her words to be a healing wave breaking over me.

We need self-compassion to stabilize our minds.


4 thoughts on “Quote for the Day”

  1. In a similar period of my life, which also included an incredibly bumpy and difficult spiritual search, I found Patricia Joudrey’s book, From Spirit River to Angel’s Roost, especially helpful.
    Bottom line: love yourself, indeed.

  2. I was very much in that place, p_m_p. I looked everywhere and at just about everything. I was pretty convinced that I was thoroughly unloved and unlovable. And though I don’t feel that way now, on the whole, I do have moments when I experience the fear of being in that place again.

  3. Given that we are journeying, as opposed to staying fixed, a sense of impermanence is natural, if uncomfortable. I feel it literally all the time, more or less, in large part because I struggle with lack of fundamental trust. This goes waa-a-a-a-y back in me, but it takes very little, comparatively, to bring me to being a scared 4-year-old again in some ways. So when folks like us pray, it’s very much in a sort of “fear and trembling” that Paul the Apostle talks about. I’ve learned, the hard way, that while there is comfort and succour, there isn’t a place anywhere that is safe from things that go bump in the night, so to speak.
    On another note, I had the good fortune to be in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, when I learned that Patricia Joudrey herself lived but 20 kilometres down the road in a hamlet just off the highway. I had matured enough not to just jump in the car and try to go see her, but did manage to send her a gushy postcard, thanking her profusely for the book and its insights. Got a reply, which expressed gratitutde that the book had been of some use. She is still there, near Saskatoon, working with a form of music therapy.

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