August 24, 2011

Pema Chodron vs. Self-Help.

“When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve.” ~ Pema Chodron

The Problem with Self-Help.

And, the solution: Maitri: loving-kindness toward ourselves.

Click here for video.

You’re basically good. So am I. We all are.

The Cosmic Joke is, of course, when we stop thinking so much about ourselves, we do improve—life becomes more vivid and genuine:

“We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves.”


This is why we call our Religion / Spirituality / Philosophy department “Non New Agey Spirituality.” Yes, we’d be fine with a more elegant term. But I appreciate the humor and precision of what it’s called, now, too.


“When we start out on a spiritual path we often have ideals we think we’re supposed to live up to. We feel we’re supposed to be better than we are in some way. But with this practice you take yourself completely as you are.

Then ironically, taking in pain – breathing it in for yourself and all others in the same boat as you are – heightens your awareness of exactly where you’re stuck.”

Cosmic Joke, via Trungpa Rinpoche:

The attempt to confirm our solidity is very painful. Constantly we find ourselves suddenly slipping off the edge of a floor which had appeared to extend endlessly. Then we must attempt to save ourselves from death by immediately building an extension to the floor in order to make it appear endless again. We think we are safe on our seemingly solid floor, but then we slip off again and have to build another extension. We do not realize that the whole process is unnecessary, that we do not need a floor to stand on, that we have been building all these floors on the ground level. There was never any danger of falling or need for support. In fact, our occupation of extending the floor to secure our ground is a big joke, the biggest joke of all, a cosmic joke. – Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

We buy plastic, and toss it, and forget it. We drive and fly without offsetting. We read about whatever the Virgo moon means for our relationship, but don’t take climate change seriously.

Our life is selfish. But it doesn’t have to be. Joy—true, flowing joy—can be ours, if we learn to let go of false positivity and face the (wo)man in the mirror, with gentleness.

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