Read a spiritual exercise for compassion.
Everything in society and in the daily pressures that overwhelm us conspires to harden our hearts and make us cynical. We armor for battle, seeing ourselves as righteous warriors defending ourselves from enemies wherever we turn. Pema Chödrön, an American Buddhist nun and best-selling author of When Things Fall Apart, wants us to try another approach to become bodhisattvas, warriors of nonaggression who cultivate compassion.
This practice-rich resource is designed for those who are willing to take up this training in the midst of their relationships, work, and leisure. Chödrön is a master teacher who spices up her meditations with colorful illustrative material and thought-provoking quotations from Buddhist seers.
Bodhisattva training encourages us to give up our separateness and act upon our deep connections with others. As we set aside our feelings of being special, we see that others are not very different from us. Instead of nurturing our resentments and cravings, we begin to develop our open-mindedness and courage. Chödrön demonstrates ways to practice the four limitless qualities of loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. She is especially cogent in her discussion of learning to rejoice for ourselves, loved ones, friends, neutral parties, and enemies.
"Self importance," writes the author, "is like a prison for us, limiting us to the world of our likes and dislikes. We end up bored to death with ourselves and our world. We end up very dissatisfied." The wisdom offered in these pages is meant to help us stay with our demons and frustrations, to turn around our habitual ways of striking out and blaming, and to strive to become fearless. Chödrön's teachings are a great gift providing a spiritual uplift that is at once fresh, direct, poignant, and transforming.