Acharya Pema Chödrön is principal teacher for Gampo Abbey, a Western Buddhist Monastery in the Shambhala Tradition, located in Nova Scotia, Canada, which was founded by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1984.
She has written several books: “The Wisdom of No Escape,” “Start Where You Are”, “When Things Fall Apart,” “The Places that Scare You,” “No Time to Lose,” and “Practicing Peace in Times of War,” and, most recently, “Smile at Fear.” All are available from Shambhala Publications.
This excerpt is from The Pocket Pema Chödrön, pp.28-29.
When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless.
You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space. Your world seems less solid, more roomy and spacious. The burden lightens.
In the beginning it might feel like sadness or a shaky feeling, accompanied by a lot of fear, but your willingness to feel the fear, to make fear your companion, is growing. You’re willing to get to know yourself at this deep level.
After a while this same feeling begins to turn into a longing to be fully human and to live in your world without always having to shut down and close off when certain things come along. It begins to turn into a longing to be there for your friends when they’re in trouble, to be of real help to this poor, aching planet.
Curiously enough, along with this longing and this sadness and this tenderness, there’s an immense sense of well-being, which doesn’t have anything to do with pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad, hope or fear, disgrace or fame.
It’s something that comes to you when you feel that you can keep your heart open.
And so it is.