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When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times [Paperback]

Pema Chodron
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 26 2000 Shambhala Classics
The beautiful practicality of her teaching has made Pema Chödrön one of the most beloved of contemporary American spiritual authors among Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. A collection of talks she gave between 1987 and 1994, the book is a treasury of wisdom for going on living when we are overcome by pain and difficulties. Chödrön discusses:

   •  Using painful emotions to cultivate wisdom, compassion, and courage
   •  Communicating so as to encourage others to open up rather than shut down
   •  Practices for reversing habitual patterns
   •  Methods for working with chaotic situations
   •  Ways for creating effective social action

Frequently Bought Together

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times + The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times + Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears
Price For All Three: CDN$ 32.07

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From Amazon

Much like Zen, Pema Chodron's interpretation of Tibetan Buddhism takes the form of a nontheistic spiritualism. In When Things Fall Apart this head of a Tibetan monastery in Canada outlines some relevant and deceptively profound terms of Tibetan Buddhism that are germane to modern issues. The key to all of these terms is accepting that in the final analysis, life is groundless. By letting go, we free ourselves to face fear and obstacles and offer ourselves unflinchingly to others. The graceful, conversational tone of Chodron's writing gives the impression of sitting on a pillow across from her, listening to her everyday examples of Buddhist wisdom. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Pema Chodron, a student of Chogyam Trunpa Rinpoche and Abbot of Gampo Abbey, has written the Tibetan Buddhist equivalent of Harold Kushner's famous book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. As the author indicates in the postscript to her book: "We live in difficult times. One senses a possibility they may get worse." Consequently, Chodron's book is filled with useful advice about how Buddhism helps readers to cope with the grim realities of modern life, including fear, despair, rage and the feeling that we are not in control of our lives. Through reflections on the central Buddhist teaching of right mindfulness, Chodron orients readers and gives them language with which to shape their thinking about the ordinary and extraordinary traumas of modern life. But most importantly, Chodron demonstrates how effective the Buddhist point of view can be in bringing order into disordered lives.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful March 1 2007
My friend gave me this book when things weren't 'falling apart'. I thought that it was a rather bleak title for that time in my life. But when I finally picked it up, I understood the teachings as being relevant to anytime in one's life. You don't have to be a Buddhist to appreciate the simple facts that things change, and that for some people it helps to surrender to change, and to release our clenched grasp on the things we want, always in a state of desire or aversion. I've read some of the other reviews and see that this book isn't for everyone: it can come across as bleak if you aren't open to the concept of detachment or surrender. I loved Pema's statement that we often are all looking for that 'higher-force babysitter' to which we can beg to end our suffering for us and to give us what we want. Perhaps this may offend some with certain religious beliefs. However, I thought it was daringly honest and quite insightful, and in a sense encouraging for us to stop trying to plead with the universe that our circumstances will improve, and just learn how to handle life as it comes at us. I have lent this book to many people during hard times in their lives, including a friend sorting through childhood trauma, and they got a lot out of it. Key message: life can be difficult and is always unpredictable, learn to ride it out rather than run away from it.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for accepting loss and grief Aug. 5 2002
At the end of a six year relationship, I found Pema's words to be a great source of comfort. There is no magic wand or pill or distraction that will make our fear, pain and lonliness disappear.
Pema's advice for us to sit with our uncomfortable feelings, to face them, acknowledge them without judgement and to appreciate the sense of being groundless were the words that helped me accept my situation.
Life is about impermanence, change is inevitable. I am trying to find peace in the chaos that is life, to take things one day at a time and not create grand illusions of what my life will be like.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new perspective is often a better perspective Oct. 27 2003
I guess most people who pick up this book will have some aspect of their lives that is falling apart at the time. I certainly did. The title really is very captivating. In fact it was so captivating for me that I didn't realise this book espoused Buddhist philosophy until I actually started reading it. In some ways I have never been comfortable with comforting texts, but I have always tried to keep an open mind about other people's cultures and traditions. Pema Chodron walks a fine line of encouraging and stimulating, for me anyway. But the book is by no means comforting with its messages of living with hopelessness, letting things go, refraining from doing things and so on. My perspective changed in many ways as I read - perhaps not fixedly, but nevertheless I greatly value the shifts that occurred and their impact will not disappear even if I continue much as I have in the past.
And, as I read, I realised that the past is the problem with its regrets but so is the future with its urges for satisfaction. The only real problem with the present is that it last for such a short time!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magnificent Gift Sept. 11 2003
If I had read this book six months ago, it would not have had the same impact. A recent crisis provided the opportunity to embrace Pema's voice. In our culture, we tend to focus on our own pain and issues. Tonglen, on the other hand, encourages using life's challenges as a way to spread kindness and compassion.

Admittedly, the initial concepts appeared bizarre to me. "Make friends with your demons" and "Chaos should be regarded as extremely good news" came across as masochistic. But when one has hit rock bottom, we tend to discover our humility, which allows us to be more open to new ideas. When I read the phrase "Things become very clear when there is nowhere to escape," I found myself nodding in agreement. From that point on, I embraced each line-word for word.
The best gift one can give to themselves or others is a copy of "When Things Fall Apart." It is indeed a book that I found much hope and comfort in. I just ordered Pema's book collection and look forward to learning more about practicing tonglen from her.
Some of my other favorite passages from the book:
"...nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. If we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent in order to get away from the obstacle, we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. It just keeps returning with new names, forms, and manifestations..."
"As long as we don't want to be honest and kind with ourselves, then we are always going to be infants. When we begin just to try to accept ourselves, the ancient burden of self-importance lightens up considerably. Finally there's room for genuine inquisitiveness, and we find we have an appetite for what's out there."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great work Feb. 29 2004
Pema Chodron is a beloved American Buddhist nun who trained under Chogyam Trungpa, the at times controversial Tibetan meditation master. Yet whatever qualms you may have in mind about him, please don't let that taint your perception of Pema. She is truly a shining, clear and loving teacher among us today.
In this book Pema draws from the traditional Buddhist wisdom in order to give us thorough and kindhearted advice on what to do when, as the title suggests, "things fall apart." There is only one approach that grants lasting benefit, Pema tells us here, and that entails approaching these situations with openness and inquisitiveness. Teaching us to embrace our painful emotions, she shows the way on how to gain both wisdom and compassion not just towards and for ourselves, but for all people.
"The Tibetan Buddhist equivalent of Harold Kushner's "When Bad Things Happen To Good People." - Publishers Weekly
"This is a book that could serve you for a lifetime." - Natural Health Magazine
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Assistance
During a desperately difficult time in my life, Chodron's counsel calmed me.

I had no idea how my terrible situation would be resolved (or not) or how I would be able to... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Eleanor Cowan
5.0 out of 5 stars thoughtful
Gave me reasons to understand why I do not want yo walk off the path but so often feel or think that I want to stop meditating/trying to grasp what seems so elusive. Normal, this.
Published 2 months ago by Marce Merrell
5.0 out of 5 stars Pema is wonderful
Everything Pema writes is helpful and touching. I have many of her books, and this is as good as all of the others.
Published 10 months ago by L. Manthorne
5.0 out of 5 stars makes you think
The book is good, it gets you on a new thinking path and it's enlightening. Despite that, it's easy to read as it is well written.
Published 11 months ago by johanne harvey
5.0 out of 5 stars A handbook to navigate daily life
Start where ever you are; acquire grace, bravery, and peace.
A reference to read from everyday, to remind us of who we really are.
Published 12 months ago by Maureen O'Reilly
3.0 out of 5 stars It's okay
Not a bad read but I do not care for Pema Chodron's writing style. I have read many books on Tibetian Buddhism and this one seems cold and distant. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Dan Barnes
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opener
This is the book that gave me answers and coping methodology I was looking for in the past few years. Could be helpful for overcoming midlife crisis depression and addictions.
Published 15 months ago by Evgeny Voutchkov
5.0 out of 5 stars good lessons
Extremely interesting but at times a little confusing specially when words come out to you, but once the definitions found it is well written, a must re read book cause there is no... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Madeleine Girard
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This book arrived very quickly and with no problems. Would recommend it as well as other books by the same authour
Published 22 months ago by Adine Shuchuk
1.0 out of 5 stars She turned me off Buddhism.
Pema Chodron just couldn't find the strength to get it together and raise her children. Instead, she abandons them so she can go off and self indulgently meditate under a tree... Read more
Published on March 25 2011 by female reader
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