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When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times Paperback – Sep 26 2000


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When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times + Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears + The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; New edition edition (Sept. 26 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570623449
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570623448
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 240 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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 the Hardcover edition.

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

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jubejube on March 1 2007
Format: Paperback
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 By K. Winters on Aug. 5 2002
Format: Paperback
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 By A. G. Plumb on Oct. 27 2003
Format: Paperback
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 By Bill Lee, Author on Sept. 11 2003
Format: Paperback
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."
"...
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Swing King on Feb. 29 2004
Format: Paperback
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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