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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be. Here. Now.
In the current age of anxiety, Pema Chödrön is both a refreshing and challenging voice. Basically, she encourages us to see problems as spiritual opportunities. Instead of trying to run from discomfort, she advocates staying put and learning about ourselves. Instead of habitually reaching for whatever palliative gives relief -- always temporary -- she suggests...
Published on Nov. 16 2002 by Ronald Scheer

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More esoteric than "When Things Fall Apart"
I love Pema Chodron's work. "When Things Fall Apart" has become a bible of sorts for me. I keep reading it over and over again, underlining more of it each time. Her recent "The Places That Scare You" is far less tangible, somewhat more esoteric, more traditional in the sense of feeling more removed from our everyday reality. It just doesn't cut to the bone like her...
Published on Nov. 9 2002 by Connie Rose


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be. Here. Now., Nov. 16 2002
By 
Ronald Scheer "rockysquirrel" (Los Angeles) - See all my reviews
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In the current age of anxiety, Pema Chödrön is both a refreshing and challenging voice. Basically, she encourages us to see problems as spiritual opportunities. Instead of trying to run from discomfort, she advocates staying put and learning about ourselves. Instead of habitually reaching for whatever palliative gives relief -- always temporary -- she suggests feeling and observing our discomforts, becoming more fully present in our lives, learning how to be truly here now. Only through this process, she says, can we experience the deep joy of being alive.
This is a great companion volume to her book "When Things Fall Apart." It elaborates on themes introduced there, describing several practices of Tibetan Buddhism, some ancient and long forgotten, which help us not only cope with anxiety but use it to overcome fearfulness. This is an important spiritual effort because while we typically think of hate as the enemy of love, it is really fear that makes love difficult. Fear immobilizes us, makes us pull the covers over our heads, and isolates us from others.
Chödrön, a student of Chögyam Trungpa, encourages the consistent practice of meditation. And she discounts the usual results-driven expectations people associate with it, pointing out that as we confront our true selves in meditation, it often becomes more and more difficult, not easier. And for those who have found meditation fiercely frustrating, as I have, she has alternatives. The practice of "tonglen" is one simple spiritual ritual that can be done anywhere, anytime, providing a dramatic and freeing shift in emotional perspective. Learning not to let disappointment, anger, and hurt trigger our personal melodramas, which sap our energy, we can find our way to greater equanimity and become a less destructive presence in the world.
I strongly recommend this book as a welcome spiritual tonic in troubled times, whether that trouble originates elsewhere or from within. As with her other books, you can read and reread it, each time discovering much to learn and reflect on -- and in her words, "this is news you can use."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pema's thoughts are so helpful, Dec 8 2013
By 
L. Manthorne (Canada) - See all my reviews
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Achat vérifié(Quest-ce que cest?)
Ce commentaire est de: The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times (Paperback)
I find Pema's books are a helpful guide to a more peaceful and 'sane' life. I bought this for my sister, who is going through a very difficult family time, and she is finding it very good.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound, practical guide to attaining wisdom, April 20 2002
By 
"aregulardad" (Milwaukee, WI USA) - See all my reviews
I've read this book three times in two weeks. I read so many books about wisdom. The Four Agreements (not so good), meditation by Jack Kornfeld books, Nietzche, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. I've read Pema Chodron's previous books, and those didn't speak to me as deeply as this one does. I don't read just to pass the time. I read to find wisdom. This book contains deep wisdom.
The author lays out ways to analyze ourselves, our emotions and our thoughts. She discusses how we as humans react to our thoughts and pain. Her book analyzes the causes and roots of suffering. She then asks "why do must people suffer in such a similar way?". Decades of acquired wisdom are then offered.
The causes and roots of suffering are our fleeing from pain, running for comfort. Fleeing without knowing why, fleeing without knowing where we are going. The descriptions of human behaivor are spot on accurate. This describes so many Western philosophers, political reformers, talented artists, and many people who are looking to find 'the one true way'.
After laying out the causes of suffering, she distills her understanding of human behaivor, and gives us ways to approach these problems. Practical, approachable ways that you can build on over time. This isn't a set of principles of "Look at the world with happiness, and you too will be happy", or a collection of trite sayings to convince yourself "You're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggone it, people like you". Slogans don't allow us to analyze and understand the root causes of our pain and suffering. This book lays out those causes. And it lays out ways we can study suffering, and use our efforts to transform our lives from unsure, troubled beings to people who have a firm grasp of themselves. This self understanding leads to lots of confidence. And she uses a scientific method for this analysis.
There are two books i read over and over. "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind", which i've been learning from regularly for 4 years. And now this one.
Suzuki Roshi said 'We are always looking for something, without knowing what we are doing'. We are looking for happiness. This book studies what is happiness, what is suffering, why is it so temporal, and what can i do about attaining it.
And it helps us understand what we are doing.
May you benefit from this wisdom as much as I have.

"Science is best defined as a careful, disciplined, logical search for knowledge about any and all aspects of the universe, obtained by examination of the best available evidence and always subject to correction and improvement upon discovery of better evidence. What's left is magic. And it doesn't work."
--James Randi
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot more to this than meets the eye, July 1 2004
By A Customer
Ce commentaire est de: The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times (Paperback)
Pema Chodron seems to get mostly favorable reactions from reviewers, although a few are turned off by what they see as her complacency and hard-edged analysis. To the latter, I suggest reading "traditional" self-help books (there are plenty out there) that are either squishy (John Bradshaw and Wayne Dwyer come to mind) or tell you to "Just Do It" (Eat That Frog, Who Moved My Cheese).
I like Chodron and this book because I think she takes a middle path between compassion and "tough love". So many books tell us to be in the moment and experience life just as it is, warts and all. I think this book goes into a little more depth regarding the many aspects of awareness and the mind-games we play with ourselves. I also get a sense that Ms. Chodron has been through a lot in life, from both a personal and a spiritual perspective. That makes her writing a little more down to earth than, say, Deepak Chopra (many of you will cringe that I even mentioned his name in this review).
An interesting insight that I got from this book is the concept of groundlessness. In 12-step programs and some Christian circles they talk about being "spiritually grounded", which means to have beliefs that are not whimsical or based on hunches, but are well-established principles espoused by your program/religion. Chodron would appear to disagree with this description somewhat, and I'm on her side, in that you should always question what the truth is, even the Buddha's teachings. Even enlightenment is not the end, she says, but really is just the start of truly living. Groundlessness, then, is being able to be in the moment with no pre-conceived ideas or desires for a particular outcome. It could also be called egolessness.
Where this book comes up short is that it is highly repetitive, especially in the middle chapters. She basically repeats the same exercise for practicing lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. I didn't get as much as I would like out of those sections; I think they're more for someone who's in a heavy-duty meditation practice.
I think this book could be easily misinterpreted by someone who picks it at random from a library or bookstore. The stuff that's talked about in here may seem simple or even counter-intuitive, but I believe it's the result of the author's long spiritual journey. Many self-help books and religions advertise that they can cure whatever your problem was in X easy steps (and have testimonials to prove it). The Places That Scare You says that there is relief from suffering, but finding relief is just the beginning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A discourse on the First Noble Truth, March 1 2002
By 
Donald A. Smith "donaldalan" (Sewickley, PA United States) - See all my reviews
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Pema's book emphasizes the First Noble Truth of Buddhism: that there is suffering. Her main message seems to be that in order for us to be fully human and fully awake, we need to be fearless in our willingness to confront painful feelings, and we need to allow ourselves to fully empathize with others' suffering as well. We will thereby develop a compassionate and open heart.
To tell the truth, I found the book rather unsatisfying, almost depressing, because of its over-emphasis on the need for a stoic, warrior mentality. (Perhaps I'm not spiritually advanced enough to face these hard truths.) Come on, Ms. Chodron! Have you forgotten the Third Noble Truth (that there is an end to suffering)? What happened to joy, peace, serenity, love, and nirvana? Isn't the cessation of suffering the entire aim of Buddhism?
Western religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam promise a lot to the true believer: protection, guidance and salvation by a loving God. Vedanta promises even more: union with God and pure bliss. Buddhism is rather different. It says that the cause of suffering is our own cravings, and that it is up to us to liberate ourselves from suffering. But even within Buddhism, there is a spectrum of beliefs and practices. For example, Tibetan Buddhists tend to have a more devotional and ritualistic religion, with more emphasis on positive spiritual attainment.
With a somber book like Chodron's, Buddhism is going to be hard sell in the marketplace of religions. But I have to admit: the religion (stripped of some of its metaphysical baggage, e.g., reincarnation) makes more sense from a scientific, humanistic point of view.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, Feb. 26 2002
By A Customer
This book is a good one, and as challenging as one would expect. Practical, down to earth, funny, and honest. No dogma. The author is a compassionate person and it comes through in her writing. Pema Chodron, like another of my favorite authors, Taro Gold, simply invites us to think deeply. Also read 'Open Your Mind, Open Your Life: A Book of Eastern Wisdom' by Taro Gold. Excellent!
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4.0 out of 5 stars ADVICE FOR TIMES OF CRISIS ?, March 11 2009
By 
terrie schauer (Montreal, Canada) - See all my reviews
Buddhist nun Pema Chodrön wrote this great book about techniques for mentally surviving and living gracefully in difficult times. With the appocalyptic messages about "crisis" flying hard and fast at the moment, Chodrön's words of advice might not be a bad addition to the bookshelf!

The Places that Scare You is all about learning fearlessness in the face of the things that are frightening. Cultivating compassion and accepting the impermanence of things are just some of the lessons Chodrön draws from the Shambala Buddhist tradition. She writes also about how important it is to take life with equinimity -- that is, accepting the pleasant with the unpleasant and letting all forms of experience arrise in our existence.

No matter how good we are at living, explains Chodrön, we aren't able to avoid what we don't like and keep only what we do like. Seeking pleasure and avoiding pain is the type of behavior at the root of human suffering. Furthermore, simple human reality implies taking the good with the bad.

Chodron's writing is simple, cutting and at times, a bit bleak. But her advice is to the point and very useful. If this is the first book of hers you're considering, go ahead. Her voice will remain with you.

Terrie
- wayofthewarriorqueen.com
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sound Advice, Feb. 29 2004
By 
Swing King (Cincinnati, OH USA) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times (Paperback)
Pema Chodron teaches us here that indeed, we always have a choice: We can let conditions in our lives make us more fearful, anxious and ever more bitter, or we can allow them to diminish and thus make us kinder. The choice truly is our own, whether we always care to admit this or not. Here she provides us with the tools necessary to deal with the challenges we face in our lives, to open our hearts and above else our minds to the suffering of ourselves and ultimately others; tools which helps us move beyond apprehension which is always preventing us from being honest and loving towards one another.
"So beautifully written that the reading is a pleasure-speaks to people of all religious persuasions." - The Los Angeles Times.
This was a brilliant book, I cannot recommend it enough to any of you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars All her books are wonderful.........., July 22 2003
This is the second copy of this book I have bought, since I gave one copy to the local library because it is so wonderful. The whole book is overflowing with wise, gentle advise or wisdom as I prefer to call it. So many of the Chapters have added value to my life. Especially The Facts of Life which reminds us that life is fluid and never static so learn how to go with the flow and not have you canoe capsize. Or Learning to Stay when one is more apt to want to run away from a challenge. Finding the Ability to Rejoice was an excellent chapter because we humans, especially we Americans are all to apt to be self-centered and looking for what we think we want that we fail to see just how blessed and happy we really are.
The Chapter on the Three Kinds Of Laziness is one most Americans need to read. The first kind of laziness the author shares is based on our tendency to want to avoid inconveniences. Second kind is loss of the heart, or the "poor me" habit. The third kind is the "couldn't care less" type which is often related to resentment. Or giving the world the obscene finger gesture. It's either the world owes me something and I'm not getting it or the idea that because we aren't getting what we think we want we get mad and basically say screw the world and we shut ourselves off from others.
When the Going Gets Rough is also a great chapter because its a good kick in the pants reminder that life is both glorious high peaks where we can savour everything we see, as well as valleys with bogs and tough terrain, which if we would just stop complaining and instead become more observant, could provide wonderful life changing experiences just as great as the mountain top.
In fact I am reminded of how the most successful and happy people often love the process of getting the success more than the success and in fact once they obtain success in something they aren't prone to sit on their buttocks but are quick to seek a new challenge that will provide more life changing and positive lessons.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fine and inspirational book, July 4 2003
By 
Claus Hetting (Gentofte, Copenhagen Denmark) - See all my reviews
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Pema Chodron writes lucidly about some of the most fundamental Buddhist teachings, namely the development of loving-kindness and compassion (bodhichitta), and gives valuable practical advice on how to approach difficult emotions such as pain and fear in our everyday lives. Perhaps the best chapter - at least to me - is on 'The Facts of Life' where she presents some basic but profound thinking on human suffering, and how it ties all of humanity together. Her greatest accomplishment is conveying Buddhist wisdom in a manner that is accessible to all. Surely this book should be of benefit to any reader.
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