40+ Best When Things Fall Apart Quotes by Pema Chödrön

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We have compiled a list of quotes from When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön for you to read.


1. Intimacy with Fear

“When we begin our exploration, we have all kinds of ideals and expectations. We are looking for answers that will satisfy a hunger we’ve felt for a very long time. But the last thing we want is a further introduction to the boogeyman. “

“When we really begin to do this, we’re going to be continually humbled. “

“When things fall apart and we’re on the verge of we know not what, the test of each of us is to stay on that brink and not concretize. “

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2. When Things Fall Apart

“When you have made good friends with yourself, your situation will be more friendly too. “

“When things fall apart and we’re on the verge of we know not what, the test for each of us is to stay on that brink and not concretize. “

3. This Very Moment Is the Perfect Teacher

“When anyone asks me how I got involved in Buddhism, I always say it was because I was so angry with my husband. The truth is that he saved my life. “

“Most of us do not take these situations as teachings. We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape—all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can’t stand it. “

“When we reach our limit, if we aspire to know that place fully—which is to say that we aspire to neither indulge nor repress—a hardness in us will dissolve. “

“We can be with what’s happening and not dissociate. “

4. Relax As It Is

“When Trungpa Rinpoche first taught in the West, he told his students to simply open their minds and relax. “

“At the point when we realized we’d gone off, we were instructed to say to ourselves ‘thinking’ and, without making it a big deal, to simply return again to the out-breath. “

“So right from the beginning it’s helpful to always remind yourself that meditation is about opening and relaxing with whatever arises, without picking and choosing. “

“It’s never too late to practice loving-kindness. “

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5. It’s Never Too Late

“In the middle of the worst scenario of the worst person in the world, in the midst of all the heavy dialogue with ourselves, open space is always there. “

“When we first start meditating, it’s as if the dogs never stop barking at all. “

“When the rivers and air are polluted, when families and nations are at war, when homeless wanderers fill the highways, these are traditional signs of a dark age. Another is that people become poisoned by self-doubt and become cowards. “

6. Not Causing Harm

“basic Buddhist teaching on the healing power of nonaggression. “

“Refraining—not habitually acting out impulsively—has something to do with giving up entertainment mentality. “

“Because we have basic goodness, basic wisdom, basic intelligence, we can stop harming ourselves and harming others. “

7. Hopelessness and Death

“When our minds are at ease, full of unlimited friendliness for all the junk at the bottom of the lake that we don’t feel the need to churn up the waters just to avoid looking at what’s there. “

“When we feel suffering, we think that something is wrong. As long as we’re addicted to hope, we feel that we can tone our experience down or liven it up or change it somehow, and we continue to suffer a lot. “

“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look. That’s the compassionate thing to do. That’s the brave thing to do. “

“When we have reminders of death, we panic. “

“When we’re feeling good, our thoughts are usually about things we like—praise, gain, pleasure, and fame. When we’re feeling uncomfortable and irritable and fed up, our thoughts and emotions are probably revolving around something like pain, loss, disgrace, or blame. “

8. Eight Worldly Dharmas

“We carry around a subjective reality that is continually triggering our emotional reactions. “

“What pops up is out of our control, totally unpredictable, like the images in a dream. “

“When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a nonthreatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down. “

9. Six Kinds of Loneliness

“When we don’t go left or right, we feel like we are in a detox center. We’re alone cold turkey with all the edginess that we’ve been trying to avoid by going left or right. “

“The less we spin off and go crazy, the more we taste the satisfaction of cool loneliness. “

“When we draw a line down the center of a page, we know who we are if we’re on the right side and who we are if we’re on the left side. But we don’t know who we are when we don’t put ourselves on either side. “

“Recognize impermanence and suffering and egolessness at the kitchen-sink level, and be inquisitive about your reactions. Find out for yourself about peace and whether or not it’s true that our fundamental situation is joyful. “

10. Curious about Existence

“Impermanence is the goodness of reality. Just as the four seasons are in continual flux, winter changing to spring to summer to autumn; just as day becomes night, light becoming dark becoming light again—in the same way, everything is constantly evolving. “

“When impermanence presents itself in our lives, we can recognize it as impermanence. We don’t have to look for opportunities to do this. “

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11. Nonaggression and the Four Maras

“All the maras point the way to being completely awake and alive by letting go, by letting ourselves die moment after moment, at the end of each out-breath. “

“In this context, the outer level is the sense that something or somebody has harmed us, interfering with the harmony and peace we thought was ours. Some rascal has ruined it all. “

“When pain presents itself to us in any form whatsoever, we run like crazy to try to become comfortable. “

“When everything falls apart and we feel uncertainty, disappointment, shock, embarrassment, what’s left is a mind that is clear, unbiased, and fresh. But we don’t see that. “

“From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience. “

“Pointing directly at your own heart, you find Buddha. “

12. Growing Up

“When I first encountered Buddhism, I was extremely relieved that there were not only teachings, but also a technique I could use to explore and test these teachings. I was told from day one that, just like Bodhidharma, I had to find out for myself what was true. “

“Only in an open, nonjudgmental space can we acknowledge what we are feeling. “

13. Widening the Circle of Compassion

“Compassionate action is a practice, one of the most advanced. There’s nothing more advanced than relating with others. There’s nothing more advanced than communication—compassionate communication. “

“When it hurts so bad, it’s because I am hanging on so tight. “

“When we feel right, we can look at that. Feeling right can feel good; we can be completely sure of how right we are and have a lot of people agreeing with us about how right we are. “

“The love that will not die is the most powerful force in the universe. “

14. The Love That Will Not Die

“You take it all in. You let the pain of the world touch your heart and you turn it into compassion. “

“When we see a woman and her child begging on the street, when we see a man mercilessly beating his terrified dog, when we see a teenager who has been badly beaten or see fear in the eyes of a child, do we turn away because we can’t bear it. “

“When we protect ourselves so we won’t feel pain, that protection becomes like armor, like armor that imprisons the softness of the heart. We do everything we can think of not to feel anything threatening. We try to prolong feeling good about ourselves. “

“In order to feel compassion for other people, we have to feel compassion for ourselves. “

15. Going against the Grain

“We begin the practice by taking on the suffering of a person whom we know to be hurting and wish to help. For instance, if we know of a child who is being hurt, we breathe in with the wish to take away all of that child’s pain and fear. “

“The boot camp might be run by Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. More likely it would be run by people we’ve never seen or heard of, just ordinary men and women from all over the world who devote their lives to helping others be free of pain. “

16. Servants of Peace

“The methods we learn at the bodhisattva training might include meditation practice and tonglen. They might also include the six paramitas—the six activities of the servants of peace. “

“The very words generosity, discipline, patience, and exertion may have rigid connotations for many of us. They may sound like a heavy list of shoulds and shouldn’ts. They might remind us of school rules or the preaching of moralists. “

“What we do on the outer level has the power to loosen up deep-rooted patterns of holding on to ourselves. “

“The power of the paramita of patience is that it is the antidote to anger, a way to learn to love and care for whatever we meet on the path. “

“When we cling to thoughts and memories, we are clinging to what cannot be grasped. When we touch these phantoms and let them go, we may discover a space, a break in the chatter, a glimpse of open sky. “

“When we hold on to our opinions with aggression, no matter how valid our cause, we are simply adding more aggression to the planet, and violence and pain increase. “

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17. Opinions

“Just by this simple exercise we are introduced to the notion of egolessness. All ego really is, is our opinions, which we take to be solid, real, and the absolute truth about how things are. “

“It’s up to us to sort out what is opinion and what is fact; then we can see intelligently. “

18. Secret Oral Instructions

“It is not a matter of the right choice or the wrong choice, but simply that we are often presented with a dilemma about bringing together the inspiration of the teachings with what they mean to us on the spot. “

“When Naropa, seeking the meaning behind the words, set out to find a teacher, he continually found himself in this position of being squeezed. Intellectually he knew all about compassion, but when he came upon a filthy, lice-infested dog, he looked away. “

“The state of nowness is available in that moment of squeeze. “

19. Three Methods for Working with Chaos

“When we sit down to meditate, whatever arises in our minds we look at directly, call it ‘thinking,’ and go back to the simplicity and immediacy of the breath. “

“When anything difficult arises—any kind of conflict, any notion of unworthiness, anything that feels distasteful, embarrassing, or painful—instead of trying to get rid of it, we breathe it in. “

“When the world is filled with evil, all mishaps, all difficulties, should be transformed into the path of enlightenment. “

“We don’t experience the world fully unless we are willing to give everything away. “

20. The Trick of Choicelessness

“From the point of view of the teachings, thinking that we have ample time to do things later is the greatest myth, the greatest hang-up, and the greatest poison. “

“The most important samayas are the samayas of body, speech, and mind. First is being bound to body, bound to form, to what we see with our eyes—sticking with that and never giving up on what we see with our eyes. “

“As we practice, we see that thoughts do not go away; they become more precise and less substantial. “

“The whole world is gold to me. “

“In some sense, the whole samaya relationship—whether it’s with the phenomenal world as absolute teacher or with an individual person—is about softening us up. “

21. Reversing the Wheel of Samsara

“When we are angry with someone or broken-hearted, when we want to get even or commit suicide, at times like these we don’t seem to think meditation or the teachings quite cut the mustard. They don’t quite speak to the realness of the situation. “

“The key is changing our habits and, in particular, the habits of our mind. “

“When we meditate and when we hear the teachings, it helps to remember that we are engaged in developing kindness. “

“The path is the goal. “

22. The Path Is the Goal

“The path is not Route 66—destination, Los Angeles. It’s not as if we can take out a map and figure that this year we might make it to Gallup, New Mexico, and maybe by 2001, we’ll be in L. A. “

“whatever occurs can be regarded as the path and that all things, not just some things, are workable. “

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