When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

by Pema Chodron


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There is a fundamental happiness available to every individual--yet we usually miss it while spending our lives trying to escape suffering that is ultimately guite inescapable. Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist teacher, shows that the secret to freeing oneself from pain is not to run from it, but to step right up to the uncharted territory of difficulty with friendliness and curiosity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781570623448
Publisher: Shambhala
Publication date: 09/28/2000
Series: Shambhala Classics Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 8.88(w) x 10.88(h) x 0.44(d)

About the Author

Pema Chödrön is an American Buddhist nun in the lineage of Chögyam Trungpa. She is resident teacher at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, the first Tibetan monastery in North America established for Westerners. She is the author of many books and audiobooks, including the best-selling When Things Fall Apart and Don't Bite the Hook.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Pema Chodron is one of those spiritual teachers who brings ancient wisdom to bear upon our daily triumphs and tragedies. . . . Incredibly wise and poignantly practical."—Spirituality & Health

"Chödrön'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 . . . Chödrön demonstrates how effective the Buddhist point of view can be in bringing order into disordered lives."—Publishers Weekly

"This is a book that could serve you for a lifetime."—Natural Health

"As one of Pema Chödrön's grateful students, I have been learning the most pressing and necessary lesson of all: how to keep opening wider my own heart."—Alice Walker

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When Things Fall Apart 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 78 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
How many times have you heard a Buddhist intellectual relate a teaching by saying, 'this reminds me of a Gary Larson cartoon I saw once?' Ane Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist Nun, truly knows how to bend the Western ear toward Eastern thought. Further, she does so with honesty, humor and clarity in this amazing book. I purchased this at a time when for me things seemed to be 'falling apart.' It reminds one of the need to attend to and, indeed, love one's self as a path to attending to and loving others. Pema Chodron is truly someone I would love to meet one day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a very powerful book. I am a Christian and a therapist but she raised some questions and issues that I wished I had studied many years ago. This is the most impactful book I have ever read
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book after my mother died, and it did help me. Specifically, I found helpful the concepts that suffering connects us to other humans, not just today but who have suffered down through history, and that such events can be viewed as a gift, to 'wake us up' and help us become enlightened. Nobody wants pain, but it is better to face it and have a way of dealing with it positively.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book to help us all survive these difficult times with loving kindness toward one another instead of blame and "me-first" mentality. It helped me "lean into" difficult times instead of running to the refrigerator or the mall. Just READ IT!
kcacciotti More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for one of my english classes as Saint Norbert College and it isn't really a self help book but it sure has helped me. Now I have this little pema that sits on my shoulder when I start to panic and she just tells be let it fall apart it will go back and fall apart again and again there is no use freaking out about it. I really like the stories in the book that she uses to get her point across as well. One book from school I don't mind hanging onto
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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 continue on. Chodron said that it was CRITICAL for a suffering individual to learn how to care for herself inside this uncertain, suffering state, day by day, hour by hour, - and not to wait till everything was "all better" before agreeing to eat quality meals, bathe and dress, or go for a walk for an hour, even during great stress. She suggested that it is a far more laudable accomplishment to live well in uncertainty, than ever it is to wait until everything is fine before treating oneself like a loved human being. Sage advice I have kept close.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If youre sad, scared, angry, hurt or alone read this book. It will change your life. I always come back to this book.
LibraBB More than 1 year ago
I’ve read a plethora of “self-help” books over the past years – most of which had at least some useful nugget. This book was different. When I finished I commented to a friend “I don’t think I need to read any more books – I just need to read this one over and over.” Of course, the key is that it’s not just about reading but about doing what’s suggested – that’s the hard part.
inkman More than 1 year ago
This is a good book because things will fall apart, even this book. Everything in the universe falls apart. We should learn and know how to deal with it. Pema Chodron expresses this truth wonderfully.
415Pam More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading this book, and immediately started it again. Chodron is real, and gives real strategies for battling emotional demons like fear, anger, etc. She shares her own struggles, and gives great guidelines. I have used her lessons in my own meditation practices with great results. I even sleep better at night! This one is a keeper.
SofiaReddy More than 1 year ago
I think this audio book was helpful to me in learning more effective ways to use meditation in my life. It's definitely a must read for those who are interested in improving and refining their meditation practice. Pema Chodron reminds us, however, that there is no right or wrong way to practice meditation but there are some useful suggestions you can incorporate into your practice. I enjoyed several concepts she discusses and the references she makes are helpful. One important point she makes is about the challenge we face in making changes in our lives. Pema explains that our lives are similar to the rotating mill wheel that we decide needs to reverse it's rotation. She reminds us that at first, it takes a lot of effort and energy to begin the process of reversing the wheel's direction, but once you make the commitment and invest that time it then starts spinning in the other direction almost effortlessly. She also talks about fear and how we have to learn to face it in order to overcome it. She gives the example of a Buddhist monk visiting a Monastery where a fierce dog ready to attack is chained to a gate from which he breaks free and starts running towards the group. While the others run away in fear, the monk runs towards the dog with an equal fierceness that stops it in its tracks. I like that analogy in terms of how we must learn to face scary things in our own lives. We can either choose to run away from them or face them and defeat them. It's a profound read and not for the faint of heart. It definitely is a book I'll need to go back to often, because there is a lot of deepness to it that can't be fully absorbed in one setting. I find myself reflecting and journaling on many of the key points. I love the audio version because I can pause the CD where I need to and then go back to it when I'm ready for the next major point. I think I'll be re-reading it (or listening to it) soon. There's always something new to absorb each time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pema Chodron reminds us that the only way to get through life's difficult moments is to go through them. Not to escape, to hide, but to face them head on, face them consciously. If we do this, she proves, we will get richness from our difficult experiences, even if we do not get comfort. Her take on the powerful and often misunderstood practice of tonglen is first rate. She shows us how to use tonglen to make our difficulties digestible, instead of pennances to be endured. In her view, spiritual progress is a move down to profundity, where we can find compassion to relate to others no matter what we --or they -- they are called to do. Much more satisfying than a climb to the peak where we stand alone, as if that would make us "better than others." Maybe at the profound bottom, other readers will find her promise of "the love that does not die," something I can't yet claim.
CJBrassard More than 1 year ago
There is a gentleness to the way Pema Chodron writes. Clearly, she comes from the Buddhist perspective - she is a Buddhist nun. However, she is also an American woman who has come to this spiritual tradition and represents it in a way a Western reader can easily relate to for their use in daily life. Great stuff!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a nice book for anyone, not just for those who feel that things are falling apart. It offers insight into accepting life just as it is, in this moment. The author shares her 'wisdom mind' in this concise and compassionate book about finding peace within the fundamental groundlessness of life.
chersbookitlist on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another compassionate, comforting and inspiring book by Pema. She appeals to people of all religions who are looking for ways to connect with love and tenderness to their own hearts, and the hearts of others
shawnd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has twenty two chapters related to different aspects of healing from pain and how to handle difficult situations. The text bounces from philosophy to self-help/encouragement, to Buddhist fables, to meditation and though techniques, and the like. The structure of the book as that each chapter in itself has many of these thematic elements. As such, one could decide to read just one chapter and it would likely touch on some key thoughts and changes in approach that would lead the reader to get loose from some emotions (or in some cases get closer to emotions) around their situation. As Chodron is in vogue in contemporary Western Buddhist practice, the book perhaps predictably fits with some of the philosophies from others in press in the early 2000's like Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach.I did not particularly find the book helpful. It's very scattered and very 'jumpy'. It does not explain points or particularly back them up as much as put out a stream of thought which then jumps to another in the very next paragraph. Imagine speaking by phone to a guru with limited time, where they are introducing instruction and concepts about how to relive your suffering within a set time limit. So the pacing is not at all relaxed. It also introduces more than a little Tibetan or Sanskrit words, which is not uncommon occasionally, but the frequency is alarming when the Western reader has more use for the concept than the definition and the word--and unlike other authors she does not dwell on the concept, but per the pacing, jumps to other somewhat repetitive ideas. Alas, this is a personal interpretation, and perhaps reading this as a man I don't mesh with the style as I would if I were a woman, or of a different age. Many seem to like the book. If you are a fast-paced person who isn't going to read this cover to cover, it could be very helpful and rewarding when situations are tough.
rayski on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Buddhist teachings on dealing with troubled times. Book is probably better read in sections as you need it rather than cover to cover. Not as good as Lama Surya Das.
lepapillonvert on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Once again, I am grateful for the wisdom of this gifted teacher and healer. If you are going through or have ever been through challenges in your life or have questioned your spiritual views, read this book. It will assist you.
beau.p.laurence on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I refer to this book as "my bible" I've given it away about 14 times because it is so relevent to the human condition
fsmichaels on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting book, thought-provoking. One to return to again and again at different times in your life.
Hanuman2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'll try to summarize this sometime, but just read it, for the love of god, read it!
hafowler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book when my favorite pet was dying of cancer. It really helped me find some peace.
manadabomb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Chodron is an American Buddhist nun and is apparently a prolific writer. Going through some difficult times now, this book called to me from the Border's book shelf.I'm going to admit that I started off reading this book thinking "What the hell are you talking about?" Leaning into the sharp points, facing your demons, embracing suffering - all sounds well and good but HOW do you do it? Buddhism is all abut guidelines and rarely ever says "Here is how you do this"The more I read, though, the more I got it. I need to be kinder to myself. Less critical, less admonishment. The underlying factor here is if you can't have compassion for yourself, it's going to be difficult to be compassionate towards others. There is no right or wrong, no good or evil. Things just ARE. We're all here for a short time, so why not give yourself a break and lighten up a little?I'm a classic case of escapism. When things are difficult, I do my best but I always retreat; into books, classes, knitting, what have you. Chodron encourages us to not reach for comfort when things go rotten. That's going to be mighty hard to do.There's a really good chapter about not harming others. While you may not deliberately harm people, chances are you are doing harm when you're upset, embarrassed, angry, etc. Words, actions, emotions all mean the world and you have to be aware of what you say, do and feel. Being aware of how you react to things is even applauded as a great first step.I'm going to try to put these things into practice. We'll see how it goes :)
heidialice on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A collection of lectures by one of the most accessible writers on Buddhism. Chodron gets to the heart of human pain and gently instructs on how to simply be with it, while introducing basic Buddhist concepts. It helps me to connect with others' spirituality when there is a personal component, so I greatly appreciated the references to Chodron's life, especially pre-Buddhism. Her humility, great compassion and straight-forward style make for an easy if thought-provoking read. Essential for when one is at wit's end with life.A good introductory work on the practice of meditation, best supplemented by other works and in-person teachings for those who want to seriously practice and meditate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago