Pema Chodron

“Don’t go letting life harden your heart…
We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.
Bodhicitta, the completely open heart and mind, is sometimes called ‘the soft spot’; a place as tender and vulnerable as an open wound. It is equated with our ability to love and feel compassion for the pain of others.
We continually shield ourselves from this pain because it scares us. We put up protective walls made of opinions, prejudices and strategies; barriers that are built on a deep fear of being hurt. These walls are further fortified by emotions of all kinds. But, fortunately for us, the soft spot – our innate ability to love and care about others – is like a crack in these walls we erect. It’s a natural opening that, with practice, we can learn to find, in moments of love, gratitude, loneliness and inadequacy, and use to fully open our hearts.
An analogy for Bodhichitta is the rawness of a broken heart because it contains the tenderness of genuine sadness. It can teach us great compassion; it can humble us when we are arrogant and soften us when we’re unkind. It awakens us when we prefer to sleep and pierces through our indifference. The continual ache of the heart is a blessing that, when accepted fully, can be shared with all. The openness and compassionate warmth of our heart is, in fact, our true nature. Even when our neurosis feels far more basic than our wisdom, even when we’re feeling most confused and hopeless, our open heart – like the open sky – is always there; undiminished by the clouds that temporarily cover it.”

– The Places that Scare Us

”Fear is a universal experience. Even the smallest insect feels it. We wade in the tidal pools and put our finger near the soft, open bodies of sea anemones and they close up. Everything spontaneously does that. It’s not a terrible thing that we feel fear when faced with the unknown. It is part of being alive, something we all share. We react against the possibility of loneliness, of death, of not having anything to hold on to. Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.

So the next time you encounter fear, consider yourself lucky. This is where the courage comes in. Usually we think that brave people have no fear. The truth is that they are intimate with fear.”

”Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

– When Things Fall Apart

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