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Excerpt from "Don't Bite the Hook" with Pema Chodron

Image-Pema-DontBite-BL Once again, we are pleased to offer you a transcribed excerpt from Pema Chodron's recording "Don't Bite the Hook".


So -- what is the significance of the teaching on how to work with anger? Well, it has tremendous significance because again and again, whenever we’re challenged, there is opportunity to open to the difficulty and let the difficulty make us more compassionate, more wise. Or the opposite, which is that when things are difficult, the chances instead of it making us more afraid and therefore more vulnerable or more subject to being able to catch the anxiety in the atmosphere and spin off into wanting to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and the tendency for aggression to escalate and violence to escalate under challenge is much greater. I wanted to begin by giving the Dharma talks on the sixth chapter of Shanti Deva -- chapter on working with anger. So, for Shanti Deva teaching as he did in the eighth century in India a long, long time ago, to Yolanda University in India to a entire packed audience of celibate monks, you might wonder what the relevance of such a teaching would be today, and all I can say is at the level of human neurosis, nothing has changed much. And so what he has to say and the way he… you’ll see, it actually has humor in it where he keeps pointing out example after example of our foibles of how we justify our anger and all the many, many situations that make us angry. But it’s more than just like losing our temper or something. We’re talking now about finding ourselves in a situation where many, many people are feeling more vulnerable and the situation is more volatile.


And so, it might be that in the years to come, you might look back and think of it as something like, that was teaching. That was really -- because I have started to use it every day of my life in difficult situations -- has made it possible for me to be become more compassionate, to become more tenderhearted and loving rather than more afraid and full of aggression and wanting to strike out and protect me and mine. You might just look back and say, “This was really important” because right now the key thing is whether it was a difficult situation in the world or not; it’s to use the difficult situations of everyday life to wake us up, to awaken our compassion. To make us feel our kinship with each other rather than to buy into polarization. So Shanti Deva says a lot about our mindset. The mindset of friend and foe. Like and dislike. For me and against me. And how that very mechanism of buying so tightly into this notion of the good people and the bad people -- the ones that I like and the ones I don’t like and how we get so invested in this and how this is  “the kindling” or “the fuel” for anger and aggression to escalate. So from this point of view, the teachings are on non-violence and on non-aggression. And you could think of that as a synonym for the word patience. 


Click here to check out the Shambhala Audio Complete Collection.


Click here to listen to a preview of this recording.

Excerpt from Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser - Part 5 of 5

ELesserHeadShot This week, we conclude our series of excerpts from the Introduction of BROKEN OPEN: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow.

Whether you are in the midst of a big upheaval or riding the smaller rapids of everyday life, I want you to know that you are not alone, not now, or at any stage of the journey. Joseph Campbell, the great mythologist of the twentieth century, wrote, “We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world.”

 

The experience of change and transformation is never complete. Something bigger and brighter always calls to shine through us. We are continually challenged to change and grow, to break down and break through. The first big change made in the name of awakening can be destructive and traumatic. In the midst of my divorce, I agonized over the risks I was taking and the blows I was receiving, and wondered if so much pain could ever lead to anything good. But now, years down the road and many changes later, I trust in the twists and turns of what Joseph Campbell calls the “hero’s path.” Some of us need a cataclysmic event to find our way toward “the center of our own existence.” Some of us don’t. Some of us add up all of the smaller changes into one big lesson, and find our way home as well.


Excerpted from Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser Copyright © 2004 by Elizabeth Lesser. Excerpted by permission of Villard, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Elizabeth Lesser Bio and Links

Excerpt from Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser - Part 1 of 5

ELesserHeadShot While we at BetterListen! tend to focus on the spoken word, we appreciate the value of the written word as well.  With that, we are delighted to launch a stream of recommendations, excerpts and inspirations from guest contributors, including many of our favorite authors. 

We kick off this series with an excerpt from
BROKEN OPEN: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser.  Lesser is the co-founder of the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, a New York Times best-selling author, and frequent guest on the Oprah Winfrey television and radio shows.  Particularly during these challenging times, we find her words an inspiration to help get us through them.


BROKEN OPEN: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow
by Elizabeth Lesser

Prelude

And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
—Anaïs Nin

Some years ago, I took a trip to the city of Jerusalem, where centuries are layered in stones, and streets are carved into the layers, twisting and turning in haphazard patterns that divide and connect neighborhoods, markets, mosques, temples, and churches. One morning in that broken city, I sat alone on a well-worn wall at the base of the Mount of Olives. The day was moving forward with the kind of determination that comes from people with places to go and things to do. Religious pilgrims pushed past each other into the gates of the holy city. Men and women made their way to work and market; children ran past them to school. But I had nowhere to go.

The group I was traveling with in Jerusalem had risen early for the day’s planned itinerary. I’d stayed behind. I could no longer keep up the charade that I was part of their adventure: I wasn’t here to visit sacred sites, or to walk the Stations of the Cross, wail at the Western Wall, or chant the Ninety-nine Names of Allah. No, I was here to further delay making a decision about my life at home. I had come to Jerusalem only because my friend, who was leading the trip, was worried enough about me to pay my fare—which worried me enough to fly halfway around the world to a city as mixed up as myself. Now I was here, but really I was still back there, at home in New York, scared and confused about my crumbling marriage.

Wandering deeper into the walled Old City, I came to an ancient alleyway lined with shops selling religious artifacts for the Western pilgrim. Normally I would veer away from these kinds of stores. Inspirational sayings stitched in needlepoint or Virgin Mary coffee mugs seemed no different to me than those velvet Elvis paintings you see at flea markets. But I needed help. I needed inspiration—even from a coffee cup, or an embroidered pillow, or from Elvis himself.

One narrow, dusky shop appealed to me, and I went in. On the floor was a patchwork of Persian rugs. On the walls hung small paintings, some of saints and prophets, others of mountains and flowers. Was this a gallery? A rug store? A gift shop? I couldn’t tell. In the back of the long room, drinking tea at a low table, sat two Arab men dressed in white caftans. One was a stooped and aged gentleman, and the other—his son perhaps—was a mysterious-looking character with gleaming eyes and long, black hair like the mane of a well-groomed horse. After a while the son put down his tea and came forward to greet me. Fixing his gaze on me, as if trying to read the secrets of my heart (or the contents of my purse), he said in perfect English, “Come, you will like this picture.” Taking my hand, he led me around piles of rugs to the back of the store, near where his father was sitting.

Excerpted from Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser Copyright © 2004 by Elizabeth Lesser. Excerpted by permission of Villard, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

NEXT WEEK:  Find out what happened in the shop, from BROKEN OPEN: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser

Elizabeth Lesser Bio and Links