Pema Chödrön

Pema Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, in New York City. A graduate of UC Berkeley, she taught elementary school for many years. She has two children and three grandchildren.

In her thirties, Pema met Lama Chime Rinpoche, a meeting that introduced her to the world of Tibetan Buddhism. She received ordination from His Holiness, the Sixteenth Karmapa. She went on to study with her root teacher, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, from 1974 until his death in 1987. She is now the director of Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia and teaches in the United States and Canada. (1)

In His Own Words

The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. ~Pema Chödrön

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” ~Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

“We think that the point is to pass the test or 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.” ~Pema Chödrön

“Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.” ~Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

“When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dynamic nature of your own being and of reality, you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity to not be afraid. You’re able to keep your eyes open, your heart open, and your mind open. And you notice when you get caught up in prejudice, bias, and aggression. You develop an enthusiasm for no longer watering those negative seeds, from now until the day you die. And, you begin to think of your life as offering endless opportunities to start to do things differently.” ~Pema Chödrön, Practicing Peace in Times of War

Publications – Books

Publications – Articles

Featured Media

Happiness Means Getting to Know Disappointment?
Bill Moyers on Faith and Reason with Pema Chödrön