Published by Shambhala
Publication date: October 8th 2013
Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness.
There is nothing like the words of a Tibetan Buddhist to wallop you into consciousness. In the gentlest and kindest way possible, of course, but you will still shake your head and wonder what just happened. Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Changeis one such book. It is based on the Three Commitments in Buddhism which are to cause no harm to others, to help others by keeping our heart and mind open, and finally, to embrace the world just as it is. Author Pema Chodron is a Buddhist monk and has published numerous books on dealing with the many realities of life in the way most likely to bring enlightenment. Even when it’s not what you want to hear. I discovered this as early as page seven when Chodron says:
What the fundamental ambiguity of being human points out is that as much as we want to, we can never say, “This is the only true way. This is how it is. End of discussion.”
WHAT?! I’m all for ambiguity in fiction and film but my stomach starts to hurt when I bump up against tenets like this. And perhaps that’s why books like this keep appearing in my life—it is not a lesson that comes easily to me. But Chodron’s down-to-earth style and ability to relate as someone going through the same things we may be, makes her reassuring without being preachy or saccharine. She intersperses psychology and science with the teachings, in one case applying the physical to an emotion, making it easier to understand.
The physiological mechanism behind emotion: an emotion like anger that’s an automatic response lasts just ninety seconds from the moment it’s triggered until it runs its course. When it lasts any longer, which it usually does, it’s because we’ve chosen to rekindle it.
Living Beautifully is slender and a book of the type that will end up dog-eared, marked with post-it flags, or, as in my case, with virtually every other sentence underlined. I won’t say I’m an adherent to the Commitments now (I wish) or have made all the lifestyle changes Chodron suggests but it is the kind of book you want on hand because there is no doubt there will be a point in your day when what Chodron says will not only apply, it will help.