book reviews

The Compassion Book – Ani Pema Chodron

I first became acquainted with Pema Chodron in 1999, when I was going through spiritual crisis. I had gone through a divorce and lost my mother to cancer within the same month. I was ungrounded, and for the second time in my life, I stopped speaking. Then one day, I snapped out of it and made a phone call to my spiritual counselor. She recommended that I come and stay with her for the weekend so I could retreat in healthier way and do some much needed Soul work.

After breakfast the first day, she came to me and asked me if I was familiar with Pema Chodron. I was not, so she handed me a set of DVD’s from one of Chodron’s workshops. I watched the entire series at once because I knew everything was about to change for the better. The series  transformed my life. I chose a different path that weekend, a path that has included Lojong and Tonglen meditation.

Lojong is the Tibetan Buddhist practice of loving-kindness, using fifty-nine slogans composed by Chekawa Yeshe Dorje from the 12th century. The Compassion Book is a great introduction to Lojong for new seekers and those that find themselves needing a spiritual practice that is meant for day-to-day life, in the real world. “Positive thinking” has a place, but we humans need more than just thinking “happy”. Lojong provides a more realistic approach to handling situations and encounters with others by teaching us to look at our own suffering first.

Each slogan is presented in an easy to read format, and they may seem confusing at first. Chodron’s explanations of each slogan are always clear and concise. The slogans are meant to be used in order. Do not rush. Trust the process. Then move on to the next slogan. If you follow the instruction and take the time to obtain the consciousness of applying each one, you will come away with a deeper understanding of compassion to take out into the world, for yourself and others.

This book is the perfect companion to Chodron’s The Compassion Box from 2003. The box contains a CD, slogan card deck and a pocket copy of her book Start Where You Are.  I highly recommend The Compassion Book to carry with you during the day as you begin practice, and keep the cards from the Box somewhere at home where you will see each reminder card for the day.

You do not have to be Buddhist (or of any religious faith) to practice with the Lojong slogans or Tonglen meditation. Compassion is multi-faith. Behaving from a place of loving-kindness each day transcends dogma.

The Compassion Book release date is March 21, 2017. All Ani Pema Chodron’s books and recordings can be purchased through the Pema Chodron Foundation.


  

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