I read this book after first reading Pema Chodron's more recent dharma book, WHEN THINGS FALL APART (1997). In both of her books, Chodron explains that life's obstacles are actually fine opportunities for wakefulness. I recommend both books, despite their overlap in subject matter.
Working with numerous lojong "slogans," this book is about awakening one's heart through tonglen meditation practice. Chodron writes in the Preface of her book, "if you have ever wondered how to awaken your genuine compassionate heart, this book will serve as a guide" (p. ix). We learn that through tonglen practice, "everything we meet has the potential to help us cultivate compassion and reconnect with the spacious, open quality of our minds" (p. 81).
Life is full of "raw material for waking up" (p. 64). However, it's also up to each of us to wake up, Chodron observes (p. 69). Starting wherever we are in life, Chodron's instructive teachings encourage us to "lighten up" (p. 17; Chapter 15) and allow the world to speak for itself (pp. 25; 29-30). Chodron challenges us to contemplate lojong slogans including: "Always maintain a joyful mind" (p. 92). "Be grateful to everyone" (pp. 8, 56). "Drive all blames into one" (p. 50).
Reading this insightful book is like having a heartfelt conversation with a wise friend. For me, this is what makes reading Pema Chodron such a rewarding experience. If you like the engagement this book offers, I also recommend Jack Kornfield's A PATH WITH HEART and AFTER THE ECSTASY, THE LAUNDRY.
I absolutely loved this book. I read it for a class about wisdom and of the 10 books we had to read I'm only keeping three; this is one. I didn't know anything about Buddhism before reading this and I don't feel that I need to be a Buddhist in order to benefit from Pema's insights. Her advice for living (taken right from lojong slogans from Buddhist traditions) can be taken on many different levels. I don't feel that you need to go deep into the practice in order to benefit from any of this books teachings. You take from it what you need to. I'm adding my voice to the many here who have praised her, Pema Chodron has written a wonderful, helpful book. If you're in pain emotionally I highly recommend it. If you just want to get some peace in your life I highly recommend it. Everyone needs help coping with living, even if it's just a little. Pema has given us a guide to one way of coping.