"Each of us has all that it takes to become fully enlightened," Pema Chodron writes in this book. "We have basic energy coursing through us. Sometimes it manifests as brilliance and sometimes it manifests as confusion" (p. 22). Chodron's 108-page book is based on a series of "talks" she delivered in the spring of 1989 at Gampo Abbey, a Buddhist monastery in Nova Scotia founded by Chodron's teacher, Chogyam Trungpa. "The message . . . for the reader," Chodron writes in the book's Preface, "is to be with oneself without embarrassment or harshness. This is instruction on how to love oneself and one's world" (p. x).
This book is nothing less than liberating. It offers the power to awaken your heart, and the power to awaken your courage. "Working with obstacles is life's journey" (p. 68) Chodron tells us. "The purpose of your whole life is not to make a lot of money, it's not to find the perfect marriage, it's not to build Gampo Abbey. It's not to do any of these things. You have a certain life, and whatever life you're in is a vehicle for waking up. If you're a mother raising your children, that's the vehicle for waking up. If you're an actress, that's the vehicle for waking up. If you're a construction worker, that's the vehicle for waking up. If you're a retired person facing old age, that's the vehicle for waking up. If you're alone and you feel lonely and you wish you had a mate, that's the vehicle for waking up. If you have a huge family around you and you wish you had a little more free time, that's the vehicle for waking up. Whatever you have, that's it" (p. 71).
Written before her perhaps better known books, this may be my favorite Pema Chodron title. I have returned to it many times since it was first published in 1991. This is a good dharma book, written with Chodron's characteristic wisdom and clarity.
This was the first Pema Chodron book I'd ever read and it was transforming! I was familiar with Buddhist teachings prior to reading this, but found that her book made those sometimes complex teachings very accessible. Don't be scared off if you're not Buddhist, however. The principles here give one a different perspective on life--it's a psychological approach rather than a religious approach. Pema Chodron's THE WISDOM OF NO ESCAPE gave me an excitement about exploring my inner world and helped me to see that wherever I'm at in life is okay--I don't have to struggle against the process of Life. It's a book I've returned to time and again.