Woman of Interest—Pema Chodron

The principles of Buddhist philosophy (The Core Beliefs in Buddhism) in practice are: The Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path and The Five Precepts.

Unsatisfactoriness and suffering exist and are universally experienced.  Desire and attachment are the causes of unsatisfactoriness and suffering.

Pema Chodron is a divorced mother of two children who became a Buddhist nun, a pioneering accomplishment for a woman of her time.  She was the first Western woman to achieve this honour and therefore was able to share Tibetan Buddhism with the Western world.  Chodron is a teacher at the Gampo Abbey Academy, a “Western Buddhist monastery in the Shambhala tradition in Nova Scotia, Canada.  Founded by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1983, it is a lineage institution of Shambhala and a corporate division of the Vajradhatu Buddhist Church of Canada.”  In 1986 Chodron became Gampo Abbey’s first director.

Pema Chodron was born Deirdre Bloomfield-Brown on July 14, 1936 in New York City, New York.  She received a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Sarah Lawrence College and a Master’s in Education from the University of California, Berkeley.  In 1974 she became a novice Buddhist nun studying under Rangjung Rigpe Dorje and in 1981 she became the first American to become an ordained nun in the Vajrayana tradition.

Chodron suffered for years from chronic fatigue syndrome, which she was eventually able to overcome through the help of a homeopathic doctor.  Because of her ill health she was able to experience the pain and suffering that are an important part of the Buddhist teachings.  An accomplished author of at least 86 books, Chodron’s first published book was “Start Where You Are.” In 1996 Chodron wrote “When Things Fall Apart” which is about finding happiness in difficult times and it is still on Publisher’s Weekly bestseller’s list.

At the age of twenty-one, Pema Chodron married and had two children.  She divorced and married a second time and is the grandmother of three.  She continues to teach at Gampo Abbey during the winter and spends summers teaching on the “Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life” at Berkley in California.  Her teachings have inspired many people to find peace and compassion in these tumultuous times.

“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.” – Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult times.

Additional information about this compassionate and spiritual woman can be found at:  https://pemachodronfoundation.org/