Thursday, August 17, 2006


This moring I found the transcript of a conversation between Pema Chödrön and Alice Walker. I really recommend that you click through and read the whole thing. It's very illuminating and inspiring. But the passage I want to quote here has to do with Pema Chödrön's response to a question about why we end up working on the same issues over and over again even when we think we've made a lot of progress on staying open and letting go. I really like her reply:
That's how life keeps us honest. The inspiration that comes from feeling the openness seems so important, but on the other hand, I'm sure it would eventually turn into some kind of spiritual pride or arrogance. So life has this miraculous ability to smack you in the face with a real humdinger just when you're going over the edge in terms of thinking you've accomplished something. That humbles you; it's some kind of natural balancing that keeps you human. At the same time the sense of joy does get stronger and stronger.
I often find myself reminding people to let go of their attachment to an idealized self. Setbacks actually help us do that if we don't use them as occasions to beat ourselves up. Setbacks can also help us cultivate genuine empathy with others but most of all they will help us avoid spiritual pride if we accept them without judgment.

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