East West Wisdoms

Interweaving Spirituality and Therapeutic Healing

East West Wisdoms

Practicing Peace – Pema Chodren – Review


Book cover image“Practicing Peace in Times of War” by Pema Chödrön

Reviewed by Jacqui Dodds


This week’s book to consider is a small but useful little book to help understand and transform anger, aggression and ill will into peaceful mindstates.

I
n “Practicing Peace in Times of War,” Pema Chödrön draws on Buddhist teachings to explore the origins of aggression, hatred and war. Her key message is that to change cultures of violence and national tendencies to go to war, we must look to foster peace in our own minds and hearts – rather than just relying on our politicians and leaders to manifest peace. Change from the bottom up is more reliable and profound than from the top down!

P
ema explores in some detail how we, as individuals, can (and should) respond with compassion (rather than fear or outrage) to challenges in our everyday lives. Working on our own compassion will support harmonious and peaceful relationships as well as work to replace a broad-based culture of violence with a new culture of compassion.

P
ema Chödrön is an American Buddhist nun and long time student of Chogyam Trungpa, whose books “The Sanity We Are Born With: A Buddhist Approach to Psychology” and “Transcending Madness: The Experience of the Six Bardos” I have reviewed some time ago. She has written a number of books and is renowned for her simple, clear language and down-to-earth approach to the daily life and challenges of “ordinary” people. Her teachings on identifying and changing our habits of thought and action are inspirational and easy to understand.

T
his book is a good, practical guide on how to soften our hearts; reduce self righteousness and any fundamentalist tendencies and generally promote compassion and peace in our relationships with ourselves and others. Having herself experienced considerable emotional and physical pain in her life, she has used this suffering to develop inner strength, wisdom and compassion. Here is an excerpt to give you a taste of this wisdom:

When we’re putting up the barriers and the sense of “me” as separate from “you” gets stronger, right there in the midst of difficulty and pain, the whole thing could turn around simply by not erecting barriers; simply by staying open to the difficulty, to the feelings that you’re going through; simply by not talking to ourselves about what’s happening. That is a revolutionary step. Becoming intimate with pain is the key to changing at the core of our being – staying open to everything we experience, letting the sharpness of difficult times pierce us to the heart, letting these times open us, humble us, and make us wiser and more brave. Let difficulty transform you. And it will.

P
racticing Peace in Times of War, is an excellent gift for yourself or others. It doesn’t take long to read but it is the sort of little book that you can dip into and read a chapter, chosen at random, whenever you feel like a little help in your life!





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