Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion, Pema Chodron 2018

During this time of COVID, it was very helpful to read Chodron’s book along with participating in a daily meditation session on line with the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.  The mindfulness exercises serve to center and ground one in the midst of uncertainty and barely controlled chaos in the outside world.  As usual with Buddhist writings, the book provides endless lists (The Six Points of Posture, Four Qualities of Maitri, Four Noble Truths, Four Reminders, etc), and they are often very helpful in gaining focus and providing practical hints towards inner peace.  The book is not for beginners or for experienced practitioners, but is ideal for those of us working to develop a daily practice.  Its 108 messages are brief, generally one page in length, and the book lends itself to reading over time, not all in one sitting.  The big messages are that we can take control of our inner life, overcome our ‘story’, our narrative of our life in this world, get past our reflexive defensive behaviors, and act with more kindness, joy, compassion, and equanimity.  I especially found helpful Lesson #67, the Six Ways of Compassionate Living in which generosity, discipline, patience, joyful exertion, meditation, and wisdom were presented.  One totally new concept for me was tonglen, the ability to breathe in and feel the pain, lonliness, jealousy and then breathe out the calm, peace, and delight that you are also capable of feeling.  This system or approach of filtering out the negative in the world through one’s self and then sending out the positives into the world was a new and promising technique. There is much to gain from this book;  for me the take home message was living each day with patience and compassion, kindness and equanimity—–all goals that I continue to work towards.  This is an excellent book for today’s challenges.

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