Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Book Review: Getting Unstuck

Genre:  Religion & Spirituality
Author: Pema Chodron
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

While this is called an "audiobook" it is, correctly, simply a CD of dharma talks presented in six half hour sessions given by Pema Chodron. Many Buddhist teachers have dharma talks available on the Internet but Chodron's are tightly controlled and I have never seen one for free download. I got this through British Columbia's digital library downloads. I never thought I would do a review on an 'audiobook' but this has been an exceptional listen on the Tibetan teaching of "shenpa."

This is a must listen for any Buddhist practitioner. It is a must listen for anyone. This teaching shows how we get stuck in life. It shows us how to get unstuck, unhooked.

"This is a teaching on a Tibetan word: shenpa. The usual translation of the word shenpa is attachment. If you were to look it up in a Tibetan dictionary, you would find that the definition was attachment. But the word "attachment" absolutely doesn't get at what it is. Dzigar Kongtrul said not to use that translation because it's incomplete, and it doesn't touch the magnitude of shenpa and the effect that it has on us.

If I were translating shenpa it would be very hard to find a word, but I'm going to give you a few. One word might be hooked. How we get hooked.
Another synonym for shenpa might be that sticky feeling. In terms of last night's analogy about having scabies, that itch that goes along with that and scratching it, shenpa is the itch and it's the urge to scratch. So, urge is another word. The urge to smoke that cigarette, the urge to overeat, the urge to have one more drink, or whatever it is where your addiction is.

Here is an everyday example of shenpa. Somebody says a mean word to you and then something in you tightens— that's the shenpa. Then it starts to spiral into low self-esteem, or blaming them, or anger at them, denigrating yourself. And maybe if you have strong addictions, you just go right for your addiction to cover over the bad feeling that arose when that person said that mean word to you. This is a mean word that gets you, hooks you. Another mean word may not affect you but we're talking about where it touches that sore place— that's a shenpa. Someone criticizes you—they criticize your work, they criticize your appearance, they criticize your child— and, shenpa: almost co-arising.

At Gampo Abbey it's a small community. We're thirty monks and nuns there. You have a pretty intimate relationship there, living in community. People were finding that in the dining room, someone would come and sit down next to them and they could feel the shenpa just because this person sat down next to them, because they had some kind of thing going about this person. Then they feel this closing down and they're hooked......"
Do yourself a favor and get a copy of this wonderful teaching.

(Originally posted to Multiply September 5, 2008)



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