Pema Chodron’s “Smile at Fear” : Sun. Notes

Summing Up, and “The Education of the Warrior”

KEY THING – teachings broaden our toleracne for all pervasive, unavoidable uncertainty. TR: If fear and doubt arise towards fundamental uncertainty, then humans react and start to go into a cocoon…. We hide ourselves in caves and jungles.

We’re trying to find something to hold on to. Pain arises when we go into that cocoon to avoid uncertainty. A fearful society can develop because of this.

This weekend is a plea to relax into that uncertainty. Manifesting a healthy world starts with human’s courage to turn towards uncertainty. Worst of times are best of times because that makes uncertainty become unavoidable. We need to begin to engage in what we’ve been avoiding our whole lives. GENTLENESS cannot be written big enough when facing uncertainty. If we transform ourselves personally bases upon compassion-based living, then society will follow.

Touch in briefly, starting with the body. Then with emotions. Come to know fear itself, “sip by sip.”

Great Eastern Sun – arises as confidence in your heart that you can dispel your own darkness. Not protecting yourself from uncertainty. TR: what it is like to live outside the cocoon.

Pema then analyzed the following poem by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (I will just post the poem):

The Education of the Warrior

That mind of fearfulness
Should be put in the cradle of loving-kindness
And suckled with the profound and brilliant milk
Of eternal doubtlessness.
In the cool shade of fearlessness,
Fan it with the fan of joy and happiness.
When it grows older,
Lead it to the self-existing playground of
various displays of phenomena.
When it grows older still,
In order to promote the primodial confidence,
Lead it to the archery range of the warriors.
When it grows older still,
To awaken primordial self-nature,
Let it see human society
Which possesses beauty and dignity.
Then the fearful mind
Can change into the warrior’s mind,
And that eternally youthful confidence
Can expand into space without beginning or end.
At that point it sees the Great Eastern Sun.

Pema Chodron’s “Smile at Fear” : Sat. Notes

Pema’s morning talk had to do with Chapters 10 and 11 of “Smile at Fear”

Chapter 10: Tools of Fearlessness – all about expanding the heart

What would it look like to live completely from an open heart?

First, discipline (icon is the sun): of openness (notice that you’re closing, trying to get ground) and then open, notice tightening, lighten up. Notice wrong and then let go – like the sun because there are no exceptions.

Second, meditation (icon is the echo) – meditative awareness – you begin to notice when you’re closing, shutting down, etc. “I’m no quite sure how, but I can to it.” All actions produce an echo. They come back to you. Heed the echo to expand rather than close.

Third, psychological accuracy (skillful means, prajna) basic goodness. Clear seeing beyond “what bout me?” Icon is bow and arrow. Must have curiosity, inquisitiveness, undivided attention of something unpleasant. Act and speak out of it – it manifests as sanity. Breaks down polarization and dualistic concepts. It is expansive. Have to put prajna (arrow) into action (bow)

Chapter 11: qualities of fearlessness

TR: Pain is not a punishment, pleasure is not a reward… kindness, kindness, kindness

First, Trust (icon is the reservoir) you can trust that whatever you say, or do, you will get a response from the world. The world will always give you messages to practice openness. The world will never run out of messages and so is rich for this. The reservoir of trust in the world never dries up.

Second, Joy and Appreciation (icon is music/hum) – comes from realizing that whatever is happening is a dynamic process, a fruition and seed of what is to come. Eternal doubtlessness. “No feeling is final” – Rilke – a fluid way of opening up to the world.

Third, Ability to hold your seat (icon is saddle) – living with ourselves is like riding a fickle horse. Staying present in present time. Don’t exaggerate. Don’t escalate. TR: Success and failure are the path Continue reading “Pema Chodron’s “Smile at Fear” : Sat. Notes”

Pema Chodron’s “Smile at Fear” : Fri. Notes

I will be at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, CA all weekend sitting with the venerable Pema Chodron. The topic of the urban retreat is “Smile at Fear” which is a book written by Pema’s root teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (henceforth called TR in these blog posts). I will take notes during the talks, and will post them here in their raw form. They are basically jottings of what Pema, and teacher/editor Carolyn Rose Gimian, have said. Pema mentions TR often, so when you see those letters, it is a jotting based upon something he said.

Pema spoke on Friday night, and I found her to be witty, comedic, and extremely to the point. After getting a laugh, she’d get to the heart of the matter and gently tell us what we have know our whole lives.


We need to reach out, be global. Spiritual practice can be selfish. But a spiritual warrior can work on themselves, cultivate their capacity to love ourselves and others, and be of help for the world and other people. We are needed at this time on this earth because of all the mass suffering.

Pema can almost smell the fear in the USA. TR calls it “ubiquitous anxiety.” The ground we walk on is always shaky, but fear makes the shakiness more obvious. Fear is like a dot or doorway that can be good or bad. Avoid the feeling of fear and actions will escalate into violence. Turn toward fear rather than harden against it. Feel its vulnerability and tenderness.

How do we smile, touch into fear, and be present with it?

Time Magazine had an article about fear, stating that science proves that people are more afraid of uncertainty than physical pain! Pema observed uncertainty in herself and others and saw two ways that uncertainty affects us. First, we speed up. Second, we get lazy. These are both ways we express our powerlessness and our avoidance of fear.

TR: “fundamental uncertainty manifests as doubting/not trusting/ not loving ourselves.” Continue reading “Pema Chodron’s “Smile at Fear” : Fri. Notes”