"In this conversation from 1997, bell hooks talks to Pema Chödrön about how to open your heart to life’s most difficult challenges.
Initially when I enter the classroom, I share with my students that we are there to think critically — to engage the world of ideas that we live in fully, deeply, and with our whole heart. Pema Chödrön’s work gives me this gift. Consistently she challenges me to think beyond someplace where I have erected boundaries — where I’ve allowed myself to become stuck, attached, and full of defenses.
When I first read her work, the writing irked me. I was disturbed by what I began to call its “strategic open-endedness.” I wanted to be offered solutions, ways out. Instead, she kept extending an invitation to me and everyone to move into that enchanted space beyond right or wrong — to journey to the heart of compassion. When you have stepped out on faith, straight into the heart of the matter, loving kindness appears less like a utopian dream. It becomes concrete — a place to practice wherever you are. Beyond the challenges she makes towards the stuck places within us, Pema is most seductive and exciting when she urges us to revise our notions of safety, telling us: “Real safety is your willingness to not run away from yourself.” She urges us to risk, to embrace rebellion, disruption, and chaos as a beloved site for transformation. Talking with her enabled me to bring issues that trouble my heart out in the open. My hope was that she could and would shed light on the matter. Those bits of light are here in our dialogue. May their radiance reach you.
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