Pema Chödrön Quotes on Hope and Uncertainty

80 Pema Chödrön Quotes on Hope in Uncertain Times (When Things Fall Apart)

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When we are deep in suffering, we usually hope for a better future. But having hope is actually a recipe for suffering, according to renowned Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön. Such a realization came to her during a traumatizing divorce. That was before she became a monk and she wrote “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times”. In the book, she explained that harboring hope is actually a form of clinging to how life should be and aversion to what is in reality. While it is a fact that life is full of pain and uncertainty, we will only start living once we let go of hoping and open our arms to embrace uncertainty in life. What had seemed like a world crashing down became an opportunity to attain inner peace and enlightenment.

To learn more about her profound wisdom, check out the 80 best Pema Chödrön’s quotes below.


Top 10 Most Famous Pema Chödrön Quotes (Best)

1. “The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.”

“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.” Pema Chodron

2. ”Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” (more quotes on fear)

3. “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.”

4. “You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

5. “To live fully is to be always in no-man’s land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh.”

6. 'The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.' Pema Chödrön Share on X

7. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.

8. “The way to dissolve our resistance to life is to meet it face to face.” (more quotes on aversion to pain and suffering)

9. “We can make ourselves miserable or we can make ourselves strong. The amount of effort is the same.”

10. “Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person.” (more quotes on love and compassion)

Related: 101 Powerful Dalai Lama Quotes on Health, Happiness and Compassion


Letting Go of Hope

11. “Suffering begins to dissolve when we can question the belief or the hope that there’s anywhere to hide.”

'Suffering begins to dissolve when we can question the belief or the hope that there's anywhere to hide.'' Pema Chodron

12. ”Without giving up hope-that there’s somewhere better to be, that there’s someone better to be-we will never relax with where we are or who we are.”

13. “So many times we’ve indulged the short-term pleasure of addiction. We’ve done it so many times that we know that grasping at this hope is a source of misery that makes a short-term pleasure a long-term hell.”

14. ”Hope and fear is a feeling with two sides. As long as there’s one, there’s always the other. This re-dok is the root of our pain. Abandoning hope is an affirmation, the beginning of the beginning. You could even put “Abandon hope” on your refrigerator door instead of more conventional aspirations like “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better.”

15. ”What happens with you when you begin to feel uneasy, unsettled, queasy? Notice the panic, notice when you instantly grab for something. That grabbing is based on hope.”

16. 'If we're willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation.' Pema Chödrön Share on X

17. ”Hopelessness is the basic ground….We could save ourselves a lot of time by taking this message very seriously right now. Begin the journey without hope of getting ground under your feet. Begin with hopelessness.”

18. ”For those who want something to hold on to, life is even more inconvenient.”

19. ”Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves.”

20. “We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what’s going on, but that there’s something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world.”

21. 'Renounce … the tenacious hope that we could be saved from being who we are.' Pema Chödrön Share on X

22. “Renunciation is a teaching to inspire us to investigate what’s happening every time we grab something because we can’t stand to face what’s coming.”

23. ”What we’re doing as we progress along the path is leaving home and becoming homeless.”

24. “if we totally experience hopelessness, giving up all hope of alternatives to the present moment, we can have a joyful relationship with our lives, an honest, direct relationship, one that no longer ignores the reality of impermanence and death.”

Related: 103 Motivational Quotes to Conquer Your Fear of Failure


Comfortable with Uncertainty

25. ”There’s no certainty about anything.”

''There's no certainty about anything.'' Pema Chodron

26. ”Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic-this is the spiritual path.”

27. ”Trying to get lasting security teaches us a lot, because if we never try to do it, we never notice that it can’t be done.”

28. ”Dharma isn’t a belief; it isn’t dogma. It is total appreciation of impermanence and change.”

29. ”Nontheism is finally realizing that there’s no babysitter that you can count on. You just get a good one and then he or she is gone.”

30. 'Thinking that we can find some lasting pleasure and avoid pain is what in Buddhism is called samsara, a hopeless cycle that goes round and round endlessly and causes us to suffer greatly.' Pema Chödrön Share on X

31. “Lean toward the discomfort of life and see it clearly rather than to protect ourselves from it.”

32. ”In any case, the point is not to try to get rid of thoughts, but rather to see their true nature. …They are like an illusion-not really all that solid.”

33. ”Death in everyday life could also be defined as experiencing all the things that we don’t want. Our marriage isn’t working; our job isn’t coming together. Having a relationship with death in everyday life means that we begin to be able to wait, to relax with insecurity, with panic, with embarrassment, with things not working out.”

34. ”The next time there’s no ground to stand on, don’t consider it an obstacle. Consider it a remarkable stroke of luck. We have no ground to stand on, and at the same time it could soften us and inspire us. Finally, after all these years, we could truly grow up.”

35. 'Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don't struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality.' Pema Chödrön Share on X

36. ”Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart.

Related: 88 Quotes to Overcome Your Fear Of The Unknown (Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone!)


Addicted to Happiness and Aversion to Suffering (EMBRACE)

37. ”Maybe the only enemy is that we don’t like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. But what we find as practitioners is that nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”

38. “Everything that ends is also the beginning of something else. Pain is not a punishment; pleasure is not a reward.”

39. “Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not squeamish about taking a good look.”

40. ”All addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can’t stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain.”

41. “Curiously enough, if we primarily try to shield ourselves from discomfort, we suffer. Yet when we don’t close off and we let our hearts break, we discover our kinship with all beings.”

42. 'We think that by protecting ourselves from suffering we are being kind to ourselves. The truth is, we only become more fearful, more hardened, and more alienated.' Pema Chödrön Share on X

43. ”Scrambling for security has never brought anything but momentary joy.”

44. ”when we feel embarrassed or awkward, when pain presents itself to us in any form whatsoever, we run like crazy to try to become comfortable.”

45. ”Blaming is a way to protect our hearts, to try to protect what is soft and open and tender in ourselves. Rather than own that pain, we scramble to find some comfortable ground.”

46. “Approach what you find repulsive, help the ones you think you cannot help, and go to places that scare you.”

47. ”There are three traditional methods for relating directly with difficult circumstances as a path of awakening and joy. The first method we’ll call no more struggle; the second, using poison as medicine; and the third, seeing whatever arises as enlightened wisdom. These are three techniques for working with chaos, difficulties, and unwanted events in our daily lives.”

48. 'Pain and pleasure go together; they are inseparable.' Pema Chödrön Share on X

49. ”We are all addicted to avoiding pain. When pain arises, we reach again and again for something that will blot it out. Maybe we drink or take drugs or just chew gum or turn on the radio. We might even use meditation to try to escape from the more awkward, unpleasant, and penetrating aspects of being alive.”

50.  “Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back.”

Related: 70+ Fear of Getting Hurt Quotes (To Help You Choose Love Over Fear)



51. ”Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”

''Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.'' Pema Chodron

52. ”So the next time you encounter fear, consider yourself lucky. This is where the courage comes in.”

53. “Usually we think that brave people have no fear. The truth is that they are intimate with fear.”

54. “Do I prefer to grow up and relate to life directly, or do I choose to live and die in fear?”

55. ”Basically, disappointment, embarrassment, and all these places where we just cannot feel good are a sort of death.”

56. ”Underneath our ordinary lives, underneath all the talking we do, all the moving we do, all the thoughts in our minds, there’s a fundamental groundlessness. It’s there bubbling along all the time. We experience it as restlessness and edginess. We experience it as fear. It motivates passion, aggression, ignorance, jealousy, and pride, but we never get down to the essence of it. Refraining is the method for getting to know the nature of this restlessness and fear. It’s a method for settling into groundlessness.”

57. ”When you wake up in the morning and out of nowhere comes the heartache of alienation and loneliness, could you use that as a golden opportunity? Rather than persecuting yourself or feeling that something terribly wrong is happening, right there in the moment of sadness and longing, could you relax and touch the limitless space of the human heart? The next time you get a chance, experiment with this.”

58. “All anxiety, all dissatisfaction, all the reasons for hoping that our experience could be different are rooted in our fear of death. … As the Zen master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi said, life is like getting into a boat that’s just about to sail out to sea and sink.”

59. “A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us.”

60. ”When we feel inadequate and unworthy, we hoard things. We are so afraid-afraid of losing, afraid of feeling even more poverty-stricken than we do already. This stinginess is extremely sad. We could look into it and shed a tear that we grasp and cling so fearfully. This holding on causes us to suffer greatly. We wish for comfort, but instead we reinforce aversion, the sense of sin, and the feeling that we are a hopeless case.”

Related: 55 Fear Of Losing You Quotes (And How To Overcome It)


Love and Compassion

61. “To the degree that we have compassion for ourselves, we will also have compassion for others.”

“To the degree that we have compassion for ourselves, we will also have compassion for others.” Pema Chodron

62. “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals.”

63. ”Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”

64. ”Recently I was talking with an old man who has been living on the streets for the last four years. Nobody ever looks at him. No one ever talks to him. Maybe somebody gives him a little money, but nobody ever looks in his face and asks him how he’s doing. The feeling that he doesn’t exist for other people, the sense of loneliness and isolation, is intense. He reminded me that the essence of compassionate speech or compassionate action is to be there for people, without pulling back in horror or fear or anger.”

65. ”Rather than trying to get rid of something or buying into a dualistic sense of being attacked, we take the opportunity to see how we close down when we’re squeezed. This is how we open our hearts.”

66. 'Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.' Pema Chödrön Share on X

67. “Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves, all those imperfections that we don’t even want to look at.”

68. “Being able to appreciate, being able to look closely, being able to open our minds—this is the core of maitri [loving-kindness].”

69. ”Not causing harm obviously includes not killing or robbing or lying to people. It also includes not being aggressive-not being aggressive with our actions, our speech, or our minds. Learning not to cause harm to ourselves or others is a basic Buddhist teaching on the healing power of nonaggression.”

70. ”To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes.”

71. ”As we become more wholehearted in this journey of gentle honesty, it comes as quite a shock to realize how much we’ve blinded ourselves to some of the ways in which we cause harm.”

72. 'Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.' Pema Chödrön Share on X

73. ”Could we just settle down and have some compassion and respect for ourselves? Could we stop trying to escape from being alone with ourselves? What about practicing not jumping and grabbing when we begin to panic? Relaxing with loneliness is a worthy occupation.”

74. ”The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”

75. “How sad it is that we become so expert at causing harm to ourselves and others. The trick then is to practice gentleness and letting go.”

76. 'The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart.' Pema Chödrön Share on X

77. “Nothing will ever change through aggression.”

78. ”When we find ourselves in a mess, we don’t have to feel guilty about it. Instead, we could reflect on the fact that how we relate to this mess will be sowing the seeds of how we will relate to whatever happens next. … Right now we are creating our state of mind for tomorrow, not to mention this afternoon, next week, next year, and all the years of our lives.”

79. “When we become more insightful and compassionate about how we ourselves get hooked, we spontaneously feel more tenderness for the human race.”

Related: 70 Tara Brach Quotes on Radical Acceptance, Love & Compassion

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