Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

4.38 of 5 stars 4.38  ·  rating details  ·  4,186 ratings  ·  178 reviews
Start Where You Are is an indispensable handbook for cultivating fearlessness and awakening a compassionate heart. With insight and humor, Pema Chödrön presents down-to-earth guidance on how we can "start where we are"—embracing rather than denying the painful aspects of our lives. Pema Chödrön frames her teachings on compassion around fifty-nine traditional Tibetan Buddh...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published August 21st 2001 by Shambhala (first published 1994)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Siddhartha by Hermann HesseThe Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIVZen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu SuzukiWhen Things Fall Apart by Pema ChödrönThe Heart of the Buddha's Teaching by Thích Nhất Hạnh
A Buddhist Reading List
33rd out of 505 books — 641 voters
What's Behind Your Belly Button? A Psychological Perspective ... by Martha Char LoveA Return to Love by Marianne WilliamsonStart Where You Are by Pema ChödrönWomen Food and God by Geneen RothShaken by Kerry Connelly
How to Get Well
3rd out of 66 books — 10 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Ren Leaflight
Reading this book is what made me say "hey, this Buddhism thing makes a whole lot of sense to me". Pema is always down to earth and sometimes earthy in her presentation of the ideas and how they relate to our lives. She approaches every subject with compassion and makes you really feel like she understands your struggles and issues because she has gone through them, and because she is still going through them. She lets you know that while the difficulties and the issues will always be there, you...more
Suzy
Jul 05, 2007 Suzy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
You don't have to be a Buddhist to appreciate the common sense philosophy in this beautiful book--I found it life-changing. If you want to better live in the present, feel your emotions fully without letting them overwhelm you, and expand your compassion and loving kindness for others, this book is a comforting place to start.
Sarah
This is a good book overall. A lot of insights into Buddhist teachings, but while they are clearly simplified, they still may be a bit over-our-heads for most readers who don't have any previous experience in the topic.

She explains that we all armor our hearts, our "soft spots" instinctively and that to live well, we have to open that door to others, and that it is one of the most frightening things we will ever do, and that we must do it, like everything we do within ourselves, gently.

I most en...more
Gene
I have been (re)reading this book since I bought. Chödrö's presentation of Buddhist teachings is changing my life one moment at a time. From other comments I've seen, Start Where You Are goes better if the reader has some familiarity with Buddhist teachings; it would not be the book to start with if you just want to know about Buddhism.

There are three components to the teaching of this book, all of them traditional Buddhist teachings, and especially tied to Tibetan Buddhism. If you want to know...more
Cindywho
Aug 31, 2007 Cindywho rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Meditators
Shelves: meditation-yoga
I would have had a difficult time with this book if I had not been meditating and reading up on the subject for a while. It seems to have been derived from a series of talks on mind training "lojong", a certain teaching that incorporates slogans to reflect upon. Despite the jargon, she keeps up a friendly, chatty tone while presenting intense ideas about how to approach the experience of having a brain with thoughts and emotions. It's given me some new tools to work with. Thanks, Pema!
Emily
I learned to dig deep into myself, both the parts I like and the parts I don't like, know them and live with them gracefully. I feel like a new, positive, confident person able to say and do what comes from my genuine self, my genuine open-hearted desires. A must read for anyone feeling lost or troubled.
Jen Cheaney
this is the coolest book of spiritual advice...not pushy advice...just gentle suggestions that made so much sense to me. life changer fo sho
Aayla
First let me start by saying that I really love reading some Pema wisdom. This woman knows how to speak ina way that engages your attention.

About half of this book, or a little more, was brilliant and useful to me. Unfortunately, the title is a little misleading.... there are some things that she talks about very briefly, and the lack of detail or explanation makes it difficult for a new practitioner to access her wisdom. Unlike what you may imagine, this book isn't really for beginners in Buddh...more
Jenny
So I've been a bit frustrated with myself lately. Frustrated with my lack of patience (which has come out of nowhere), frustrated with my easy annoyance with others, frustrated with my temper (also coming out of nowhere) and mostly frustrated with myself for allowing these things to happen. So I found this book and decided it was worth a read. I have zero experience with Buddhism (aside from receiving the occasional mixed drink in a Buddha-shaped cup) and had never heard of Pema Chodron before p...more
Mo Tipton
I was first introduced to Chodron's work when a friend gave me a copy of When Things Fall Apart, and I was completely blown away. It seemed as if every page contained insights specific to my situation, and I couldn't put the book down. Unfortunately, I didn't have the same experience with this book. I found a great deal of the material to be helpful, but the book didn't flow, and I often found myself flipping back to previous chapters, trying to get a sense of how new topics fit into the overall...more
Kevin
Some excellent and interesting advice for meditation and general interaction. My favorite part, and the heart of the book, is the early description of tonglen. Specifically I like the exercise of taking the object of desire/anger/frustration/etc., thinking about the emotions it produces, and then considering those emotions in a vacuum - how they exist in you apart from the actual object. An interesting and challenging exercise. I also thought Chodron had some good pointers for regular mindfulnes...more
Anna
Nov 03, 2009 Anna rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Anna by: Nobody...
This book has a few REALLY great statements, such as:
"We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves." Oh, wait a second, that's the only one.

A major part of her instruction is to teach the reader how to work with 'slogans'. I find these extremely annoying, especially when they are not in a meaningful context for me and she begins every single paragraph with "Another slogan says..."

I picked up the book b/c she is said to frame her teachings f...more
Sherry
This started off well for me. I thought there was some good insights that deepened my own practice gave me a new way of looking at things but about mid way through the book it began to lose it's clarity and effectiveness for me and became a real chore to finish. There is an assumption of feelings she makes about 'where we're at' emotionally that often didn't ring true for me. Some concepts were not articulated very well and the manner in which she did was vague and off- putting for me. Though it...more
Cindy
I would have had a difficult time with this book if I had not been meditating and reading up on the subject for a while. It seems to have been derived from a series of talks on mind training "lojong", a certain teaching that incorporates slogans to reflect upon. Despite the jargon, she keeps up a friendly, chatty tone while presenting intense ideas about how to approach the experience of having a brain with thoughts and emotions. It's given me some new tools to work with. Thanks, Pema!
Steven Howard
A delightful, thought-provoking book that requires a second, slower and more contemplative read.

My initial thoughts are that this book could be summed appropriately with the philosophy "Don't sweat the small stuff. And don't sweat the big stuff either. In fact, don't sweat at all."

Equally though, it also counsels not to get overly ecstatic or confident when things go your way.

The key seems to be not to let hurdles, obstacles or setbacks get you too down for too long. Equally, to not let successe...more
roger
Straightforward and simple, I really enjoy Ani Pema's style of explaining Buddhism's concepts and practices. This book is organized in a "daily-lesson" format but a reader doesn't have to follow the book from front to back to glean its contents. There is an emphasis on logong slogans and plenty of insights both into Pema's practice and those along the way she has helped.
Kendall
Nov 26, 2007 Kendall rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: wanna be buddhists
Chodron gives the reader an extraordinary amount of insight into buddhist practice in simple terms. Her teaching is framed around 59 Buddhist maxims... and looks at them from a western standpoint, without being an idiot. Quite a feat! Anyway, a great book for anyone curious about buddhism.
Aaron Fisher
Really just an incredible book on Tibetan practices. I heard this books originally as a series of talks - and found that at least in this case, the material was much "stickier" in written form. Already, this has been a book I've given several people, and I just finished it
Karen
This book is subtitled "a guide to compassionate living," that basically says it all. It is a guide to the Buddhist teachings of opening the heart and mind through tonglen meditation and lojong slogans. All her writings are clear and productive reads.
Steffy
Jul 15, 2008 Steffy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone.
This book is just so good. It is written very simply and just makes so much sense. No matter where you are at in life, this book as something for you. I would recommend this, or any book, by Pema Chodron. She is way cool.
Angie crosby
I really enjoyed this book. It gave me a lot to think about. I learned a lot as well as made a lot of notes to go back over.

I will definitely read this again.
Carly
This was my first Pema Chodron book, and I love her honesty. I'll never forget her story of throwing rocks at her ex - She became a real person to me with that one.
Hcakes
This is my meditation guide. I'm not consistently using the main level of meditation it prescribes, but I'm consistently meditating, which is already improving my life.
Jim Lengel
I keep re-reading chapters of the book, and each time I glean more wisdom. This is a book that will be on my 'currently reading' list for quite some time.
Valerie
You know when you pick up a book to read, not know what to expect, and you realize that this is the book you NEED to read, well this is one of them.
Alan Culler
Also recommended by my doctor to help guide in the rebuilding process of life after letting everything fall apart.
VanGoghChica
Practical guidelines for slowing down and uncluttering our minds. The result is a kinder 'you'.
Elizabeth
A great companion to " When Things Fall Apart" and also stands on it's own. She is remarkable!
Niyati
fantastic material that really speaks to the soul. if you're
"searching", def check it out
Kathleen
Sep 22, 2008 Kathleen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who is interested in Buddhist thought and simple practice
Recommended to Kathleen by: Gabe Petino
I haven't gotten all the way through this - so I'm not sure I'm justified in giving it 5 stars - but 5 stars for giving me about 30 WOW moments in the first 50 pages. I'm not even that familiar with Buddhism per se - this book, true to it's title, helps me to start where I am. There are terms I don't understand, but she does give a lot of explanation. There are specifics about meditation practice - but this isn't what I am reading for right now. This is a book that, I suspect, will be many diffe...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness
  • Turning the Mind Into an Ally
  • It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness
  • Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
  • A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life
  • Seeking the Heart of Wisdom: The Path of Insight Meditation
  • Going to Pieces without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness
  • Taming the Tiger Within: Meditations on Transforming Difficult Emotions
  • The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness
  • The Words of My Perfect Teacher
  • Nothing Special
  • Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be: Lessons on Change, Loss, and Spiritual Transformation
  • Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha
  • Rebel Buddha: On the Road to Freedom
8052
Ani Pema Chödrön (Deirdre Blomfield-Brown) is an American Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition, closely associated with the Kagyu school and the Shambhala lineage.

She attended Miss Porter's School in Connecticut and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught as an elementary school teacher for many years in both New Mexico and California. Pema has two children and three g...more
More about Pema Chödrön...
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears

Share This Book

“Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that's all that's happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction. On the other hand, wretchedness--life's painful aspect--softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody's eyes because you feel you haven't got anything to lose--you're just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We'd be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn't have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.” 250 likes
“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart...” 195 likes
More quotes…