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Pema Chödrön: Life Is Glorious, and Wretched.

I absolutely adore this quote by Pema Chödrön, especially the part about grief. It’s so true, when we’re in pain, we’re able to do things we wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

I’m pretty sure either Beavis or Butthead said something similar, something like “You have to have stuff that sucks to have stuff that’s cool.” Pema is just as bad-ass, and a lot more eloquent:

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

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.”

— Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chödrön


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