cover image The Wisdom of No Escape

The Wisdom of No Escape

Pema Chödrön. Shambhala, $16.95 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-61180-605-2

Chödrön packs a wide range of explanations and practice suggestions into this accessible guide to Buddhist thought. Composed of 18 short lectures originally given in 1989 at a monastery in Nova Scotia, the book circles around the idea of accepting the process of enlightenment with gentleness. Rather than fighting against or constantly being discouraged by failures, Chödrön argues that one should lean into weaknesses and adjust practices based on individual needs. She articulates the middle way by urging students to not forgo all joy, and to balance the striving for nirvana with being fully present in samsara. Moments of humor and her own humanity provide comforting color to her teachings. Some sections, such as the rapid exposition on the four noble truths or the chapter on tonglen, presuppose an audience familiar with the basics, but even beginners will find useful tips on meditation and parables involving hiking up mountains, baking bread, making tea, and many other experiences simplify complicated ideas. This deceptively straightforward book is an excellent introduction to the thinking of a major Western Buddhist leader who gracefully bridges contemporary life with traditional practices. (Aug.)