To Be Continually Thrown Out Of The Nest

Pema Chodron

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We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that's death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self-contained and comfortable, is some kind of death. It doesn't have any fresh air. There's no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience. Doing this is setting ourselves up for failure, because sooner or later, we're going to have an experience we can't control: our house is going to burn down, someone we love is going to die, we're going to find out we have cancer, a brick is going to fall out of the sky and hit us on the head, somebody's going to spill tomato juice all over our white suit, or we're going to arrive at our favorite restaurant and discover that no one ordered produce and seven hundred people are coming for lunch.

The essence of life is that it's challenging. Sometimes it is sweet, and sometimes it is bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100 percent healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience. There is something aggressive about that approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride.

To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man's-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. From the awakened point of view, that's life.

The way to dissolve our resistance to life is to meet it face to face. When we feel resentment because the room is too hot, we could meet the heat and feel its fieriness and its heaviness. When we feel resentment because the room is too cold, we could meet the cold and feel its iciness and its bite. When we want to complain about the rain, we could feel its wetness instead. When we worry because the wind is shaking our windows, we could meet the wind and hear its sound. Cutting our expectations for a cure is a gift we can give ourselves. There is no cure for hot and cold. They will go on forever. After we have died, the ebb and flow will still continue. Like the tides of the sea, like day and night -- this is the nature of things.

Pema Chodron is an author, meditation teacher, and excerpt above is from her book When Things Fall Apart.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the notion that finally getting it all together is death? Can you share an experience of a time you were able to fully embrace being continually thrown out of the nest? What helps you live fully, experiencing each moment as completely new and fresh?

Add Your Reflection:

10 Previous Reflections:

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    On Jul 28, 2020 Ambika wrote:
    Am in deep reflection because i have and i am continuously being thrown out of my nest. But I was and continue to be reactive and not responding. I have cribbed, ranted and resisted and considered myself to be an unfortunate being. The chosen one to be put through the test of fire.
    Pema Chodren's words come as fragrance. I could have been fully alive but i then thought i was gong through death. Here is yet another opportunity for me to be fully alive. I shall embrace being thrown out of the nest because I want to live life in all its glory. Thank you for this fresh teaching.

    1 reply: Aj | Post Your Reply
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    On Jul 28, 2020 Kitty wrote:
    Nice reflections, i'm just reading a book , called Miracles of development subtitle plant-human-project , the author J D van Mansvelt ( Dutch and this book is just released in Dutch) is analyzing the development plants, and gives examples that when a knot os formed, the plant is changed because the leaves are spouting out, or eventually a flower or blossom, next stage a fruit; He calls it metamorphose ( like a caterpillar is becoming a butterfly) The relation with humans is evaluation by changes like, sickness, accidents, divorce etc , than your mind nad body is shifting to a new phase , he explains that the death could have the same effect. My English is not brilliant and i will ask him if we could translate a summary of this book in other languages. For my own experiences my life changes a lot after a severe car accident, the suicide of my first husband, the death of my sister ( at 46); and the moment that my husband and me stepped out of the " ratrace" and decided to l... [View Full Comment] Nice reflections, i'm just reading a book , called Miracles of development subtitle plant-human-project , the author J D van Mansvelt ( Dutch and this book is just released in Dutch) is analyzing the development plants, and gives examples that when a knot os formed, the plant is changed because the leaves are spouting out, or eventually a flower or blossom, next stage a fruit; He calls it metamorphose ( like a caterpillar is becoming a butterfly) The relation with humans is evaluation by changes like, sickness, accidents, divorce etc , than your mind nad body is shifting to a new phase , he explains that the death could have the same effect. My English is not brilliant and i will ask him if we could translate a summary of this book in other languages.
    For my own experiences my life changes a lot after a severe car accident, the suicide of my first husband, the death of my sister ( at 46); and the moment that my husband and me stepped out of the " ratrace" and decided to live in France ( an old farmhouse) to grow our own vegetables etc, not understood my friends and family, But i'm happy when i discover a new insect, plant or bird, for me that fullfills my live.[Hide Full Comment]

    1 reply: Pankaj | Post Your Reply
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    On Jul 28, 2020 Myrtle Russell wrote:
    For me, getting it all together is embracing the ebbs and flow of life with courage; its believing that spirit never dies. 

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    On Jul 28, 2020 Sunil wrote:
    "Impermanence is the only permanence' said Buddha. There is no constant stable but only continuous changeand that is actually the life in reality. As and when one achieves freedom from the cycle of birth and death then only there is wholesomeness and completeness.

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    On Jul 28, 2020 Yvonne wrote:
    Years ago, I read the words...it took me years to see what these words were really saying...it is cyclical .
    Life ..death and Resurrection....is an ever going returning and returning...not like I'd been brought up to believe....a bit like the earth was flat....and that changed my perspective....I could now see the good in the bad...and I realised it was all energy...coming in and going out....even the sea shore spits out what is no longer life giving.....and I knew it was up to how I chewed it out or could not digest it....no blame ...and I began to feel free.

    1 reply: Me | Post Your Reply
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    On Jul 25, 2020 David Doane wrote:
    As I see, birth and death, beginning and ending are always. I don't think getting it all together is death -- I believe getting it all together, which I've never achieved, would be glorious life, not death. I think I never fully embrace being continually thrown out of the nest. I embrace it in the sense that I know and accept that everything is constantly changing, that I live in the unknown and control very little if anything. However, while everything is constantly changing, most of the changing is such that I feel consistency and stability as I live my routine in my nest. Occasionally a major change throws me out of the nest such that I very much feel it. I don't like or embrace major unwanted changes, especially as they're happening. Once upon a time I left a career path. I threw myself out of a particular nest into the unknown. Initially I felt terrified and second guessing of myself which quickly gave way to feeling free, open, and excited in my moving on. It was ... [View Full Comment] As I see, birth and death, beginning and ending are always. I don't think getting it all together is death -- I believe getting it all together, which I've never achieved, would be glorious life, not death. I think I never fully embrace being continually thrown out of the nest. I embrace it in the sense that I know and accept that everything is constantly changing, that I live in the unknown and control very little if anything. However, while everything is constantly changing, most of the changing is such that I feel consistency and stability as I live my routine in my nest. Occasionally a major change throws me out of the nest such that I very much feel it. I don't like or embrace major unwanted changes, especially as they're happening. Once upon a time I left a career path. I threw myself out of a particular nest into the unknown. Initially I felt terrified and second guessing of myself which quickly gave way to feeling free, open, and excited in my moving on. It was an experience of a nest or cocoon ended and I became a butterfly. What helps me live fully is knowing that each moment is new and fresh, being present, paying attention to what I am experiencing in and around me, relating honestly,being open, and going with the flow.[Hide Full Comment]

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    On Jul 24, 2020 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    If we want to live life fully, we need to let go and free ourselves from the grip of the past and the grip of the future. We need to release the grip of holding on to the past as well as future and live fully in the present moment. In order to fill the cup of my life fully I need to empty my cup. We need to be thrown out of the old nest.Otherwise I live a life unfulfilled. It is by letting go I receive the gifts of living fully. These kindsof paradoxical sayings come from most of the wisdom traditions.Pema Chodronrepresents the Buddhist perspective of living Mindfully. I have been learning how to embrace life fully by throwing out of the old nest. Every morning I wake up I practice mindfulness that helps me to live fully in the present moment. I try to maintainmindfulness in taking care of my everyday tasks. I live fully in the present moment. There are times when the old habitual or conditioned patterns of behaviortake over me. I fly back to the old nest. I wake up and realize that I ... [View Full Comment] If we want to live life fully, we need to let go and free ourselves from the grip of the past and the grip of the future. We need to release the grip of holding on to the past as well as future and live fully in the present moment. In order to fill the cup of my life fully I need to empty my cup. We need to be thrown out of the old nest.Otherwise I live a life unfulfilled. It is by letting go I receive the gifts of living fully. These kindsof paradoxical sayings come from most of the wisdom traditions.Pema Chodronrepresents the Buddhist perspective of living Mindfully.
    I have been learning how to embrace life fully by throwing out of the old nest. Every morning I wake up I practice mindfulness that helps me to live fully in the present moment. I try to maintainmindfulness in taking care of my everyday tasks. I live fully in the present moment. There are times when the old habitual or conditioned patterns of behaviortake over me. I fly back to the old nest. I wake up and realize that I had imprisoned myself by not being mindful of my mind. It takes time and practice to walk on the path of mindfulness. I patiently and compassionately embrace that path.
    Daily formal practice of Mindfulness Meditation and daily informal practice of Mindfulness in everyday tasks of my living help me to live fully in the present moment. This is an awakened perspective of living fully and harmoniously. And I love it!
    Namaste!
    Jagdish P Dave'






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