Venerable Thubten Chodron is an author, teacher, and the founder and abbess of Sravasti Abbey, the only Tibetan Buddhist training monastery for Western nuns and monks in the US. She graduated from UCLA, and did graduate work in education at USC. Ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun in 1977, she has studied extensively with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tsenzhap Serkong Rinpoche, and Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche.
Ven. Chodron teaches worldwide and is known for her practical (and humorous!) explanations of how to apply Buddhist teachings in daily life. She is also involved in prison outreach and interfaith dialogue. She has published many books on Buddhist philosophy and meditation, and has co-authored a book with His Holiness the Dalai Lama—Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions. Visit thubtenchodron.org for a media library of her teachings, and sravasti.org to learn more about the Abbey.
Thubten Chodron featured in Tricycle: “Tibetan Buddhist Nun Blazes Trail for Others to Follow.”
See Thubten Chodron’s teaching schedule here.
ONLINE COURSE WITH VEN. THUBTEN CHODRON
Books, Courses & Podcasts
Insight into Emptiness
A former abbot of one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world, Khensur Jampa Tegchok has been teaching Westerners about Buddhism since the 1970s. With a deep respect for the intellectual capacity of his students, Khensur Tegchok here unpacks with great erudition Buddhism’s animating philosophical principle—the emptiness of all appearances. Engagingly edited by bestselling author Thubten Chodron, emptiness is here approached from a host of angles far beyond most treatments of the subject, while never sacrificing its conversational approach.
Winner of an IndieFab Award from Foreword Reviews!
Buddhism is practiced by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, from Tibetan caves to Tokyo temples to redwood retreats. To an outside viewer, it might be hard to see what they all have in common. In Buddhism, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and American Buddhist nun Thubten Chodron map out with clarity the convergences and the divergences between the two major strains of Buddhism—the Sanskrit traditions of Tibet and East Asia and the Pali traditions of Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. Especially deep consideration is given to the foundational Indian traditions and their respective treatment of such central tenets as
- the four noble truths
- the practice of meditation
- the meaning of nirvana
The authors seek harmony and greater understanding among Buddhist traditions worldwide, illuminating the rich benefits of respectful dialogue and the many ways that Buddhists of all stripes share a common heritage and common goals.
Practical Ethics and Profound Emptiness
In Practical Ethics and Profound Emptiness Khensur Jampa Tegchok walks us carefully through a classic of Indian Buddhist philosophy, explaining the implications of its philosophical arguments and grounding its advice in a recognizable day-to-day world. In The Precious Garland, the source text for this commentary, Nagarjuna advises his patron king on how best to take advantage of human life to secure a happy rebirth in the next life while making progress toward the goal of enlightenment. Known primarily for his incisive presentation of emptiness, here Nagarjuna shows his wise understanding of how to navigate the intricacies of worldly life to balance everyday needs with spiritual practice. Loaded with equal measures of penetrating explanations of the highest reality and inspiring encouragement toward the bodhisattva practices, Practical Ethics and Profound Emptiness makes the case for living a thoughtful, morally upright life in the world to achieve immediate and ultimate spiritual goals.
Approaching the Buddhist Path
Now in Paperback!
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been publicly teaching Buddhism for decades. The Library of Wisdom and Compassion collects his presentations of every step of the path to enlightenment, compiled and coauthored by one of his chief Western disciples, the American nun Thubten Chodron.
The Buddha wanted his students to investigate, to see for themselves whether what he said were true. As a student of the Buddha, the Dalai Lama promotes the same spirit of investigation, and as the rich tradition of the Buddha makes its way into new lands and cultures, His Holiness has recognized that new approaches are needed to allow seekers in the West to experience the relevance of the liberating message in their own lives. Such an approach cannot assume listeners are free from doubt and already have faith in Buddhism’s basic tenets. The Library of Wisdom and Compassion series, therefore, starts from the universal human wish for happiness and presents the dynamic nature of the mind. This first volume also provides a wealth of reflections on Buddhist history and fundamentals, contemporary issues, and the Dalai Lama’s own personal experiences. It stands alone as an introduction to Buddhism, but it also provides a foundation for the systematic illumination of the path in the volumes to come.
The Library of Wisdom and Compassion collects the Dalai Lama’s decades of presentations of every step of the path to enlightenment. It has been compiled and coauthored by one of his chief Western disciples, the American nun Thubten Chodron.
The Foundation of Buddhist Practice
The Foundation of Buddhist Practice contains the important teachings that will help us establish a flourishing Dharma practice, beginning with the four seals shared by all Buddhist philosophies, and moves on to an explanation of the reliable cognition that allows us to evaluate the veracity of the Buddha’s teachings.
The book provides many other essential Buddhist teachings, including:
the relationship of a spiritual mentor and student, clarifying misunderstandings about this topic and showing how to properly rely on a spiritual mentor in a healthy, appropriate, and beneficial manner;
how to structure a meditation session;
dying and rebirth, unpacking the often difficult-to-understand topic of multiple lives and explaining how to prepare for death and aid someone who is dying;
a fruitful explanation of karma and its results;
and much more.
His Holiness’s illumination of key Buddhist ideas will support Western and contemporary Asian students in engaging with this rich tradition.
Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature
Knowledge of buddha nature reveals and reconciles the paradox of how the mind can be the basis for both the duhkha of samsara (the unpurified mind) and the bliss and fulfillment of nirvana (the purified mind). To illustrate this, Saṃsāra, Nirvāṇa, and Buddha Nature first takes readers through Buddhist thought on the self, the four truths, and their sixteen attributes. It then explains afflictions—including how they arise and their antidotes—followed by an examination of karma and cyclic existence, and, finally, a deep and thorough elucidation of buddha nature. Saṃsāra, Nirvāṇa, and Buddha Nature shows us how to purify our minds and cultivate awakened qualities.
This is the third volume in the Dalai Lama’s definitive and comprehensive series on the stages of the Buddhist path, The Library of Wisdom and Compassion. Volume 1, Approaching the Buddhist Path,contains introductory material that sets the context for Buddhist practice. Volume 2, The Foundation of Buddhist Practice, describes the important teachings that help us establish a flourishing Dharma practice. Saṃsāra, Nirvāṇa, and Buddha Nature can be read as the logical next step in this series or enjoyed on its own.
Following in the Buddha’s Footsteps
Delve into the substance of spiritual practice in this fourth volume of the Dalai Lama’s definitive series on the path to awakening, Following in the Buddha’s Footsteps. You’ll first hear His Holiness’s explanation of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, why they are reliable guides on the path, and how to relate to them. His Holiness then describes the three essential trainings common to all Buddhist traditions: the higher trainings in ethical conduct, concentration, and wisdom. These chapters show us how to live a life free of harm to self or others and give us detailed instructions on how to develop single-pointed concentration as well as the higher states of concentration available to an earnest practitioner. In addition, the chapters on wisdom contain in-depth teachings on the noble eightfold path and the four establishments of mindfulness for developing greater awareness and understanding of our body, feelings, mind, and other phenomena. Together, these topics form the core of Buddhist practice.
This is a book to treasure and refer to repeatedly as you begin the path, progress on it, and near the final goal of nirvāṇa.
In Praise of Great Compassion
In Praise of Great Compassion, the fifth volume of the Library of Wisdom and Compassion, continues the Dalai Lama’s teachings on the path to awakening. While previous volumes focused on our present situation and taking responsibility for creating the causes of happiness, this volume concerns opening our hearts and generating the intention to make our lives meaningful by benefiting others.
We are embedded in a universe with other living beings, all of whom have been kind to us in one way or another. More than any other time in human history, we depend on one another to stay alive and flourish. When we look closely, it becomes apparent that we have been the recipient of great kindness. Wanting to repay others’ kindness, we cultivate a positive attitude by contemplating the four immeasurables of love, compassion, empathic joy, and equanimity, and the altruistic intention of bodhicitta. We learn to challenge the self-centered attitude that leads to misery and replace it with a more realistic perspective enabling us to remain emotionally balanced in good and bad times. In this way, all circumstances become favorable to the path to awakening.
Courageous Compassion, the sixth volume of the Library of Wisdom and Compassion, continues the Dalai Lama’s teachings on the path to awakening. The previous volume, In Praise of Great Compassion, focused on opening our hearts with love and compassion for all living beings, and the present volume explains how to embody compassion and wisdom in our daily lives. Here we enter a fascinating exploration of bodhisattvas’ activities across multiple Buddhist traditions—Tibetan, Theravāda, and Chinese Buddhism.
After explaining the ten perfections according to the Pāli and Sanskrit traditions, the Dalai Lama presents the sophisticated schema of the four paths and fruits for śrāvakas and solitary realizers and the five paths for bodhisattvas. Learning about the practices mastered by these exalted practitioners inspires us with knowledge of our minds’ potential. His Holiness also describes buddha bodies, what buddhas perceive, and buddhas’ awakening activities.
Courageous Compassion offers an in-depth look at bodhicitta, arhatship, and buddhahood that you can continuously refer to as you progress on the path to full awakening.
Searching for the Self
In Searching for the Self the Dalai Lama leads us to delve deeply into the topic of the emptiness of inherent existence, presenting it from a variety of approaches while focusing on identifying our erroneous views and directing us to the actual mode of existence of all persons and phenomena.
Placing our study of reality within the auspicious context of a compassionate motivation to benefit all sentient beings, the Dalai Lama explains why realizing emptiness is important and what qualities are needed to do that, and he evaluates various tenet systems’ perspectives on this vast topic. He then helps us understand our perceptions and the mental states involved in both our ignorant and accurate cognitions. He examines inherent existence and other fantasized ways of existence that we seek to disprove through reasoned analysis and presents the Middle Way view that abandons all extremes. The closing chapters by Thubten Chodron discuss the three characteristics of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and not-self as explained in the Pāli tradition and show how meditation on these can lead to the meditative breakthrough to realize nirvāṇa.
Engaging in this investigation with His Holiness will challenge our deepest-held beliefs and uproot false ways of viewing ourselves and the world that are so habitual we don’t even notice them. Get ready to be challenged and intrigued, for realizing the nature of reality has the power to cut our defilements at the root and free us from cyclic existence forever!