“When you plant seeds in the garden, you don’t dig them up every day to see if they have sprouted yet. You simply water them and clear away the weeds; you know that the seeds will grow in time. Similarly, just do your daily practice and cultivate a kind heart. Abandon impatience and instead be content creating the causes for goodness; the results will come when they’re ready.”
― Thubten Chodron
Born in 1950, Venerable Thubten Chodron grew up near Los Angeles. She graduated with a B.A. in History from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1971. After traveling through Europe, North Africa and Asia for one and a half years, she received a teaching credential and went to the University of Southern California to do post-graduate work in Education while working as a teacher in the Los Angeles City School System.
In 1975, she attended a meditation course given by Venerable Lama Yeshe and Venerable Zopa Rinpoche, and subsequently went to Kopan Monastery in Nepal to continue to study and practice Buddha’s teachings. In 1977 she was ordained as a Buddhist nun by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan.
She studied and practiced Buddhism of the Tibetan tradition for many years in India and Nepal under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tsenzhap Serkong Rinpoche, Zopa Rinpoche and other Tibetan masters. She directed the spiritual program at Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Italy for nearly two years, studied three years at Dorje Pamo Monastery in France, and was resident teacher at Amitabha Buddhist Center in Singapore. For ten years she was resident teacher at Dharma Friendship Foundation in Seattle.
Venerable Thubten Chodron was a co-organizer of Life as a Western Buddhist Nun, and took part in the conferences of Western Buddhist teachers with H.H. the Dalai Lama in 1993 and 1994. Keen on interfaith dialogue, she was present during the Jewish delegation’s visit to Dharamsala, India, in 1990, which was the basis for Rodger Kamenetz’ The Jew in the Lotus, and attended the Second Gethsemani Encounter in 2002. She has also been present at several of the Mind-Life Conferences in which H. H. the Dalai Lama dialogues with Western scientists, and regularly attends the annual Western Buddhist Monastic Gatherings. She is active in Dharma outreach to people who are incarcerated in prisons.
Venerable Thubten Chodron travels worldwide to teach the Dharma: North America, Latin America, Israel, Singapore, Malaysia, India, and the former Soviet countries. Seeing the importance and necessity of a monastery for Westerners training in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, she founded Sravasti Abbey, a Buddhist monastic community in Washington State, USA, and is currently the abbess there.
The term “watering seeds” is a metaphor used to describe those things in our lives that we put energy into, that cause them to become strong in our thoughts, actions or words. They take root and become a part of us, and as we water them (put more attention and energy into them), they grow and manifest themselves in us.
When I first heard this metaphor I did not like it, because to me it meant causing something to grow, and I felt guilty that all I had ever caused to grow in my life were negative things, bad thoughts and actions.
I was seven years old when I first stole from someone. It was a type of crystallized rock that sat on my first grade teacher’s desk. I took that rock out to the playground and broke it in half. My thought was that if I changed its shape, it would not be recognized as the rock on my teacher’s desk.
As I look back on it now, I see how I planted a seed of stealing and then watered it with several other thoughts until it took root and the stealing seed grew. Some lies and pretty soon I had a garden full of wicked weeds that grew for years and years and strangled anything positive that might have grown there… Continue Reading
Book to Hang out With: Buddhism for Beginners
This user’s guide to Buddhist basics takes the most commonly asked questions—beginning with “What is the essence of the Buddha’s teachings?”—and provides simple answers in plain English. Thubten Chodron’s responses to the questions that always seem to arise among people approaching Buddhism make this an exceptionally complete and accessible introduction—as well as a manual for living a more peaceful, mindful, and satisfying Life. Buddhism for Beginners is an ideal first book on the subject for anyone, but it’s also a wonderful resource for seasoned students, since the question-and-answer format makes it easy to find just the topic you’re looking for, such as:
• What is the goal of the Buddhist path?
• What is karma?
• If all phenomena are empty, does that mean nothing exists?
• How can we deal with fear?
• How do I establish a regular meditation practice?
• What are the qualities I should look for in a teacher?
• What is Buddha-nature?
• Why can’t we remember our past lives?