Pema Chödrön

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Pema Chödrön
Pema chodron 2007 cropped.jpg
At the Omega Institute, May 2007.
Religion Vajrayana Buddhism
Lineage Shambhala Buddhism
Education University of California, Berkeley
Born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown
(1936-07-14) July 14, 1936 (age 80)
New York City, New York, United States
Senior posting
Title Bhikkhuni
Religious career
Teacher Chögyam Trungpa
Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

Pema Chödrön (born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown July 14, 1936) is an American Tibetan Buddhist. She is an ordained nun, acharya and disciple of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.[1][2] Chodron has written several books and is the director of the Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Canada.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936 in New York City.[1][4] She attended Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut and grew up on a New Jersey farm with an older brother and sister.[4][5] She obtained a bachelor's degree in English literature and a master’s in elementary education from the University of California, Berkeley.[1]


Stupa of Enlightenment at Chodron's Gampo Abbey

Chödrön began studying with Lama Chime Rinpoche during frequent trips to London over a period of several years.[1] While in the US she studied with Trungpa Rinpoche in San Francisco.[1] In 1974, she became a novice Buddhist nun under Rangjung Rigpe Dorje the sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa.[1][6] In Hong Kong in 1981 she became the first American in the Vajrayana tradition to become a fully ordained nun or bhikṣuṇī.[5][7][8]

Trungpa appointed Chödrön director of the Boulder Shambhala Center (Boulder Dharmadhatu) in Colorado in the early 1980s.[9] Chödrön moved to Gampo Abbey in 1984, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in North America for Western men and women, and became its first director in 1986.[3] Chodron's first book, The Wisdom of No Escape, was published in 1991.[1] Then, In 1993, she was given the title of acharya when Trungpa's son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, assumed leadership of his father's Shambhala lineage.[citation needed]

In 1994, she became ill with chronic fatigue syndrome but gradually her health improved. During this period, she met Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche and took him as her teacher.[1] That year she published her second book, Start Where You Are[1] and in 1997 her book, When Things Fall Apart.[1] No Time to Lose, a commentary on Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, was published in 2005.[citation needed] That year, Chödrön became a member of The Committee of Western Bhikshunis[10] Her most recent book, Practicing Peace in Times of War, came out in 2006.[citation needed] In 2016 she was awarded the Global Bhikkhuni Award, presented by the Chinese Buddhist Bhikkhuni Association of Taiwan.[11]


Chödrön teaches the traditional "Yarne"[12] retreat at Gampo Abbey each winter and the Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life in Berkeley each summer.[4] A central theme of her teaching is the principle of "shenpa", or "attachment", which she interprets as the moment one is hooked into a cycle of habitual negative or self-destructive thoughts and actions. According to Chödrön, this occurs when something in the present stimulates a reaction to a past experience.[4]

Pema Chödrön giving talk from her book No Time to Lose, 2005

Personal life[edit]

Chödrön married at age 21 and had two children but was divorced in her mid-twenties.[1] She remarried and then divorced a second time eight years later.[1] She has three grandchildren who all live in the San Francisco Bay Area.[13]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Andrea Miller (October 20, 2014). "Becoming Pema". Lion's Roar. Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  2. ^ a b "Ani Pema Chödrön". Gampo Abbey. Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  3. ^ a b Susan Neunzig Cahill (1996). Wise Women: Over Two Thousand Years of Spiritual Writing by Women. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 377. ISBN 0-393-03946-3. 
  4. ^ a b c d Bill Moyers and Pema Chödrön . August 4, 2006
  5. ^ a b Haas, Michaela (2013). "Dakini Power: Twelve Extraordinary Women Shaping the Transmission of Tibetan Buddhism in the West". Snow Lion. ISBN 1559394072, p. 123.
  6. ^ Fabrice Midal (2005). Recalling Chögyam Trungpa. Shambhala Publications. p. 476. ISBN 1-59030-207-9. 
  7. ^ Sandy Boucher (1993). Turning the Wheel: American Women Creating the New Buddhism. Beacon Press. pp. 93–97. ISBN 0-8070-7305-9. 
  8. ^ James William Coleman (2001). The New Buddhism: The Western Transformation of an Ancient Tradition. Oxford University Press. p. 150. ISBN 0-19-515241-7. 
  9. ^ Boucher (1993) pp. 96-97
  10. ^ "The Committee of Western Bhikshunis: Ven. Bhiksuni Pema Chodron". Sep 17, 2006. Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  11. ^ November 10, 2016 (2016-11-10). "8 North American Buddhist nuns, including Pema Chödrön and Thubten Chodron, receive "Global Bhikkhuni Award" - Lion's Roar". Retrieved 2016-12-10. 
  12. ^ Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India: Their History and Contribution to Indian Culture. George Allen and Unwin Ltd, London 1962. pg 54
  13. ^ Staff Writer (Interview). "Oprah Talks to Pema Chödrön". Harpo Productions. Retrieved Dec 1, 2015. 

External links[edit]