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
Born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown
(1936-07-14) July 14, 1936 (age 79)
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 on July 14, 1936) is an American, Tibetan Buddhist. She is an author, ordained nun, acharya and disciple of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.[1][2] Chodron has conducted workshops, seminars, and meditation retreats in Europe, Australia, and North America. She is the director of the Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Canada.[3][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936 in New York City. She attended Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut and grew up on a farm with an older brother and sister.[4] 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 under Lama Chime Rinpoche in the French Alps. While in London in 1974, she was ordained as a novice Buddhist nun under Rangjung Rigpe Dorje the sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa.[1][5] In 1981 she became the first American woman to became a fully ordained bhikṣuṇī within the Mulasarvastivadin and Dharmaguptaka lineages.[4] She met Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1972 and studied with him until his death in 1987.[6][7]

Trungpa appointed Chödrön director of the Boulder Shambhala Center (Boulder Dharmadhatu) in Colorado in the early 1980s.[8] Chödrön moved to Gampo Abbey in 1984, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in North America for Western men and women, and became its director in 1986.[3] Chodron's first book, The Wisdom of No Escape, was published in 1991. Then, In 1993, she was given the title of acharya in 1993 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. At his instruction she began taking a solitary retreat for several months of each year.[1] That year she published her second book, Start Where You Are. She published her book When Things Fall Apart in 1997 [1] and No Time to Lose, a commentary on Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life in 2005.[citation needed] That year, Chödrön became a member of The Committee of Western Bhikshunis[9] and published her Practicing Peace in Times of War book in 2006.[citation needed]


Chödrön teaches the traditional "Yarne"[10]) retreat at Gampo Abbey each winter and the Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life in Berkeley each summer.[11] 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.[11]

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

Personal life[edit]

Chodron married at age 21 and had two children. Later she divorced, remarried and then divorced a second time. According to Chödrön she has three grandchildren who live in the San Francisco Bay Area.[12]



  1. ^ a b c d e 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 Haas, Michaela (2013). "Dakini Power: Twelve Extraordinary Women Shaping the Transmission of Tibetan Buddhism in the West". Snow Lion. ISBN 1559394072, p. 123.
  5. ^ Fabrice Midal (2005). Recalling Chögyam Trungpa. Shambhala Publications. p. 476. ISBN 1-59030-207-9. 
  6. ^ Sandy Boucher (1993). Turning the Wheel: American Women Creating the New Buddhism. Beacon Press. pp. 93–97. ISBN 0-8070-7305-9. 
  7. ^ James William Coleman (2001). The New Buddhism: The Western Transformation of an Ancient Tradition. Oxford University Press. p. 150. ISBN 0-19-515241-7. 
  8. ^ Boucher (1993) pp. 96-97
  9. ^ "The Committee of Western Bhikshunis: Ven. Bhiksuni Pema Chodron". Sep 17, 2006. Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  10. ^ Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India: Their History and Contribution to Indian Culture. George Allen and Unwin Ltd, London 1962. pg 54
  11. ^ a b Bill Moyers and Pema Chödrön . August 4, 2006
  12. ^ Staff Writer (Interview). "Oprah Talks to Pema Chödrön". Harpo Productions. Retrieved Dec 1, 2015. 

External links[edit]