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Wisdom for Difficult Times

Though some 2,500 years old, Buddhism has always offered wisdom for tough times, and it's as pertinent now as ever. What would happen if we could step back and look how we each might play a positive, peacemaking role instead of contributing more negativity and stress?

Here are some of the finest examples of Buddhist wisdom for difficult times, from the names you've come to trust all from the pages of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma. Just click on any article's title to read further.



Fear & Fearlessness: What the Buddhists Teach

So much of our suffering — as individuals and as a society — is caused by fear. In fact, according to Buddhism, fear is at the very root of ego and samsara. The Shambhala Sun and Omega Institute brought together four outstanding Buddhist teachers — Judy Lief, John Daido Loori, Sylvia Boorstein, and Robert Thurman — to discuss the vital practice of working with our fears.



From Pema Chödrön:

What to Do When the Going Gets Rough

Pema Chödrön on four ways to hold our minds steady and hearts open when facing difficult people or circumstances.

Three Methods for Working with Chaos

Times of chaos and challenge can be the most spiritually powerful . . . if we are brave enough to rest in their space of uncertainty. Pema Chödrön describes three ways to use our problems as the path to awakening and joy.

Bodhichitta: The Excellence of Awakened Heart

The mind of enlightenment, called bodhichitta, is always available, in pain as well as in joy. Pema Chödrön lays out how to cultivate this soft spot of bravery and kindness.

The Answer to Anger & Aggression is Patience

We can suppress anger and aggression or act it out, either way making things worse for ourselves and others. Or we can practice patience: wait, experience the anger and investigate its nature. Pema Chödrön takes us step by step through this powerful practice.

Turn Your Thinking Upside Down

We base our lives on seeking happiness and avoiding suffering, but the best thing we can do for ourselves—and for the planet—is to turn this whole way of thinking upside down. Pema Chödrön shows us Buddhism’s radical side.




The Place Beyond Fear and Hope

Freed from the ups and downs of hope and fear, we can discover our clarity and energy. Margaret Wheatley sets out some markers for the journey.

Smile at Fear

When we face difficult circumstances — as so many people do these days — fear can overwhelm us. Carolyn Rose Gimian shows us how we can discover the fearlessness of the great meditators — by welcoming fear as a precious opportunity to open up and let go. And that can make us smile.

Working with Fear: Questions and Answers

A special online dialogue moderated by Carolyn Rose Gimian. Come see how others have benefited and how the lessons learned might be applied to your own life.

Forced to Sit

Prisoner Scott Darnell shares his story of how he found compassion on the inside.


Sharon Salzberg: To Love Abundantly

What led the young meditation teacher-to-be to discover loving-kindness, and in one of her darkest hours?

Of Course I'm Angry

As his marriage falls apart, Gabriel Cohen obsesses over all the things his wife has done to make him angry. But a chance encounter with Buddhism shows him the anger is his alone, and never serves any good purpose anyway.


“The Warrior Tradition: Conquering Fear,” by Chogyam Trungpa

This teaching from our founder is based on a seminar he conducted in 1979 for teachers in Shambhala training on meditation and the view of warriorship.


Anxiety Soup

For times troubled with everything from Wall Street meltdowns to very inconvenient truths, Alice Walker gives us her recipe for finding equanimity.


Developing the Mind of Great Capacity

A teaching on practices to generate bodhichitta by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.


The Path Through Obstacles

Obstacles aren’t to be avoided. When we apply the right antidotes, they are the path itself. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche diagnoses the different types of obstacles we face and prescribes the proper remedies.

Learning “The Rules of Victory”

When life leads us into disagreements and conflicts, as it often does, we need a way to reach our goals without creating unnecessary harm. Here, James Gimian and Barry Boyce show us how we can use the principles of Sun Tzu's The Art of War to work skillfully with the underlying energies that give rise to effective action.

Out of Fear

Meditation wasn't the great panacea Susan Piver had hoped for — fear didn't just go away. But it did lead her to a surprising discovery.



From Sylvia Boorstein:

Suffering's Not the Only Story

In the midst of pain and confusion, we can be alive to the momentary gaps where our minds change course. In these gaps, compassion, insight, and  humor can arise.

Sylvia Boorstein: “The Only Choice is Kindness”

In this Shambhala Sun feature, Steve Silberman talkes to Sylvia Boorstein about the challenges of life, from a rough childhood to a post-partum depression, that helped her become such a beloved teacher — and example — of Buddhist virtues.

I Am Safe

Sylvia Boorstein on where safety is really found in a life with no guarantees.

No Worries

Sylvia Boorstein addresses a mental affliction we don’t often talk about in spiritual terms. It’s a big problem for her, and maybe for you: worrying.



Training the Mind to Transform Adversity into Awakening

Buddhism’s mind-training slogans help us work with all the challenges of life, from the upheavals of our own emotions to the inevitable losses and disappointments of this imperfect world. Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche explains how obstacles can be brought to the spiritual path and become opportunities for awakening.

Dharma for a Dangerous Time

Yes, the world may seem particularly dangerous and uncertain now, says the novelist Charles R. Johnson, but it’s wise to remember that the ways of history—and the dharma’s response—haven’t changed since the time of the Buddha.


The Paradox of Happiness

Real happiness is what we all want, but none of our strategies for finding it seem to work. Maybe it's the search for happiness that makes us unhappy. John Tarrant has some thoughts on why the Buddha smiles.



In the Face of Fear: Buddhist Wisdom for Challenging Times

Edited by the Shambhala Sun's Barry Boyce and being released to coincide with the Urban Retreat, this new book features the greatest contemporary Buddhist teachers and writers—people renowned for addressing precisely the problems we’re facing today—including the Dalai Lama, Pema Chödrön, Thich Nhat Hanh, Chögyam Trungpa, Sylvia Boorstein, Jack Kornfield, Norman Fischer, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Sharon Salzberg, and many others.


Click to order In the Face of Fear



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