An evening with Pema Chödrön and k.d. lang

On June 20, 2015, I had the good fortune of attending an event at UCLA’s Royce Hall with Pema Chödrön and k.d. lang. The event, a benefit for Tools for Peace and the Pema Chodron Foundation, was designed as a Q & A with Chödrön and lang on life’s “big questions,” followed by a musical performance by lang. The moderator was Tami Simon, the founder and publisher of Sounds True.

Pema Chödrön, a Buddhist nun and prolific author, is widely regarded for the down-to-earth manner in which she presents complex Buddhist teachings. While founded in her own monastic traditions, her teachings are uniquely accessible and wrestle with questions about how to live well as a human being in a complicated and often painful world – questions whose relevance extends beyond the boundaries of specific spiritual orientations. As a result, Chödrön’s work has reached a vast and varied audience, both within the Western Buddhist community and without. While I am still only scratching the surface in my understanding of these teachings, what has always stood out to me is the wise, clear, and convincing tone through which she conveys two radical messages: You already have everything you’re searching for; and, the more neurosis, the more wisdom. (To read more on these ideas, check out this wonderful Brain Pickings post.) Fundamentally, hers is a message of compassion: learning to befriend the parts of ourselves we find most challenging, thereby uncovering the material that enables us to open to others’ difficult experiences with love and kindness.

k.d. lang, a Grammy-award-winning singer, initially seemed a surprising partner for this event. …Keep Reading!

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