Tibetan Buddhism describes three gates that everyone must pass through on the road to spiritual liberation. With The Three Commitments, Pema Chödrön brings her unique blend of insight and gentle instruction to guide practitioners through each of these thresholds as they seek the source of true happiness.
As Pema explains, suffering arises when we resist the law of impermanence—the fact that everything we know, including ourselves, will one day die. Here she provides teachings and practices for fully embracing life’s ephemeral nature, using these three traditional monastic vows, or “commitments.”
- The Pratimoksha vows—how we can find personal liberation through the inner work of letting go
- The Bodhisattva vows—the way of genuine and compassionate service to others
- The Tantric vows—how to accept impermanence with true equanimity and touch the underlying stillness from which all worldly forms arise
In the past, initiates took their vows when entering the secluded world of the monastery. Today, laypeople are also embracing these commitments as a way to deepen their practice while fully participating in everyday life.
Through her practical instruction and accessible interpretation of ancient wisdom, Pema Chödrön helps listeners discover how each of these sacred vows is not a burden or restriction, but a guiding beacon on the path to liberation.
Ani Pema Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, in New York City. She attended Miss Porter's School in Connecticut and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught as an elementary school teacher for many years in both New Mexico and California. Pema has two children and three grandchildren. While in her mid-thirties, Ani Pema traveled to the French Alps and encountered Lama Chime Rinpoche, with whom she studied for several years. She became a novice nun in 1974 while studying with Lama Chime in London. His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa came to Scotland at that time, and Ani Pema received her ordination from him. Pema first met her root guru, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1972. Lama Chime encouraged her to work with Rinpoche, and it was with him that she ultimately made her most profound connection, studying with him from 1974 until his death in 1987. At the request of the Sixteenth Karmapa, she received the full bikshuni ordination in the Chinese lineage of Buddhism in 1981 in Hong Kong. Ani Pema served as the director of Karma Dzong in Boulder, Colorado until moving in 1984 to rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to be the director of Gampo Abbey. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave her explicit instructions on establishing this monastery for western monks and nuns. Ani Pema currently teaches in the United States and Canada and plans for an increased amount of time in solitary retreat under the guidance of Venerable Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche.