Ane Pema Chodron 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 (Go Bears!). 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, Ane 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 England at that time, and Ane Pema received her ordination from him.
Pema first met her root guru, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, (the "Vidyadhara") 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 Karmapa, she received the full bikshuni ordination in the Chinese lineage of Buddhism in 1981 in Hong Kong. She first met Ayya Khema at the first Buddhist nuns conference in Bodhgaya India in 1987, and they were close friends from that time until her death.
Ane 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. The Vidyadhara gave her explicit instructions on running Gampo Abbey. The
success of her first two books, The Wisdom of No Escape
and Start Where You Are,
made her something of a celebrity as a woman Buddhist teacher and as a specialist in the mahayana lojong teachings.
She and Judy Lief were instructed personally by the
Vidyadhara on lojong, "which is why I took off with it," she explains.
Pema has struggled with health problems in the past five years but her condition has improved and she anticipates
being well enough to continue teaching programs at Gampo Abbey
and in California. She plans for a simplified travel schedule with a predictable itinerary, as well as the opportunity
to spend an increased amount of time in solitary retreat under the guidance of Venerable Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche.
Pema is interested in helping establish Tibetan Buddhist monastacism in the West, as well in continuing her work with
western Buddhists of all traditions, sharing ideas and teachings. She has written five books: The Wisdom of No Escape, Start Where You Are,
When Things Fall Apart:
Heart Advice for Difficult Times and The Places That Scare You
and No Time to Lose are available from Shambhala Publications.
She recently completed a new book called "Practicing Peace in Times of War" that will be published by Shambhala Publications later in 2006.
Photo by Christine Alicino.