Pema Chödrön is a well-known and beloved American-born Buddhist nun and author of many spiritual classics. She currently teaches in the United States and Canada, and is planning for an increased amount of time in solitary retreat. She serves as the resident teacher at Gampo Abbey Monastery in Nova Scotia and is a student of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche and the late Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
Born in 1936 in New York City, she graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and taught as an elementary school teacher for many years in both New Mexico and California.
In her mid-thirties, 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 Pema received her ordination from him.
Pema first met her root guru, Chögyam 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.
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. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave her explicit instructions on establishing this monastery for western monks and nuns.
Pema is interested in helping establish Tibetan Buddhist monasticism in the West, as well as continuing her work with western Buddhists of all traditions, sharing ideas and teachings. Her nonprofit organization, the Pema Chödrön Foundation, was set up to assist in this purpose.
She is the author of several books, including The Wisdom of No Escape, Start Where You Are, When Things Fall Apart, The Places that Scare You, No Time To Lose, Practicing Peace in Times of War, How to Meditate, and Living Beautifully.