Pema Chodron taught in elementary school for many years in New Mexico and California.
Pema traveled to the French Alps and encountered Lama Chime Rinpoche, with whom she studied for a few years. She became a nun in 1974 while studying with Lama Chime in London. His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa came to England at that time, and Pema received her ordination from him.
Pema first met her root teacher, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1972. Lama Chime inspired her to work with Rinpoche, and it was with him that she finally made her most profound connection, studying with him from 1974 until his death in 1987. At the request of the Sixteenth Karmapa, she got the full monastic ordination in the Chinese lineage of Buddhism in 1981 in Hong Kong.
Pema served as the director of Karma Dzong, in Boulder, until moving in 1984 to rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to lead Gampo Abbey. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche asked her to work towards the establishment of a monastery for western monks and nuns.
Now Pema 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.
Pema is interested in helping establish the monastic tradition in the West, as well in keeping up her work with Buddhists of all traditions, sharing ideas and teachings. She has written several books: “The Wisdom of No Escape”, “Start Where You Are”, “When Things Fall Apart”, “The Places that Scare You”, “No Time to Lose” and “Practicing Peace in Times of War”, and most recently, “Smile at Fear”.