Lojong #15 Four practices…

Four practices are the best of methods.

The challenge here is remembering what the four practices are! They don’t have simple, easy identifiers, and they’re fairly complicated as well as involving a lot of Tibetan traditional ideas, so it’s difficult.

Practice one is accumulating merit: Trungpa emphasizes the sense of veneration of the practice, being grateful for whatever comes up, and learning to let go of possessiveness. It also includes the idea of ‘no hope, no fear’ so that we are just welcoming everything and not hoping to get something out of the practice or fearful of it not working out for us. This involves the very difficult notion of giving up our scheming to get pleasure and avoid pain.

Practice two is laying down evil deeds: this is done by looking deeply into your own life, seeing your mistakes clearly and surrendering to the truth of your life. “Evil deeds” is better understood as ‘neurotic crimes’ of a psychological nature.

Practice three is offering to the dons (feeding the ghosts): the idea of the dons is the source of all one’s misfortune, and the practice is to welcome these attacks because they show us that we have slipped from the path of mindfulness.

Practice four is offering to the dharmapalas (protectors of the teachings): this is asking for the things to happen that will remind us to stay on the path and show us when we’ve slipped.

Though these seem a bit obscure and complex, they are ideas that grow in one’s mind over time and help deal with difficult life situations. Understanding them, seeing them clearly, is not likely to happen quickly, but we just keep working with them and the truth of it seeps into our hearts so that when needed, the understanding arises.

 

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