Another round with the Lojong slogans!
Beginning today, I will do one each day, and try to post commentary here. I’ll probably just re-post the ones I’ve already shared here, with added comments as appropriate, and then continue all the way thru number 59.
Lojong, or mind training, is a daily practice from the Kadampa tradition in Tibetan Buddhism. These slogans were laid out in The Great Path of Awakening by J. Kongtrul, and are presented here as interpreted by Chogyam Trungpa in Training the Mind: Cultivating Loving-kindness.
I recommend reading both of these books, as well as looking for a real teacher, if these teachings seem interesting and helpful to you.
My intention here – beyond motivating myself to dwell on the slogan each day – is to simply introduce this practice, not to try to teach it. It is a fairly advanced meditation practice, and not something I would try to teach anyone. But sharing my own process of working with these slogans seems to have the possibility of helping others to see their application to whatever spiritual path one is on.
The slogans are very down-to-earth, practical admonitions (for the most part) in ways of thinking and being that will help one to stay on that path. They point out both positive ways for maintaining commitment and daily practice as well as potential traps to avoid. Trunpa says the slogans constitute a manual on how to handle life properly, a ‘grandmotherly fingerpoint’ to practice and the spiritual life.
The teachings assume that one has done considerable work in basic meditation – as Point One clarifies – and is committed to a serious spiritual practice. The main meditation practice referred to in the slogans, tonglen, is a powerful practice that requires a basic understanding of the truth that ‘self’ and ‘other’ are mistaken concepts, illusions that arise from our essential ignorance.
Only in this understanding can one grasp the meaning – even the possibility! – of a practice that suggests we take in all the bad stuff around us and then breathe out all that we have that is good. It turns our normal way of looking at the world on its head.
But properly understood and practiced, it is a powerful way to transform one’s life and transform the negative influences that surround us.
If it is helpful to you, dive in deeper and learn the practice. I welcome questions and comments here!
POINT ONE: THE PRELIMINARIES
Slogan #1: First, Train in the Preliminaries
The Preliminaries means shamatha meditation – basic, formless meditation.
This also includes the idea of the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind (to the path of Enlightenment): 1. the precious opportunity of a human life; 2. impermanence and death; 3. the reality of karma (cause & effect); and 4. the suffering that is samsara – normal life.
Kongtrul, one of the early commentators on these slogans, says: “Take an attitude of devotion to the path of loving-kindness.”