Daily Lojong

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:16 am

Today's slogan is #41, Two activities: One in the beginning and one in the end. Other translations: At the Beginning and the End, Two Things to Be Done. There are Two Duties: at the Beginning and the End.

Commentary:
Jamgon Kongtrul wrote:At the beginning, as soon as you wake up in the morning, generate very strongly the impetus:
Today, I shall keep the two bodhicittas with me.

During the day, maintain them with continuous mindfulness. At the end, when you go to sleep in the evening, examine your thoughts and actions of the day. If there were infringements of bodhicitta, enumerate the instances and acknowledge them, and make a commitment that such will not occur in the future. If there have been no infringements, meditate joyfully and pray that you and all other beings may be able to engage in bodhicitta even more effectively in the future. Practice these two activities regularly. Take the same approach to any infringements or violations of ordination.
Rabten & Dhargyey wrote:Every morning when we rise, instead of planning pointless activities that waste our time we should resolve to turn all actions of our body, speech, and mind toward the cultivation of the unsurpassable awakening mind. At the end of the day, we should meditate on the actions we have performed and try to recollect them all. If we have benefited either ourselves or others, we should rejoice and dedicate any merit toward the ultimate benefit of all. If, on the contrary, we have spent the day in useless activities, we should take caution against repeating such actions and make the decision to work from now onward with more awareness and intelligence.
Chogyam Trungpa wrote:The point of this slogan is to begin and end each day with twofold Bodhicitta. In the morning you should remember Bodhicitta and take the attitude of not separating yourself from it, and at the end of the day, you should examine what you have done. If you have not separated yourself from twofold Bodhicitta, you should be delighted and vow to take the same attitude again the next day. And if you were separated from Bodhicitta, you should vow to reconnect with it the next day.
When you get up in the morning, as soon as you get up, to start off your day you promise yourself that you will work on twofold Bodhicitta and develop a sense of gentleness toward yourself and others. You promise not to blame the world and other sentient beings and to take their pain on yourself. When you go to bed, you do the same thing. In that way both your sleep and the day that follows are influenced by that commitment.
The "two bodhicittas" are the relative/absolute dynamic found in many Buddhist teachings. Pema Chödrön explores the matter thoroughly in this article.

Here's my stab at it.

Bodhicitta relative to what? To other beings and their experienced suffering. Bodhicitta absolute in what way? Awakened mind in itself, i.e. the direct perception of the illusory nature of all divisions, including between self/other. Said another way, "relative bodhicitta" is compassion as the buddhas' activity. "Absolute bodhicitta" is compassion as the buddhas' mind. It's like the sun: it sends forth warming rays of light because that is its nature. Likewise, absolute and relative bodhicitta are indivisible: the only place they are separated is in words.

From another angle, buddhas and bodhisattvas help beings spontaneously, effortlessly. We experience a foretaste of this when we reach out automatically to catch a friend who trips, or we feel our heart fill with anguish at the sight of a wounded animal. The difference between our bodhicitta and the buddhas' is we are often bound by our situations and personalities (i.e. our karma) and cannot help beings as we wish. Buddhas are not bound in this way.

Having some idea of what "two bodhicittas" might mean, let's get back to the slogan. I love how easy it is to bring into our lives, no matter what practice we do.

Upon waking, we immediately align our intention for the day: to bring what we have learned into our real lives in order to benefit others. This can take place in a formal way during a morning practice session. An example is this verse from Patrul Rinpoche in "Words of my Perfect Teacher":
Patrul Rinpoche wrote:May Bodhicitta, precious and sublime,
Arise where it has not yet come to be;
And where it has arisen may it never fail,
But grow and flourish even more.
What a beautiful way to begin the day!

Then, after our day is done, we perform a sort of review of how we did, remembering and repenting for the ways we acted out of delusion. Having reflected in this way, we renew our vows to do better tomorrow.

I'd like to explore repentance some.

First, "repentance" looks like a heavy word, some sort of self-flagellation over sin. But repentance here is not about fault-finding or guilt. Why? Because in Mahayana Buddhism, humans are not innately sinful or irredeemable. In fact, the exact opposite. The mind is understood to be, as Bokar Rinpoche put it, like a white cloth which has been sullied by greed, hatred, and delusion. Since the cloth is white, it can become white again. Coal can never become white.

This is the supreme optimism of Buddhism: that we have, even in latent form, a fundamentally aware nature which spontaneously manifests immeasurable compassion, like the sun and its rays. What impedes this nature from manifesting fully? The veils of delusion, which themselves are transitory and compounded. Since they are transitory and compounded, they can be "washed out" like stains from the cloth with the detergent of study and practice. :reading: Awareness of these stains as stains and not as our basic nature is at the heart of repentance.

There are many repentance and purification practices. In the case of this slogan, I think something simpler is being referenced: I aspired to practice kindness today, and I managed to cultivate loving-kindness for fellow passengers on the bus. I aspired to be less angry today. I bit back my tongue when I stubbed my toe but was impatient with my wife later.

Specific examples, specific aspirations. Bodhicitta isn't off in the clouds; it's down here, arms-deep in the muck, like Kshitigarbha who pries open the gates of hell with his staff and plunges in, seeking beloved sentient beings.

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:50 am

41. Two Activities: One in the beginning and one in the end.
I have one commentary at this time: Training the Mind in the Great Way by Gyalwa Gendun Druppa, the First Dalai Lama (1391-1474). He tends to keep it simple and it comes down to this. In the morning set a strong motivation not to be influenced by self-cherishing. At night check up. Where you know you missed, apply the four opponents (regret, reliance, remedy, and resolve). Then dedicate both your virtuous motivations and your purification practices to enlightenment for the sake of all beings.

I believe this is the method of the yogi (whose name I forget) whose primary practice throughout the day was to put a black pebble in a bag every time he let his self-cherishing take over, and a white one each time he acted selflessly. Then at night he'd count the pebbles to see how he'd done.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:59 am

I wonder if he was happy if white won? :smile:
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by dzogchungpa » Sun Oct 08, 2017 5:58 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:59 am
I wonder if he was happy if white won? :smile:

According to the version of the story told here, he was. :smile:
If you focus on an object, you are not meditating. - Dudjom Rinpoche

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:50 am

Thanks for sharing! Great teaching story.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Sun Oct 08, 2017 2:42 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 5:58 am
Wayfarer wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:59 am
I wonder if he was happy if white won? :smile:

According to the version of the story told here, he was. :smile:
Yes! That's an excellent rendition of the story! The conclusion says it all:
The way he went about his spiritual practice was that whenever he found himself acting destructively and negatively, he would get uptight and be extremely vigilant; whereas whenever he was acting positively and constructively, he would allow himself to relax. He used to say, “This is my manner of practice.”
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:05 pm

42. Whichever of the two occurs, be patient
Summarizing Gyalwa Gendun Druppa, when successes and good things come your way, don’t indulge in pride. Welcome them as aids on the path and move on. When setbacks and bad things happen, don’t wallow in them. Welcome them as facilitators of your developing patience. In all things consider the contrasts with beings in different circumstances or other realms. Be present and aware to witness the flow of impermanence and inter-dependencies.

This one reminds me of Shunryu Suzuki's "nothing special".
Of course, whatever we do is the expression of our true nature, but without this practice it is difficult to realize. It is our human nature to be active and the nature of every existence. As long as we are alive, we are always doing something. But as long as you think, "I am doing this," or "I have to do this," or "I must attain something special," you are actually not doing anything. When you give up, when you no longer want something, or when you do not try to do anything special, then you do something.
...
It is just you yourself, nothing special.
...
Thus even though you do not do anything, you are actually doing something. You are expressing yourself. You are expressing your true nature. Your eyes will express; your voice will express; your demeanor will express.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:08 pm

Other translations: Whichever of the Opposites Occurs, Be Patient. Bear Whichever of the Two Occurs.

Commentary:
Jamgon Kongtrul wrote:If you become utterly destitute and are suffering greatly, consider your previous karma. Without being resentful or depressed, take up all the sufferings and evil of others and work hard at ways to clear away evil actions and obscurations. If you find yourself very happy and comfortable, surrounded by great wealth and servants, don't succumb to carelessness or indifference. Use the wealth for virtuous projects, use your power constructively, and pray for all sentient beings to have the same comfort and happiness. In short, whichever occurs, happiness or suffering, be patient.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote:Through faith in the Three Jewels and the practice of generosity, it could happen that, by way of karmic fruit, we become rich, gain a high position in society and so on. This might lead us to think, "I am rich, I am important, I am the best, I have come out on top." If we practitioners have this kind of arrogance, our clinging to this life will increase and a demon will enter our hearts. If, on the other hand, we manage to enjoy happiness, possessions and influence without pride, we will understand that they are nothing but illusions, insubstantial dreams, all of which will one day fade away. For as it is said of all compounded things, "what is accumulated will be used up; what is raised up will fall; what is born will die; what is joined together will separate." "Who knows," we should tell ourselves, "perhaps tomorrow I shall have to say goodbye to all of this. Therefore, I will offer my teachers and the Three Jewels the best of my contentment and possessions. May they accept it with joy and bless me so that I might have no obstacles on the path. All of it is just a pleasant dream, but may all beings experience such happiness as mine, and even more." On the other hand, when we are in such poor shape that we cannot even practice, that we have strong emotions and feelings of irritation, fighting and quarreling with everyone, we should reflect, "I know that everything is illusory; I will therefore not allow myself to be carried away by my feelings. I will not be a coward! I will shoulder the weakness, poverty, illness and death of other beings." To put it briefly, we should be able to think that, provided that the precious Bodhicitta does not decrease in us, who cares if we have to go to the lower realms, who cares if we lose our possessions? Come what may, like beggars with a precious jewel, we will not forsake Bodhicitta.
As both of the above teachers mentioned, there is a tendency to feel our practice is going well when we experience good fortune or a positive mood. Likewise, we feel our practice is going badly when the opposite occurs.

But as B. Alan Wallace stated in his commentary (very similar to DKR's so I didn't post it), these sorts of things are a result of karma. And karma which may be from past lives beyond our recollection at that! So if we base our decisions on some "what's in it for me" assessment of karma, i.e. whether things to go well or not, we're just acting from selfishness, regardless of Buddhist clothes we put it in. If our daily goal is to progress towards awakening for the ultimate good of others, why would it matter if it's raining or sunny?

I really like the emphasis on "patience". Patience is one of the Six Paramitas, along with dana (generosity), sila (morality), virya (effort), dhyana (concentration) and prajna (wisdom). The lovely thing about the Paramitas is they're like jewels in Indra's Net: each reflects and contains the image of the others.

To give unconditionally (dana), we need patience in the face of ingratitude and our own stinginess. To refrain from harm and cultivate good (morality), we need patience with our own engrained habits and shortcomings. To put forth the effort and diligence needed to practice, we need patience with setbacks and slow progress. To cultivate concentration, we need patience with distractions and discomfort. And to gain any sort of wisdom, we need plenty of patience to cultivate and find it.

The other side of the coin is "patience" with good fortune. That is a real challenge for me... when I get a big paycheck or experience some progress in meditation, how will I respond? "Finally, MY efforts are paying off. Everybody come look at my sign of attainment!" :geek: Well no, bodhicitta isn't a way to get rich or win a free cruise to Dewachen. It takes patience to step back and realize that even good things are compounded and will change. This lets us keep them in perspective: if I will turn misfortune into medicine, I shouldn't turn good fortune into poison.

Here is further reading on the Eight worldly concerns by Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Those pairs of worldly concerns are the "two" mentioned by the slogan. And they can be summed up by the title of the article: Disappointment and Delight.

Some more reading material on the Six Paramitas, or Six Perfections, of which Patience is one:
* http://www.rinpoche.com/teachings/paramitas.htm
* http://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-mas ... -paramitas
* https://studybuddhism.com/en/tibetan-bu ... -paramitas
* http://www.abrc.org.au/page40.html

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sun Oct 08, 2017 6:11 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:05 pm
42. Whichever of the two occurs, be patient
Summarizing Gyalwa Gendun Druppa, when successes and good things come your way, don’t indulge in pride. Welcome them as aids on the path and move on. When setbacks and bad things happen, don’t wallow in them. Welcome them as facilitators of your developing patience. In all things consider the contrasts with beings in different circumstances or other realms. Be present and aware to witness the flow of impermanence and inter-dependencies.

This one reminds me of Shunryu Suzuki's "nothing special".
Of course, whatever we do is the expression of our true nature, but without this practice it is difficult to realize. It is our human nature to be active and the nature of every existence. As long as we are alive, we are always doing something. But as long as you think, "I am doing this," or "I have to do this," or "I must attain something special," you are actually not doing anything. When you give up, when you no longer want something, or when you do not try to do anything special, then you do something.
...
It is just you yourself, nothing special.
...
Thus even though you do not do anything, you are actually doing something. You are expressing yourself. You are expressing your true nature. Your eyes will express; your voice will express; your demeanor will express.
Thanks for getting the ball rolling today, Jeff! I'm pretty late sometimes due to work.

I have a deep affection for Suzuki. He's very good at condensing teachings into lojong slogan-esque sayings that stick with you for years. I have a little framed painting of the phrase "beginner's mind" in my living room in homage :) The line you quoted with "you are actually not doing anything" made me laugh. That line makes me think of "Waiting For Godot," a play in which the characters basically spend two days "not doing anything" with a great many words and strange behaviors. That's samsara in a nutshell, isn't it?

Something else that came to mind with this slogan too is how being patient with ups and downs is a function of equanimity, one of the Four Immeasurables. I love the simile of Indra's Net because so many of these teachings reinforce each other.

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:42 pm

43. Observe These Two Even at the Risk of Your Life
The website says the two are the refuge and bodhicitta vows.

Gyalwa Gendun Druppa says they are the precepts one resolves for oneself and the precepts of the guru (samaya?). He then discusses the "general and specific commitments", where specific refers to the sixteen lojong principles in the previous section (#23-38) and general refers to “all other Buddhist commitments, especially going for refuge and abandoning harmful thoughts and actions”.

The Foundation of All Good Qualities says,
At that time [upon entering the Vajrayana], the basis of accomplishing the two attainments
Is keeping pure vows and samaya.
As I have become firmly convinced of this,
Please bless me to protect these vows and pledges like my life.
Berzin seems to bring it home for me, though, by asking two questions: “Can we actually keep self-discipline? Are we able to keep commitments?” And the reference to putting one’s life on the line is a strong indicator of the seriousness needed to persevere.

I look forward to seeing what your commentaries say and your reflections, MT.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:01 pm

Thanks, Jeff! It's nice to join forces as it were :mrgreen:

An additional translation: Guard Both Points More Preciously Than Your Life.

Commentary:
B. Alan Wallace wrote:The "two" referred to here are, first, any precepts we have taken on ourselves in general in our dharma practice, and second, the specific pledges, precepts, and practices of this Mind Training. Guard these, Geshe Chekawa says, even at the cost of our life. This is a demanding statement, and very earnestly meant. There are some things more precious than one's life. Several lamas have commented to me that there is no value in a long life if it is dominated by unwholesome actions of body, speech, and mind. Obviously, in such a life one is simply polluting one's stream of consciousness, sowing seeds year after year for the repercussions of further suffering and misery. What is it that brings value and benefit to the very core of a life? It is our dharma practice. Rather than sacrifice our spiritual practice, it is better to sacrifice a life.
Jamgon Kongtrul wrote:Since all present and future happiness comes from carefully observing the general precepts of dharma contained in the three ordinations and the particular precepts of mind training with their corresponding commitments, observe both these sets of precepts even at the risk of your life. Moreover, whatever you do, observe them not from a concern and consideration for your own welfare but only with the intention of being helpful to others.
Rabten & Dhargyey wrote:The first point is the general advice of Dharma practice to refrain from committing the ten unwholesome deeds. The second point refers to the specific commitments regarding thought transformation and generating the awakening mind. In order to abandon this self-cherishing attitude completely, we should constantly keep the vow of cherishing others. When we follow the Mahayana path, we must hold both these points more carefully than we would our own life. In a situation where we have to choose, we should be willing to sacrifice our life before abandoning the Dharma. It is true that in this way our brief life will be lost, but the consequences of relinquishing the awakening mind are far worse. Although we might gain some temporary benefit, we shall not be able to escape the more extensive misery of the three unfortunate realms in the future.
---

This sounds like a tall order... Even if it kills you, uphold your practice!

The famous Parable of the Saw seems relevant:
"Monks, even if bandits were to savagely sever you, limb by limb, with a double-handled saw, even then, whoever of you harbors ill will at heart would not be upholding my Teaching. Monks, even in such a situation you should train yourselves thus: 'Neither shall our minds be affected by this, nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred. On the contrary, we shall live projecting thoughts of universal love to those very persons, making them as well as the whole world the object of our thoughts of universal love — thoughts that have grown great, exalted and measureless. We shall dwell radiating these thoughts which are void of hostility and ill will.' It is in this way, monks, that you should train yourselves.
How we could ever become this fearless? A place to start is the Four Thoughts That Turn The Mind. What do the thoughts turn us from? Samsara, suffering. What do they turn the mind to? The Dharma, freedom.

The Four Thoughts are, briefly:

1. the precious opportunity this human life presents. A lengthier explanation is benefiting from the Eight Freedoms and the Ten Advantages.

2. the impermanence of life, e.g. the uncertain time and manner of death

3. the defects or disadvantages of samsara; everything from daily annoyances to life-altering tragedies to cyclical rebirth

4. karma, e.g. how easy it is to commit unwholesome acts, how hard it is to practice virtue, how strongly past conditioning binds us, how beings are propelled through the six realms by their karma, etc.

These Four Thoughts diagnose our condition, reminding why the time to practice is here and now, without delay.

They're also a source of joy because they contextualize the preciousness of the Dharma. Amongst all this samsara and after an incredibly long time, we've encountered this Dharma which leads to highest perfect awakening, an end to all states of woe, recognition of our fundamentally compassionate and joyful nature... and the drive to bring this peace and wellness to every being in every realm. Wow!

I forget this. I get discouraged when things don't go well. I worry about doubts. Grief intrudes. If it's late at night, I think, "I can do my practice tomorrow." Practicing in the face of greater challenges than these is the spiritual courage this slogan inspires :)

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:36 pm

Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:01 pm
...I forget this. I get discouraged when things don't go well. I worry about doubts. Grief intrudes. If it's late at night, I think, "I can do my practice tomorrow." Practicing in the face of greater challenges than these is the spiritual courage this slogan inspires :)
I like your inclusion of the Parable of the Saw and this conclusion. It puts the emphasis of the quote on, quite literally, devoting one's life to the Dharma, which is represented in various ways by "observing these two".

I'm currently learning The Song of the Vajra and working through ChNN's Precious Vase, and last week a particular passage in PV seemed to "click" about how I'm not making the best use of my time. That's part of what drew me to this lojong project of yours.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:28 pm

44. Train in the Three Difficulties
Gyalwa Gendun Druppa says, these three are difficult so train often to gain familiarity in combating them: 1. Recognize and identify a deluded thought; 2. Apply the specific opponent to counteract it in the present; and 3.) Apply the general antidote, emptiness, to prevent it arising again.

I think the take-away here is to fully realize that these three things are very difficult and extremely important. They require constant vigilance and repetitive practice over time for us to become effective in their application. Shantideva becomes quite passionate on the subject in chapter four:
34. If thus my ancient and unceasing foes,
The wellspring only of my growing pain,
Can lodge so safe within my heart,
How can I live so blithe and fearless in this wheel of life?


43. This shall be my all-consuming passion.
Filled with rancor I will wage my war!
Defilement of this kind will halt defilement
And for this reason it shall not be spurned.


46. Miserable defilements, scattered by the eye of wisdom!
Where will you now run, when driven from my mind?
Whence would you return to do me harm?
But oh, my mind is feeble. I am indolent!

47. Defilements are not in the object,
Nor within the faculties, nor somewhere in between.
And if not elsewhere, where is their abode,
Whence they inflict their havoc on the world?
They are simple mirages, and so take heart!
Banish all your fear and strive to know their nature.
Why suffer needlessly the pains of hell?

48. This is how I should reflect and labor,
That I might apply the precepts thus set forth.
What invalids in need of medicine
Ignored their doctor’s words and gained their health?
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:52 pm

Lovely, thank you so much! I always find Shantideva so relatable.

Additional translation: Practice the Three Hardships.

Commentary:
Pema Chodron wrote:"Train in the three difficulties" is my favorite slogan because it acknowledges that this path is difficult, all right, but it's a good way to spend our time. There are three difficulties. The first is seeing neurosis as neurosis, and the second is being willing to do something different. The third difficulty is the aspiration to make this a way of life.
Rabten & Dhargyey wrote:It is difficult to recognize when emotional afflictions arise, it is difficult to turn them away and suppress them, and it is difficult to sever their continuity. Only by meditating earnestly shall we be successful in overcoming these three hardships.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote:These are the difficult practices of mindfulness, of expulsion and of 'interrupting the flow.'
As for the first of these, the difficult practice of mindfulness, it is necessary to recognize afflictive emotions as soon as they arise and it is hard, at first, to remain sufficiently aware to be able to do this. However, when negative emotions arise, we should identify them as anger, desire or stupidity. Even when emotions have been recognized, it is not easy to drive them out with the antidote. If, for instance, an uncontrollably strong emotion comes over us, so that we feel helplessly in its power, we should nevertheless confront it and question it. Where are its weapons? Where are its muscles? Where is its great army and its political strength? We will see that emotions are just insubstantial thoughts, by nature empty: they come from nowhere, they go nowhere, they remain nowhere. When we are able to repel our defiled emotions, there comes the difficult practice of 'interrupting the flow,' This means that, on the basis of the antidote described, defiled emotions are eliminated just like a bird flying through the air: no trace is left behind. These are practices in which we should really strive.
Said another way:
Buddhavagga, v. 183 wrote:To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
It is always the right time for Step 1. Whether the bottle is in your hand or in the fridge or to your lips, when you realize what this is, right there is the right time to admit that these are the seeds of future suffering. It's never too late or too hard, even if it is very hard.

The antidote of Step 2 I hear as whatever our practice is: is it Mahasi-style noting, "lust lust lust"? Is it mantra, "om mani peme hung om mani peme hung"? Is it the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, "tension in the mind, hard bottle in the hand"? Is it the gradual training of seeing the drawbacks? Divine pride? The moment the practice is taken up again, the seeds of suffering are set aside and we instead sow benefit.

Step 3 seems to be a general practice life. It's only because we miss the empty nature of an unpleasant or pleasant phenomenon that we proceed to act from ignorance as though it were real, making all kinds of trouble. And the way to gain insight is through practice. When the affliction in question has many years of "training" to see it a certain way, like a drug addiction, this is no small feat. So I'm glad to see these called "Difficulties" or "Hardships".

One nuance in the commentaries I find really interesting is in Rabten & Dhargyey's "it is difficult to sever their continuity", the continuity of afflictions. What is the continuity? The illusion of an enduring person with such and such qualities and the sense of "I am". It's an illusion renewed a hundred thousand times a day, and which Dharma practice is uniquely equipped to probe. And it's only in the story of this person called "I" that things like bad habits, hurt feelings, etc. can take root and be played out time and time again. That's why even the sense of "I" is a kind of affliction: it's a basic misunderstanding which leads to a lot of trouble. Interrupt this day-long daydream, and we also stop telling more lies about the real nature and outcome of unskillful acts.

"Sever" is fairly final, so I also hear in these words that it takes effort to realize the fruit of practice: insight into emptiness, including of this person and life.

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by TharpaChodron » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:38 pm

Hey, I just want to say thanks for this thread. Your thoughts on the sayings are very interesting and helpful. :)

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:53 pm

Thanks for that, TharpaChodron :)

DKR's advice is really wonderful too, when we feel so tied down by an impulse or emotion to question it directly. It made me think of these Zen stories that Astus shared once:
Huike said to Bodhidharma, “My mind is anxious. Please pacify it.” To which Bodhidharma replied, “Bring me your mind, and I will pacify it.” Huike said, “Although I’ve sought it, I cannot find it.” Bodhidharma then said, “There, I have pacified your mind.”

Daoxin said, “I ask for the master’s compassion. Please tell me of the gate of emancipation.” Sengcan said, “Who has bound you?” Daoxin said, “No one has bound me.” Sengcan said, “Then why are you seeking emancipation?” Upon hearing these words, Daoxin experienced great enlightenment.

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TharpaChodron
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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by TharpaChodron » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:00 am

Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:53 pm
Thanks for that, TharpaChodron :)

DKR's advice is really wonderful too, when we feel so tied down by an impulse or emotion to question it directly. It made me think of these Zen stories that Astus shared once:
Huike said to Bodhidharma, “My mind is anxious. Please pacify it.” To which Bodhidharma replied, “Bring me your mind, and I will pacify it.” Huike said, “Although I’ve sought it, I cannot find it.” Bodhidharma then said, “There, I have pacified your mind.”

Daoxin said, “I ask for the master’s compassion. Please tell me of the gate of emancipation.” Sengcan said, “Who has bound you?” Daoxin said, “No one has bound me.” Sengcan said, “Then why are you seeking emancipation?” Upon hearing these words, Daoxin experienced great enlightenment.
Since you previously said you hope to hear how the Lojong training comes into practice in our daily life...putting the teachings into practice daily for me is very difficult, like DKR says. I came into work today, thinking "how will I put it into practice today" and instantly I was thrown into the most dreadful pit of samsaric hell I could imagine. Simply trying to be a compassionate, fair, sensible person is not enough. Ultimately faced with the reality that you will piss someone off, probably many people at least several times a day, regardless of how much you wish not to, creates a lot of frustration, anxiety, and sadness.

So, how do I relate the teaching of applying the antidotes to that. Emptiness sounds easy when you're walking along a lovely river scene. Every time I felt my heart begin to race, my muscles clench, I thought about emptiness and that I had no self to protect. That all my responses were a product of ultimately me wanting to protect myself. If I didn't have that going on, why would I care. I am trying to become emotionally detached from the drama that others want to project on me. it's very challenging, but I give it my best. It would be great if I found some actual improvement in my abilities and any suggestions would be more than welcome!

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:52 pm

TharpaChodron wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:00 am
So, how do I relate the teaching of applying the antidotes to that. Emptiness sounds easy when you're walking along a lovely river scene. Every time I felt my heart begin to race, my muscles clench, I thought about emptiness and that I had no self to protect. That all my responses were a product of ultimately me wanting to protect myself. If I didn't have that going on, why would I care. I am trying to become emotionally detached from the drama that others want to project on me. it's very challenging, but I give it my best. It would be great if I found some actual improvement in my abilities and any suggestions would be more than welcome!
Well said and sooo true!! When I practiced karate I found all the repetitive exercises and katas improved over time, but even controlled sparring situations seemed more like brawling than applying technique. Also, as a family therapist I worked with a partner on home visits for awhile. We were both deeply dedicated to our work and concerned about our clients. We would study and discuss in the office constantly, and case conference on the way to each visit. But all our "planning" rarely worked out in the actual sessions. Still, our concern and preparation made it possible to work with whatever happened, and sometimes something significant would gel.

I think that any important activity, especially acting virtuously in samsara, requires internalizing the principles so thoroughly that they emerge when needed without any forethought. That can't happen quickly or even in a linear progression. I'd suggest not expecting results while at the same time being alert for those isolated times when you can look back and say, "Oh. That worked." I think those moments, however rare, constitute "actual improvement".
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:03 pm

TharpaChodron wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:00 am
Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:53 pm
Thanks for that, TharpaChodron :)

DKR's advice is really wonderful too, when we feel so tied down by an impulse or emotion to question it directly. It made me think of these Zen stories that Astus shared once:
Huike said to Bodhidharma, “My mind is anxious. Please pacify it.” To which Bodhidharma replied, “Bring me your mind, and I will pacify it.” Huike said, “Although I’ve sought it, I cannot find it.” Bodhidharma then said, “There, I have pacified your mind.”

Daoxin said, “I ask for the master’s compassion. Please tell me of the gate of emancipation.” Sengcan said, “Who has bound you?” Daoxin said, “No one has bound me.” Sengcan said, “Then why are you seeking emancipation?” Upon hearing these words, Daoxin experienced great enlightenment.
Since you previously said you hope to hear how the Lojong training comes into practice in our daily life...putting the teachings into practice daily for me is very difficult, like DKR says. I came into work today, thinking "how will I put it into practice today" and instantly I was thrown into the most dreadful pit of samsaric hell I could imagine. Simply trying to be a compassionate, fair, sensible person is not enough. Ultimately faced with the reality that you will piss someone off, probably many people at least several times a day, regardless of how much you wish not to, creates a lot of frustration, anxiety, and sadness.

So, how do I relate the teaching of applying the antidotes to that. Emptiness sounds easy when you're walking along a lovely river scene. Every time I felt my heart begin to race, my muscles clench, I thought about emptiness and that I had no self to protect. That all my responses were a product of ultimately me wanting to protect myself. If I didn't have that going on, why would I care. I am trying to become emotionally detached from the drama that others want to project on me. it's very challenging, but I give it my best. It would be great if I found some actual improvement in my abilities and any suggestions would be more than welcome!
We can assume much of our karma and habits are lifetimes old, to start with. Now you have encountered the teachings and are earnestly applying yourself. It's termed "going against the stream" for a reason, and it's a hardship to practice sometimes. But it's a greater hardship to remain mired in samsara.

I think part of that kind of distress is actually growing awareness of the situation and how deep our afflictions truly run, not necessarily some shortcoming or lack of progress. The only answer is to renew your vows and practice as Jeff said.

But I'm a stranger on the internet so :smile: Please take heart in any case!

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:08 pm

45. Take On the Three Principal Causes (of Buddhahood)
The card identifies the three as: 1.) Have spiritual friends and teachers; 2.) Prioritize mind training; 3.) Maintain right livelihood.

GGD says, 1.) Internally recognize and cultivate your capability to realize the Dharma. Then externally, 2.) Rely on a teacher and 3.) Sustain yourself with right livelihood. Check to see if you have these three and to whatever extent you do, develop them and utilize them in a sincere effort to realize enlightenment. To whatever extent they are lacking, apply tong len, taking and giving, to keep in mind similar beings who also lack the causes and conditions to attain Buddhahood.

Berzin says:
The three major causes are those for being able to practice this training of our attitudes. The first is to meet a spiritual teacher who can give us teachings and inspire us to follow them; the second cause is to actually practice the teachings; the third is to have favorable circumstances for practicing the teachings. These favorable circumstances are basically to be satisfied with modest food, modest housing, modest clothing and so on, and not being preoccupied with how much we can get for me. If we’re earning a sufficient amount of money, for example, we should be satisfied with that rather than wanting more and more, so that we can use our energy to focus on helping others.
There seems to be some variation in these interpretations, but perhaps it is like this:
1. If you can practice buddhdharma, then do it.
2. You'll need guidance, so find a reliable teacher.
3. You'll need support, so obtain your necessities appropriately and keep good company.
All under the canopy of keeping the myriad beings who presently lack such principle causes upper most in your mind.

776
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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