Daily Lojong

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:54 pm

Very pithy, Jeff! :twothumbsup:

Other translations: Take up the Three Primary Resources. Three Things Maintain Inseparably.

Commentaries:
Jamgon Kongtrul wrote:The primary resources for working at dharma are a good guru, the proper practice of dharma with a workable mind, and suitable conditions for dharma practice - food, clothing, and so on. If these three are all available to you, take joy in that and pray that they be available to others, too. If they are not all available, meditate on compassion for others and take on yourself the deficiencies that all sentient beings experience in these primary resources. Pray that you and all others may have them.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote:
The three essential factors on which the accomplishment of the Dharma depends are: to meet with a qualified teacher; by receiving the instructions, to cultivate the correct attitude; and finally, to have the necessary material conditions.
If we do not follow a genuine master, we will never know how to practice the teachings. If the Buddha had not turned the Wheel of Dharma, we should not know what actions we should do and what actions we should refrain from. How can we, who have not had the fortune to meet the Buddha in person, practice the path of liberation if we do not follow a master? How else could we recognize paths which are mistaken and inferior? Moreover, just as we treat stiff leather with oil to make it smooth and supple, so too we should practice the teachings correctly, with a calm and docile attitude, undisturbed by afflictive emotions. Finally, living in the realm of desire, as we do, we find it impossible to practice the Dharma if we lack food to fill our stomachs and clothes to cover us against the wind.

If we have these three essential factors complete we should be happy at the thought that we have all that is necessary to practice the teachings. It is as though we have been equipped with a good horse for an uphill journey: the way will be without difficulty. And we should pray that all beings might be just as fortunate.

If, however, we do not possess all of these essential factors, we should reflect that though we have entered the Buddhadharma and received plenty of teachings and instructions, we still lack the conditions suitable for practice.

As a matter of fact, there are many disciples who are unable to practice properly because of this shortcoming. They have what is known as 'good karma going wrong.' As was explained before, 'Old yogis getting rich; old teachers getting married.' We should feel sorry for such people and pray from our hearts that the cause of their not having such favorable conditions might ripen on us and that, as a result, their situation might be improved.
Chogyam Trungpa wrote:The first cause is having a good teacher. The second cause is applying your mind and basic demeanor to the dharma. The third cause is having food and housing so that it is possible for you to practice the dharma. You should try to maintain those three situations and take delight that you have such opportunities.
To take on the first principal cause is to realize the necessity of the teacher, who actually allows you to get into situations. To take on the second principal cause is to realize that one's mind must be tamed. For instance, your mind might be into a business deal, or a teaching deal, or a book-writing deal, or into making a funny kind of monumental experience for yourself... This attitude was not all that prominent when Jamgon Kongtrul wrote his commentary on the slogans, but today we have a lot more choices.

To take on the third principal cause is to realize that it is possible for you to practice the dharma because of right circumstances, because you have taken an open attitude toward your life and have already worked out some kind of livelihood. Your food and clothes and shelter are taken care of, so economically you can afford to practice.
CT's commentary pretty much repeats what Jeff already posted, but I included it because I really like the line, "you can afford to practice." Money/time are a favorite excuse to not do any number of things, but CT is direct: now that you have these, what's your excuse for not practicing? By definition nearly any reason is rooted in delusion. Why? Because A) some form of practice is always possible, even the aspiration to be able to practice as JK said, and B) nothing less than our complete and total liberation from all troubles, including the ones which hamper Dharma practice, is at stake.

My own takeaway is that the slogan is a friendly poke in the ribs: hey, you found the Dharma, you have people teaching you, and you have a sound enough body and mind to make use of this... Get a move on!

(edit: got mixed up on the DKR commentary, this is the correct one now!)

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:58 pm

I'd just like to interject some related material here.

Tharpa Chodron's post earlier was very much on point with regard to lojong. The card-slogans we are looking at here are based on Geshe Chekawa's, Training the Mind in Seven Points. I think that the earlier work, Eight Verses for Training the Mind, more succinctly encapsulates the real magnitude of the goal of lojong. This is not short-term or light-weight training -- but it is very much at the heart of bodhichitta and patience.

MT is quite right that this mind training is "going against the stream" -- think salmon swimming up a waterfall dodging bears. (Sound more like your workday, TC?) Below I've posted Eight Verses, and on Berzin's website we find Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey's explanation of how Geshe Chekawa came to write Seven Points based on it.
Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey wrote:This text was composed in eight verses by Geshe Langri Tangpa (Langtangpa). This teaching can be traced back to the Kadam masters. Geshe Potowa, who was an incarnation of Manjushri, passed it to Geshe Sharawa and then to Geshe Langri Tangpa. These two are called the sun and moon of Kadam disciples.
...
The one who searched for this teaching was Geshe Chekawa, the author of the Seven Point Mind Training. While visiting a friend, he saw in a small pamphlet the line that says, “Give others your profit and take their blame on yourself.” In a flash he realized the usefulness of this in these degenerate times. He asked for its source and was directed to Penbo district to see Geshe Langtangpa, who had written it. When he got there, he found that Geshe Langtangpa had already passed away, and so he couldn’t get the oral transmission.
...
Then he went to a monastery where Geshe Sharawa was giving a discourse on ... a Hinayana text. ... He hoped to hear Mahayana words, but he heard none, so he was disappointed. After the discourse, Geshe Sharawa went to circumambulate the monastery, and Chekawa went to meet him. He took his monastic cushion cover with him, placed it on a platform, and asked him to stop and teach. Sharawa said, “I settled my disciples’ doubts on my throne at the discourse. Why stop me at such an odd place?” So Chekawa explained about the teaching that had impressed him so much and asked to hear more about it. Sharawa stopped reciting his mantra, wrapped his rosary around his wrist, and said, “Whether you’re impressed with this teaching or not, it is the only path to attaining enlightenment.”

...Sharawa said, “Nagarjuna is recognized by all Mahayanins as the pioneer of their tradition. They all accept him. This teaching is based on his verse ‘Accept the defeat on oneself and give the victory to others’ at the end of Ratnavali (The Precious Garland).” Then Chekawa made prostrations and said, “Please give me teachings on that.” Sharawa accepted. ... Chekawa spent fourteen years with Sharawa and became a great bodhisattva...
Eight Verses for Training the Mind.jpg
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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 7:41 pm

:bow: Thank you! Saved for future reference.

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:12 pm

Today's slogan is #46, Pay Heed that the Three Never Wane.

The daily card has this summary:
1. Remain devoted to your spiritual friends and teachers.
2. Stay enthusiastic and appreciative of mind training practice.
3. Continue to conduct yourself morally and maintain a refined conscience.
Other translations: Meditate on Three Things That Must Not Deteriorate. Meditate on the Three Undeclining Attitudes. Don't Allow Three Things to Weaken.

Commentaries:
Pema Chodron wrote:The three are gratitude to your teacher, gratitude to the teachings and the practices, and a commitment to keep the basic vows that you've taken. Gratitude to the teacher starts with making a commitment never to give up on that one person, who has also made a commitment never to give up on you. When I think of my own teacher I feel enormous gratitude continually, practically every moment of my life. It's gratitude that there was somebody who was brave enough and fierce enough and humorous enough and compassionate enough to get it through my thick skull that there's no place to hide. I feel gratitude to the teachings and the practices because they're good medicine and they help us to uncover that soft spot that's been covered over for a very long time.
Finally, we pay heed that the refuge vow and Bodhisattva vows never wane. The refuge vow is a commitment not to seek islands of safety any longer but to learn how to leap, how to fly, how to leave the nest and go into uncharted territory, no longer hampered by tiny, self-centered views and opinions. The Bodhisattva vow is high-stakes practice because it's about giving up privacy and the comfort orientation altogether as a way of awakening your heart further to yourself and to all sentient beings.

In general, we should pay heed that gratitude and appreciation for everything that happens to us never wane. Whether we consider what happens to us good fortune or ill fortune, appreciation for this life can wake us up and give us the courage we need to stay right there with whatever comes through the door.
B. Alan Wallace wrote:This concerns the three elements of spiritual practice that can degenerate, and how to prevent them from doing so. The first is the faith in one's spiritual mentor. Sechibuwa writes that all virtue on the Mahayana path depends on such faith and reverence. In the Bodhisattva aspect of the practice, this is achieved by looking upon the spiritual mentor as if he or she were a fully awakened Buddha. The purpose of this reverence is a quality of awareness that is extremely fertile for wholesome change, realization, and enthusiasm. Some texts even say that faith is the mother of all realizations.

The second element is not allowing our enthusiasm for the Mind Training to wane. Enthusiasm is indispensable to a fruitful spiritual practice. If the practice simply becomes a grind that we perform out of a sense of responsibility, it is not likely to last long or produce much good fruit.

The third element is not allowing our sense of conscience with respect to these practices to degenerate. Conscience here implies an inwardly directed alertness. If I do something in the privacy of my own room that is incompatible with dharma, I feel it. Insofar as we can maintain this quality of awareness when we engage in inappropriate actions of body, speech, or mind, this inner attentiveness responds quickly, saying, "This is an indulgence I don't want to pursue."

The counterpart to conscience is regard for others. If we demonstrate some crude behavior in the company of others, then our awareness steps in to remind us that this is not how we want to demonstrate our life to the world; this behavior is incompatible with our ideals. Although the awareness is publicly oriented, the bottom line is our own principles. Do not confuse this with getting hung up on what other people think. If I spend time in meditation, will they think I am a flake? If I pick up a caterpillar off the sidewalk and put it in a safe place, will they think I am strange? Such consideration for the opinion of others is misguided because in fact these actions are wholesome.
Dilgo Khyentse wrote:These are devotion, enthusiasm and Bodhicitta.
Devotion to our Teacher is the source of all the qualities of the Mahayana. If the Buddha himself were to appear in front of us and we were lacking in devotion to see his qualities, his blessings would be unable to enter us. If we have perfect confidence and devotion to see as positive all the activities of our Teacher - even if he is not a superior being - the wisdom of realization will effortlessly arise in us, as it did in Sadaprarudita, who through devotion to his Teacher realized the nature of emptiness. Thus our devotion is something that we must never allow to deteriorate.

To accustom oneself to Bodhicitta is like keeping a garden neat, without undergrowth, insects, lumps of wood and weeds. Let us practice it, bringing together all the qualities of the greater and lesser vehicles, so that we are like containers gradually filled with grain, or pots with drops of water.

Whatever we do, listening to the teachings, contemplating or meditating upon them, we should take it all as an aid in our training. If we are able to use the Bodhicitta to bring everything onto the path, wholesome states of mind and positive thoughts will develop extraordinarily. By using this antidote, we should reverse all negative emotions that have so far arisen. In that way we should keep the Bodhicitta as our constant friend.
I wanted to think a bit more about devotion, since it's the heart of this slogan.

I don't think devotion is necessarily a warm, fuzzy feeling like we sometimes think of. Nor is it a passionate motivation or blind adoration. The danger in steering one's practice life by these is that feelings are compounded things. That is, when their causes cease, so do the pleasant spiritual feelings. Seeking them is another way of thinking "I practice when I feel good" or worse "I practice when it makes me feel good." This erodes concern for others, bodhicitta.

So I think devotion in this case is a way of expressing the sincerity of refuge. Where do we find shelter in the downpour of samsara? In the Buddha's tent. In that way, refuge is not a feeling; it's a decision, repeated even a hundred times a day if necessary. Said another way, we deliberately turn from the causes of future suffering and instead turn towards the causes of future wellbeing, both for ourselves and others. Taking refuge is taking vows, and taking vows is bodhicitta.

Some extra reading on the Three Jewels from my local Kagyu center.

Returning to the lineage, our teachers are our direct connection to Shakyamuni. They uphold and further his teachings which free us from every state of woe. The Assu Sutta says that during our time in samsara, we have shed more tears than there is water in the Four Great Oceans. With this in mind, the gravity of what our teachers are trying to do for us becomes clear.

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:55 pm

Here's my contribution for yesterday's card.

46. Pay Heed that the Three Never Wane
Uphold devotion to teachers & spiritual friends; Remain enthusiastic about lojong; Maintain moral conduct.

Geshe Chekawa, “Become acquainted with the three non-degenerations”. Things to maintain with beginner’s mind and never to let degenerate: Faith in Dharma; Effort in practice; Mindfulness (presence & awareness).

Gyalwa Gendun Druppa, “Meditate on the three unmitigated qualities”. Do not mitigate: Guru devotion, it is the root of the path; Lojong practice, it is the quintessence of Mahayana; Vigilant introspection on the commitments and precepts you have taken.

Alex Berzin, “Meditate on the three undeclining things”. Conviction in the teacher’s good qualities influences how we see everyone else, especially recognizing all beings’ kindnesses to us starting with providing the means to progress on the path. Enthusiasm for the path is maintained by recognizing our extreme good fortune due to the advantages of cherishing others compared to the disadvantages of selfishness. Therefore, steadiness over time concerning our commitments to others and the path should never be allowed to decline.

MT's thoughts on devotion capture the spirit of this one for me. It's like, look at where I am and what I'm being shown! Wow. Let me truly appreciate it and make the most of it.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:09 pm

47. Keep the Three Inseparable
The body for pure actions; Speech for gentle words; Mind for compassion.

Geshe Chekawa, “Possess the three inseparables”. Bind virtue inseparably to the three doors of body, speech, and mind.

Gyalwa Gendun Druppa gives example of virtue in the three applications: Body, e.g. respect, prostrations, circumambulations; Speech, e.g. chanting scriptures, reciting mantras, offering praise to Buddha; Mind, e.g. meditating on bodhichitta. These things are important because they incline us toward pure actions, gentle words, and compassion in our daily interactions.
Berzin wrote: This means to have our body, speech and mind be conscientious and devoted to the practice of thinking about and helping others. The example used for the body is to not sit fidgeting all the time, but to remain mindful and collected. Our speech should not just be non-stop babble about nonsense, but needs to be directed towards helping others. The mind must be filled with thoughts of helping others rather than all sorts of crazy silly stuff. No matter what we’re doing, whether it involved body, speech, or mind, there has to be a constructive connection.

Tibetans say that when we sleep, we shouldn’t sleep like an ox, which just drops on the ground and that’s it. Instead, before we go to bed, we should do three prostrations as a reaffirmation of our safe direction in life, and of our bodhichitta aim. If we hold the aspiration, “May I sleep to be refreshed in order to continue in this direction,” then even something like our sleep can become an extraordinary act.
I first heard the expression “guard the three doors” a few months into my exploration of Buddhism and it tickled me. I guess it was like a little bell going off. This lojong guidance just brings it home: if we remain mindful of screening all our activities of body, speech, and mind for virtue, we’re surely practicing Dharma.

910
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:34 pm

Other translations: Make the Three Inseparable. Be Endowed With the Three Inseparables. Three Things Maintain Inseparably.

Commentaries:
Pema Chodron wrote:Your actions, your speech, and your thoughts should be inseparable from this yearning to communicate from the heart. Everything you say can further polarize the situation and convince you of how separate you are. On the other hand, everything you say and do and think can support your desire to communicate, to move closer and step out of this myth of isolation and separateness that you're caught in.
B. Alan Wallace wrote:The inseparables are three things from which we should not be separated: spiritual practice in body, speech, and mind. As examples of spiritual practice in body, the text mentions service to one's spiritual mentor, offerings to the Triple Gem, and devotional practices such as Circumambulation around sacred reliquaries. We can elaborate on these to include any type of physical service or wholesome action that is chiefly of the body.
Verbal spiritual practice consists of reciting the verses of taking refuge or praying for the benefit of the world, and includes any type of wholesome speech. A word of kindness is verbal spiritual action. Thirdly, spiritual practice of the mind focuses especially on the cultivation of relative and ultimate bodhicitta.

It is important to understand the meaning of spiritual practice broadly, and not confine it to sitting cross-legged in meditation, or reciting verses, or doing prostrations. In an active working life, it is truly possible to have our spiritual practice permeate many activities that would otherwise be totally mundane. The crucial point here is the wholesome motivation for these actions. If during daily life we maintain an attentiveness to the practices we have adopted, this itself becomes spiritual practice.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote:Our body, speech and mind should always be engaged in positive activity. When we are performing virtuous actions such as prostrations, circumambulations and the like, our speech and mind should be in harmony with our bodily movements. When accumulating positive actions of speech, recitation for instance, our body and our mind should also be engaged. If we undertake some positive mental act, the body and speech should also be in attendance. For example, if, while performing prostrations or circumambulations, we chatter, or entertain a lot of negative emotions, this is just like eating polluted food. Therefore, while performing virtuous actions, our body, speech and mind should act inseparably and in unison.
---

Two things that jumped out for me. One, how Pema Chodron uses the succinct phrase "myth of isolation and separation" to sum up both the illusion of self/other and its result, acting as though karma does not exist. I'll keep this phrase in mind today.
I sometimes get lazy and think, "this thought won't matter" or "I can do it just this once..." It's not that I need to become so tense about everything that I snap, but that changing the reference point necessarily changes the kinds of things I do and therefore what the results are. I need to focus on the roots and the leaves will manage themselves.

DKR makes a good point too: it's silly to say kind words while the mind is elsewhere, or (I'm guilty of this) prostrate while daydreaming about the rest of the morning. Keeping things together -- body, speech and mind -- is a way to avoid wasting the opportunity to both gain insight and benefit others. Such effort to bring "all you've got" to the path is one of the Six Paramitas.

I found this quote by Lama Zopa Rinpoche that helps clarify the fuzzy word "virtuous".
Lama Zopa Rinpoche wrote:Peace and happiness for oneself and the world are not independent, do not exist from their own side, they are dependent-arising, depending on causes and conditions. The causes: the great virtuous thoughts, non-ignorance, non-anger, non-attachment, the good heart, compassion, loving kindness, non-self-centered mind and so forth. Actions motivated by these pure attitudes become virtuous and the cause of happiness.
It sure takes some training, but that's why we're here :) The old ways just won't cut it anymore!

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:24 pm

Working this teaching from many texts is helpful for me. But in some cases I find it difficult to find the guidance from one version in another. Plus the versions don't all have the same content.

I made a spreadsheet to compare the four versions I'm using and it can be accessed here: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AhqP7gj6KzrngftGkUBaNrQ4gQH1Sw, on my Microsoft One Drive. It's in Excel and I'm not that familiar with sharing documents in the cloud, so if someone thinks it would be more universally accessible in Google docs I could set that up.

The spreadsheet consists of two lists. In the first I've included all the guidances from each source in order. On the second I've tried to correlate them across all the versions. So far, I've only based the correspondence on the words of the slogans. Some seem doubtful and I've still got a lot of loose ends. As we proceed through this study I expect to get a better sense of which ones are saying the same thing in different ways.

I can also add additional versions if anyone wants to pm me with their suggestions.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:02 pm

The spreadsheet works and is easy to access :twothumbsup: The online cards appear to use the same translations as Chogyam Trungpa and Pema Chodron's commentaries. Maybe there's a Shambhala translation?

If you're really feeling adventurous, the various commentaries I'm using can be found via this link, courtesy of dzogchungpa who found it on Web Archive.

It'd be a lot of work though, and several of DKR's commentaries aren't associated with the correct slogan.

Thanks so much for getting the spreadsheet going, Jeff!

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:45 am

Here are some beautiful words from Lama Zopa Rinpoche on the bodhisattva's attitude, based on chapter 3 of Shantideva's famous verses on the bodhisattva's way. He suggests that we practice tonglen while reciting. The Three of today's slogan will be a matter of course with aspirations such as these!
I shall dedicate fully with no sense of loss
My body, enjoyments and all past, present and future merits
To accomplish the work for all sentient beings.

By giving away all, I will be liberated from the oceans of samsaric suffering
And my mind will achieve the great liberation (of enlightenment).
Since I have to leave everything (at death)
It is best to now give it away to every single sentient being.

Having given this body to sentient beings
To use however they want that makes them happy,
Whether they always kill me, criticize me, beat me, or whatever,
It is totally up to them.

Even if they jest with my body,
Ridicule, belittle, or make fun of me
Whatever they may do, since I have given this body up to them,
What is the point of retaliating?

Let my body only do actions that don’t harm others,
And whoever looks at or thinks of me,
May it never be meaningless for them.

Whoever focuses on me –
Whether with anger or devotion –
May that be the cause for them
Always to achieve every success.

May all those who say unpleasant things,
Harm, mock, or make fun of me
Have the fortune to achieve enlightenment.

May I become a savior for those who are guideless,
And a captain for those who are entering the path,
A ship, a boat, and a bridge
For those who wish to cross (over water).

May I become a park for those who seek a park,
A light for those who look for light,
Bedding for those who wish to rest,
And a servant for all who want me as their servant.

May I become a wish-granting jewel, a wish-fulfilling vase,
Powerful mantras and a great medicine.
May I become a wish-granting tree
Fulfilling all the wishes and desires of sentient beings.

Just like the sky and the great elements
Earth, fire, water, and wind
May I always be the cause of living and happiness
For all the unimaginable number of sentient beings.

As long as space exists
As long as sentient beings exist
May I too abide,
And eliminate the suffering of sentient beings.
source: https://fpmt.org/teachers/zopa/advice/b ... -attitude/

He also suggests if we can only recite a few lines of this, to focus on the last few which I've bolded.

There's the added dimension that not only should our own body, speech, and mind be aimed towards awakening, but that we should similarly pray that the acts of body, speech, and mind of others result in their awakening as well, whether they please us or not. Examples are verses 15-17 in Shantideva's work.

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sat Oct 14, 2017 3:05 pm

Today's slogan is #48, Train Without Bias in All Areas; It is Crucial to do This Pervasively and Wholeheartedly.

Other translations are essentially the same.

Commentaries:
Chogyam Trungpa wrote:The practice of lojong includes everyone and everything. It is important to be thorough and impartial in your practice, excluding nothing at all that comes up in your experience.
Rabten & Dhargyey wrote:Afflictions such as desire and hatred may manifest in relation to either animate objects such as friends, enemies, or strangers or in relation to inanimate objects such as dwellings, scenic places, clothes, and possessions. Without being one-sided, our practice should apply equally to both these categories of objects.
We should learn to apply the skills that generate the awakening mind in such a way that they encompass the totality of all beings and all appearances. Every being throughout the six realms should be an object of loving compassion and kindness, and any sensory experience should be inseparable from the process of thought transformation.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote:We should practice the Mind Training impartially without picking and choosing, and in relation to everything, whether animate or inanimate. We should practice so that whatever thoughts arise, they will serve as a path for the Mind Training, rather than being occasions for hindrances. Let this not be something that we merely talk about, but something deep within our hearts which we actually do.
---

In pleasant situations, may all beings have this happiness and even greater happiness. May they be completely liberated.

In unpleasant situations, may all beings be free from this suffering and even greater suffering. May they be completely liberated.

In meeting happy pleasant people, how wonderful! These beings are enjoying the fruits of goodwill done in the past. May their joy give rise to bodhicitta.

In meeting angry unpleasant people, how wonderful! These beings have encountered the Dharma of mind training through our interaction. May this be the cause of their future happiness.

And of course, tonglen is possible with all people, no matter their disposition.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gives some concrete examples of how to turn even menial kitchen chores into the path of bodhicitta:
When you are cutting anything, for example onions, think:
I am cutting the root of all sentient beings’ suffering which comes from ignorance and the self-cherishing thought, with the knife of the wisdom realizing emptiness (shunyata) and bodhicitta.

When you are washing pots and so on think:
I am washing away all the obscurations and negative karmas from all sentient beings minds.

When you are sweeping the floor think that the broom is the whole path to enlightenment, especially wisdom and bodhicitta, and that the dust is all sentient beings’ obscurations:
I am sweeping away the dust of all sentient beings’ obscurations with the broom
of the path to enlightenment and especially wisdom and bodhicitta.
Every little act and thought like this becomes a cause of future joy and insight, so the slogan really does mean all areas, body, speech and mind, in all activities.

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Sat Oct 14, 2017 3:52 pm

48. Train Without Bias in All Areas
Wholeheartedly apply lojong training to everyone and everything you experience

Pabongka's text is, “Train consistently without partiality”.
Apply equanimity universally toward all living beings and inanimate objects.

Gyalwa Gendun Druppa's text is, “Practice without bias toward the objects; Embrace everything and cherish all from the heart.”
He says, “We should train in the lojong methods without fear of the challenges presented by sentient and insentient phenomena alike. … Our respect for others should arise from within the innermost depths of our being.”

Berzin’s text is, “Act purely, without partiality to objects.”
His commentary focuses entirely on living beings, and more specifically on the human and animal realms.
Berzin wrote:This not only applies to people, but to animals as well. Some people can be very nice to cats and dogs, but then they don’t carry this caring attitude over to insects or rodents. This is partiality; we’re just nice to animals we like, and dismissive or actively hostile to the one’s we don’t like.

It’s difficult, but actually when we talk of bringing all beings to enlightenment, it’s important to realize that no being has an inherent, permanent identity in terms of the particular rebirth state they’re in right now. … Of course we need to relate to others on a conventional level as they are now – as a human, a dog, a cockroach – but on the deeper level, we see that they all equally have Buddha nature. They could have been our mother in our last lifetime, and they could be in our next too.

This wish to cherish others and benefit them needs to be coupled with an understanding of beginningless mind and Buddha nature. This is why the practice of cherishing others and overcoming selfishness starts with building up equanimity, where we see everybody as our mother. This brings us back to the basis of beginningless mind and everyone being equal from this perspective.
This card speaks directly to an extremely difficult balancing act that we all experience in our lives and frequently see hotly debated in the arguments on DW. How can we apply both equanimity and responsible action to corrupt and incompetent politicians, people who practice and thrive on hate, or greedy exploiters of people and animals? This is exactly the problem this mind training is intended to address.
In ‘Eight Verses’ Langri Tangpa wrote:Whenever I meet a person of bad nature
Who is overwhelmed by negative energy and intense suffering,
I will hold such a rare one dear,
As if I had found a precious treasure.
Sorry, but no, I don’t have the answer! I like MT’s approach of giving his thoughts as prayers and the suggestion to apply tong len. But most especially, following Lama Zopa in allowing every activity without exception to bring this lojong training in bodhichitta to mind. (I know a teacher who says the bathroom is not an appropriate environment to do our prayers and recitations. But Lama Zopa also includes specific suggestions for the bathroom.)

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

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Sat Oct 14, 2017 4:23 pm

Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:02 pm
The spreadsheet works and is easy to access :twothumbsup: The online cards appear to use the same translations as Chogyam Trungpa and Pema Chodron's commentaries. Maybe there's a Shambhala translation?

If you're really feeling adventurous, the various commentaries I'm using can be found via this link, courtesy of dzogchungpa who found it on Web Archive.

It'd be a lot of work though, and several of DKR's commentaries aren't associated with the correct slogan.

Thanks so much for getting the spreadsheet going, Jeff!
That is an excellent resource! I'm always impressed with the stuff Dzogchungpa is consistently able to find and share.

However, you're right, it would be too ambitious for me to try and incorporate that into the spreadsheet. I try not to overextend when taking on a new project. Otherwise I'll either shortchange my existing practices and projects, or end up quitting the new one too soon.

What I am doing, though, is including Pabongka's text in the spreadsheet. It occurred to me that the version of Seven Points I had memorized years ago was actually an NKT translation, and I've been weeding out those influences.*

As an alternative, since Lama Yeshe was my teacher's teacher and I identify with FPMT, I went to the Lama Yeshe Archives where they have published Pabongka's version of Seven Points. He introduces it with exactly the concern I'm interested in for the spreadsheet:
Pabongka Rinpoche wrote:In the literature of the old and new Kadampa there are many versions of the commentaries and root text of the Seven-Point Mind Training. The order of presentation and the number of words in them differs greatly. Some of them we cannot confidently incorporate within the outlines when we are giving an explanation, and some include unfamiliar verses in the root text.

For these reasons I [Pabongka Rinpoche] had been thinking for a long time of producing a definitive root text by collating the editions to be found in the Mind Training Like the Rays of the Sun, Ornament for Losang’s Thought and The Essential Nectar. When I was teaching the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment at Chamdo Jampa Ling in 1935 (wood-pig year), Lam-rimpa Phuntsog Palden, a single-minded practitioner, presented me a scarf and an offering and made such a request, so I have compiled this after careful research of many root texts and commentaries and supplemented it with outlines.
They also offer a commentary by Geshe Lama Konchog which is not the verse-by-verse type of commentary as we've been using. This is an extensive teaching on the Seven Points training. It looks like it might provide an excellent study vehicle for someone who wants to delve deeper into the lojong teachings.


*[For the record, I don't renounce the teachings I received from them. I was never subjected to the cult-aspect or Shugden, and the basic instructions I received have proved sound throughout my Buddhist journey. Nevertheless, I do respectfully distance myself from them.]
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:42 pm

I forgot to add a useful tool for training the mind in more and more situations: using gathas. A gatha is a short verse that you recite during an activity, of the sort Lama Zopa suggested for cutting vegetables, etc. They can be in Sanskrit or Tibetan, like these from FPMT. Or they can be in English, like these from Thich Nhat Hanh. You can memorize them or just make up your own, even if you feel silly!
My jacket is like Chenrezig. He helps me find my natural warmth and compassion.
Washing my hands, I wash away the dusts and afflictions.
Drying my hands, I dry the countless tears shed by beings in samsara.
Closing the car door, I close the gates to lower rebirth for myself and others.

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Sun Oct 15, 2017 5:04 pm

49. Always Meditate on Whatever Provokes Resentment
Analyze your response and apply your practice. Deal with the difficulty now; don’t wait until it becomes very hard to overcome.

I had a little difficulty with this one because Gyalwa Gendun Druppa does not include it and because there seems to be a discrepancy in interpretations. Some emphasize immediacy, some emphasize resentments, and others emphasize influences close to us. I did a little more reading and some thoughts occurred to me.

First, a few gems.
Berzin says, “Often people do meditation to generate feelings of love for all beings, but then can’t even get along with their own parents!”

Pema Chodron says, “Feeling irritated, restless, afraid, and hopeless is a reminder to listen more carefully. It's a reminder to stop talking; watch and listen.” And, “If we really want to communicate, we have to give up knowing what to do. When we come in with our agendas, they only block us from seeing the person in front of us.”

Alan Wallace provides an important point to remember throughout a regime of lojong: “The text of [this #49] practice is obscure. In trying to make sense of the Tibetan, I remember … [Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey] said that a very learned lama would be able to give ten or fifteen justifiable interpretations of the same text, depending on the person whom he was teaching. It is helpful to keep in mind that there may not be just one meaning intended here; the challenge for practitioners, including teachers, is to draw as much meaning from it as possible.”

My personal impressions about this verse are these:
There is a common problem among people striving to “do good”. It’s all too easy to set our sights on the world and neglect the home. The word “resentment” appears in several of these interpretations, and I think it’s a clue. One may be angered or saddened by terrible samsaric events in the world, but resentment is usually more personal and intimate. This verse reminds us not to bury our resentments with those closest to us by redoubling our efforts for “all living beings”.

The teachings I’ve received about generating loving-compassion usually point out that if we meditate too broadly on compassion for all beings right away, it can be too abstract. When you meet an individual, your meditation will not apply. I think that is one of the reasons for the teaching of seeing each and every being as our mother and for beginning bodhichitta meditations with our inner circle then working ever outward. However, I’ve all too often been a little shocked to hear students become very agitated about the “all mothers” teaching because they had bad relationships with their mothers of this life. This, I think, is a critical error. The moment we exclude anyone at all, for any reason, we’ve betrayed our aspiration to help all beings.

Finally, I’m listening to Alan Wallace’s podcasts of an eight week retreat he led last year. In #62, after leading a vipassana meditation, he had this to say about the retreat winding down. I found it especially relevant to integrating lojong in daily life generally and this verse 49 in particular.
Alan Wallace wrote:As we step out of this retreat setting in three weeks, aware of … what’s going on in the world around us generally, and then in our own closer environment, our family, friends, and places we will be returning to, if we can bring to that more complex environment -- where mental afflictions are often not even recognized as mental afflictions, they’re simply regarded as human nature, which means there’s nothing you can do about it except try not to be excessive. You know, don’t be too human.

When we step into that environment, if we can come with a renewed sense … of being very attentive to those around us, and situations around us, without getting caught up in everybody else’s drama. And without withdrawing into dissociation, removal, isolationism, the extreme of quiescence it’s called in Buddhism. But right there in the middle. Exactly this quality of awareness that we’re bringing to the space of the body and the fluctuations there. And the same quality of awareness we bring to the mind and the fluctuations there. Attentive.

But then, unlike the fluctuations within the body, which are not sentient beings –- there’s nobody looking back. And unlike these appearances and impulses in the mind that we attend to, and nobody’s looking back. There’s no reason to ever [make the] categorical error to feel compassion for your thoughts, your emotions, your desires. That’d be silly. It’d be like feeling compassion for a glass of water. Silly. Misplaced, right?

So unlike the appearances arising in the body and unlike the appearances arising in the mind, as we step out and engage with other sentient beings there’s no question we’re attending to sentient beings by way of those appearances. And the appearances are not sentient beings ... but by way of these appearances, when you gaze into somebody else’s eyes, they are gazing back. And that’s not an appearance to your mind. There’s more going on than appearances to mind there. More going on than objects.
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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:53 pm

Additional translations: Always Meditate on Volatile Points. Always Meditate on Whatever is Unavoidable. Always Meditate on Those Closely Related.

Commentaries:
Jamgon Kongtrul wrote:Meditate by skillfully bringing out extra love and compassion for subjects that present difficulties in mind training: aggressive enemies, troublesome obstacles, particularly those who act perversely and respond to your help by making trouble, people who compete with you, casual friends, people who are troublesome even though there is no bad feeling, or those with whom you just don't get along. In particular, avoid anything that will cause trouble with people with whom you have a close relationship-your guru or your parents, for instance.
Rabten & Dhargyey wrote:When hindrances arise toward those with whom we have close relations and who have shown us much love and kindness, such as spiritual friends and parents, we should be particularly attentive. Hatred and disrespect arise easily against those who are in close contact with us; this is much more serious than when these afflictions are directed against other types of beings. Also, when we are in the company of our peers, competitors, and critics, we should take special care to control our mind. Furthermore, we must exercise awareness over our reactions toward people for whom we feel an instinctive aversion, even in cases where we do not have any personal contact with them.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote:We should constantly meditate on difficulties that we cannot escape. Towards people, for instance, who do us harm, who want to compete with us, who are at one moment friendly but who suddenly turn against us unprovoked, or towards people who for no apparent reason (due to our karma) we simply do not like, we should try to generate the Bodhicitta even more intensely, even when it is difficult.
We should serve and reverence our elders, parents, and teachers. As Guru Padmasambhava said, 'Do not be a sorrow to your elders; serve them with respect.' If we help them and those who are in need of help, we are treading the path of the Bodhisattvas. We should give up whatever is at variance with that attitude.
Like Jeff said, things can get a bit too safely abstract: the people and their issues that are really infuriating get muddled into a faceless sea of "all suffering beings." But we don't live or experience on that level yet: we have this body, this life, these circumstances, and these people. If "all beings" doesn't begin with "every being I know by name" and then extend outward, who exactly are we generating bodhicitta for?

That's not to say I can flip a switch stop feeling hurt by someone.
What the slogan says to me is that such a feeling of woundedness, of reluctance, is a smoke signal: here is where I am stuck, here is a gap in my bodhicitta.
Why "stuck"? Because this woundedness, this resentment, is the illusion of self, this self which is hurt, that self which hurt me, and the self of a situation crystallized into "betrayal" or "abuse". And all of this self-making is painful, lasting months, years, even decades beyond the original harmful act. How these selves come up, linger, go away for a while, then come up again demonstrates clearly how all of them are, in fact, completely mind-made.
More plainly: a thought or feeling about a sentient being is not a sentient being, similar to what B. Alan Wallace said in Jeff's post.

That's why the Eight Verses of Training the Mind calls those give rise to this response in us a "priceless treasure," our "true spiritual teachers." They simultaneously show just where our bodhicitta is not yet perfected, the impact of acts rooted in delusion, and that when we live in terms of self/other, there is pain. How self is painful isn't always clear, but here it very much is.

This isn't victim blaming in the slightest, because we are the first to suffer from resentment, now and in the future long after the fact. The second to suffer is the other person because, even beyond considerations of the karma they have made, our resentment has blinded us to an essential fact: this being is a buddha in progress, fundamentally compassionate and aware, covered only temporarily by veils of greed, hatred, and delusion. Which is our situation exactly. And unless we aim to help them through our practice, their troubles (and ours) will not cease.

Tonglen is, again, a great way to tackle this head-on. We already know what's bad and annoying about specific people. So instead of cherishing our indignation and aversion, we challenge them directly by cherishing the other person instead. Here's an easy to read refresher on tonglen from Pema Chödrön.

One last thing I'd like to share.

At the sangha I attend, when we take refuge before each meditation session, we visualize that "all beings" are actually in front of us, closer to the buddhas and lineage. That means everyone from our abusive parent to the hated politician to the former friends, even all the people we'll never meet, they all have a closer seat to the precious buddhas than us. What's more, we have seated them there on purpose.

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:43 pm

50. Don’t Be Swayed By External Circumstances
“Your practice should not be dependent on ideal conditions: If your situation is right, breathe it out; If your situation is wrong, breathe it in.”

I think Wallace gets right to the point: “All circumstances nurture this practice.” Practicing lojong is not like practicing shamatha; no special conditions are needed. In fact, every condition is a suitable resource.

And Pema Chodron reminds us, “The point is that challenges don't cease, and if you wish to keep your heart open, the challenges will quickly increase rather than decrease.”

There are lots of western slogans that make a similar point about disregarding external conditions: Come what may. Take it in stride. Just do it. Damn the torpedoes.

Speaking about anger and patience, here’s how Shantideva applies lojong to people who slander him and undercut his worldly success:
“In chapter six, Shantideva” wrote:99. Those who stay close by me, then,
To damage my good name and cut me down to size —
Are surely there protecting me
From falling into realms of grief.

100. For I am one who strives for freedom.
I must not be caught by wealth and honors.
How could I be angry with the ones
Who work to free me from my fetters?

101. They, like Buddha’s very blessing,
Bar my way, determined as I am
To plunge myself headlong in sorrow:
How can I be angry with them?

102. I should not be irritated, saying,
“They are obstacles to my good deeds.”
For is not patience the supreme austerity,
And should I not abide by this?

103. And if I fail to practice patience,
Hindered by my own shortcomings,
I myself create impediments
To merit’s causes, yet so close at hand.

104. If something does not come to be when something else is absent,
And does arise, that factor being present,
That factor is indeed its cause.
How can it, then, be said to hinder it?

105. The beggars who arrive at proper times
Are not an obstacle to generosity.
We cannot say that those who give the vows
Are hindrances to ordination!
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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 16, 2017 11:37 pm

Additional translations: Depend Not Upon Other Circumstances. Do Not Be Dependent on External Factors.

Commentaries:
Chogyam Trungpa wrote:Although your external circumstances may vary, your practice should not be dependent on that. Whether you are sick or well, rich or poor, have a good reputation or a bad reputation, you should practice lojong. It is very simple: if your situation is right, breathe that out; if your situation is wrong, breathe that in.
Rabten & Dhargyey wrote:We should not wait for the time when circumstances are favorable and all our needs are satisfied before beginning our practice. Rather we should be able to continue inner cultivation in any situation, whether favorable or not. We should remember that within the flux of existence everything passes as quickly as a flash of lightning. If we wait, we may find that before our plans to meditate in the 'right' situation have been able to mature, our future life is upon us.
Dilgo Khyentse wrote:When we have enough food and clothes, enjoy good health, have whatever we need and are without troubles of any sort, we should not become attached to these benefits nor dependent on them. Conversely, when we do not enjoy such good conditions, and when everything is going badly, we should use such a situation as a trigger for our courage and take them as the Bodhisattva path. We should not give up when conditions are difficult; on the contrary, that is precisely when we should practice the twofold Bodhicitta, bringing all our experiences onto the path.
Easy, hard, internal, external, too tired, too agitated, this nice person, that rude person, these are all subjective interpretations of appearances. A thoroughgoing practice life aimed at helping others shouldn't depend on things to be just so, either in ourselves or others.

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:13 pm

51. This Time, Practice the Three Points
“Remember that in this life relative bodhichitta, absolute bodhichitta, and the teachings of a spiritual master are most important.”

There are so many variations on this advice that it’s a little hard to tell all the slogans relate to the same thing. Berzin wins for brevity with, “practice primarily now”, although it’s an oddly constructed phrase. But it states the three main elements conveyed by all the versions.

Now” means this lifetime. As Shantideva says,
“In chapter four, Shantideva” wrote:26. For it’s as if by chance that I have gained
This state so hard to find, wherein to help myself.
If now, while having such discernment,
I am once again consigned to hell,

27. I am as if benumbed by sorcery,
As if reduced to total mindlessness.
I do not know what dulls my wits.
O what is it that has me in its grip?
Or more forcefully in chapter seven,
“In chapter seven, Shantideva” wrote:14. So take advantage of this human boat.
Free yourself from sorrow’s mighty stream!
This vessel will be later hard to find.
The time that you have now, you fool, is not for sleep!
Primarily” refers to getting our priorities straight, discerning what is of value and what is not. Chogyam Trungpa says there are three principal priorities: “[1] the benefit of others is more important than yourself; [2] practicing the teachings of the guru is more important than analytical study; [3] practicing Bodhicitta is more important than any other practice.”

Practice” is about getting it done. Gyalwa Gendun Druppa says one important way is applying ourselves to Dharma with hearing, reflecting, and meditation, especially regarding the two bodhiminds, aspiring and ultimate bodhichitta: method and wisdom. Berzin says to attend to the important business of this life by applying the perspectives of past and future lives. Mostly importantly, they all say get out there and apply the Dharma.

A question arises for me when many commentaries say we have utterly wasted all our previous lives and gained nothing from them. I understand this is meant as encouragement to make better use of the favorable circumstances we have now, but it seems to dismiss the fact that we have these favorable circumstances and we’ve met the Dharma because of our actions in past lives which clearly were not wasted and did not result in nothing. Even in this life most of us are unlikely to attain Buddhahood, but by applying ourselves to the very best of our current abilities now, we should be able to wisely invest the karma that got us here and earn dividends for further investment in future lives.

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:03 pm

Additional translations: In This Life, Concentrate on Achieving What is Most Meaningful. This Time, Practice the Main Points. This Time, Practice the Important Points. Exert Yourself, Especially at This Time.

Commentaries:
Pema Chödrön wrote:What that's saying is that for all of us it's a crucial time. We have everything we need to open our hearts, and to work with others in a genuine way. We have a precious human birth; we're not starving in Somalia. We're not living in a country where we grow up being taught to shoot anybody who's on the other side. We have a tremendous amount going for us, so this is the crucial time to practice the main points.
Rabten & Dhargyey wrote: The opportunity to meet a spiritual master and to receive instructions, contact with the Mahayana path, the ability to generate the awakening mind, and in particular, the freedom to practice Dharma are conditions that are extremely difficult to gather together. Even in worldly matters of little importance, no one will ever pass up a unique and fortunate opportunity when it presents itself. Thus, if we have the chance created by these conditions, we should not allow it to slip by without using it wisely.
Dilgo Khyentse wrote:Throughout our many lifetimes in the past, we may have taken many different forms. We have been rich. We have been beaten by our enemies, and lost everything. We have had all the pleasures of the gods. We have been victims of political oppression. We have been lepers or have suffered from other diseases. All those experiences of happiness and suffering have brought us nothing. But now, in the present life, we have entered the path set forth by the Buddha, we have met many learned and accomplished spiritual teachers: this time we must make such circumstances meaningful and do what is important.
Of all our activities, the most important is to sit and practice. We should not move around too much, we should just remain on our seat. We will only stumble if we get up! We should sit properly, not too stiffly, and remember that the best practitioners wear out their meditation cushions, not the soles of their shoes.
---

This looks like the Four Thoughts that Turn The Mind in slogan form. As Pema said, "we have everything we need." Think about that. :twothumbsup:

The additional point of having wasted time in the past that Jeff raised I think can be looked at in two ways.

First, it's said to be extremely difficult to be born a human being, let alone to encounter the Dharma, let alone to have adequate mental and physical faculties to practice it, let alone to have faith in the Dharma, let alone to find a teacher and begin a practice, etc. Each factor joined with the previous becomes exponentially less likely to happen, like hitting all green lights on the way home... when you live hundreds of miles away :smile:

The second related point is simply that we've probably enjoyed some of these benefits before, but haven't made use of them to awaken yet. We didn't even aspire to birth in Dewachen, the buddha land where spiritual backsliding is impossible, because here we are still on Earth.

The thrust of this slogan to me is the preciousness of this opportunity. Obstacles and death are certain but their time unknown. How much longer can we do this?

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