Daily Lojong

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Jeff H
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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Wed Oct 18, 2017 4:17 pm

52. Don't Misinterprt
“Don’t misinterpret the purpose of patience, yearning, excitement and setting priorities by applying them only to worldly things. Don’t misinterpret compassion by showing it only to those you think deserve it. Don’t twist the true meaning of joy by feeling it over the misfortunes of your enemies but not in practicing virtue.”

The teachings of Buddhism are subtle. They require thinking in ways that do not come naturally, but make sense in the context of overcoming the pervasive suffering that consumes us all. That is the point and purpose of lojong.

As in the fifth lojong point, where one verse says we can measure our degree of training according to the reversal of certain innate inclinations*, here we address some specific reversals to keep in mind.
  • Who needs our compassion? The haughtiest, angriest, most obnoxious people, and those who succeed at the expense of others need our compassion, not monks living in poverty.
  • With what should we exercise patience? The assaults of suffering beings, not our own deluded excesses.
  • What is an inappropriate yearning? Worldly comfort and success, as opposed to realizations on the path.
  • What is an inappropriate enjoyment? Hedonistic pleasures, as opposed to the eudaimonia of hearing, reflecting on, and meditating on Dharma.
  • What is mistaken encouragement? Advising those who ask for our help to pursue worldly success instead of spiritual awareness.
  • When is it counterproductive to rejoice? When others suffer. Instead look for any possible virtue in ourselves and others to rejoice over.
Pema Chodron, whose commentary takes the most down to earth look at these six, warns us not to misinterpret the corrected interpretations:
“Pema Chodron" wrote:So “Don't misinterpret” really gets at the notion of the big squeeze. It's saying that you don't know what's going to help, but you need to speak and act with clarity and decisiveness. Clarity and decisiveness come from the willingness to slow down, to listen to and look at what's happening. They come from opening your heart and not running away. Then the action and the speech are in accord with what needs to be done, for you and for the other person.”
Dilgo Khyentse offers a similar caution:
Dilgo Khyentse wrote:However, having experienced a taste of Dharma, most 'experts,' armed with their intellectual knowledge, allow themselves to be sidetracked into arguments and disputes with opponents, all for worldly satisfaction. Their taste of Dharma has played them false.

* Unfortunately, that verse is not included in the Online Lojong slogan cards, but it appears in most other versions. In GGD it is presented as: "The measure of the training is read from its reverse" (5.5)

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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 18, 2017 6:03 pm

Additional Translations: Do Not Follow Inverted Deeds. Do Not Make Mistakes.

Commentaries:
Chogyam Trungpa wrote:There are six things that you may twist or misinterpret in your practice: patience, yearning, excitement, compassion, priorities, and joy.
It is a misinterpretation of patience to be patient about everything in your life but the practice of dharma.
Misinterpreted yearning is to foster yearning for pleasure and wealth but not to encourage the yearning to practice dharma thoroughly and properly.
Misinterpreted excitement is to get excited by wealth and entertainment, but not to be excited by the study of dharma.
It is twisted compassion to be compassionate to those who endure hardships in order to practice dharma, but to be unconcerned and uncompassionate to those who do evil.
Twisted priorities means to work diligently out of self-interest at that which benefits you in the world, but not to practice dharma.
Twisted joy is to be happy when sorrow afflicts your enemies, but not to rejoice in virtue and in the joy of transcending samsara.
You should absolutely and completely stop all six of these misinterpretations.
And said in another way:
Jamgon Kongtrul wrote:Avoid six mistakes.
To endure patiently the suffering of subduing enemies, protecting friends, and working to make money and not to endure patiently the difficulties of dharma practice is mistaken patience.

To want wealth, happiness, and comfort in this life and to have no inclination to practice dharma thoroughly is mistaken inclination.

To enjoy the taste of wealth and possessions and not to enjoy the taste of hearing, reflection, and meditation on the dharma is mistaken enjoyment.

To have compassion for a person who puts up with hardship in order to practice dharma and not to have compassion for those who do evil is mistaken compassion.

To engage people who look to you in bettering only their position in this life and not to engage them in dharma is mistaken care.

To take joy in other people's unhappiness and in the sufferings of your enemies and not to take joy in virtue and happiness in nirvana or samsara is mistaken joy.

Avoid these six mistakes completely.
The commentaries that I have access to are all fairly similar on what the mistakes or inverted deeds are.

Here is a summary of the slogan by Rabten & Dhargyey that I found helpful (bold is mine):
Rabten & Dhargyey wrote:The practitioner who applies these points to his or her own life does not have to be someone who wears the robes of a monk or nun or who lives in retreat in the mountains; the person whose actions are beneficial for himself or herself and others is one who is truly putting effort in the Dharma.
So the clearest yardstick is simply whether our practice, as shown by our words and actions, is actually bringing benefit to others and ourselves. There's a difference between dedicating ourselves to practice and simply spinning ourselves a lovely web of Buddhist teachings while the deepest afflictions go untouched. This difference is what the slogan can help us see.

The ways we most often go astray in mind-training are expressed by the six mistakes. Jeff makes the very same point about various pitfalls we can encounter while working through habituated confusion.

There are two other teachings I'd like to share that come at the spirit of this slogan from slightly different angles. The first is the "near" and "far" enemies of the Four Immeasurables.

Here is a quick refresher:
LOVE
The definition of love in Buddhism is: wanting others to be happy.
This love is unconditional and it requires a lot of courage and acceptance (including self-acceptance).
The "near enemy" of love, or a quality which appears similar, but is more an opposite is: conditional love (selfish love, see also the page on attachment).
The opposite is wanting others to be unhappy: anger, hatred.
A result which one needs to avoid is: attachment.

COMPASSION
The definition is: wanting others to be free from suffering.
This compassion happens when one feels sorry with someone, and one feels an urge to help.
The near enemy is pity, which keeps other at a distance, and does not urge one to help.
The opposite is wanting others to suffer, or cruelty.
A result which one needs to avoid is sentimentality.

JOY
The definition is: being happy with someone's fortune/happiness. Sympathetic joy here refers to the potential of bliss and happiness of all sentient beings, as they can all become Buddhas.
The near enemy is hypocrisy or affectation.
The opposite is jealousy, when one cannot accept the happiness of others.
A result which one needs to avoid is: spaced-out bliss, which can easily turn into laziness.

EQUANIMITY
Equanimity in Buddhism means to have a clear-minded tranquil state of mind - not being overpowered by delusions, mental dullness or agitation. For example, with equanimity we do not distinguish between friend, enemy or stranger, but regard every sentient being as equal.
The near enemy is indifference. It is tempting to think that just 'not caring' is equanimity, but that is just a form of egotism, where we only care about ourselves.
The opposite of equanimity is anxiety, worry, stress and paranoia caused by dividing people into 'good' and 'bad'; one can worry forever if a good friend may not be a bad person after all, and thus spoiling trust and friendship.
A result which one needs to avoid is apathy as a result of 'not caring'.
source: http://www.viewonbuddhism.org/immeasura ... icing.html

The "near enemies" are really "mistakes," ones even well-intentioned people can make. They are pieces of advice to help us, not indictments of people doing their best.

For example, if we don't have a solid idea of what compassion is at the outset, we may reach for what is most familiar. And since our lives have long been ruled by varying kinds of delusion, the closest thing is often imperfect: pity, helplessness, falling into grief. "The more I weep when I see others suffer," we may think, "the greater my compassion is!" All that's accomplished is where previously one was in pain, now two are. If we don't discover this sort of thing is an error, we may only create trouble for ourselves and others, as well as a future roadblock in practice.

So some idea of what to watch out for is helpful.

Still another angle on this is the Eight Worldly Concerns. These are mindsets or aims which, if we follow them, invariably lead to further dissatisfaction and entanglement. They are:
commentary by Judy Lief wrote:1 & 2: Happiness vs. Suffering

Once we have happiness, fear arises, for we are afraid to lose it. When suffering arises, no amount of wishful thinking makes it go away. The more we hope for it to be otherwise, the more pain we feel.

3 & 4: Fame vs. Insignificance

We are obsessed with fame and afraid of our own insignificance. When it dawns on us how hard we need to work to be seen as someone special, our fear of insignificance is only magnified.

5 & 6: Praise vs. Blame

We need to be pumped up constantly or we begin to have doubts about our worth. When we are not searching for praise, we are busy trying to cover up our mistakes so we don’t get caught.

7 & 8: Gain vs. Loss

Just as we are about to congratulate ourselves on our success, the bottom falls out. Over and over, things are hopeful one moment and the next they are not, and in either case we are anxious.
Hopefully the theme of all these different teachings is coming together: if we don't have ultimate welfare of others driving our practice life, including accomplishing buddhahood for their sake, then we will ultimately not become free from cyclical suffering ourselves, nor will we help others as they need. We will merely attain whatever is on our altars instead: more of the eight worldly concerns, endless theoretical knowledge, internet points, a little emotional nest, a fleeting peaceful feeling, or the bitter fruits of the Four Immeasurables' near enemies.

So why cultivate at all if there are such pitfalls? Because we urgently need relief from suffering, and therefore every being who has made our lives and practice possible urgently need relief as well. There is no liberation alone.

In light of these warnings from teachers, some encouragement I've often heard through the years.
We shouldn't feel cheap or fake while setting out to cultivate metta or equanimity, even when we fall short.
In imitating, in trying on new ways of thinking, i.e. in practicing, we're doing something very difficult: stepping outside lives-long conditioning which has informed our decisions and views until we found the Dharma. This is hard and we're bound to make mistakes and stumble

Practicing is in fact pointing to the natural qualities of the mind, however latent or obscured they may be for now. We gain a better and better feel for what this buddha mind is like until one day, like the sun breaking through the clouds and sending forth its rays, our compassion and wisdom too are effortless, unbound, immeasurable.

Luckily for us, these Dharma teachings are also the rays from many other buddha-suns, tirelessly helping to clear away our clouds. Again, there is no liberation alone. We are helped, even as we help others.
Amitābha Buddha!
OM MA NI PE ME HUNG
TAYATA OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE MAHA BEKANDZE RADZA SAMUDGATE SOHA

Pure Land Buddhism resources
* Teachings of Hōnen
* Jōdo-shū North America Buddhist Missions
* Free Pure Land books
* Taming the Monkey Mind
* Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith
* Pure Land Teachings of Master Chu-Hung

Jeff H
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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Wed Oct 18, 2017 7:21 pm

Just wanted to say thanks, MT, for the "near/far faults" quote and your insightful comments about that and the 8-dharmas quote.

Among other things, regarding the matter of compassion, you reminded me that when I first started social work school (long before I found Buddhism) I read a book called "Against Therapy" which I believe gave me a good standard to apply in my studies and subsequent practice (not to mention helping to set the stage for finding Buddhism). Jeffrey Masson's position was that any genuine helping needed to be a kind of "suffering with" between equals. Instead he showed how therapy can all too often become an artificial, hierarchical relationship, which can be more damaging than healing.

Another near-fault I'd suggest about compassion is partiality. I think most, if not all, people have compassion for those they feel "deserve" it, but it is too often combined with anger, resentment, and even action against somebody else they feel is "to blame" for the situation.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

Jeff H
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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Thu Oct 19, 2017 3:33 pm

53. Don’t Vacillate
“Your mind will not be trained unless you are consistent in your practice: When practice goes well, don’t slack off; When it doesn’t go well, continue training.”

Gyalwa Gendun Druppa says, “An inconsistent endeavor lacks the power to induce attainment.”

Not every choice is a good one and here in samsara we sometimes need to reassess commitments we’ve made, possibly even reneging on them. But after I have examined and reflected on buddhadharma dispassionately and come to recognize its wisdom and promise, there comes a time to make a firm commitment, because this is important.
In chapter four, Shantideva wrote:2. Whatever was begun without due heed,
And all that was not properly conceived,
Although a promise and a pledge were given,
It is right to reconsider: Shall I act or not?

3. Yet what the Buddhas and their heirs
Have scrutinized in their great wisdom,
I myself have probed and scrutinized.
Why should I now procrastinate?

4. For if I bind myself with promises
But fail to carry out my words in deed,
Then every being will have been betrayed.
What destiny must lie in store for me?
At the same time, simply declaring a commitment does not change us overnight. In order to see that commitment through we must proceed at a steady but measured paced that ensures progressive change without burnout. There’s a scene in the movie “Elmer Gantry” where Gantry and the janitor are alone in the tent after a revival and the janitor says, “Mister, I've been converted five times. I get terrible drunk, and then I get good and saved. Both of them done me a powerful lot of good -- gettin' drunk and gettin' saved.”
Also in chapter four, Shantideva wrote: 11. And those who circle in saṃsāra,
Mixing powerful downfalls
With the power of bodhichitta back and forth,
Will long be hindered from the Bodhisattva grounds.
Even when the sheer magnitude of the promise Shantideva has made dawns on him, he redoubles his resolve to never vacillate:
41. When I pledged myself to free from their afflictions
Beings who abide in every region,
Stretching to the limits of the sky,
I was myself not free from such defilements.

42. To speak like that, not knowing my capacity,
Were these not, truly, but a madman’s words?
More reason then for never drawing back
Abandoning the fight against defiled affliction.
Judy Lief says,
No matter how you enter into the practice of mind training, the idea is to become more steady and confident. Constantly changing your mind about what you are doing drains away your enthusiasm and leaves you depleted of energy. You sink into a kind of undertow of self-doubt. It is important to break this pattern and to develop more self-confidence and certainty in the dharma and in your own insight. … Commitment is scary because it means choosing one direction and abandoning others, but unless we do so, it will be hard to make any progress in any direction. So once you see what you need to do, the point is to go ahead and do it!
The advice I’ve tried to follow from the beginning is to establish a regular daily practice that is manageable for me in whatever circumstance I find myself, then augment and adjust it over time, gently increasing while avoiding retreat. I try to let my prior practices lead me naturally into new practices without radical, discontinuous leaps.

Alan Wallace gives a good description of lojong, mind transformation.
Wallace wrote:What can provide the continuous incentive for maintaining a dharma practice that is not erratic? More understanding. When dharma begins to saturate the way we view the world, our attitudes and values, it naturally provides an ongoing impetus for us to apply the techniques we have learned.
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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 » Thu Oct 19, 2017 4:39 pm

My usual reference site appears to be down, so this is all for now. I'll add more later if it comes back up.

Additional translation: Do not be erratic.

Commentaries:
Chogyam Trungpa wrote:You should not vacillate in your enthusiasm for practice. If you sometimes practice and sometimes do not, that will not give birth to certainty in the dharma. Therefore, don't think too much. Just concentrate one-pointedly on mind training.
Rabten & Dhargyey wrote:Our practice, if it is to continue to progress, should be like a steadily flowing river. Intermittent practice will never lead to any firm insight.
In addition to Jeff's point about vacillating between practices, there's also the possibility to vacillate between practicing or not practicing at all. And for me, that bears on the trap of motivation.

I think motivation, in the usual sense, is a crutch. In the past, I was a private language tutor and would often hear students ask, "how do I maintain motivation?" Basically, "how do I make myself want to do this every day?" Almost universally these students would end up dropping their studies. The question was asked because they already didn't want to, and the most important thing was to enjoy wanting to do something. The ones who stuck with it, generally, had other reasons: to meet new people, read interesting books that weren't available in English, fulfill a dream of traveling, keep their minds healthy and sharp as they aged, etc.

It may seem overly simple, but my own level of motivation, i.e. pleasurable desire to do something, seems to depend on: if I'm healthy or sick, how much sleep I got, if something else is stressing me out, if I had good or bad dreams, if it'll be a busy day, on and on and on. It's like trying to predict the weather. Guess what bodhicitta isn't? :smile: Bodhicitta isn't motivation, because whether others need help doesn't depend on my private moods.

That means when we do take bodhicitta as the reference point instead, then the usual things which torpedo motivation don't matter as much.

We're fortunate to have practices we can apply in health or illness, good moods and bad ones, fortune and tragedy. In that way, why vacillate when every circumstance can be made fruitful? :smile:
Amitābha Buddha!
OM MA NI PE ME HUNG
TAYATA OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE MAHA BEKANDZE RADZA SAMUDGATE SOHA

Pure Land Buddhism resources
* Teachings of Hōnen
* Jōdo-shū North America Buddhist Missions
* Free Pure Land books
* Taming the Monkey Mind
* Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith
* Pure Land Teachings of Master Chu-Hung

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:43 pm

The site is back so here are some extra commentaries:
Pema Chödrön wrote:The slogan "Don't vacillate" very much goes along with not being swayed by external circumstances. Whatever arises, you can keep your heart open. Beyond that, you can see shutting down or closing off as an opportunity to wake up. Spinning off when things are painful or pleasant presents an opportunity to practice lojong. You have good instructions on what to do with pain, breathing it in, becoming more intimate and making friends with it; you have instructions on what to do with pleasure, sending it out, giving away what you are most unwilling to lose. In this way we can begin to know the pain of others and wish for others to have happiness, using the joy and pleasure of our lives not as problems but as tools for benefiting others.
Jamgon Kongtrul wrote:A person who sometimes practices and sometimes doesn't has not developed a definite understanding of dharma. Don't have a lot of projects on your mind, but do mind training single-mindedly.
B. Alan Wallace wrote:We may practice the Mind Training enthusiastically for a few weeks or months, and then find that we have not yet attained bodhicitta. Feeling that it is not working, we shift to some other kind of practice. When this fails to give us the satisfaction we are looking for, we turn to yet another technique. After doing that for a while, we are dissatisfied and once again give the Mind Training a whirl. After carrying on like this for a while we say, "Fiddlesticks, none of that stuff works; let's go to a movie and forget about the whole business." This type of erratic discontinuity of practice is ineffective. We may give it a lot of effort, but it yields little benefit. This erratic quality can be especially a problem for Western dharma practitioners: how earnest we can be, and how totally erratic as well! A Tibetan lama once commented that Western dharma practice is often like taking a shower, then going out all spic and span to roll in some mud, then recognizing how filthy we are, going back into the shower, then going out to roll in the mud again.... A lot of time and effort is expended with very little to show for it.
We may have a fantastic technique, and practice with gusto when we are in a conducive environment such as a meditation course. But if technique is all we have, our practice falls like a house of cards as soon as that supportive environment is missing. What can provide the continuous incentive for maintaining a dharma practice that is not erratic? More understanding. When dharma begins to saturate the way we view the world, our attitudes and values, it naturally provides an ongoing impetus for us to apply the techniques we have learned. This wealth of theoretical background for practice is one of the great strong points of Tibetan Buddhism.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote:When we are content and our lives are going well, we feel inclined to practice; but when, for example, we are hungry and have nothing to eat, we lose interest. This is because we lack perfect confidence in the teachings. As the saying goes, 'Well fed and warm in the sun: that's when we look like practitioners. But when things go wrong, we are very ordinary people. The Dharma and our minds never seem to mingle. Bless us with the proper attitude!' And it is said too, 'Meditators whose behavior has drifted into ordinary ways will never be free. Reciting many mantras for the sake of appearances will not help us on the path.'
:buddha1:
Amitābha Buddha!
OM MA NI PE ME HUNG
TAYATA OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE MAHA BEKANDZE RADZA SAMUDGATE SOHA

Pure Land Buddhism resources
* Teachings of Hōnen
* Jōdo-shū North America Buddhist Missions
* Free Pure Land books
* Taming the Monkey Mind
* Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith
* Pure Land Teachings of Master Chu-Hung

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:57 pm

Today's slogan is #54, Train wholeheartedly.

The daily card includes this summary:
Have confidence in yourself and trust the practice.
There is nothing to doubt.
Additional translations: Practice decisively. Do not underestimate your ability. Be zealous in your training.

Commentaries:
Pema Chödrön wrote:You could say, "Live wholeheartedly." Let everything stop your mind and let everything open your heart. And you could say, "Die wholeheartedly, moment after moment." Moment after moment, let yourself die wholeheartedly.
I have a friend who is extremely ill, in the final stages of cancer. The other night Dzongzar Khyentse Rinpoche telephoned her, and the very first words he said were, "Don't even think for a moment that you're not going to die." That's good advice for all of us; it will help us to live and train wholeheartedly.

These teachings are elusive, even though they seem so concrete: if it hurts, breathe in it; if it's pleasant, send it out. It isn't really something that you finally and completely "get." We can read Trungpa Rinpoche's commentaries on mind training and read the text by Jamgyon Kongtrul. We can read them and try to apply them to our lives, and we can let them continually haunt us, haunt us into understanding what it really means to exchange oneself for others. What does that really mean? And what does it mean to be a child of illusion? What does it mean to drive all blames into oneself or to be grateful to everyone? What is bodhichitta, anyway? Trying to speak these teachings to you is-for me-a chance to digest them further. Now you are going to find yourselves speaking them and living them and digesting them. May you practice these teachings and take them to heart. May you make them your own and spread them to others.
Rabten & Dhargyey wrote:We should cease weighing our capability for doing a task then recoiling from work we consider beyond our capacities. When we are deeply involved in the practice, we should not shirk responsibility. Instead, we should unhesitatingly give ourselves to any beneficial task, no matter what it might be. We should be like warriors and face any task without a trace of fear or reticence. However, in the initial stages of practice, it is unwise to grasp at what is overly difficult, for the mental inability to cope may lead to unnecessary depression and discouragement. Yet as we develop our mind, it is important to eradicate all delusions of incapability that we may harbor.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote:Let us train wholeheartedly, completely saturating ourselves with the Mind Training; sometimes meditating on emptiness, sometimes on detachment from this life and sometimes on compassion towards beings. Through investigation and examination, we should endeavor to practice the methods of cultivating the Mind Training more and more.
---

Here's a quote from Lama Yeshe that I think simply states what training wholeheartedly is like, regardless of the specific form of practice.
Lama Yeshe wrote:Imagine that any actions you do with your body, speech and mind become the means for the increase of bodhicitta. Think that no matter what you do, it will be an enhancement for the bodhicitta in your mind and also that you will never be separated from it.
A form of practice is a vehicle to actualize bodhicitta, not an end unto itself. I can get caught on the surface forms, anxiously trying to find the "best fit". Exploring these slogans one by one has been helpful in this way, diving more deeply into these teachings, and especially into bodhicitta.

I'm a bit surprised by how different the Rabten & Dhargyey translation is, "do not underestimate your ability." But it's applicable to wholeheartedness too. Mind training can be difficult and sometimes discouraging. I have to remember that I'm not trying to meticulously build up some shiny new buddha, but uncovering the nature which is already there, even if it's temporarily obscured.
Amitābha Buddha!
OM MA NI PE ME HUNG
TAYATA OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE MAHA BEKANDZE RADZA SAMUDGATE SOHA

Pure Land Buddhism resources
* Teachings of Hōnen
* Jōdo-shū North America Buddhist Missions
* Free Pure Land books
* Taming the Monkey Mind
* Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith
* Pure Land Teachings of Master Chu-Hung

Jeff H
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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:43 pm

54. Train Whole-Heartedly
“Have confidence in yourself and trust the practice. There is nothing to doubt.”

This one includes three elements: training, wholeheartedly, with confidence.

But I have a little trouble with the brief explanation on today’s card when it says, “There is nothing to doubt.” I personally think confidence includes trusting myself to eventually gain certainty by applying healthy doubt. Doubt is part of the navigation system when I “train wholeheartedly with confidence in myself and trust in the practice.” Doubt is the antidote to manufactured certainty and blind faith. It’s what keeps us delving deeper to penetrate the subtlety of the teachings. Certainty will come, but we don’t start out with it.

Khensur Jampa Tegchok (Insight Into Emptiness) says, “Doubt challenges the ignorance on which the entire heap of samsaric duhkha stands; thus it spoils the foundation of cyclic existence.” And he quotes Aryadeva, “Those with little merit / Do not even doubt this doctrine. / Entertaining just a doubt / Tears into tatters worldly existence.” The point is that we carry our delusions with us as we try to follow Buddha’s path, so we need to constantly question our internal interpretations of what we are learning.

I think wholehearted commitment is not about banishing doubt, but more like the attitude of a bodhisattva warrior described by Geshes Rabten and Dhargyey in Advice from a Spiritual Friend.
Geshes Rabten & Dhargyey wrote:We should cease weighing our capability for doing a task then recoiling from work we consider beyond our capacities. When we are deeply involved in the practice, we should not shirk responsibility. Instead, we should unhesitatingly give ourselves to any beneficial task, no matter what it might be. We should be like warriors and face any task without a trace of fear or reticence. However, in the initial stages of practice, it is unwise to grasp at what is overly difficult, for the mental inability to cope may lead to unnecessary depression and discouragement. Yet as we develop our mind, it is important to eradicate all delusions of incapability that we may harbor.
Judy Lief emphasizes the practice side of lojong as an essential and practical method for opting out of our “ego game”, which distorts our understanding.
Judy Lief wrote:We are all about being solid, and we are ready to pounce on anything that threatens our fixed view of ourselves. At the same time, we are always scanning, seeking ways to secure ourselves further. Ego plays both a defensive and offensive game.

Ironically, our ego trickery is such that even studying the dharma and the slogans and the philosophy of mind training can be co-opted as further credentials. That is why study alone is not enough. For these teachings to have any effect at all they need to actually be practiced. …

You should bring your heart and your emotions into the practice so that you can feel more and more deeply the contrast between ego-imprisonment and freedom.
The wholehearted practice of this slogan is about life and death, as Pema Chodron points out.
Pema Chodron wrote:You could say, "Live wholeheartedly." Let everything stop your mind and let everything open your heart. And you could say, "Die wholeheartedly, moment after moment." Moment after moment, let yourself die wholeheartedly.
She also adds a pithy remark about lojong practice in general which captures the spirit of this very thread that Monlam Tharchin started.
These teachings are elusive, even though they seem so concrete: if it hurts, breathe [it in]; if it's pleasant, send it out. It isn't really something that you finally and completely "get." We can read [various commentaries] and try to apply them to our lives, and we can let them continually haunt us, haunt us into understanding what it really means to exchange oneself for others. What does that really mean? And what does it mean to be a child of illusion? What does it mean to drive all blames into oneself or to be grateful to everyone? What is bodhichitta, anyway? Trying to speak these teachings to you is –- for me -– a chance to digest them further. Now you are going to find yourselves speaking them and living them and digesting them. May you practice these teachings and take them to heart. May you make them your own and spread them to others.
1315
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 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:00 pm

That's something very useful to explore. What would you say is the difference between uncertainty and doubt? And how does that relate to the doubt described as one of the Five Fetters?
Amitābha Buddha!
OM MA NI PE ME HUNG
TAYATA OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE MAHA BEKANDZE RADZA SAMUDGATE SOHA

Pure Land Buddhism resources
* Teachings of Hōnen
* Jōdo-shū North America Buddhist Missions
* Free Pure Land books
* Taming the Monkey Mind
* Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith
* Pure Land Teachings of Master Chu-Hung

Jeff H
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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:39 pm

Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:00 pm
That's something very useful to explore. What would you say is the difference between uncertainty and doubt? And how does that relate to the doubt described as one of the Five Fetters?
Yes, I suppose some context is in order. “Certainty”, as a Buddhist principle, is new for me since I’ve started looking into Dzogchen. So I haven’t got much to say about Certainty/Uncertainty.

In my lam rim training, we learned that doubt is the second step of a five- or seven-fold sequence in the development of consciousness. The five-fold division is: Wrong consciousness; Doubt; Correct assumption; Inferential cognition; and Direct perception.

In that model, doubt is a wavering mind. It is characterized as either: leaning toward error; leaning toward truth; or equally undecided. It’s the first crucial step toward liberation because by introducing a contradictory concept, such as “how can I consider myself permanent when I know I will die?” we have begun the process of unraveling samsara.

Khensur Jampa Tegchok was using it in the sense of “doubt leaning toward truth” in my reference. The moment you question the absolute dominion of materialism, you’ve created a tear in the fabric of samsara that can eventually destroy it.

I guess my objection is that without qualifying the term “doubt”, it opens the door to false certainty.
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 21, 2017 2:45 pm

BTW, I neglected to address the fetter of doubt. I am not familiar with the teaching on "Five Fetters", but I looked it up and Wikipedia says
In general, "doubt" (vicikicchā) refers to doubt about the Buddha's teachings, the Dhamma. (Alternate contemporaneous teachings are represented in the adjacent table.)
More specifically, in SN 22.84, the Tissa Sutta,[25] the Buddha explicitly cautions against uncertainty regarding the Noble Eightfold Path, which is described as the right path to Nibbana, leading one past ignorance, sensual desire, anger and despair.
That meaning would be classified as "doubt leaning to error" in the system I learned. But "doubt leaning to truth", which questions the validity of one's conventional misunderstandings, is a means of entry to the Buddha's teachings. It's similar to Shantideva using anger to defeat anger, and pride to defeat pride.
In chapter four Shantideva wrote: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.
So my objection to yesterday's card was simply one of context. I think the bald statement, "there is nothing to doubt" is misleading and contrary to the teaching that we must investigate all the teachings to confirm and appropriate them for ourselves.
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 21, 2017 4:39 pm

Today's slogan is #55, Liberate yourself by examining and analyzing.

Other translations: Find Freedom Through Both Examination and Investigation. Free Yourself by Means of Investigation and Analysis. Free Yourself by Analysis and Testing.

Commentaries:
Jamgon Kongtrul wrote:You must find freedom from disturbing emotions and ego-clinging by constantly examining and investigating your course of experience. Therefore, turn your attention to an object that gives rise to disturbing emotions. Examine carefully whether they arise or not. If they do arise, apply remedies vigorously. Again, look at ego clinging to see what it is like If it appears that no ego clinging is present, examine it again in reference to an object of attachment or aversion. If ego-cherishing then arises, immediately stop it with the remedy of exchanging yourself for others.
B. Alan Wallace wrote:In this sixteenth practice we are told to investigate and identify our most predominant mental distortion. Are we angry or aggressive? Do we tend to have a lot of attachment, or anxiety, or confusion, or perhaps sheer ignorance? Are jealousy or selfishness major problems? The task is to identify our major source of mental affliction.
The author then directs us to seek out the objects that trigger this mental distortion. Having done so, the opportunity to liberate ourselves from this affliction becomes fertile. When we find ourselves in the type of situation that stimulates our predominant mental distortion, we can be especially aware and very much in the present. We can come like a warrior onto the battle ground, prepared to apply all of our dharma wisdom to the attenuation and eventual eradication of that mental distortion. If the external situation is overwhelming, and our mental distortions will inevitably overpower our antidotes, it is better to withdraw than to be conquered. If defeat cannot be avoided, then avoid that situation.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote:Let us first examine which of our emotions is strongest. Then let us make a concerted effort to generate its antidote, investigating whether the emotion increases when we are confronted by certain specific situations. We should observe whether it arises or not, recognize it and, with the help of the antidote, rid ourselves of it, persevering until it no longer arises.
Pema Chödrön wrote:This slogan about liberating yourself by examining and analyzing simply means, as with the slogans "Don't be jealous," "Don't be frivolous," and "Don't wallow in self-pity, " that the first step is to see yourself jealous, see yourself frivolous, see yourself wallowing in self-pity. You think to yourself, "Well, what would Dr. Seuss do in this situation?" Instead of using it as ammunition against yourself, you can lighten up and realize it's the information that you need in order to keep your heart open.
Amitābha Buddha!
OM MA NI PE ME HUNG
TAYATA OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE MAHA BEKANDZE RADZA SAMUDGATE SOHA

Pure Land Buddhism resources
* Teachings of Hōnen
* Jōdo-shū North America Buddhist Missions
* Free Pure Land books
* Taming the Monkey Mind
* Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith
* Pure Land Teachings of Master Chu-Hung

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Sat Oct 21, 2017 5:30 pm

55. Liberate Yourself by Examining and Analyzing
“Identify your major afflictive emotions, learn to recognize situations that cause these emotions to flare up, and apply your mind training strategies.”

Like many of these lojong slogans, it can sound easy. But lojong is not a simple practice. As with all the teachings, we need to proceed deeper into the subtleties.

The heading for this one on the Web Archive page is “free yourself by first watching, then analyzing”. And Chogyam Trungpa’s commentary is only three sentences:
CT wrote: Simply look at your mind and analyze it. By doing these two things, you should be liberated from kleshas and ego-clinging. Then you can practice lojong.
Geshes Rabten and Dhargyey clarify the process a little more.
R&D wrote: The essence of examination is trying to judge which mental afflictions arise more frequently and are stronger. The essence of analysis is trying to recognize the objects that provoke the afflictions to arise. Thus, by these two methods we should apply ourselves to preventing the [arising] of any defilements and thereby gain liberation from them.
And Judy Lief brings home the practice.
JL wrote:This slogan focuses on two major obstacles to realization: ego-clinging and disturbing emotions. The idea is that it is important to really look into those two patterns. In fact, it is so important that you may need to actually conjure them up so that you can examine them in detail.

The usual idea of meditation practice is to calm down, relax, and have a little break. But according to lojong training, unless you are willing to scrutinize your deep-rooted emotional undercurrents and long-standing fixation on yourself, your so-called calmness and relaxation will be superficial.


In working with this slogan, you deliberately and systematically bring to mind the kinds of situations that make you crazy and that trigger your defensiveness. You push your own buttons, and then see what happens, and what you find is that just thinking about such things is usually enough to create a whoosh of simultaneous emotional upheaval and a re-solidified focus on the self.

Destructive patterns thrive on being hidden. That is what allows them to maintain their power. But if you are brave enough to arouse these powerful forces, to confront them, and to examine them, you can begin to free yourself from their control. Ironically, in order to develop true peace, you need to be willing to rile things up.
The phrase “destructive patterns thrive on being hidden” brings to mind Shantideva.
In chapter 4 Shantideva wrote:30. If all the gods and demigods besides
Together came against me as my foes,
They would be powerless to throw me down
To fires of hell of Unrelenting Pain.

31. And yet the mighty fiend of my afflictions
Flings me in an instant headlong down
To where the mighty lord of mountains
Would be burned, its very ashes all consumed.

35. And if the jail guards of the prisons of saṃsāra,
The butchers and tormentors of infernal realms,
All lurk within me in the web of craving,
What joy can ever be my destiny?

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?
And that’s all there is to it, “Simply look at your mind and analyze it.”

1367
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sun Oct 22, 2017 6:56 pm

Today's slogan is #56, Don't wallow in self-pity.

The online card has this summary: Feeling sorry for yourself is a waste of time. You have the knowledge to liberate yourself — apply it.

Additional translations: Don't make a fuss. Do not be boastful. Don't take what you do too seriously.

Commentaries:
Chogyam Trungpa wrote:Don't feel sorry for yourself. If somebody else achieves success or inherits a million dollars, don't waste time feeling bad because it wasn't you.
Pema Chödrön wrote:That's a good one to remember if you find that the tonglen practice has you crying a lot. This whole approach could evolve into self-pity very easily, and self-pity takes a lot of maintenance. You have to talk to yourself quite a bit to keep it up. the slogan is saying to get to know what self-pity feels like underneath the story line. That's how the training develops a genuine, openhearted, intelligent relationship with the whole variety of human experience.
We're so funny: the people who are crying a lot think that they shouldn't be, and the people who aren't crying think they should be. One man said to me that since he's not feeling anything when he does tonglen practice, maybe he should leave; he felt that he wasn't getting the point. He wasn't feeling mushy or warm; he was just kind of numb. I had to encourage him that a genuine experience of numbness is a genuine experience of what it is to be human.

It's all raw material for waking up. you can use numbness, mushiness, and self-pity even - it doesn't matter what it is - as long as you can go deeper, underneath the story line. That's where you connect with what it is to be human, and that's where the joy and the well-being come from - from the sense of being real and seeing realness in others.
Jamgon Kongtrul wrote:Don't make a big fuss even when you are kind to another person, because you are, in fact, just working at regarding others as more important than yourself. Since all the time and hardship you put into being well educated, moral, and practicing the dharma benefit you, there is no point in making a fuss about it to others. Don't trade boasts with others. In the counsels of Ra-treng, it says: 'Don't expect much of people; pray to your yidam.'
B. Alan Wallace wrote:The examples that illustrate this seventeenth practice focus on drawing attention to our practice. We may point out some great kindness we have shown to others, of which they may have been unaware. Or we describe how our practice is going so well, the amazing insights we have reached during a retreat, how austere we have been, sleeping just three hours a night.... Even if we are accurate, this exaltation of our own greatness is not a sign of mental maturity, but instead pollutes our spiritual practice. Rather than serving as an antidote to mental distortions, this actually feeds our egotism and our sense of superior self-importance.
Rabten & Dhargyey wrote:To have practiced only slightly yet to boast pretentiously to someone else as if it were a great achievement is contrary to our practice and must be avoided.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote:If we help others by providing them with food and clothing, by freeing them from prison, or by promoting them to some position of importance, it should not be with the expectation of some kind of recognition. If we practice intensely and for a long time, or if we are knowledgeable and disciplined, we should not expect to be respected for it.
If, on the other hand, we find that others know a great deal, we should pray for them to become really learned; if they are very disciplined, we should pray for them to be like the disciples at the time of Buddha; if we see people practicing, we should pray that their minds be blended with the practice, that their practice be without obstacle and that their paths might lead to the final goal. That is how we should meditate, caring more for others than for ourselves.

But if we manage to do so, we should not congratulate ourselves on having done something great or extraordinary. 'Do not rely on other human beings; just pray to the yidam.' Such was the advice of Radreng. Therefore, do not count on others to help with food, clothing, etc. Rather have a confident faith in the Three Jewels. As it is said, 'Trusting in the Teacher is the ultimate refuge, working for the benefit of others is the ultimate Bodhicitta, therefore do not brag about your accomplishments.' We should always have this attitude, because if we depend on others, the results may not be as we wish.
---

I'm a bit perplexed by the diversity of the translations, but they all seem to come to a similar point: not everything revolves around me.

Ever fall into this kind of thinking? "I'm not doing these practices right. Isn't this just a waste of time? Sure, I can imagine taking on others' suffering in my quiet meditation space, what a joke to think I'd actually do something in real life! I can barely handle my own garbage, let alone someone else's."

Or how about, "wow things are going great for once. There's really something to this. Look how much kinder and more patient I am, I'm sure others have noticed."

I, me, my, myself, best for me, worst for me, incapable me, transformed me... One suffering thought after another, leading only downwards. I seem to bounce between that puffed up and deflated kind of practice. And I'll never call it what it is :pig: "Self-pity" is just "reasonable doubts" and "being honest about my abilities". And boasting is "making real progress" or "being a good example for others" and so on. What a load of stress.

Here's a litmus test: who are you acting or not acting for?

I'm coming to these teachings after several years of scattered practice and religion hopping. Some days are very hard and all I can do is squeak out some mantras. Other days I feel very encouraged and energetic. Finding the thread of practice through it all is not easy in the slightest. I'm trying to hold fast to bodhicitta and these slogans, even if it's with two fingers and a wrinkled nose some days.

I love the translations, "don't make a fuss" and "don't take what you do too seriously." Why not? Isn't the Dharma the unsurpassed wisdom and salvation of beings in samsara and so on? Well yes, but if we accept that our buddha-nature is effortlessly compassionate, acting without acting, unstained by affliction, isn't it the most ordinary, the most unpretentious thing in the world to refrain from harm, to do good for others, and to rest in our nature? A friend who's always telling you how good of a friend they are raises red flags.

A big fuss, a big pity show, being Buddha's gift to mankind, these are something extra.

A small note: CT appears to interpret this slogan as a call to remember mudita, joy in other's success and wellbeing.

Another small note: there is very deep wisdom in JK's advice, "Don't expect much of people; pray to your yidam". I see it ties in with slogan #34. That is, awakening takes place in relation to our yidam, our true nature, not in what other people will or won't do for us.
Amitābha Buddha!
OM MA NI PE ME HUNG
TAYATA OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE MAHA BEKANDZE RADZA SAMUDGATE SOHA

Pure Land Buddhism resources
* Teachings of Hōnen
* Jōdo-shū North America Buddhist Missions
* Free Pure Land books
* Taming the Monkey Mind
* Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith
* Pure Land Teachings of Master Chu-Hung

Jeff H
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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:32 pm

56. Don’t Wallow In Self-Pity
“Feeling sorry for yourself is a waste of time. You have the knowledge to liberate yourself — apply it.”

Like MT, I find a lot of variety in the comments for this one, but an alternate overall sense I get is that all the many forms it takes address the following thought: “Why should I bother with this difficult lojong practice when others don’t care?”

I think Shunryu Suzuki gets to the heart of it:
Suzuki Roshi wrote: [A frog] sits like us, too, you know. But he does not think that he is doing anything so special. When you go to a zendo and sit, you may think you are doing some special thing. While your husband or wife is sleeping, you are practicing zazen! You are doing some special thing, and your spouse is lazy! … If you think, "I am sitting here, and my spouse is in bed," then even though you are sitting here in the cross-legged position, that is not true zazen. You should be like a frog always. That is true zazen.
Gyalwa Gendun Druppa doesn’t include an exact phrase about self-pity or boasting, but, although it might be a stretch, I include his verse “crush all excuses” because I think it addresses this same point.
GGD wrote:Sometimes we may find ourself using excuses to validate our enmity toward others, such as “He did this and this.” It is better to crush the inimical mind and instead meditate on cultivating a sense of love for all, that does not see some as near and others as far.
Alex Berzin says “don’t meditate with a sense of loss” which he explains with a personal example:
AB wrote:When I lived in India, I had a beautiful flower garden and in my meditation I would make flower offerings to everybody. But, when local children would pick them to take them home, I noticed that I would get very uptight. This is what a “sense of loss” refers to.
Also, we shouldn’t remind others of the favors we’ve done for them, or how much we’ve sacrificed to help them. Even more importantly, we should never boast about our own practices.
Judy Lief says that when the practice gets hard we may be inclined to romanticize the idea that “ignorance is bliss”.
JL wrote:Instead of wallowing in your own fascination either with being special or not getting what you deserve, you could practice thinking of others for a while.
Pema Chodron adds:
PC wrote:Self-pity takes a lot of maintenance. You have to talk to yourself quite a bit to keep it up. The slogan is saying to get to know what self-pity feels like underneath the story line.
(Emphasis added)

Jamgon Kongtrul says “don’t make a fuss”.
JK wrote:Don't make a big fuss even when you are kind to another person, because you are, in fact, just working at regarding others as more important than yourself. Since all the time and hardship you put into being well educated, moral, and practicing the dharma benefit you, there is no point in making a fuss about it to others.
Of course, Shantideva has something to say on the matter. Among other things he says:
In chapter 8 Shantideva wrote:109. The work of bringing benefit to beings
Will not, then, make me proud and self-admiring.
The happiness of others is itself my satisfaction;
I do not expect another recompense.

116. Thus when I work for others’ sake,
There’ll be no sense of boasting self-congratulation.
It is just as when I feed myself —
I don’t expect to be rewarded!
Geshes Rabten and Dhargyey wrap it up nicely with this gem:
R&D wrote:As it is said, 'Trusting in the Teacher is the ultimate refuge, working for the benefit of others is the ultimate Bodhicitta, therefore do not brag about your accomplishments.'
1435
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:43 pm

57. Don’t Be Jealous
“No one has anything to be envious of. You have obtained the greatest gift — the rest is just practice.”

One of the most repeated phrases in the commentaries points out the fact that jealousy and similar reactive emotions are excellent reminders of our own, untreated ego-clinging.

My primary acquaintance with the seven-point training comes from the Gelug tradition, so some of my resources don’t seem to have the same verses as this 59-slogan version. But for this one, I found that Judy Lief provides some linkage to verses in Gyalwa Gendun Druppa’s version.
JL wrote:This slogan is not only about jealousy, but also about overall irritability. … At times we are thin-skinned and bristle at the slightest provocation, and at other times we hide out under a thick layer of armor. But instead of bouncing between those two extremes, we can develop softness and toughness hand in hand, so that the heightened sensitivity and greater mindfulness that develop through the practice do not simply provide more reasons to be either jealous and upset or closed off and hunkered down. … Jealousy feeds self-absorption and makes you feel like a big ball of resentment and petty-mindedness. … You can relate matter-of-factly to an emotion like jealousy, and stop seeing it as a mistake, threat, or embarrassment. It may come and go, but it no longer captures you.
Related to that passage, Gyalwa Gendun Druppa has three verses I find similar.
“Do not harbor resentment.”
GGD wrote: Should someone harm you in any way, do not dwell on thoughts such as, “He did this and this to me.” Don’t allow your mind to entertain negative mental images of others.
“Avoid yet practice getting tough”
GGD wrote:There is no need to get tough with humans or non-humans; in fact, to do so is harmful to us both conventionally and spiritually. With what should we get tough? With the self-cherishing attitude, which is the root of all our suffering. We should make this the target of our every spiritual endeavor.
“Do not depend on soft treatment”
GGD wrote:Some practitioners are able to practice love and compassion toward pleasant beings, but toward those who cause hardships they harbor resentment. We should not be like that.
Pema Chodron says it’s about being aware and gently applying the antidote.
PC wrote:If everybody on the planet could experience seeing what they do with gentleness, everything would start to turn around very fast, even if we didn't get to the second difficulty. … The second difficulty is to do something different. Even if you see what you do, can you then do something different? … Even when we're given the methods for how to give ourselves a break, we are so stubborn.
That stubborn mind is what lojong, mind transformation, seeks to transform.

Another version I have says, “Do not retaliate to verbal abuse” and Alan Wallace says,
AW wrote:When someone is insulting, hostile, or just thoughtless to us, this practice entails not retaliating, neither manifestly in actions of body or speech, nor even with our minds. … Anything that helps us to measure the present level of our self-grasping is to our benefit, and one such measure consists in noting how easily we are insulted. … When a vicious word produces just the slightest flutter but no contorted fist in our hearts, it is a very good sign indeed.
Jamgon Kongtrul says very directly, “Dharma, to be effective, must remedy ego-clinging.”

1458
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 24, 2017 2:34 pm

58. Don’t Be Frivolous
“Don’t let trivial things disturb your practice or turn you against others. Make practice the unshakable center of your life.”

I find that the explanation above (given with the Online Lojong slogan card) speaks the message of foregoing frivolity most clearly to me. The warning, with regard to both the Dharma and the people around us, is to not be fickle in our commitments or distracted from our practice. It means “keep your eye on the prize”.

Malcolm said something relevant to this slogan in another, current thread:
Malcolm wrote:When one is a famous teacher, with a penchant for gab, one eventually learns that one needs to limit what one says, otherwise, one can risk one's reputation. Buddha did not crack jokes, for example. Neither did Guru Rinpoche. Of course, we like jokes, and many people found [DJKR’s] joke very funny.

Judy Lief explains it as a balance.
JL wrote:It is tricky to work with frivolity. First, it is easy to confuse it with the kind of openness, light-heartedness and playful childlike mind that is cultivated by meditative practice. Frivolity can seem to be a virtue, but it isn’t. Second, it is possible to overcorrect, to counter frivolity with an overblown display of seriousness. But the mind/heart cultivated by mind training is neither stodgy nor frivolous. The idea is to avoid both those extremes.

You could say that the play between seriousness and frivolity is a kind of Buddhist humor. The most solemn occasions have an undercurrent of absurdity; and the silliest interactions have an undertone of profundity.
Alan Wallace points out that being fickle is contrary to our pledge to benefit beings or our aspiration to bodhisattvahood.
AW wrote:It especially concerns our relationship with other people. Presenting ourselves to others as a trustworthy friend and then letting them down is being fickle. And being fickle is incompatible with the aspiration of entering into the Bodhisattva's way of life.
According to Alex Berzin, “Shantideva provides the best advice: be easy-going with people; don’t spend the whole day in gossip and idle chatter, but don’t be completely silent either.” Here’s what Shantideva actually says on the matter:
In chapter 5, regarding how to post the sentinel of vigilant introspection, Shantideva wrote: 35. I shall never, vacantly,
Allow my gaze to wander all around,
But rather with a focused mind
Will always go with eyes cast down.

36. But that I may relax my gaze,
I’ll sometimes raise my eyes and look around.
And if there are some people standing in my sight,
I’ll look at them and greet them with a friendly word.
In chapter 8, as he speaks about solitude for meditative equipoise leading up to exchanging self with others, Shantideva wrote: 13. Keep company with them and what will follow?
Self-aggrandizement and scorn for others,
Talk about the “good things” of saṃsāra —
Every kind of vice is sure to come.

14. Only ruin can result
From such a link between myself and others.
For they will bring no benefit to me,
And I in turn can do them nothing good.

15. Therefore flee the company of childish people.
Greet them, when you meet, with smiles
That keep on terms of common courtesy,
Without inviting intimate relations.

16. Like bees that get their honey from the flowers,
Take only what will serve the practice of the Dharma.
Treat everyone like new acquaintances
And keep yourself from close familiarity.
The purpose of not being frivolous is, as Gyalwa Gendun Druppa calls this verse, to “accomplish what is the most meaningful”.
GGD wrote: Well then, what is most meaningful? It is the inner spiritual activities, such as maintaining the spiritual commitments and precepts we have adopted; and cultivating our stream of being through the threefold application of hearing, contemplation and meditation. Take these up in order to be of maximum benefit to the world.
1490
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 24, 2017 4:13 pm

#57 Alternate translations: Do not retaliate. Do not be bad tempered. Don't be caught up in irritations.

Commentaries:
Rabten & Dhargyey wrote:We should ignore any harmful or hateful actions directed against us, and instead of retaliating, we should practice patience. In the same way, we should not keep close track of someone's harmful actions against us, repressing our anger momentarily while accumulating desire for future revenge.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote:If it happens that we are slighted in public, we should never think to ourselves that despite the fact that we are such good practitioners, people have no regard for us and do not come to pay respects or to receive our blessings. We should not react with annoyance and harsh words. At the moment, because we have not used the teachings as an antidote for ego-clinging, our patience and forbearance are more fragile than a blister and we are as irritable as a bear with a sore head. All that because we have failed to use the instructions as an antidote.
This slogan ties into several others with the idea that cherishing others and working to uproot self-cherishing is multi-dimensional work. That is, there aren't only one or two ways we privilege ourselves at the expense of others. Anger and hurt feelings are in fact very deeply rooted forms of self-cherishing. It's not that others are automatically always right, but that self-cherishing only compounds our troubles and complicates the situation.
Of course, the remedy isn't to become a doormat but to practice the Paramita of patience so a response based on bodhicitta is more likely.

The Eight Verses of Training the Mind also has a verse about this:
5. Whenever someone out of envy
Does me wrong by attacking or belittling me,
I will take defeat upon myself,
And give the victory to others.
---

#58 Additional translation: Don't be temperamental.

Commentaries:
Jamgon Kongtrul wrote:Don't trouble the minds of your companions by showing your pleasure or displeasure on every little matter.
Rabten & Dhargyey wrote:We are being inconsistent and fickle when initially we have much devotion and love for our spiritual friends and then suddenly develop dislike and disrespect for them.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote:Because of its transparency, a crystal ball takes on the color of whatever it is standing on. In the same way, there are some practitioners who, if they are given a lot of money, will have all sorts of positive thoughts. 'Oh, this is such a kind sponsor,' they will say. But if they get nothing, they will say bad things and hold a grudge. We should not be swayed by such trivial things.
Through countless rebirths, we've been in just about every station in life and in every relationship with every other being. My mother was a stranger in the last life; my best friend was my enemy. I was rich, now I'm poor; I was cruel, now I'm patient. These kinds of changes can happen even within one lifetime. And the same is true for every other being.

So what sense does it make to get blown around by every little up and down? And especially to microscopically react to other beings' behavior when, at this point, we've seen it all? Realizing the immensity of suffering that beings experience in samsara over eons, compassion wells up in our hearts, as well as a drive to do something about it. Such a long-term vision is infinitely more useful than short-term fixation on rights and wrongs.
Amitābha Buddha!
OM MA NI PE ME HUNG
TAYATA OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE MAHA BEKANDZE RADZA SAMUDGATE SOHA

Pure Land Buddhism resources
* Teachings of Hōnen
* Jōdo-shū North America Buddhist Missions
* Free Pure Land books
* Taming the Monkey Mind
* Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith
* Pure Land Teachings of Master Chu-Hung

Jeff H
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Location: Vermont, USA

Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Wed Oct 25, 2017 2:12 pm

59. Don’t Expect Applause
“Render service to all without expecting rewards or gratitude.”

As with yesterday’s slogan, where we all enjoy good jokes, here we’re being admonished to think more deeply about how our love of praise and recognition affects our Dharma practice.

When some people give a gift they expect to retain control of it. They want to see it displayed, or they expect the recipient to use it in a certain way, and, of course, we all expect thanks. When I was a starving undergrad, and a smoker, I’d often bum cigarettes. If someone gave me a filter cigarette I’d thank them nicely, but then break off the filter. I remember how offended some people could get about that.

But we are told that the gift, the giver, and the recipient are empty, and yet the act of giving has meaning. When we give something, whether it’s a gift or some service, the Dharma says to do it from emptiness with no thought of attachment or return whatsoever.

Judy Lief says we should try to observe our wish for thanks from outside, to see how childish we look.
JL wrote:It is as if we were little children at a playground shouting. “Watch me, mama! Look at me! Look what I can do!” And when whatever we have done is not acknowledged or recognized, how quickly we get puffy and upset. This slogan gives us a chance to examine our whole relationship to approval and recognition, even fame.
She also points out it’s all about our expectations.
JL wrote:It is surprising how quickly our expectations trigger emotions such as anger, jealousy, righteous indignation, and self-pity.
Pema Chodron expands on the point about our expectations.
PC wrote:More than to expect thanks, it would be helpful just to expect the unexpected; then you might be curious and inquisitive about what comes in the door. We can begin to open our hearts to others when we have no hope of getting anything back. We just do it for its own sake.
She also reminds us that in Dharma, sometimes different rules apply to us and others. For example, Shantideva’s chapters four and five are all about a total lack of tolerance for our own delusions and afflictions. But chapter six is all about cultivating ultimate patience with those of others. Here Pema Chodron says,
PC wrote:On the other hand, it's good to express our gratitude to others. It's helpful to express our appreciation of others. But if we do that with the motivation of wanting them to like us, we can remember this slogan.
Alex Berzin relates this point to all eight worldly concerns:
AB wrote:This point includes avoiding the eight worldly dharmas, which are four pairs of opposite:
Getting excited at receiving some gain and depressed at receiving some loss;
Getting excited at things to go well and depressed at things to go badly;
Getting excited at receiving praise and depressed at receiving criticism;
Getting excited at receiving good news and depressed at receiving bad news.
I’d say these three short quotes sum it up:

“The desperation for outer rewards goes hand-in-hand with an increasing sense of inner poverty.” (Judy Lief)

“Let the act of kindness be so pure that we derive full satisfaction from the engagement of the deed.” (Alan Wallace)

And, “Now that you have studied all these slogans, don’t expect anyone to congratulate you!” (Judy Lief)

[But, of course, we haven’t finished because we started in the middle. Be back tomorrow with number one.]

1521
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 25, 2017 7:22 pm

Additional translations: Don't expect thanks. Do not desire gratitude. Do not expect to be rewarded.

Commentaries:
B. Alan Wallace wrote:When we render a service to others we may not hope for a reward as gross as money, or a favor in return, or a state of indebtedness; but we may still linger after the deed is done, as if we have one thread attached, wanting some acknowledgment, some show of gratitude. This is hardly a malignant attitude, and it certainly is very human. But we can do even better. Let the act of kindness be so pure that we derive full satisfaction from the engagement of the deed. And not just eighty percent satisfaction with twenty percent lingering in hopes of gratitude! Pure service simply reaches out without expecting return.
Rabten & Dhargyey wrote:When we benefit others, we should always do so with a pure mind, entirely dedicating every action so that those we help, as well as all other beings, may ultimately benefit and receive merit from this action. This should be our sole wish without ever entertaining the thought and hope to receive thanks or praise in return for what we give.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote:If we have been of help to others or have managed to practice, we should not expect thanks, praise or fame. If we practice the two Bodhicittas all our lives, perform our meditation and post-meditation properly, and if we mingle our minds with the view of meditation, our experience in day-to-day life will not be ordinary. Furthermore, if we are not distracted in our daily lives, this will help our meditation to progress. If, however, we meditate singlemindedly during the sessions, but afterwards are completely distracted, we will not gain confidence in the view of meditation. Conversely, if we develop virtuous habits in post-meditation but during the meditation session engage in useless activities, again our practice will be meaningless. Therefore we should make sure to train ourselves correctly.
---

A person can be completely sincere and energetic in practice, seeking out their afflictions and working on them, aiming to help others ever more... yet still end up doing what this slogan warns against.

I think everybody has actually already experienced what giving without expectations is like: a parent who cares for a sick child, a spouse who decides to do a chore so the other won't have to, a friend who does a little something extra solely to make us happy. So we're already familiar with the basic concept, it's just a matter of training to extend such selfless kindness to more and more beings. That's what makes the Four Immeasurables "immeasurable": not only their depth but especially the breadth of beings they concern.

As Jeff said, any creation of giver/object/recipient is in fact deluded, falling into concepts and ideas which set the stage for all kinds of trouble, such as expecting gratitude. Learning about and cultivating equanimity deliberately can help remove this obstacle, especially the practice of viewing all beings as our mothers. Lama Yeshe wrote some lovely instructions on equanimity.

Another helpful practice in purifying intent is the dedication of merits. That is, expressing the purpose of the fruits from each meditation session, practice, and act throughout the day. It reminds us of the "why". And of course that purpose is to unbind others from suffering, to establish them in lasting peace and happiness. This is itself an expression of bodhicitta, and a clue to why a verse of bodhicitta often follows a dedication.

Lama Yeshe again has written helpful words on dedication.

An example of some verses at the end of a practice session might be:
Through this merit, may all beings attain the omniscient state of enlightenment,
And conquer the enemy of faults and delusion,
May they all be liberated from this ocean of saṃsāra
And from its pounding waves of birth, old age, sickness and death!

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 ever more and more!
As an added note, I find some simple verses on the Four Immeasurables can help sort of set the destination for the merit of a good deed... Why did I just help someone out? Why did I overcome my temper today? In order that...
May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness.
May they be free of suffering and the cause of suffering.
May they never be disassociated from the supreme happiness which is without suffering.
May they remain in the boundless equanimity, free from both attachment to close ones and rejection of others.
Amitābha Buddha!
OM MA NI PE ME HUNG
TAYATA OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE MAHA BEKANDZE RADZA SAMUDGATE SOHA

Pure Land Buddhism resources
* Teachings of Hōnen
* Jōdo-shū North America Buddhist Missions
* Free Pure Land books
* Taming the Monkey Mind
* Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith
* Pure Land Teachings of Master Chu-Hung

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