Daily Lojong

Forum for discussion of Tibetan Buddhism. Questions specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
Jeff H
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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Fri Nov 24, 2017 3:57 pm

30. Don’t Be So Predictable
“Instead of responding to events with the same afflictive habitual response, respond in a new, less self-oriented manner.”

This one threw me at first, trying to coordinate and make sense of the various translations. Here are the translations:
 Avoid yet practice getting tough (Gyalwa Gendun Druppa)
 Don’t rely (on disturbing thoughts) as my excellent mainstay (Alex Berzin)
 Don’t be so predictable (Chogyam Trungpa, Pema Chodron, and Judy Lief)
 Don’t be consistent (Web Archive)
 Don’t rely on consistency (Jamgon Kongtrul)
 Do not devote yourself kindly to the central object (Alan Wallace)
 Do not serve the central object leniently (Rabten & Dhargyey)
 Do not be hidebound by a sense of duty (Dilgo Khyentse)

A good summary, I think is Alex Berzin’s:
AB (“Don’t rely (on disturbing thoughts) as my excellent mainstay”) wrote: We’ve got to be kind to others, and really unkind to our disturbing emotions.
But Alan Wallace’s translator’s perspective helped the most:
AW (“Do not devote yourself kindly to the central object”) wrote: This pledge also seems obscure at first. The Tibetan word translated here as central object refers to a central pillar or support, and is interpreted here as our own mental distortions. In other words, we should not bear a gentle, lenient attitude towards our own mental distortions. If we find ourselves responding with resentment to another person's disagreeable or unkind action, we should not treat our own distortion casually, saying, "What's a little bit of hostility or arrogance now and then?" This genial attitude to our own afflictions is to be abandoned, because it nurtures the distortion and prolongs it for days, years, and even decades, causing suffering for ourselves and others.
After that, the other translations and comments fell into place a little better. For example, Gyalwa Gendun Druppa says,
GGD (“Avoid yet practice getting tough”) 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.
Alex Berzin goes on to say,
AB wrote: This means that we don’t devote the major highway in our minds to disturbing thoughts rather than to positive thoughts and cherishing others. As soon as anger, attachment or self-cherishing arises, don’t play with it -– just shut it down immediately. If we think, “Well, let’s take it easy on ourselves, it’s not so bad that I’m getting angry,” it means we’re allowing disturbing emotions to drive in the main lane. Then, it’ll get stronger and stronger until it takes over and we lose control. …

There’s no need to go overboard with self-evaluation, but if we see that we have been acting negatively, then we can feel regret and resolve to improve. Remember that progress is non-linear –- some days are better than others. Still, we can try our best to act in a positive, less selfish way each day.
Pema Chodron talks about predictable behavior and how it affects our practice.
PC wrote: The next is "Don't be so predictable," which has also been translated as, "Don't be so trustworthy." It's an interesting one. It's getting at how predictable we are, as everybody in the advertising world knows. They know exactly what to put on those billboards and those ads to make us want to buy their products. Even intelligent people like ourselves are sometimes magnetized by this propaganda because we're so predictable. …

If someone does something nice for you, you always remember it and you want to repay their kindness. But if somebody hurts you, you remember it for the rest of your life and you always want to get revenge in one way or another. That's the meaning of this slogan "Don't be so predictable." Don't always react so predictably to pleasure and pain. Don't keep taking the wrong medicine for the illness.
Chogyam Trungpa’s comments remind me of GGD’s translation when he refers to the “twist”.
CT wrote: This slogan has an interesting twist. To begin with, we could use the analogy of the trustworthy friend. Some people are trustworthy people, traditional people, maybe you could say old-fashioned people. When you become friends with people like that, they always remember your friendship, and the trust between you lasts for a long time. In the example of the trustworthy person, you SHOULD always remember your connection with him or her and his or her connection with you. But if somebody gives you a bad deal, or if you have a lot of conflict with somebody, you should not constantly hold a grudge against him. In this case, the point is that you should NOT always remember somebody's bad dealings with you.
Judy Lief breaks it down quite well, I think, in terms of intentionally disrupting our habitual reactions.
JL wrote: When we work with mind training and the development of bodhichitta, we are interrupting our usual way of going about business. We find that many of our actions are programmed and extremely predictable and we notice that in other people as well. …

If we do not make an effort to do otherwise, if we do not pay attention, then much of what we do will be in the form of automatic reactions. We can see this whole process as it is happening, although often we do not. …

This kind of predictability is fueled by the self-centered undercurrent of fascination with our own concerns and disinterest in others except to the extent that they either threaten or feed our own desires. When someone does us harm, we hang onto our grudge about that for a very long time. But when someone helps us, we take it for granted, and soon forget it.
And as in previous comments, she again brings up that “gap” where freedom can change predictable patterns.
JL wrote:If we cultivate awareness enough to step back a bit from simply reacting, we can insert a gap or a pause before being carried away. In that little gap there is the freedom to respond in a fresh way, less predetermined. … When you feel threatened, don’t get defensive, pause, and then react. When you are praised, don’t just lap it up, pause, and then react.
Sometimes (not always!) the most tradition explanation is the clearest:
Geshes Rabten & Dhargyey wrote: This does not mean that we should not act kindly or gently toward other beings, but that we should not be lenient toward our emotional afflictions. It is entirely due to our indulgence in the afflictions of greed, aggression, and ignorance that we remain caught in the net of confusion; hereafter, we must stop being gentle with these true enemies and instead be gentle with other sentient beings.
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 » Sat Nov 25, 2017 2:31 pm

31. Don’t Malign Others
“There is never a good excuse to put other people down. Never.”

This one is quite straightforward and easy to understand. Not so easy to do, of course, but at least the slogan is clear. Even in it’s various translations it remains clear.

“Don’t respond with arrogance” is what Gyalwa Gendun Druppa says, and he explains it like this:
GGD wrote:that is to say, no matter what difficulties others may bring upon you, do not react with violence or with threatening words.
“Don’t malign others” is what Chogyam Trungpa, Pema Chodron, and Judy Lief say. Chodron gets right to the point,
PC wrote: The next one is very easy to understand: "Don't malign others." We put a lot of energy and time into gossiping about others.
Trungpa characteristically removes the sugar-coating,
CT wrote: You would like to put people in the wrong by saying disparaging things. However pleasantly coated with sugar and ice cream, underneath you are trying to put people down, trying to get revenge.
Lief (also characteristically) explains it patiently,
JL wrote: In working with the slogans, we are working not only with our actions, but with what is behind them. For instance, when we say something, we should ask ourselves why we are saying it, and for what purpose. Will what we say help the situation or not? Are we trying to connect with someone or get rid of them? Are we trying to help them or to destroy them? Or maybe we are talking just to talk, to fill the space because we are uneasy with the silence. …

Not maligning does not mean that we do not notice differences in people. It does not mean that we should not recognize people’s hateful or destructive attitudes and weaknesses when we encounter them or that we should not speak up. Everything does not just become a mush. But when we see other people’s problems without encumbering our perception by the need to prop up our own insecure ego, we can respond more directly and appropriately.
She asks us to consider:
JL wrote:What is the difference between speaking critically and using speech to harm or to destroy?
Alex Berzin says, “Don’t fly off into bad play” and advises that:
AB wrote: In these kinds of situations, the bodhisattva vows are very clear. The motivation for not getting back at someone who insulted us, is to avoid causing them harm, and to try and help them instead. We should try and use peaceful means as much as possible, but if they don’t work, even after we’ve given them a good chance, then we can stop violence and so on in a more forceful way. That would not be a violation of bodhisattva vows. One needs to be realistic.
Jamgon Kongtrul uses the translation, “Don't Be Excited by Cutting Remarks” and says,
JK wrote:In general, don't take joy in disparaging others.
(Although I think his meaning is not restricted to “taking joy”, since we might take no joy in the interaction at all. I think he’s referring to our own ego-building, what Judy Lief calls the comparison mind, rather than being happy about retaliating.)

Alan Wallace’s translation is, “Do Not Laugh at Malicious Jokes” in the sense of malicious sarcasm.
AW wrote: Do not make bad jokes. The author is not advising us to avoid bad puns, but is referring to malicious sarcasm. Don't make fun of other people in ways that would bring pain to their hearts. The temptation is especially strong when it entails the double satisfaction of disparaging another person and exalting ourselves at the same time by showing off our cleverness. Those of us prone to this type of humor need to address this by changing the conditioning of our speech. All types of harsh speech should be abandoned to avoid harming ourselves and others as well.
Dilgo Khyentse says, “Do Not Meet Abuse With Abuse”.
DK wrote:If people say to us, 'You are not a good practitioner. Your vows are useless,' we should not respond, by pointing out their defects, … let us not utter a word that will harm or make others unhappy. When things are not going well, we should not blame anyone else.
Geshes Rabten and Dhargyey wrap it up for us by telling us to just let it go. “Be Indifferent Toward Malicious Jokes”.
R&D wrote:When someone ridicules and insults us, we should not retaliate by returning the sarcasm and slander, but practice patience instead.
That would be a cue to reread Shantideva’s chapter six.

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 » Sun Nov 26, 2017 3:25 pm

32. Don’t Wait in Ambush
“Don’t wait until someone is weak or vulnerable before exacting revenge. In fact, give up vengefulness altogether.”

Revenge is a zero-sum game; getting even. We think someone “got us” meaning they won that point and we lost it. For the avenger, getting even means catching up, evening the score to restore equilibrium. But the victim of the vengeance believes he or she has been “gotten”; they feel they lost and the avenger won. So more vengeance is needed to “get even”. Better yet, do something worse to surge ahead. It’s an escalating spiral.

More basically, whenever we return offense for offense, we have not cancelled the original act, we’ve multiplied offensiveness. The bottom line is: don’t do that.

Alex Berzin quotes HHDL regarding the idea that vengeance shows strength.
AB wrote: This point is also about not retaliating. His Holiness puts it very nicely: if we don’t strike back, we’re often afraid that other people will see it as a sign of weakness, but actually it’s a sign of great strength. It’s weak to give in to anger, just acting like a small child or animal that instantly fights back. It takes much more strength to use our compassion and intelligence and have patience!
Chogyam Trungpa characterizes the quality of the mind that wants to ambush. He call it the bandit’s approach.
CT wrote: The Tibetan version of this slogan literally says "Don't ambush", that is, wait for somebody to fall down so you can attack. You are waiting for that person to fall into the trap or problem you want or expect. You want them to have that misfortune, and you hope that misfortune will take place in a way which will allow you to attack. … That is a sort of opportunism, a bandit's approach.
Judy Lief paints a picture of the scheming mind -- and who really controls it.
JL wrote: This slogan is about scheming mind, the mind that never forgets a slight or an insult. Instead it keeps eating away at us, sometimes for years, and even decades. …
Beyond simply carrying a grudge, we begin to plot our revenge. We wait patiently for just the right moment, a time when that person has let down their guard, or when they are in a weakened position, and then we let them have it. That is what waiting in ambush is all about. We think, “Just wait, I’ll get you back!” … It is easy to get caught up in a cycle where we dwell on the many insults we have endured. We stew about them and how unfair and undeserved they are. We dwell on that and let it fester, and slowly we build our case for ambush. We lay out our plans and wait, ready to pounce. But we have let the insult take us over, and by doing so we have become a slave to the actions of others. Those remembered insults we hold onto so tightly have taken over our mind. By working with this slogan, we can free ourselves from that unhealthy pattern.
[Emphasis added]
Pema Chodron puts it into the everyday context of a basically decent person and suggests communication as an antidote.
PC wrote: You have been taught that you should be a nice person; on the other hand, you don't feel so nice. Maybe you know something about your husband that he doesn't know you know. You keep it up your sleeve, waiting for just the right moment to spring it on him. One day you're in the middle of a big argument, very heated. He has just insulted you royally. At that moment you bring the ace down from your sleeve and really let him have it. That's called waiting in ambush. You are willing to be very patient until just the right moment comes along, and then you let someone have it. This isn't the path of the warrior, it's the path of the coward. Not only do you want to "win"; you aren't even willing to communicate. The aspiration to communicate with another person -- to be able to listen and to speak from the heart -- is what changes our old stuck patterns.
Alan Wallace elaborates on the way it affects us without us realizing it, and applies that to all the slogans.
AW wrote: What we are told to avoid here is biding our time to be especially hurtful, lashing back at someone maybe weeks or months after they have injured us, whether physically or verbally.

On first hearing verses such as this we may assume they do not apply to us. Obviously, this is meant for malicious people, and we are not among the bad guys. …

But our initial response may not be very insightful. In meditating on this [lojong] pledge as well as the others, the point is to examine our past experience and try to recall: Have I done this kind of thing before? … We need to check for ourselves whether each pledge is pertinent for our present situation, but they are all worthy of clear-minded, honest introspection that does not rely on the initial response, "Who, me?" Maybe, after more reflection, we may say, "Well, yes, at times." This does not mean that we are evil and vulgar, but simply that we have some work to do.
So, to summarize:
Jamgon Kongtrul wrote: When someone has caused you trouble, the tendency is to fix it in mind and never forget it though many years go by. When there is an opportunity to ambush the person and to return the injury, revenge is taken.
Geshes Rabten and Dhargyey wrote: It is contrary to our motivation to act like this toward those who have harmed us, waiting with a grudge for a suitable opportunity to retaliate.
Dilgo Khyentse wrote: We should relinquish any thoughts of this kind.
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 » Sun Nov 26, 2017 3:49 pm

Monlam Tharchin started this thread with slogan #33. Unfortunately he had to go on hiatus at the beginning of November after commenting on #4. I don’t know what the nature of the hiatus is, but I know from the PMs we shared that he had fully intended to complete all 59 slogans. That would have meant today would have been his last contribution.

We both found this lojong practice very stimulating, so I’m taking this occasion, the anniversary of MT’s inauguration of it, to suggest that someone else might want to take his place. There is a very modest readership of this thread and, I think, some are finding it useful. But the real point, and the benefit, is to do the work of thinking through each slogan for yourself. Reflecting enhances reading and stimulates practice. In my case, I jumped in on slogan #41, so I’ll be signing off after eight more, next Monday. Maybe there's someone else who wants to keep it going after that.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

Jeff H
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Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:56 pm
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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:36 pm

33. Don’t Bring Things to a Painful Point
“Don’t use your power, ability, or authority to force someone to admit that they are inferior to you.”

Today, Gyalwa Gendun Druppa sets a record for brevity:
GGD ("Do not strike sensitive areas") wrote: That is to say, do not speak of the failings and faults of others when in a public place.
But I think we need to consult the other commentators to be sure that adequately covers the subject. The runners up for brevity give a consistent point of view with a broader scope:
Dilgo Khyentse (“Do Not Strike at Weaknesses“) wrote:Do not strike at the weak points of others or do anything which will cause them suffering. In the same way, do not recite destructive mantras which will harm non-human beings.
Jamgon Kongtrul (“Don't Make Things Painful”) wrote:Don't speak in a way that causes pain for others, either by making pointed remarks and exposing their faults or, in the case of nonhuman beings, by using mantras that drain their life.
Geshes Rabten & Dhargyey (“Never Strike at the Heart”) wrote:We can deeply harm someone by callously using spiteful words that penetrate to their most vulnerable point. We should cease trying to harm either humans or non-humans such as spirits by malevolent speech or harmful mantras.
My take-away for this slogan is R&D’s observation about attacking others by “callously using spiteful words that penetrate to their most vulnerable point.” It points to a malicious misuse of intimacy; we know what will hurt this being the most and use it. Similar expressions might be: “Add insult to injury”; “Twist the knife”; “Pour salt in the wound”. These are very far from a bodhisattva’s behavior, and yet, as Alan Wallace pointed out regarding yesterday’s slogan,
AW wrote: We need to check for ourselves whether each pledge is pertinent for our present situation, but they are all worthy of clear-minded, honest introspection that does not rely on the initial response, "Who, me?"
That is, I must not be too quick to dismiss my own complicity.

Other commentators elaborate on and extend the meaning. Alex Berzin echoes GGD's emphasis on public criticism.
AB wrote: There are many ways to teach people in an effective manner without embarrassing them in front of others.
Judy Lief takes a high road, emphasizing positive reinforcement as a preferred method over criticism.
JL wrote: According to this slogan, instead of pouncing on people’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities, we should be providing encouragement and support for their strengths. That is what we should notice and point out, not just what is wrong. The idea is that it is more skillful to encourage positive qualities than to criticize what is negative. With this approach, we are not using others to heighten our own confidence nor are we undermining other people’s confidence by reminding them of their inadequacies.

Notice the quality of faultfinding, which can take place on a light level or on a more going-for-the-jugular scale. When you find yourself caught in this pattern, notice your motivation.
For Chogyam Trungpa the main point is to curb our power trips.
CT wrote: Whatever power you have -- domestic power, literary power, or political power -- don't impose it on somebody else. This slogan also means not to humiliate people.
And Pema Chodron provides an excellent conclusion by relating this slogan directly to pervasive suffering itself. She again brings up her regular theme about breaking down the us-versus-them barriers by accepting where we are and talking about it with the apparent "problem people".
PC wrote: These are nuances of the human tragedy, nuances of the tragicomic situation in which we find ourselves. "Don't bring things to a painful point" is again saying, "Don't humiliate people." We do all of these things because we feel pain, because we feel hurt and separate. Instead of first making friends with what we're feeling and then, second, trying to communicate, we have all these ways of keeping the "us and them" story solid and strong. That's what causes all the pain on this earth, including the fact that the ecosystem is turned upside down. All of that comes from people not making friends with themselves and never being willing to communicate with the one they consider to be the troublemaker. That's how we stay caught in this battleground, this war zone.
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 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:37 pm

34. Don’t Transfer the Ox’s Load to the Cow
“Don’t make things ‘not my fault’ by dumping them onto the back of another, less capable person. Learn to take responsibility for your own actions.”

This slogan comes with its own menagerie of metaphoric animals, but the [Ox/Bullock; Cow; Pony] that receives the [Dzo’s; Ox’s; Horse’s] load is always weaker or less capable. Things are relative, but the important thing for a buddhadharma practitioner is to take responsibility for whatever crosses your path.

The commentaries provide several variations of interpretation for this verse, but they all start with the assumption that if a task comes to me it is my responsibility to accept it and take charge.

Chogyam Trungpa interprets the sense of the metaphor directly.
CT wrote: The ox is capable of carrying burdens; the cow is less capable of carrying burdens. So the point of this slogan is that you do not transfer your heavy load to someone who is weaker than you. Transferring the ox's load to the cow means not wanting to deal with anything on your own. You don't want to take the responsibilities
Gyalwa Gendun Druppa and Jamgon Kongtrul both highlight self-serving deception and cunning.
GGD wrote:If there is some task or hardship that is about to fall on either you or someone else, do not use deceptive and cunning means in order to divert it from you to the other person.
JK wrote: To give someone else an unpleasant job that is your responsibility or, by resorting to trickery, to shift a problem you have encountered to someone else is like putting a horse's load on a pony. Don't do this.
Alex Berzin points out that there are a lot of ways to apply this advice.
AB wrote: This has several meanings. One is that we need to accept the blame for our own mistakes, rather than blaming others. Another is not to leave our dirty work for others to do. Or, if there’s a choice of seats, we don’t give the worst seats to others and keep the best for ourselves.
Geshes Rabten and Dhargyey add another dimension, namely that you can run but you can’t hide; your responsibilities will catch up to you eventually.
R&D wrote: We should not pass on a difficult task to someone who is slightly stupid and does not realize our malicious intentions. Such an action will only relieve us temporarily of a responsibility that will reappear with even more strength in the future. The law of causality is unfailing.
Dilgo Khyentse’s emphasis is on willingly accepting harm and proactively not harming others.
DK wrote: The meaning of this is that we should never allow any injury or blame that we deserve to fall on others. An ox cannot carry the load of a dzo. Moreover, we should endeavor to keep from harming the poor and the weak, by burdening them with heavier taxes than others, and so on. All such evil actions should be completely forsaken.
Judy Lief adds even more variety. She brings in yet another animal metaphor and mentions ducking responsibilities, owning our abilities, and even appropriate delegation at work.
JL wrote: This slogan is about weaseling out of our own duties and responsibilities. It is about passing the buck. … We are so concerned with our rights and what we feel we are owed, and we think very little about what we owe to others and to the society at large. When we are asked to do something we may feign modesty, but not because we are really modest. We just want a way out of taking on a load we know we could carry if we wanted to.

Not everyone has the same capabilities. Sometimes we are in situations when there is a need for someone to take on a leadership position. … If what is being asked for is worthwhile and you have the background or ability to take it on, you should just do so.

This slogan is also about developing skill in working with others. It is an art to know how much responsibility to take on yourself and how much to direct to each of the people you are working with so that each person feels challenged but not overwhelmed.
Pema Chodron illustrates it with a Greek myth:
PC wrote: You pass the burden to someone else. It's like that Greek myth about Atlas. He was just walking along innocently and somebody said, "Oh, Atlas, would you mind for a moment just holding the earth?"
(And for the Dr. Suess fans, don’t forget Horton Hatches an Egg!)

Alan Wallace answers westerners’ question, “What’s a dzo, anyway?”
AW wrote: A dzo is a cross between an ox and a yak -- a very strong beast of burden. … This rustic metaphor refers to issues of ability and responsibility. Each of us is endowed with certain talents, whether we were born with them or earned them in this life. We also have our responsibilities, some of which we may not be inclined to fulfill.
He then delivers the perfect summary sentence:
AW wrote:Recognize what your role is and what you are here to contribute.
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 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:47 pm

35. Don’t Try to Be the Fastest
“Don’t let a competitive spirit invade your practice, for then gentleness and compassion fall away. Don’t puff-up your ego by comparing yourself to others.”

Of the translations I’ve seen for this verse, my favorite is, “Don’t aim to be the first to get the best.” Of course, I’m not a translator, so it may be the worst one, but it seems to convey the meaning to me. According to Alan Wallace,
AW wrote: This next verse is difficult to understand as the words are not clear, and various possible spellings for the text change the meaning radically. However we translate the text, the commentary remains straightforward. When you are working with other people, sharing in any kind of project, don't stand up to claim credit for the work. In other words, don't seek out the limelight. This needs no further elaboration.
(Interestingly, Wallace’s translation of the verse stands out: “Do Not Direct Yourself to the Summit of the Ascent”.)

Geshes Rabten & Dhargyey have a similar take about seeking the limelight.
R&D wrote: We should not be like a person who for most of the time works with someone else to accomplish a task but near the finish shows exaggerated zeal in order to receive alone full credit for the work.
Chogyam Trungpa and Jamgon Kongtrul talk about turning practice into competitive racing.
CT wrote: When practitioners begin to develop their understanding of the teaching of the dharma and their appreciation of the dharma, they sometimes fall into a sort of racehorse approach. … The whole thing has become a game rather than an actual practice, and there is no seed of benevolence and gentleness in the practitioner.
JK wrote: In a horse race, the aim is to be the fastest. Among dharma people there are often hopes of receiving more attention or being more highly regarded than others, and little schemes are made up to find ways to acquire possessions. Give these up. Have no concern about receiving or not receiving recognition or prestige.
Alex Berzin states it quite nicely, in my opinion.
AB wrote: We always want to get the best for ourselves and we don’t want others to get it. It’s much better if we let others go first, and then we can get the last or worst portion, but not pretentiously. We certainly shouldn’t say, “Oh, you take the good piece, I’ll take the bad piece, I don’t mind!” It should be natural, the way a parent lets the child have the best portion of food, not minding at all to take the burnt bits of leftovers.
He also provides another story* in which Ben Gungyal demonstrated perfect lojong behavior. *[I also quoted Ben Gungyal stories for slogan #29 and slogan #41.]
AB wrote: Once [Ben Gungyal] went with some other monks to a meal that a patron was giving. The patron was dishing out the food, in this case yoghurt, and Geshe Ben was sitting right at the back. As he was dishing out the yoghurt, one of his favorite foods, he was getting more and more worried and upset, thinking “He is giving out too large portions, and there won’t be enough left for me.” Then he realized what his attitude was and when the patron finally got to him, he turned his bowl upside down and said, “I’ve already had my portion.” This is a great example of this point. Instead of worrying whether there’ll be enough left for me, we should be much more worried about whether there’ll be enough left for others.
And don’t forget Shantideva’s thought on this matter:
In chapter 8 Shantideva wrote: 125. “If I give this, what will be left for me?”
Thinking of oneself — the way of evil ghosts.
“If I keep this, what will be left to give?”
Concern for others is the way of heaven.
Judy Lief provides some very relevant context for us householders.
JL wrote: So much of our life is based on speed. We want to be the first to do this and the first to get that. We are always in a big rush. We want to beat everyone else, to get to the front of the line. Being fast and busy makes us feel important. We have lots to do and not much time to do it. Fast is smart, slow is stupid. Fast is youth, slow is old age. We race along faster and faster, but where are we going?

That quicker, faster, better approach creates enormous pressure. There is no relief, and it is hard to enjoy ourselves. We have no time to step back and reflect on what we are doing or what life is all about. Superficially this approach seems to make sense for a while, we have lots to do after all. But we become addicted to speed, and we are afraid to stop or even to slow down.

When we bring this approach into our spiritual journey and into mind training practice, it simply does not work. We may try to force feed knowledge into ourselves, but wisdom and compassion cannot be forced. … The very term practice implies going at a steady speed. You keep doing the same thing repeatedly, over and over, no matter how advanced you may be If you are a singer you do scales, if you are a meditator you sit, if you are a hatha yogin, you do downward dogs. … You don’t try to get somewhere, but you just keep going. The less striving mind you have, the more inherent wakefulness shines through. The less you force it, the more the heart can relax and open. Instead of beating yourself up with the slogans, you use them as sharp but gentle reminders that awakening is immediate and available.
Wallace also generalizes some good advice for practicing the slogans:
AW wrote: Some of these precepts are bound to be more useful than others, but it is worthwhile giving each of them a chance. Examine whether we tend to seek out the limelight, to pass the buck, to be sarcastic, and so forth. Such tendencies as we have, we can counteract, and this will be to our own benefit. The purpose of the training is not to set down laws and regulations, but simply to derive benefit.
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 Nov 30, 2017 4:24 pm

36. Don’t Act with a Twist
“Don’t be devious. Don’t do things that look selfless when your real intent is to glorify your ‘self’.”

Gyalwa Gendun Druppa uses a healing example, translating the verse as, “Do not engage in wrong methods of healing”. His comment compares using healing rituals for others with using lojong to heal our own, mundane illness. I'm not familiar with the rituals he mentions, nor the context of his example, so I can't really say I understand the comparison. However, judging from what I know of lojong practice, I'd say the "wrong method of healing" in this case (i.e. the "twist") is directing my lojong practice toward improving my own samsaric condition. In fact, lojong's only purpose is to benefit others and abandon my self-grasping and self-cherishing. I'm guessing, but I think he's saying, "don't use lojong as if it was a faith healing technique."
GGD wrote: Sometimes in this world when a cherished person becomes ill his family or friends perform or commission a faith healer to perform any of the various healing rituals, such as shi-ra or lu-tang-wa, in order that the person may not die. However, we should not use the lojong meditations as methods to cure ourself of illness. This is not their purpose or function.
Dilgo Khyentse ("Do not misuse the remedy") tells us that misusing lojong involves a deceptive intention to appear more realized that we are.
DK wrote: We would be misusing the remedy if we were to take upon ourselves the misfortunes of others, but with a wish for personal happiness or that others might say of us that we are patient and loving Bodhisattvas, trying thus to build up for ourselves a good reputation.
And he adds a reference to sorcery and spirits:
DK wrote:We should not reduce the Mind Training to the level of mere sorcery by trying to use it as a means of repelling evil influences. Evil spirits and ghosts harm others because they are deluded. We should not practice the Mind Training against them, but to free them from their bad karma.
Jamgon Kongtrul’s translation is, “Don’t revert to magic” and he compares the above examples to using magic.
JK wrote: If you accept a setback for the time being out of a desire for future benefits for yourself or if you practice mind training expecting to cure illness and mental disturbances and ward off adverse situations, your practice is mistaken, like someone contriving magical rituals. Don't act this way. … Gyal-se Tokme has said:
“Mind training done with that kind of attitude should be considered a method for helping demons and disturbances. If you practice that way, it's no different from evil. Dharma work must counteract discursive thought and disturbing emotions.”
He enlarges the point to “mistaken dharma” in general.
JK wrote: Mistaken dharma denotes anything that is contradictory to the ethics or outlook authoritatively taught in the holy dharma, … It's like taking the wrong medicine for an illness or applying the wrong disciplinary measures.
Alex Berzin’s translation, “Don’t reverse the amulet,” also implies a form of sorcery:
AB wrote: Amulets are used to chase away harmful spirits, a metaphor for training our minds to cherish others. If we do these practices just for our own self-importance, then it’s as if we’re holding the amulet backwards.
Alan Wallace translates this verse as, “Do not be devious” and simplifies the underlying commonality of the previous comments without elaboration.
AW wrote: This is also very straightforward. The commentary gives as an example the pretense that you are accepting a loss from someone else while in fact you stand to benefit. Again, not much elaboration is needed. Being devious, cunning, or sly has no place in a life that is oriented towards dharma.
Chogyam Trungpa’s comment is similar, although he includes the healing aspect.
CT wrote: For instance, in order to gain good results for yourself, you may temporarily take the blame for something. Or you may practice lojong very hard in order to get something out of it, or with the idea of protecting yourself from sickness. The practice of this slogan is to drop that attitude of looking for personal benefits from practice -- either as an immediate or a long-term result.
Pema Chodron concretizes it with a contemporary example.
PC wrote: You're willing to drive all blames into yourself very publicly so everyone will notice, because you want people to think well of you. Your motivation is to get others to think that you're a great person, which is the "twist."

Or there's a person who's doing you wrong, and you remember lojong, but there's a twist. You don't say, "Buzz off, Juanita," or anything harsh. You're this sweet person who wins everyone's admiration, but the other side of this is that they dislike Juanita more and more for mistreating you. It's as if you set Juanita up by acting like a saint. That's the idea of acting with a twist. There are all kinds of ways to get sweet revenge.
Judy Lief gives what I consider to be the clearest direct explanation:
JL wrote: This slogan has to do with being honest about our ulterior motives. It is based on an appreciation for how tricky our mind can be. We say one thing and mean another, or we act out of seeming benevolence, while in our heart we only really care about ourselves.
And she shows how relevant it is in lojong because of the “twisted” ways we are prone to practice Dharma. As we’ve been seeing repeatedly, lojong is primarily about rooting out the devious ways we hide and ignore our self-cherishing.
JL wrote:Acting with a twist is a way of using others to advance our own interests. Everything revolves around me, myself, and I, and that attitude colors everything we do. It literally distorts everything we say and all our actions into servants of our ego and our self-important schemes.

With this tricky approach, when we hear about mind training and the need to develop bodhichitta or loving kindness, although we may work with that, we are only doing so as a tool for our own development. We keep track of our acts of kindness and our moments of awareness as demonstrations of how we ourselves are progressing. Instead of genuinely opening our heart, we go through the motions. Then we look around to make sure that our benevolence is properly noticed and admired. In reality, under the guise of helping, we are just using people. They are props for our self-development project.
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 Dec 01, 2017 3:22 pm

37. Don’t Make Gods into Demons
“Do not demean the teachings by dwelling on suffering instead of joy or by using progress in practice as a cause for pride.”

It seems to me that Gyalwa Gendun Druppa expresses the essence of lojong practice rather nicely here.
GGD wrote: Our practice of the lojong tradition is meant to bring us the benefits of happiness and enlightenment by eliminating the afflictive emotions from within us. Should it be applied in such a way that all it does is increase the afflictive emotions of pride, arrogance, self-cherishing and so on, this is like turning a god into a devil. Avoid allowing your practice to develop in this direction.
Alex Berzin continues in that vein, with an excellent practice suggestion:
AB wrote: This again refers to mixing our practices with self-cherishing, and doing Dharma practices to allow us to feel self-righteous and arrogant, with a “holier-than-thou” attitude. … As one practitioner said, “When I read in the texts about the various faults and shortcomings, I recognize them in myself, and when I read about the good qualities, I recognize them in others.” This is certainly in keeping with the practice of training our attitudes.
Chogyam Trungpa looks at a somewhat different aspect of it.
CT wrote: This slogan refers to our general tendency to dwell on pain and go through life with constant complaints. We should not make painful that which is inherently joyful.
He also gives the teaching which may have inspired Judy Lief’s brilliant commentary below:
CT wrote: At his point, you may have achieved a certain level of taming yourself. You may have developed the tonglen practice of exchanging yourself for others and feel that your achievement is real. But at the same time, you are so arrogant about the whole thing that your achievement begins to become an evil intention, because you think you can show off. In that way, dharma becomes adharma, or nondharma.
Judy Lief talks about how the deterioration of a beginner’s mind into an expert’s mind is a result of not following this lojong advice. I usually pare down the longer comments for brevity, but I couldn't find a single sentence I wanted to edit out. I need to quote it in full.
JL wrote: It is possible to take the very best and turn it into the very worst. When we first encounter the dharma and the mind training teachings, we are so open and excited. It is so refreshing to encounter practical guidelines for developing wisdom and compassion and to find teachings we can actually apply in our everyday activities. But the more we practice and the more we become familiar with the teachings, the more tempted we are to close down and check out. Instead of appreciating the power of the practice, we begin to insert the heavy hand of ego.

At first meditation and compassion practices seem so beautiful and gentle. We feel enriched and nurtured. But as we continue, we begin to encounter a more threatening and provocative side to mind training practice. It makes us feel unmasked and exposed, embarrassed by our own mindlessness and the puny nature of our compassion for others.

As the practice begins to bite or to be more challenging, when it is no longer simply an add-on to our regular way of going about things, but a call for personal transformation, we feel threatened.

We reach a crossroads where we can either continue to open or we begin to shut down. At this point, we may simply stop practicing or we may co-opt the practice so that, rather than challenging our ego, it nourishes it. We keep the feel-good part and reject the rest. In doing so we are beginning to turn dharma into anti-dharma.

It is quite simple. In one approach, we are trying to consume the dharma. We are trying to fit the dharma into our small-mindedness, and in the other, we are dissolving our small self into the vastness of the dharma. When we try to feed on the dharma, instead of becoming more open and gentle, we become more closed-minded and arrogant. We have succeeded in turning the dharma, a path that is designed to make us more humble, flexible, compassionate, and awake into a kind of demon, feeding our worst qualities. Making the teachings into a credential for our ego is a perversion of the dharma. We are using our attachment to our superficial version of the dharma to destroy what true dharma is all about. It is turning a god into a demon.
Whew! I think I could benefit each day of an entire 59-day rotation of this lojong cycle just focused on this one slogan and JL's commentary. She includes a daily practice with her comments on each of the slogans. For today’s practice she says,
JL wrote: In your encounter with the teachings, how have you changed? In what ways have you become more appreciative and open and in what ways have you become more opinionated and closed? How can you identify with the dharma without making it into just another credential?
I’ll end with two of the most succinct expressions:
Alan Wallace wrote: It is hard to be pompous when the reason for practicing is a desire to be free of our own mental distortions.
Jamgon Kongtrul provides a sign and a method:
JK wrote: The more you meditate on mind training and dharma, the more supple your personality should become. Act as the lowest servant to everyone.
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 Dec 02, 2017 3:38 pm

38. Don’t Seek Others’ Pain as the Limbs to Your Own Happiness
“Don’t let your good fortune depend on the misfortune of others.”

This slogan is talking about experiencing a pleasant, mental sensation in response to any being’s suffering. Shantideva addresses this issue in the equanimity passage of the Patience chapter.
In chapter 6 Shantideva wrote:87. If unhappiness befalls your enemies,
Why should this be cause for your rejoicing?
The wishes of your mind alone,
Will not in fact contrive their injury.

88. And if your hostile wishes were to bring them harm,
Again, what cause of joy is that to you?
“Why, then I would be satisfied!” — are these your thoughts?
Is anything more ruinous than that?

89. Caught upon the hook, unbearable and sharp,
Cast by the fisherman, my own defilements,
I’ll be flung into the cauldrons of the pit,
And surely boiled by all the janitors of hell!
For me, this topic always brings up images from war movies in which battles are portrayed where ships are sunk, planes shot down, and whole battalions of soldiers blown up or burned alive, and on the other side there’s cheering and joy that the enemy has been painfully obliterated. These are very disturbing images for me, and yet I think I would feel the same under those conditions. I am a Viet Nam era veteran, but I never fought in the war. I cannot really imagine what war is like. The concept of war is that people are motivated with patriotism, fear, or shame then put in proximity with the enemy and there is no choice but to kill or be killed. The courage to survive such circumstances is buoyed by rationalizations like noble ideals or strong belief in the monstrous qualities of the enemy.

But here Shantideva is talking about, and the slogan points to, normal civilian life; regular samsara. In general, there are certain people I just don’t like. He previously discussed the feeling of displeasure that arises when those people experience success, happiness, or praise. On the other side there is a natural tendency to be glad when they suffer. But if I am seeking entrance to the bodhisattva’s path I have to ask why that is. Even if there is some samsaric benefit to myself or others, why is anyone’s suffering a source of happiness for me?

As Chogyam Trungpa puts it,
CT wrote: Although it may benefit us if someone else experiences misfortune, we should not wish for that and dream about what we could get out of such a situation.
Gyalwa Gendun Druppa gives some of the classic examples:
GGD wrote: We should not take causes of other people’s sorrow as causes of our own happiness. For example, should a competitor die we should not rejoice in the thought that his death will benefit our own position. Or if a friend or relative dies we should not rejoice in the fact that as a consequence we will receive some of his possessions. Or should a patron die we should not rejoice in the thought that we will inherit something from him.
Geshes Rabten and Dhargyey add the causing of harm:
R&D wrote: Inflicting misery on others for the sole purpose of satisfying our own desires for pleasure and happiness is obviously contradictory to our practice.
Judy Lief discusses it in terms of exploitation, which is the foundation of so much of what so many take for granted (myself included).
JL wrote: This slogan is about exploitation. It is about taking advantage of others in order to maintain our wealth and privilege. … We act as though our good fortune is simply our due and has nothing to do with anyone else’s problems or suffering. But often, in fact, the two are inextricably interconnected.

According to this slogan, if our happiness is based on the suffering of others, if that is the only way to maintain it, it cannot be true happiness. Our so-called happiness is both tainted and flimsy. So once again, as in so many other slogans, the habit of putting ourselves first and looking out for number one is shown to be a completely dysfunctional approach. It is a false hope, a phony and a fraud.
Alan Wallace explains the whole topic well from the perspective of karma.
AW wrote: Whether an enemy meets with misfortune, sickness, or death, is a matter of his or her own karma. Our own history and past actions determine the fortune or misfortune presented to each of us. Wishing misfortune on someone does not cause that misfortune to happen. Instead, because the yearning for another person's suffering is itself an unwholesome mental action, it immediately places unwholesome imprints upon our own mind and guarantees our own future suffering if those imprints are not purified.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:30 pm

39. All Activities Should Be Done with One Intention
“Everything you do should be done with the intent to help others.”

This begins Point Seven, a list of precepts or guidelines as adjuncts to the previous 38 slogans. The first verse is about integration; how we actualize our practice within the experiences of daily life.

Another translation of this slogan is, “practice all yogas in one manner”, where yogas refer to activities. Gyalwa Gendun Druppa says,
GGD wrote: In this lojong system the practitioner turns all yogas toward the one activity of meditation on the two bodhiminds.
All the commentators agree on this meaning. For example, Chogyam Trungpa says,
CT wrote: The one intention is to have a sense of gentleness toward others and a willingness to be helpful to others -- always.
Jamgon Kongtrul says,
JK wrote: Continue practice into everyday life with a single meditation, always keeping in mind the intention to help others in all activities, eating, dressing, sleeping, walking, or sitting.
Geshes Rabten and Dhargyey say,
R&D wrote: None of our daily actions, such as eating, speaking, sleeping, and walking should be wasted. All can be turned toward one action -- the development of the awakening mind.
Alan Wallace elaborates on the basic premise and begins showing how to utilize the integration.
AW wrote: The cultivation of the two bodhicittas, can transform any other type of activity, particularly for those of us leading very active lives where the demands of the practice may struggle against the demands that life circumstances make on our time. This tension between the longing for more time for spiritual practice, and the needs of family, job, and bills to pay, is not necessarily a negative thing. What we do with it is the critical point. … As adults living in contemporary society with obligations to others such as our children, we recognize that it would be irresponsible to walk out, regardless of how much we are drawn to the spiritual life. It is simply not appropriate. …

Their demands on your time are legitimate. So, recognizing that we have certain obligations, and recognizing at the same time that spiritual practice is the core of a meaningful life, what do we do? There really is an answer. It is not easy, but it is tremendously fruitful, and it keeps on opening and opening further: transform those actions that are already obligations by applying dharma to them.
Then we receive some specific examples. First, from Wallace:
AW wrote: Take eating, for instance. We have to do it two or three times a day, but we don't have to wolf down the food. There is no one who cannot sit and pause first for thirty seconds. Even fast-food is worth the thirty seconds it takes to recognize the immense number of beings who have provided us with this food. Pausing like this ties us into the community of life, at least on planet earth, as we recognize that we are indebted to others.
Alex Berzin also uses the example of food, but in a different aspect.
AB wrote: Whatever we do, we should do it in order to be able to help others. An example often used in India, where people frequently have worms, is the inspiration, “When I eat, may I nourish all of the microorganisms in my body.” Even if we can’t sustain this type of motivation throughout the meal, we start off like that. The dedication verse written by Nagarjuna, “I take this food not out of attachment and greed, but as a medicine to help others,” is very helpful.
Pema Chodron uses a favorite example of hers, communication.
PC wrote: This is a practical suggestion: all activities should be done with the intention of speaking so that another person can hear you, rather than using words that cause the barriers to go up and the ears to close. In this process we also learn how to listen and how to look.
Among other examples, Geshes Rabten and Dhargyey provide the example of breathing.
R&D wrote: Also, we are usually unaware of the process of breathing. However, when it is combined with the practice of giving and taking, our breathing becomes a further means of transforming our thoughts. In such a way, we can wisely utilize every moment for inner development.
Judy Lief addresses the typical nature of a multi-tasking day.
JL wrote: It seems that every day we fall willy-nilly into a never-ending string of activities. They seem to come at us from outside, without our necessarily having anything to do about it. We keep busy with one thing after another from morning until night. … What holds all this activity together? Is there any thread that runs through all this business? Or are we just trying to make it through another day? What do you know about your underlying intention?

Without saying it in so many words, often the thread holding all our thoughts and activities together is: “What’s in it for me?” … In lojong practice, the idea is to replace that unspoken intention based on fear and the need to prop up the ego with an intention of benevolence. Rather than making a few heroic or virtuous gestures or taking on some righteous cause, the idea is to have a quality of awareness, gentleness, and benefit to others color everything you do.

Such an intention should color even the way in which you do the simplest things, like picking up your teacup. Your gestures, speech, thoughts, and emotions should all be expressions of one intention: the powerful intention of benefiting sentient beings.
Want more? A lot more? Check out Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Thought Training Meditations.

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 Dec 04, 2017 3:40 pm

40. Correct All Wrongs with One Intention
“All wrongs, whether done by you or others, originate with afflictive emotions. Address such emotional illnesses with the single intention of exchanging self for others.”

Today I want to start with Geshes Rabten and Dhargyey because, for me, they capture the most complete essence of this slogan in the clearest words.
R&D wrote: We should integrate all methods of destroying and expelling the interferences that arise in the course of our practice with the essence of thought transformation. Often, we shall have to bear malicious attacks from other people, animals, and spirits. At such times, instead of retaliating, we should keep our higher motivation in mind. As they too are sentient beings with feelings like ours, we should respond with only loving-kindness. When the internal obstacles of intense afflictions arise, we should recall that previously we have always given them full freedom; it is this that has held us in the tedious cycle of existence. We should not continue to repeat these mistakes but should halt their flow by applying the appropriate opponent forces.
Gyalwa Gendun Druppa identifies the one intention as being meditation on bodhichitta.
GGD wrote: No matter what sufferings or unpleasantness arise, meet them all with the one remedy of meditation upon the bodhimind.
Alex Berzin says that consistently applying giving and taking will,
AB wrote: get rid of [the] disturbing emotions we have through tonglen –- taking on the disturbing emotions and sufferings of others. It’s not that we take on the anger of others, and then we become angrier ourselves. Instead, as with all tonglen teachings, we do not hold on to what we take from others solidly inside ourselves, but we use our ability to overcome these things, to actually overcome them.
Pema Chodron identifies it as exchanging self and others. She applies her strong emphasis on cultivating effective communication.
PC wrote: The "one intention" is to exchange oneself for others. This is the key. To correct all wrongs with one intention is to hear what's being said, to see the person who is in front of you, and to be able to rest in not knowing what to say or how to act but just to watch and wait.
She then elaborates on the importance of being an agent of harmony.
PC wrote: We ARE different; we are very different from each other. … But instead of going to war because of our differences, let's play soccer. It will be a strange game, given our [lojong] instruction to let others have the victory and keep the defeat to ourselves, but that doesn't mean that we play to lose; it means that we play to PLAY. We could play TOGETHER, even though we're on opposite teams.
Alan Wallace also expounds on the method of exchanging. By turning our focus outward and forgetting about our own development, we will incidentally progress in overcoming our own self-cherishing and our delusions.
AW wrote: When we become discouraged and begin to withdraw, recognize what is happening: "I am disillusioned with the practice. I thought I would progress more quickly than I have." Then recognize also that in this world there are so many, many beings who, like ourselves, are striving for happiness and wishing to be free of suffering, and who are engaging in ineffective means for accomplishing these ends. Sechibuwa suggests that we counteract dejection by reaching out to all sentient beings around us. Offer them our body, our virtues, and our prayers that they may meet with effective means for finding true happiness and freeing themselves of suffering.
Judy Lief identifies the one intention with lojong practice itself. She advises a soft method.
JL wrote: This slogan is about the power of establishing the attitude of mind training as a kind of underlying habit of mind. As in the previous slogan, it is about the power of our intention. … When you encounter [external or internal] obstacles and obstructions to practice, how do you get back on track? How do you correct your course? The approach of just trying to push your way through does not work very well; it is hard to fight with your own state of mind.

Instead of struggling in that way, you could simply instill in your mind the aspiration to practice lojong or mind training. As you repeat this aspiration, it is almost a kind of self-indoctrination. Even though you might immediately forget it, you keep reminding yourself over and over, everyday, that this is your bottom line position. … It is as if you have created a kind of gyroscope to guide your course and bring you back to stability when you lose your balance.
Chogyam Trungpa also tells us to apply lojong, but his is a harder approach; the “lojong stomp”, so to speak.
CT wrote: When you are in the midst of perverse circumstances such as intense sickness, a bad reputation, court cases, increase of kleshas, or resistance to practice, you should develop compassion for all sentient beings who also suffer like this, and you should aspire to take on their suffering yourself through the practice of lojong.
To correct all wrongs means to stamp on the kleshas. Whenever you don't want to practice -- stamp on that, and then practice. Whenever any bad circumstance comes up that might put you off -- stamp on it. In this slogan you are deliberately, immediately, and very abruptly suppressing the kleshas.
So bodhichitta, tonglen, exchanging self and other, and lojong practice in general all come down to a single method. In Judy Lief’s words,
JL wrote:As you repeat this aspiration, it is almost a kind of self-indoctrination.
We cultivate the ability to allow buddhadharma attitudes to thoroughly pervade our mind-stream and emerge in spontaneously benevolent actions.

This is where I end my "59 in 59"; 59 lojong verses in 59 days. I can't think of a more appropriate summary of what I've learned in these reflections than today's message: forget about myself and, to the best of my ability, imbue every moment with bodhichitta -- like a stabilizing gyroscope.

EDIT: After submitting, I realized I'd forgotten one of my favorite quotes from Shantideva. This, too, sums up lojong:
In chapter 8, Shantideva wrote:129. All the joy the world contains
Has come through wishing happiness for others.
All the misery the world contains
Has come through wanting pleasure for oneself.
Last edited by Jeff H on Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Dec 04, 2017 3:53 pm

I’m still a rank beginner in Dharma. In terms of lojong practice, several years ago I memorized versions of the seven-points and the eight verses, plus reading a couple of commentaries. That was listening. In this thread I returned to reflect a little more deeply and, using a variety of commentaries, to try and create narratives that fit my experience.

My actual practice of lojong is very shallow. But this exercise has helped stimulate me to apply what I’ve learned. Bit by bit I hope to seat these lessons and principles more deeply through meditation and practice.

I recommend it. It takes a bit of time to review commentaries and compose a post every day for 59 days, but in my opinion, it’s a worthwhile exercise. Of course, it doesn’t have to be done publicly, but after Monlam Tharchin got me started, I found being committed to posting helped keep me on track.

Before his hiatus, MT and I discussed closing with some links in case anyone, now or in the future, wanted to take up this thread:
The Daily Lojong website (59 slogans, day by day)
Monalm Tharchin began this exercise with slogan #33 (The OP)
I started with slogan #41
We addressed slogan #1 here

We used these commentaries:
Alex Berzin
Judy Lief
Web Archive (for Chogyam Trungpa; Pema Chodron; Jamgon Kongtrul; Alan Wallace; Geshes Rabten & Dhargyey; and Dilgo Khyentse)
I posted a spreadsheet ("Seven Points - Comparisons.xlsx") listing and comparing some translations of the slogans here

Even using the same resources, each person will have somewhat different take-aways for each slogan. But there are also plenty of other commentaries available, if anyone wants to continue this thread.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Losal Samten » Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:08 pm

Cheers for your efforts and help, Jeff! :heart: :heart: :heart:
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong. - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Jeff H » Fri Oct 05, 2018 4:28 pm

I want to draw people's attention to a short (hour and a half) teaching by Alan Wallace, posted by Kirtu here.

This is a very remarkable summary of the Seven-Points of lojong as Atisha wrote them. Well worth watching.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Wheel of Sharp Weapons

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Sun Jun 02, 2019 12:21 am

The Library of Tibetan Classics Mind Training volume has over 40 lojong texts. A third translation of the Wheel by Thupten Jinpa starts on page 133. Someone else can add that excellent version if you care to.

The first one I recall, and still a favorite is The Wheel of Sharp Weapons by Dharmarakshita. Both that early version LTWA (1981) has a commentary, as does the more recent one Wisdom pubs (1996). But I will just give the root text of the two translations only. There are somewhere over 100 verses.

1981 The Wheel of Sharp Weapons
1-The name of this work is 'The Wheel of Sharp Weapons
Effectively Striking the Heart of the Foe'.
I pay heartfelt homage to you, Yamantaka;
Your wrath is opposed to the Great Lord of Death.

2-In jungles of poisonous plants strut the peacocks,
Though medicine gardens of beauty lie near.
The masses of peacocks do not find gardens pleasant,
But thrive on the essence of poisonous plants.

3-In similar fashion, the brave Bodhisattvas
Remain in the jungle of worldly concern.
No matter how joyful this world's pleasure gardens,
These Brave Ones are never attracted to pleasures,
But thrive in the jungle of suffering and pain.
Last edited by Nicholas Weeks on Sun Jun 02, 2019 1:07 am, edited 6 times in total.
Glorious one, creator of all goodness, Mañjuśrī, his glorious eminence!

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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: Wheel of Sharp Weapons

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Sun Jun 02, 2019 12:31 am

1996 From the Peacock in the Poison Grove
The Wheel-Weapon That Strikes at the Enemy’s Vital Spot
I bow down to the Great Wrathful One, Yamantaka.
When the peacocks roam the jungle of virulent poison,
the flocks take no delight in gardens of medicinal plants, no matter
how beautiful they may be, for peacocks thrive on the essence
of virulent poison.
Similarly, when the heroes roam the jungle of cyclic existence, they
do not become attached to the garden of happiness and prosperity,
no matter how beautiful it may be, for heroes thrive in the jungle
of suffering.
Therefore, it is due to cowardice that persons avidly pursue their
own happiness and so come to suffer; and it is due to heroism that
bodhisattvas, willingly taking the suffering of others onto themselves,
are always happy.
Glorious one, creator of all goodness, Mañjuśrī, his glorious eminence!

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Nicholas Weeks
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Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:21 am
Location: California

Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:35 am

4-Now desire is the jungle of poisonous plants here.
Only Brave Ones, like peacocks, can thrive on such fare.
If cowardly beings, like crows, were to try it,
Because they are greedy they might lose their lives.

5-How can someone who cherishes self more than others
Take lust and such dangerous poisons for food?
If he tried like a crow to use other delusions,
He would probably forfeit his chance for release.

6-And thus Bodhisattvas are likened to peacocks:
They live on delusions--those poisonous plants.
Transforming them into the essence of practice,
They thrive in the jungle of everyday life.
Whatever is presented they always accept,
While destroying the poison of clinging desire.
Glorious one, creator of all goodness, Mañjuśrī, his glorious eminence!

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Nicholas Weeks
Posts: 3677
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:21 am
Location: California

Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:38 am

Now here, desire is like a jungle of virulent poison:
the hero, like the peacock, masters it; the coward,
like the crow, perishes.
How can persons concerned only with their own desires
master this poison? If they involve themselves in the other
afflictions as well, it will cost them their chance
for emancipation, just like the crow.
Thus the bodhisattva roams like the peacock in the forest of cyclic
existence, converting the afflictions, which are like a jungle of
virulent poisons, into an elixir. Willingly embracing the afflictions,
the hero shall conquer the poison.
Glorious one, creator of all goodness, Mañjuśrī, his glorious eminence!

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Nicholas Weeks
Posts: 3677
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:21 am
Location: California

Re: Daily Lojong

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Sun Jun 02, 2019 5:45 pm

In Jinpa's Essential Mind Training is an introduction to the Wheel of Sharp Weapons. Here is how that starts:
Among all the texts in this volume, one of the most
intriguing, in style as well as origin, is Wheel of Sharp Weapons.
With 116 verses, the work is composed in a lively
poetic style in the form of self-recriminations as well as self-exhortation.
Starting from its opening line, the verses focus
on one of the paradigmatic themes of mind training—
transforming adversities into the path to enlightenment. In
addition, we hear unmistakable echoes of tonglen, taking on
others’ suffering and mental afflictions and offering to them our
happiness and positive mental states, as well as the need to view
others as a source of our own ultimate well-being, and the need
to engage in all stages of the path with the awareness that all
things are ultimately empty in nature. All of these are powerfully
articulated in this work.
As its title suggests, the key metaphor used throughout is a
wheel of sharp weapons. This traditional Indian weapon wheel
has sharp double-edged knives extending outward from a central
ring, which is spun like a frisbee at its target. In traditional
Indian mythology, some gods carry this wheel as their weapon
of choice, and the paintings of these gods depict the wheel hovering
above their right index finger. This weapon is thought to
have a kind of magic power that permits it to return to the
owner, like a boomerang.
Glorious one, creator of all goodness, Mañjuśrī, his glorious eminence!

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