Written by Susan Farrar (April 2016 Newsletter)
What are Lojong or mind training slogans? Lojong is a practice originally brought to Tibet by an Indian Buddhist teacher. Based on a set of aphorisms formulated in Tibet in the 12th century by Geshe Chekhawa, the practice involves refining and purifying one’s motivations and attitudes. I was introduced to Lojong several years ago and became totally fascinated by this practice. I’m excited to make them part of our upcoming Buddhism from the Ground up discussion every 3rd Sunday, staring April 17th.
Alan Wallace, in his Lojong commentary “Buddhism with an Attitude,” says the slogans are “designed to shift our attitudes so that our minds become pure wellsprings of joy instead of murky pools of problems, anxieties, hopes and fears.”
These 59 slogans run the gamut from sublime and vast ultimate Bodhichitta (Regard all Dharmas as dreams) to the useful and practical (Work with the greatest defilements first, Don’t wait in ambush) and my personal favorites – Change your attitude, but remain natural, Don’t expect applause. And, if you think you know what these mean, you may want to study a bit – they’ll surprise you with a twist. They are not predictable or as easy as they first appear.
When I take them personally – allow them to instruct my heart and apply them in a situation where I might prefer to blame, criticize or ignore, then I’m more likely to respond with good will, ease, and close listening. I follow a really fun way to practice these slogans daily suggested by Pema Chodron in her book “Start Where You Are”, which is the main text for the upcoming discussion. Using a set of cards, one card for each slogan, I randomly pull one each morning, and try to apply it throughout my day. If I’ve pulled “Don’t be so predictable” then I’m reminded to watch for my habitual reactions and, maybe if I’m quick enough, I can act more appropriately and with greater kindness. If I’m not very mindful just then, at least I can notice it later.
The idea is “If you can practice even when distracted, you are well trained.” Try it out and maybe you too will get hooked on the Lojong slogans.