Lojong Sunday: A Brief Introduction

I have wanted to investigate Tibetan lojong mind training since reading about it earlier this year in Lama Surya Das’ book The Buddha Within. I read an article that discussed a group of four of the lojong aphorisms, or ‘slogans,’ as they are called in an issue of Shambhala Sun, also earlier in the year. I began to work with the slogans using an online list of them with discussion by Acharya Judy Lief, a teacher in the Shambhala tradition of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, at tricycle.com.
On a recent trip to Half Priced Books I found a couple of interesting things, including a like-new copy of Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy, which I’ve long wanted, for a mere $10! But more to the point, I also found a copy of Pema Chodron’s book Start Where You Are. I’ve wanted to read some of her work for awhile and have heard of this book before. When I began to leaf through it, I discovered that it addresses meditation (Tonglen meditation in particular) and lojong slogan work! How amazing to find this book right as I am starting to work with the lojong slogans! “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” in action!
Lojong slogans are a set of 59 aphorisms that are meant to provide a systematic study of bodhicitta and lovingkindness. They were designed and taught by Atisha, an Indian Buddhist master who traveled to Tibet and introduced his teachings there,  where they became part of Tibetan Buddhist practice.
I’ve worked with these slogans, usually written on a set of cards, by reading commentaries by Chogyam Trungpa, Judy Lief, and Pema  Chodron, and have decided to continue working them throughout the course of a year or more. . Each Sunday  I post a random slogan and offer some thoughts on it, then try to work with it throughout that week. I invite anyone who is interested to try these out, and I’d love to hear people’s insights into them as well.

 LOJONG SLOGANS

1. First train in the preliminaries

2. Regard all dharmas as dreams

3. Examine the nature of unborn awareness

4. Self-liberate even the antidote

5. Rest in the nature of alaya, the essence

6. In post-meditation, be a child of illusion

6.1. Absolute and Relative Bodhichitta

7. Sending and taking should be practiced alternately. These two should ride the breath

8. Three objects, three poisons, and three seeds of virtue

9. In all activities train with slogans

10. Begin the sequence of sending and taking with yourself

11. When the world is filled with evil, transform all mishaps into the path of bodhi

12. Drive all blames into one

13. Be grateful to everyone

14. Seeing confusion as the four kayas is unsurpassable shunyata protection

15. Four practices are the best of methods

16. Whatever you meet unexpectedly, join it with meditation

17. Practice the five strengths, the condensed heart instructions

18. The ejection of consciousness

19. All dharma agrees at one point

20. Of the two witnesses, hold the principal one

21. Always maintain only a joyful mind

22. If you can practice even when distracted, you are well trained
23. Always abide by the three basic principles
24. Change your attitude, but remain natural
25. Don’t talk about injured limbs
26. Don’t ponder others
27. Work with the greatest defilements first
28. Abandon any hope of fruition
29. Abandon poisonous food
30. Don’t be so predictable
31. Don’t malign others
32. Don’t wait in ambush
33. Don’t bring things to a painful point
34. Don’t transfer the ox’s load to the cow
35. Don’t try and be the fastest
36. Don’t act with a twist
37. Don’t make gods into demons
38. Don’t seek others’ pain as the limbs of your own happiness
39. All activities should be done with one intention
40. Correct all wrongs with one intention
41. Two activities: one at the beginning, one at the end
42. Whichever of the two occurs, be patient
43. Observe these two, even at the risk of your life
44. Train in the three difficulties
45. Take on the three principal causes
46. Pay heed that the three never wane
47.Keep the three inseparable
48. Train without bias in all areas. It is crucial always to do this pervasively and wholeheartedly
49. Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment
50. Don’t be swayed by external circumstances
51. This time, practice the main points
52. Don’t misinterpret
53. Don’t vacillate
54. Train wholeheartedly
55. Liberate yourself by examining and analyzing
56. Don’t wallow in self-pity
57. Don’t be jealous
58. Don’t be frivolous
59. Don’t expect applause