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.
23. Always abide by the three basic principles
27. Work with the greatest defilements first
29. Abandon poisonous food
30. Don’t be so predictable
31. Don’t malign others
33. Don’t bring things to a painful point
36. Don’t act with a twist
38. Don’t seek others’ pain as the limbs of your own happiness
43. Observe these two, even at the risk of your life
44. Train in the three difficulties
50. Don’t be swayed by external circumstances
52. Don’t misinterpret
53. Don’t vacillate
54. Train wholeheartedly
56. Don’t wallow in self-pity
57. Don’t be jealous
58. Don’t be frivolous