Lojong Slogan #34: Don’t transfer the ox’s load to the cow

As usual, there are at least a few different angles from which to approach this slogan. The first focus of most commentary on this slogan is to look at yourself and consider whether you take on your share of work and responsibility, or do you attempt to dodge it, allowing it to fall to someone else? Or do we pretend to be less capable than we really are because we prefer not to head down the harder path even though we know we can successfully transverse it? Remember that the path is going to be there and that you could be setting yourself up for an even harder lesson down the road.
The next level of commentary is usually to consider that the ox is physically a much stronger animal than the cow. It can take on a heavier load, so that is its fate. It doesn’t mean that it is fair that it must do so, but it is simply the circumstance. In our lives, we sometimes chafe at the burdens we must bear, even if they are really just inconveniences. “Why should I have to take on more than another person? Why do I have to do all the planning? They’re just being lazy!” You don’t really know the complete circumstances of someone else’s life right now and so you don’t know what load they are capable of handling right now. And even if they are being lazy, that is a burden they must deal with, and are dealing with in their lives in some way. So right now, you will bear the greater burden because you can. Not fair, but who cares?
Another layer of meaning here is that your life is what it is. You experience what you experience largely due to your karmic seeds and your samskaras, or reactive patterns of behavior. These are well-worn, cyclical paths that you travel again and again until you become aware of them and work to counteract them. Realize that and learn what they are through spiritual practice, yoga, meditation, etc. Don’t simply project your samskaras onto others and blame them for the circumstances of your life. It is your load. You built it, you earned it.
This week, I am going to attempt to become aware of times when I want to shy away from a responsibility in my work and personal lives. I also will try to observe times when I blame others for the feelings caused by patterns or reactions that I am working with in my own life.