The teachings on mind training, or lojong, are an invaluable aid to practitioners because they show us how the wisdom and skillful means of the. When I first read the lojong (“mind training”) teachings in The Great Path of Awakening by the nineteenth-century Tibetan teacher Jamgön. Judy edited Chogyam Trungpa’s Training the Mind (Shambhala, ), which contains Trungpa Rinpoche’s commentaries on the lojong.
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The core of mind training, the Karmapa explained, is to practice seeing oneself and others as equal and then lojoong exchange oneself for them. Having studied these instructions in the main texts and practiced their teachings, Langri Thangpa condensed all of them into these eight verses. Usually mind training does not depend on the length of the text but the concise presentation of the key points.
We might read many texts and their commentaries, the Karmapa commented, but if we cannot blend these teachings with our mind, if we do not internalize them, they will not benefit us. The Kadampa lineage in general emphasizes practice over study; its teachers focused on experience rather than the intellect.
They are tdaining for achieving the highest aim, the level of buddhahood. We take refuge, generate bodhicitta, and then in meditating on benefitting others and developing our bodhichitta, we become fully awakened. Since living beings assist us in this process, they are like a taining gem.
Mind Training (Lojong) | Lotsawa House
It is not enough to know that living beings exist around us, the Karmapa counseled, we must train in taking them to be more precious than ourselves. From beginningless loong, others and ourselves have existed; we have moved down through time together.
Since we train in bodhicitta through relating to others, we should consider them dearer than ourselves. And these myriad connections can be either negative or positive. Whether they are one or the other depends on the way we relate to them. We can create positive relationships, not just for temporary gains, such as food and clothing, but for expressing genuine love and compassion.
If we can do this, an excellent connection is created and our bodhichitta will grow. But more important than all of these are the lkjong we have with others.
Attaining liberation or omniscience depends on the quality of our relationships with others. Thoughts of love and compassion as well as meditating on bodhichitta are the cause for attaining full awakening. On the contrary, if the afflictions and poisons are present in our being, liberation or unchanging happiness will be impossible to find.
When in the company of others, I will see myself as lowest of them all, And from the depths of my lojomg Cherish others as supreme. The reason for holding ourselves lower and others higher can be illustrated by an example. Likewise, if we keep others higher and ourselves lower, trqining can receive all their qualities.
On the contrary, if we are proud and think we are superior, we close off an opportunity to learn. No mindd whom we might meet or befriend, this lojojg a chance for us to educate ourselves. People have different ways of thinking and behaving, so we can always learn from them. On the other hand, if we are fixated on loojng own way of thinking and keep ourselves in the center of the frame, we lose the chance to expand our horizons.
Holding ourselves lower allows us to learn. If we think of ourselves as beginners, it will open the door to knowing more. As we grow older, we trajning keep learning, so we need to have courage and recognize our situation as an opportunity to grow.
Each person we meet can fill in what we lojonf not know or have not yet connected with. Without this open attitude, mind training will not be effective. And we also need a clear and powerful idea of what we are doing. If our thoughts are half-hearted, the training will not work.
Whether we learn or not depends on our way of thinking and our ability to bring everything onto the path of practice. In everything I do, I will watch my mind. In all activities—moving, standing, sitting, and so forth—we look at what is happening in our mind, checking to see if the afflictions are arising or not. In monitoring our mind, if we spy an affliction on the rise, we immediately recognize that it is a fault and reverse it.
It trainimg important to examine like this, especially if we are Dharma practitioners. Some people who have entered the gate of Dharma develop in ways that seem strange to people observing from the outside. In particular, if we are practicing trainnig training, we have to take the responsibility of being continually alert in all that we do.
As soon as an affliction starts to arise, we can encounter it directly and forcefully, stopping it in its tracks. This is not an easy thing to do. If usually we are vigilant and aware of what is transpiring in our minds, we can sense that an affliction is about to oljong. Otherwise, we oojong not have the time to block it since it has louong occurred.
The key point is being alert to the movement of our mind, and this will allow us the time to turn an affliction around.
The Kadampa elders advised that as we are moving through lojony daily lives and see an affliction arising, we should immediately and forcefully press it back down. Being alert, aware, and vigilant is key. Whenever I see ill-natured people Or those oppressed by grim misdeeds and misery, Like discovering a precious treasure, I will cherish them as valuable and rare. If we encounter such people, what attitude should we have?
May I bring them out of their terrible condition and place them on the level of buddhahood. It is not difficult to be with people whose character resembles ours; however, encountering ill-natured individuals whose character is set far apart from ours will challenge us.
If we want to put our mind training into action, we should show these difficult people respect. If we only feel comfortable relating to people who are easy to lojongg with, our training will not become powerful.
Mind Training (Lojong)
We need to expand the strength of our mind, the courage of our heart, and the breadth of our outlook. We can develop these abilities to the point that we are happy to meet with anyone. The people near to us, our family and friends, for example, can provide a variety of difficult situations for us to practice mind training. The time to practice is now in our everyday lives, but we put it off to some future date.
This is not real training. Real training means using the problems we face as we go about our lives and not postponing these challenges to some distant future. Whenever someone caught in envy Does me wrong by scolding or demeaning me, I will take defeat upon myself And give victory to others. Out of jealousy someone might use harsh words to put us down or mercilessly criticize us without any real reason.
At that time, the Karmapa advised, we can take on defeat and give victory to another. In general, when we relate to ill-tempered people, their bad temper, in fact, is not ours, so it is not a problem, as it does not harm us.
It is similar with someone who is suffering from illness and so forth, so we can remain in equanimity. However, someone specifically targeting us with verbal abuse and harm can trigger our afflictions, as can views that are very different from our own. How should we handle this? What should the response from our mind training be? Not just following the meaning of the words, we should reflect on whom or what is it that takes the defeat or victory.
The focus here is not on the person, but on the mind. We place the defeat on the mind that takes things to be real or that clings to a self and we give the victory to the mind that cares for others. In brief, we continually diminish the mind that cherishes the self and continually develop the mind that cherishes others. We could think in terms of a person, but then we would miss the opportunity to train our mind, which is the whole point of lojong.
We are faultless and yet another ascribes faults to us and even severely criticizes us for having them. Thinking that we are practicing great compassion and helping others, we seem to take on these faults, but the result is actually an increase in our pride, as we wind up congratulating ourselves for having given such a huge profit to another.
We must become able to fully exchange ourselves for another. This is especially painful since it is someone with whom we have an emotional connection, yet it is this very person we should consider to be our spiritual teacher. An authentic spiritual teacher is one who creates the conditions that allow us to see our hidden faults, those defects that we do not usually recognize. Often when we meet a teacher, we feel delighted and happy, but the real question is: Were our faults illuminated?
To develop as practitioners, we have to recognize what is wrong with us, which is difficult to do, so the real spiritual teacher is one who allows us to see our shortcomings.
Trxining the positive side, the Karmapa added, the spiritual teacher also shows us ways to develop qualities that we did not have before. A good spiritual teacher will not reprimand us as parents do their children: If you cannot do this, you are not a true teacher.
If someone with whom you have a relationship harms you and you harbor it inside, turning it over again and again, at one point all this negativity will spill out. The spiritual teacher, therefore, points out clearly what we need to change. Briefly, in direct or indirect ways, I trainung help and bring happiness to all my mothers While secretly taking upon myself All of their hurt and suffering.
The best way to do this is directly, but yraining that is not possible, then indirectly. We secretly give all our well-being and happiness to other living beings and trainiing take on all their injury and suffering.
There are a number of ways to explain why the practice should be kept secret, the Karmapa noted. Later it was taught more widely and the motivation was emphasized: This kind of ego-boosting is not what is being taught here, so the practice is done in secret.
How is it then that we should think about exchanging self for other? First of all, it will not work well if we practice in a materialistic frame of mind, focusing on things and taking them to be truly existent. If we understand benefiting others as passing along everything we have, that would also be mistaken. For one thing, material resources are limited so, to take a simple example, if we have only one apple, to whom will we give it?
If we offer it to one person, another person cannot have it. Our material resources are limited and cannot reach all living beings. Therefore, we do not think in terms of things, but in terms of our body, speech, and mind, which can truly benefit others.
The main practice here is to offer these three to all living beings.