The Mind-Training Slogans, Slogan #28
Each Friday, Acharya Judy Lief, teacher in the Shambhala tradition of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, comments on one of Atisha’s 59 mind-training (Tib. lojong) slogans, which serve as the basis for a complete practice.
Atisha (980-1052 CE) was an Indian adept who brought to Tibet a systematized approach to bodhicitta (the desire to awaken for the sake of all sentient beings) and loving-kindness, through working with these slogans. Judy edited Chogyam Trungpa’s Training the Mind (Shambhala, 1993), which contains Trungpa Rinpoche’s commentaries on the lojong (“mind-training”) teachings.
Each entry includes a practice.
Read all the lojong slogans here.
This slogan undercuts our attachment to either success or failure. It is a kind of positive giving up. Abandoning any hope of fruition does not mean abandoning our projects and ambitions. Instead it points to a way of going about things that is present focused rather than fixated on results.
When we do anything, we usually do it for a purpose. We have some aim in mind and we hope to accomplish that aim. We hope to succeed rather than fail. That is fine. But what then happens is that our thoughts of success or failure begin to overpower the task at hand. The fear of failure can make us timid and unwilling to take risk our clinging to a successful outcome can make us more and more tight. We become impatient and grit our teeth trying to force our desired outcome. The hope of fruition and the fear of failure go hand-in-hand.
So much education and so much of the conventional thinking about how to motivate people is based on that model of hope and fear. We learn to expect some kind of reward or confirmation any time we succeed and to expect some form of punishment when we do not. But according to this slogan, it is better to abandon that whole approach. In that way, when we act, there are no hidden agendas or ulterior motives.
Even the practice of developing loving kindness through slogan practice could be tainted by this desire to be recognized and confirmed. Our attempts to develop loving kindness may begin to be more about cultivating an image of being wise and compassionate than actually helping other people. Because of our need to confirm ourselves, to prove to ourselves that our efforts have been successful, we may try to force a reaction of appreciation or gratitude on those we are supposedly selflessly helping. According to this slogan, there is more room for real kindness and compassion to arise if let go of our attachment to results, or at least loosen it a little.
How is it possible to maintain your focus, to “keep your eyes on the prize,” without getting fixated on results? As you go about your activities, pay attention to the difference between having a goal and being taken over by your hopes, fears, and speculations.