The Mind-Training Slogans, Slogan #40
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.
40. Correct all wrongs with one intention.
This slogan is about the power of establishing the attitude of mind training as a kind of underlying habit of mind. As in the previous slogan, it is about the power of our intention.
On the spiritual path we encounter both external and internal obstacles to practice and to awakening. Sometimes you are inspired and other times you are not. Even when you are inspired to practice, all sorts of external obstacles arise: you suddenly get sick, you need to attend to a family crisis, your job leaves us exhausted, etc.
Other times your obstacles may be more internal. You are doubtful of the path and of your ability to realize anything. Or maybe you are preoccupied, burnt out, or depressed. It could be that your practice has brought you to a point that feels threatening, and you are afraid to let it get any deeper.
External and internal obstacles such as these can leave you feeling stuck and disheartened.
When you encounter obstacles and obstructions to practice, how do you get back on track? How do you correct your course? The approach of just trying to push your way through does not work very well; it is hard to fight with your own state of mind.
Instead of struggling in that way, you could simply instill in your mind the aspiration to practice lojong or mind training. As you repeat this aspiration, it is almost a kind of self-indoctrination. Even though you might immediately forget it, you keep reminding yourself over and over, everyday, that this is your bottom line position.
Having that single underlying focus has a lot of power. When obstacles arise, they are abruptly brought short by the power of your intention. It is as if you have created a kind of gyroscope to guide your course and bring you back to stability when you lose your balance.
When you find yourself struggling with an external or internal obstacle and falling into resentment or discouragement, notice the tendency to simply feel stuck and under attack. Notice how your relationship to such obstacles shifts when you reconnect with your intention to train your mind in loving-kindness.