The Mind-Training Slogans, Slogan #41
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.
41: Two activities: one at the beginning, one at the end.
When you start your day, you could actually take a moment to think about what you are doing. Instead of just launching in, you could begin properly, with something in mind beyond just getting through your to-do list. In particular, you could look on each day as an opportunity to practice lojong, or mind training.
At the end of the day, before you fall asleep, instead of just flopping, you could review how you have done. You could begin by appreciating the times you were connected with bodhichitta and joined it with what you were doing. Then you could also reflect on the times when you lost your connection to bodhichitta and acted accordingly.
The idea is not to beat yourself up for losing your sense of bodhicitta and mind training nor is it to give yourself a medal for being good. You do not need to blame yourself or to blame anyone else. The idea is simply to take note so that you can shift your energy gradually in the direction of kindness and awareness.
The practice of lojong is a life-long journey, but that journey takes place one day at a time. You cannot do anything about days gone by, and speculating about the future can be overwhelming and somewhat pointless. But you can look at each day as a practice period, with a beginning and an end. So every morning you take a fresh start, and every evening you have a chance appraise how you have done.
Notice how easy it is to get so caught up with your life that you never have a chance to see it in any larger perspective. What happens if you take even a little time at the beginning or end of the day to step back and look at what you are doing? What makes you remember your commitment to bodhichitta practice and what makes you forget?