Each Friday, beginning April 9, Acharya Judy Lief, teacher in the Shambhala tradition of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, will comment 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 will include a practice. Read all the lojong slogans here.
A Year of Atisha Slogans
I would like to invite you to join me in an ongoing reflection on the mind training slogans of Atisha.
There are a number of excellent translations of the Atisha slogans available. I have consulted primarily Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness by Chögyam Trungpa with an excellent translation of the basic text by the Nālandā Translation Committee and The Great Path of Awakening by Jamgön Kongtrül, with an excellent translation by Ken McLeod. However, since the purpose of this article is to examine the slogans, to look at them this way and that, to chew on them and let them sink in, I have at times chosen to phrase the slogans in my own way. This is in no way meant to be a replacement for more traditional translations—it is simply a means of exploration. I hope you too will find ways of expressing these teachings in your own words.
A Little Historical Background
Atisha was a 10th century Indian Buddhist teacher, who embarked on a dangerous journey by sea in search of the teacher Serlingpa, who lived on the golden isle of Sumatra in present-day Indonesia. Serlingpa was known to be the holder of a body of profound mind training teachings, but to receive these teachings, it was necessary to find Serlingpa and request them. And that is exactly what Atisha did. Having done so, he brought the mind training teachings of Serlingpa back to India and subsequently to Tibet.
In Tibet, the 12th century Tibetan teacher Geshe Chekawa systematized Atsha’s mind training teachings into a series of slogans to produce The Root Text of the Seven Points of Training the Mind. And later the great 19th century master Jamgön Kongtrül the Great wrote a well-known commentary on this test, entitled The Basic Path toward Enlightenment.
Early on, the mind training (Tibetan: lojong) teachings were kept secret and were only practiced by a few. Later they became more widely available, and nowadays we are fortunate to have not only the core text and commentary available, but many contemporary commentaries, as well.
Why bring all this up, instead of launching right in? Because we forget where teachings come from—from real people, real dedication, and real hardship.
Reflect on the journey of Atisha and of so many others who were willing to risk their lives in search of teachings. When dharma comes easy, when it is available in the marketplace, is it true dharma?
Next Week: How to Work with the Slogans
Translation of The Root Text of the Seven Points of Training the Mind by the Nalanda Translation Committee under the direction of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, revised translation © 1993 by Diana J. Mukpo and the Nālandā Translation Committee. Used with special permission from the Nalanda Translation Committee, 1619 Edward Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 3H9.
A set of 63 4″x 6″ cards containing all the slogans, printed in two colors, are available through Samadhi Store at (800) 331-7751. They can be ordered directly, here.
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