The Mind-Training Slogans, Slogan #39



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.

39: All activities should be done with one intention.

lojong_slogans_vert2 It seems that every day we fall willy-nilly into a never-ending string of activities. They seem to come at us from outside, without our necessarily having anything to do about it. We keep busy with one thing after another from morning until night. 

At times we may be really organized and lay out plans day-by-day and week by-week. We have goals and deadlines. At other times, it may be more as if we are responding to requests that come up, without any clear pattern or direction. E-mails, meetings, obligations keep flooding in, and we find all the little squares in our calendars filling up.

What holds all this activity together? Is there any thread that runs through all this business? Or are we just trying to make it through another day? What do you know about your underlying intention? 

Without saying it in so many words, often the thread holding all our thoughts and activities together is: “What’s in it for me?” We wonder how we can survive, get ahead, win, succeed , overcome, take over, grab something, be recognized, appreciated, rewarded…you name it, the list is endless.

In lojong practice, the idea is to replace that unspoken intention based on fear and the need to prop up the ego with an intention of benevolence. Rather than making a few heroic or virtuous gestures or taking on some righteous cause, the idea is to have a quality of awareness, gentleness, and benefit to others color everything you do.

Such an intention should color even the way in which you do the simplest things, like picking up your teacup. Your gestures, speech, thoughts, and emotions should all be expressions of one intention: the powerful intention of benefiting sentient beings.

Today’s practice

Notice the way in which your underlying intentions color your actions.  Notice also the quality of pointlessness or aimlessness and times when whatever you are doing seems to be without any clear intention. Choose an activity, you normally do and see what happens when you link it with the intention of cultivating gentles and service to others.

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