The Mind-Training Slogans, Slogan #54
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.
54. Train wholeheartedly.
It is probably clear by now that lojong is all about training. And since the nature of mind training goes directly against our entrenched and deep-rooted habit of self-fixation, it is easy to come up with all sorts of excuses for not keeping it up.
We are all about being solid, and we are ready to pounce on anything that threatens our fixed view of ourselves. At the same time, we are always scanning, seeking ways to secure ourselves further. Ego plays both a defensive and offensive game.
Ironically, our ego trickery is such that even studying the dharma and the slogans and the philosophy of mind training can be co-opted as further credentials. That is why study alone is not enough. For these teachings to have any effect at all they need to actually be practiced.
Although practice is essential, mind training is not a clenched jaw or heavy-handed battle. However, it does require that you recognize the pain and claustrophobia of continually playing the game of ego, and that pain is hard to face. But as you practice, something radical occurs: you realize that you don’t have to play that game! You see that when you opt out, even briefly, there is relief, lightness, and even joy.
Sometimes people think the Buddhist practices are all about mind, nothing else. But the notion of whole-heartedness, is that you really feel what you feel and that you feel it completely. You should bring your heart and your emotions into the practice so that you can feel more and more deeply the contrast between ego-imprisonment and freedom.
Pay attention to the boundary between wholehearted practice and a more vague and lukewarm approach. Notice your thinking process, your bodily sensations, and emotional undercurrents. What happens at those moments in which you click in and are really practicing?
Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, we depend on readers like you to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.