The Mind-Training Slogans, Slogan #42
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.
42. Whichever of the two occurs, be patient.
What happens to your practice when you extremely happy, when things are going especially well? And what happens to your practice when things are going horribly, and you are not doing well at all? That is what this slogan is about, and the advice is to be patient in either case.
It is hard to practice mind training steadily. So we come up with all kinds of excuses to avoid facing our own state of mind and opening to others. Whether we are feeling pain or pleasure, are sad or happy, we get taken over by the intensity and drama of the situation and we lose our bearings.
When our situation is bright, we indulge in it, and milk it for all it is worth. Since things are going well for us, we don’t feel any need to practice. We are caught up in our own pleasure and our wish to maintain it, so we focus on ourselves and forget about others. Mind training and the cultivation of loving-kindness are thrown out the window.
When we are suffering and things are not going well, we also turn inward. We think, “Why me?” and get caught up in the mentality of whining and complaint. Although we might think about practice, we are too miserable to relate with it. Our excuse is that we just don’t have the right conditions to practice right now, so we need to wait for conditions to improve. So again mind training is ditched, in this case, due to our preoccupation with our own misery.
Instead of waiting for the “right conditions” to come about, the idea of this slogan is to apply mind training steadily and consistently. In fact every condition is a right condition for mind training.
Notice the waxing and waning of your inspiration to practice mind training. What patterns do you see? What would be threatened if your practice were more steady and continuous?