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Lojong (often translated into English as Mind Training) is a practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition based on a set of proverbs formulated in Tibet in the 12th century by Geshe Chekhawa. The practice involves refining and purifying one's intent and way of thinking.
The fifty-nine or so proverbs that form the root text of the Lojong practice are designed as a set of antidotes to undesired mental habits, paranoia, and fixed ideas that cause suffering. They contain both Absolute Bodhicitta suggestions to expand one's viewpoint, such as Find the consciousness you had before you were born and Treat everything you perceive as a dream, and Relative Bodhicitta suggestions for relating to the world in a more constructive way, such as Be grateful to everyone or When everything goes wrong, treat disaster as a way to wake up.
History of the practice
The Lojong practice was developed over a 300-year period between 900 and 1200 CE, as part of the Mahayana school of Buddhism. Atisha (982–1054 CE), a Bengali monk, is generally regarded as the originator of the Lojong practice. The practice is described in his book Lamp on the Path to Enlightenment. But the practice is based upon his studies with a Sumatran teacher called Dharmaraksita, author of a well-known text called the Wheel of Sharp Weapons. Atisha journeyed to Sumatra and studied with Dharmarakshita for twelve years. Atisha then returned to teach in India, but at an advanced age accepted an invitation to teach in Tibet, where he stayed for the rest of his life.
A story is told of Atisha that when he heard that the inhabitants of Tibet were very pleasant and easy to get along with, instead of being delighted, he was concerned that he would not have enough negative emotion to work with in his Lojong practice. So he brought along his ill-tempered Bengali servant-boy, who would criticize him incessantly and was awful to spend time with. Tibetan teachers then like to joke that when Atisha arrived in Tibet, he realized that there was no need after all.
The Lojong proverbs in their present form were composed by Chekawa (1101–1175 CE). According to one account, Geshe Chekhawa saw a text on his cell-mate's bed, open to the phrase: Gain and Victory to Others, Loss and Defeat to Oneself. The phrase struck him and he sought out the author Langri Tangpa (1054–1123) . When he found that Langri Tangpa had died, he studied with one of Langri Tangpa's students, Sharawa, for twelve years.
Geshe Chekhawa is claimed to have cured leprosy with Lojong. In one account, he went to live with a colony of lepers and did the practice with them. Over time many of them were healed, more lepers came, and eventually people without leprosy also started to take an interest in the practice. Another popular story about Geshe Chekhawa and Lojong concerns his brother and how it transformed him into a much kinder person.
One seminal commentary on the Lojong practice was written by Jamgon Kongtrul (one of the main founders of the non-sectarian Rime movement within Tibetan Buddhism) in the 19th century. This commentary was translated by Ken McLeod, initially as A Direct Path to Enlightenment. This translation served as the root text for Osho's Book of Wisdom. Later, after some consultation with Chogyam Trungpa, Ken McLeod retranslated the work as The Great Path of Awakening.
Two other seminal texts on Lojong (training the mind) have been written by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (founder of the New Kadampa Tradition) and form the basis of study programs at Buddhist Centers throughout the world. Universal Compassion is a commentary to the text Training the Mind in Seven Points by Geshe Chekhawa. Eight Steps to Happiness is a commentary to the text Eight Verses of Training the Mind by Geshe Langri Tangpa. The proverb listing below is one possible paraphrase of the Tibetan original.
- First, train in the preliminaries.
- Treat everything you perceive as a dream.
- Find the consciousness you had before you were born.
- Let even the remedy itself drop away naturally.
- Stay in the primeval consciousness, the basis of everything.
- Between meditations, treat everything as an illusion.
- As you breathe in, take in and accept all the sadness, pain, and negativity of the whole world, including yourself, and absorb it into your heart. As you breathe out, pour out all your joy and bliss; bless the whole of existence.
- Understand your attachments, your aversions, and your indifference, and love them all.
- Apply these proverbs in everything you do.
- When practicing unconditional acceptance, start with yourself.
- When everything goes wrong, treat disaster as a way to wake up.
- Take all the blame yourself.
- Be grateful to everyone.
- Don't worry – there's nothing real about your confusion.
- When something unexpected happens, in that very moment, treat it as a meditation.
- Work with the Five Forces. The Five Forces are:
- Be intense, be committed.
- Familiarization – get used to doing and being what you want to do and to be.
- Cultivate the white seeds, not the black ones.
- Turn totally away from all your ego trips.
- Dedicate all the merits of what you do for the benefit of others.
- Practice these Five Forces and you are ready for death at any moment.
- All teachings have the same goal.
- Follow the inner witness rather than the outer ones.
- Always have the support of a joyful mind.
- Practicing even when distracted is good training.
- Always observe these three points:
- Regularity of practice.
- Not wasting time on the inessential.
- Not rationalizing our mistakes.
- Change your attitude, but stay natural.
- Do not discuss defects.
- Don't worry about other people.
- Work on your greatest imperfection first.
- Abandon all hope of results.
- Give up poisonous food.
- Don't be consistent.
- Don't indulge in malicious gossip.
- Don't wait in ambush.
- Don't strike at the heart.
- Don't put the yak's load on the cow.
- Remember – this is not a competition.
- Don't be sneaky.
- Don't abuse your divine power for selfish reasons.
- Don't expect to profit from other people's misfortune.
- In all your activities, have a single purpose.
- Solve all problems by accepting the bad energy and sending out the good.
- Renew your commitment when you get up and before you go to sleep.
- Accept good and bad fortune with an equal mind.
- Keep your vows even at the risk of your life.
- Recognize your neurotic tendencies, overcome them, then transcend them.
- Find a teacher, tame the roving mind, choose a lifestyle that allows you to practice.
- Love your teacher, enjoy your practice, keep your vows.
- Focus your body, mind, and spirit on the path.
- Exclude nothing from your acceptance practice: train with a whole heart.
- Always meditate on whatever you resent.
- Don't depend on how the rest of the world is.
- In this life, concentrate on achieving what is most meaningful.
- Don't let your emotions distract you, but bring them to your practice.
- Don't let your practice become irregular.
- Train wholeheartedly.
- Free yourself by first watching, then analyzing.
- Don't feel sorry for yourself.
- Don't be jealous
- Stay focused.
- Don't expect any applause.
- ↑ His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Transforming the Mind: Eight Verses on Generating Compassion and Transforming your Life, Thorsons (2000) ISBN 0-7225-3865-0 PB
- ↑ Joyful Path of Good Fortune: The Complete Buddhist Path to Enlightenment, pages 6-14, Tharpa Publications (2nd. ed., 1995) ISBN 978-0-948006-46-3
- ↑ Langri Tangpa's Eight Verses for Training the Mind
- ↑ Universal Compassion: Inspiring Solutions for Difficult Times, pages 5-6, Tharpa Publications (4th. ed., 2002) ISBN 978-0-948006-72-2
- ↑ Kongtrul, Jamgon, A Direct Path to Enlightenment (trans. Ken McLeod) (out of print)
- ↑ Kongtrul, Jamgon, The Great Path of Awakening (Trans. Ken McLeod)
- ↑ Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Universal Compassion: Inspiring Solutions for Difficult Times, Tharpa Publications (4th. ed., 2002) ISBN 978-0-948006-72-2
- ↑ Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Eight Steps to Happiness: The Buddhist Way of Loving Kindness, Tharpa Publications (2000) ISBN 978-0-9817277-8-3
- ↑ Tonglen and Mind Training Site
- Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are
- Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness
- Geshe Rabten and Geshe Dhargyey, Advice from a Spiritual Friend
- Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Enlightened Courage
- Mind Training: The Great Collection by Geshe Thupten Jinpa
- Lojong, Developing the Good Heart: Level 3 of The Steps to Buddhahood (Lam Rim) by The Asian Classics Institute
- Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Universal Compassion: Inspiring Solutions for Difficult Times (commentary on "Training the Mind in Seven Points" by Geshe Chekawa)
- Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Eight Steps to Happiness: The Buddhist Way of Loving Kindness, Tharpa Publications (2000) ISBN 978-0-9817277-8-3 (commentary on 'Eight Verses of Training the Mind' by Geshe Langri Tangpa)