Lojong Cards and Booklet

Lojong Cards and Booklet
This self-published deck and booklet are the intellectual property of Beverly King. Please do not copy or reproduce any photos or blog posts without permission.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Don't wait in ambush.

Antlion larva – photo by Trevor Jinks

          Antlions are worldwide in distribution and well known for the predatory habits of their larvae. Many species dig funnel-shaped sandy pits and hide at the bottom to trap passing insects. The walls of the pit are steep, and any crawling bug that tries to scramble out is thwarted by the loose sand that provides no foothold. To further hamper its efforts at escape, the antlion tosses up grains of sand that cause little landslides. Once the insect slips to the bottom of the trap, it is seized by the lurking antlion. When thoughts of revenge fill the minds of humans, we dig the same kind of trap and wait patiently to strike. An opportunity comes when we catch the target at a disadvantage, and we relish the feeling of having power over them. We feel a surge of energy when we repay someone for the pain we think they've caused us. Yet the sand we throw to bring them down falls on us too. Though we may feel a brief sense of self-satisfaction, it is soon replaced by the worry of retaliation. Revenge, we discover, doesn't recreate the past into something more palatable. Instead it keeps us locked into a cycle of misery. Rather than giving such thoughts free rein, we can explore whether a heart with room for forgiveness also has infinite space for joy.

While we intended to undermine the other person, we’ve distorted the situation so much that we fail to recognize we have given them more power over us than ever.
~ Traleg Kyabgon

More information on the thirty-second slogan can be found here

Monday, August 15, 2016

Don't malign others.

Phragmites australis subsp. australis – photo by Paul Slichter

          In the wetlands of North America are two types of common reed; one is a native and the other a non-native. Both reeds are allelopathic, meaning they produce a chemical which inhibits the growth of other plants close by, thus allowing them easier access to the resources they need. But the non-native reed goes further, exuding an acid so toxic that it disintegrates the structural protein in the roots of neighboring plants. It efficiently kills its competition and aggressively invades new territory, greatly diminishing the biodiversity in the area. The ego can be just as militant when it feels threatened. Insecurity may trigger us to gossip or say unkind things about another person so that we appear more clever or superior. Once we think of someone as an adversary, our aspiration to be compassionate and kind is easily forgotten. This slogan is an admonition to be mindful of our words, not only for the benefit of others, but to protect the tender openness of our own heart too.

When the mind is virtuous, the tongue can be trusted. ~ B. Alan Wallace

For more information on the thirty-first slogan, go here.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Don't be so predictable.

Photo by James Ownby

Travel to any national park in the U.S., and you’ll likely see a sign that reads “Keep Wildlife Wild.” It gives visitors a stern warning not to intentionally feed the park animals or leave food unprotected. The rangers are very aware of how these human actions can radically alter the behavior of wildlife. Animals that learn people are an easy resource for food react consistently: they lose their instinctive fear, becoming bold and often aggressive. Property damage, injury and death (usually of the animal) are frequent results. The human animal can be just as predictable as food-conditioned wildlife. We react automatically with the consistency of hot and cold water taps on a faucet. Whether something brings us pleasure or threatens our pleasure determines which tap gets turned on. But the thirtieth slogan reminds us that we don’t have to give in to our impulses or be led by our assumptions. Instead we can be fully present as each moment unfolds without allowing preferences or prejudice to muddy our perception. Perhaps we humans need our own sign: “Don’t Feed the Habits.”

Desire is no friend, but seems like one, which is why you do not fear it.
~ Aryadeva

For more information on the thirtieth slogan, go here.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Abandon poisonous food.

Vitis riparia photo by Allen Norcross; Menispermum canadense photo by John Hilty

Euell Gibbons launched the modern-day movement of ‘living off the land’ with his book, Stalking the Wild Asparagus. A variety of people, from survivalists and foodies to herbalists and nature lovers, have since embraced the trend of gathering wild foods and medicinal plants. However foraging does have one major drawback: many edible plants have a poisonous look-alike. Frost grape, for example, closely resembles and often intermingles with moonseed, a vine with poisonous drupes. One way to know for sure which vine is which is to cut open the fruits and look at the seeds. The grape safe for humans has several ovate seeds, while the moonseed has only a flat, crescent-shaped seed (for which it is named). In the same way, our words and actions may initially appear to be benevolent and noble, but we need to check within for any hidden agendas. If our behavior is motivated by a desire for the attention and admiration of others, this slogan cautions that such 'poison' will only nourish our ego. Our craving for recognition is like trying to fill a bucket with a hole in the bottom. That feeling of being unique and special is insubstantial; it will always leave us anxiously yearning for more.

It’s important to note that there’s a huge difference between personal gratification and ego gratification, for the latter compromises our virtuous qualities by infusing them with conflicting emotions. ~ Traleg Kyabgon

For more information on the twenty-ninth slogan, go here.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Abandon any hope of fruition.

Sunprint photo by Emily Longbrake

  Sunny days when nature’s growth is at its height make me think of a creative craft I enjoyed with my daughter – Sunprints. Based on the cyanotype process, it uses sun-sensitive paper that undergoes a chemical change when exposed to ultra-violet light. Lovely prints can be made by laying fern fronds, flowers, feathers or other objects on the paper and then placing it outdoors in the sunlight. After several minutes a reaction takes place; the print is then soaked in water to stop the chemical process. The result is a precise pattern of the objects on a beautiful, blue background. Unlike Sunprints, life rarely produces such an exact blueprint of what we anticipate. We lay out our plans, apply energy behind them, then fully expect to see what we desire to unfold. But what happens when we attach our joy and peace of mind to an outcome that never materializes? This slogan teaches us to abandon such clinging, otherwise we will only perpetuate our cycle of suffering.

Everything we need is present inside us, not somewhere ahead of us.
~ Ringu Tulku

For more information on the twenty-eighth slogan, go here.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Work with the greatest defilements first.

Photo by Liz West

There is a quote often used by writers and conference speakers in the business world: "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day."* Their analogy is not meant to be taken literally but as an encouragement to work on one’s most challenging task first, because it will likely reap the most benefits and have the biggest impact. Lojong training uses the same logic by advising to start where we feel most stuck in our spiritual practice. To find our 'frog,' Pema Chodron suggests looking for a feeling of righteous indignation; upon finding it, we can "let go of the story line, let go of the conversation, and own our feeling completely." We do this with an attitude of unconditional friendliness and acceptance rather than judgment. By attending to our strongest habitual pattern with a willingness to change it, we often eliminate a lot of smaller ones. As Chogyam Trungpa colorfully expressed it, "You do not just want to work with chicken shit, you want to work with the chicken itself."
*Though this quote is usually attributed to Mark Twain, it is more likely a rendering of the words of Nicolas Chamfort.

Our greatest obstacles are also our greatest wisdom. ~ Pema Chodron

For more information on the twenty-seventh slogan, go here.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Don't ponder others.

Bluebird - Photo by Cloe Poisson

          During the spring and summer months, it's not uncommon to see the side-view mirrors of cars adorned with garbage bags or cut-off shirt sleeves. This warm weather look is due to the nesting of songbirds. The males stake out their territory by flashing their bright feathers and singing from high among the trees. But occasionally an interloper will appear who refuses to respect boundaries, even when met with a direct attack. The problem is one of perception; the intruder is really the male's own reflection, not another bird. The twenty-sixth slogan advises us not to ponder others for the same reason. What we think we understand about another's motives is likely a reflection of our own mind. The assumptions we make about the intentions of another person is based on our analysis of their actions. Logic and reasoning will never give us an actual view inside their mind or heart; it's probable that what we imagine to be true is wrong. We'd be better off paying attention to the feathering of our own 'nest' instead of trying to figure out someone else.

We judge ourselves by our intentions; we judge others by the effects of their actions on us. ~ Jack Himmelstein

For more information on the twenty-sixth slogan, go here.