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, September 26, 2016

Don't make gods into demons.

Asian lady beetle with aphids – Photo by Jef Meul

          During the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Forestry Commission released large numbers of Harmonia axyridis to reduce the need for pesticides in forests, farmlands and gardens. Capable of eating 5000 aphids in its lifetime, the Asian ladybug has proven itself to be a beneficial form of pest control. This non-native species can vary in color from red or orange to a dull cream and can be found with or without spots. The white ‘cheeks’ of this beetle are marked with a black W (or M). Unfortunately houses resemble the caves these insects used as shelter in Asia during the winter months, so they tend to invade homes when it turns cold. The beetles will also nip (without breaking the skin) and can release a yellow, smelly substance from their joints as a defensive measure. Once praised for their amazing control of aphids, mites and scale insects, Asian lady beetles are now condemned for exhibiting their natural behavior. Likewise, the thirty-seventh slogan implores us not to let the ego convince us that what is helpful has become too much of a hassle to tolerate. Often we succumb to the idea that spiritual practice should remove all of our challenges and keep us from any pain. But mind training is not about building up the ego and separating ourselves from what is unpleasant. Instead of using all our energy trying to make something go away, we can consider how we can work with it.

No matter what is going on, there are always small moments in which we can find some joy or relief if we are open to them. ~ Norman Fischer

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

Monday, September 19, 2016

Don't act with a twist.

Thorn bugs – Photo by Sandra Hangey

          Umbonia crassicornis, a brightly-colored, tropical insect, can be recognized by its thorn-like shape. Clustered on branches of ornamentals or fruit trees, their spiky shells can easily be mistaken for part of the plant. Thorn bugs may initially appear as an innocuous oddity with a unique method of camouflage. Yet these insects don’t just gather on the stems – they suck the sap from them. They make cuts in the plant tissue and deposit their eggs, creating more little mouths that will cause further damage to the tree or shrub. In the same way, our endeavors may look impressive on the outside while our true intent is camouflaged. Looking beneath what is superficial may reveal an attempt to manipulate a situation to our advantage. Consumed with the result we want, the outcome can become more important than what we’re doing or who is involved. But self-serving behavior merely develops self-centered muscles, leaving altruistic ones to atrophy. Like the plant attacked by pests, we may find such 'twists' of behavior only stunt rather than advance our spiritual growth.

Acting with a twist is a form of spiritual materialism. It is always having the ulterior motive of working for your own benefit. ~ Chogyam Trungpa

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

Monday, September 12, 2016

Don’t try to be the fastest.

Photo by Jonathan Monro

The bowerbird (a species endemic to Australia and New Guinea) has a fascinating ritual when mating season arrives. As part of their courtship, the males build a bower; some structures resemble a maypole built around a small sapling while others are made of vertical sticks with a ‘walk-through.’ These constructions alone would not be enough to get noticed by the females, so the males show off their exterior decorating skills. Found items are arranged in their ‘courtyard’- natural things like shells, feathers and flowers or human-made things such as bottle caps, straws, toys and clothes pins. Each bird will spend hours arranging their collection, sometimes putting items in groups of things that are alike or at times sticking to a certain color choice. They often use optical illusion to hold the female’s attention by arranging objects from smallest to largest. Anything moved out of its place will be put back in its original place. The intention of all this effort is to outshine the other males in hopes of attracting a female. Humans have the same habit of trying to eclipse others, attempting to outperform or outsmart everyone else. But we lose sight of our purpose when this habit is used in our spiritual practice. There’s no need to squander our energy trying to be the best; our practice is not meant to be a race but an effort that will last a lifetime.

We only obsess over winning because of the elation we experience when we have gained superiority over others and see someone else losing. This is only an illusory victory, fabricated by the samsaric mind, and we’ll experience many obstacles if we continue to see things this way. ~ Traleg Kyabgon

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

Monday, September 5, 2016

Don’t transfer the ox’s load to the cow.

Ragweed and goldenrod photos by Alicia Lamborn

          During the latter part of summer, the bright yellow blooms of goldenrod can be found amid unplowed fields and along roadside ditches. This time of year is also hay fever season, and many sufferers point to the showy blossoms as the cause of their suffering. But it's more plausible their allergies are produced by ragweed, a plant with nondescript flowers that bloom around the same period. Ragweed produces copious amounts of pollen that is spread by the wind. On the other hand, goldenrod's pollen is heavy and sticky; it requires the help of bees, butterflies and other insects for pollination to occur. What is in the air that produces those stuffy noses and itchy eyes is likely caused by ragweed. When things go wrong and our actions are to blame, it's easy to develop a ragweed mentality. We willingly point out our attractive qualities (Look at my lacy leaves!) and shift the focus away from our faults. The cause of any problem is placed on the shoulders of others, and we abdicate all responsibility for any part of what's happened. But like the hay fever sufferer who pulls up all the goldenrod growing nearby, we find that such tactics do nothing to solve the problem. In fact, we relinquish our power that could have been beneficial in working things out. This slogan encourages us to be accountable for the consequences caused by our own words and actions rather attempting to incriminate others.

One has to think about one's problems personally, honestly, and genuinely.
~ Trungpa Rinpoche

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

Monday, August 29, 2016

Don’t bring things to a painful point.

Poison Ivy - photo by B. King

          "Leaves of three, let them be" is an adage to help identify and avoid Toxicodendron radicans and its cousins. Contact with the plant's oil found in the leaves, stem and root can cause a blistering rash whose itch is maddening. While scratching may seem to bring relief, it can actually make matters worse. A good scratch temporarily distracts the brain with minor pain, which then stimulates the production of serotonin to help control it. But the serotonin has a secondary effect - it intensifies the itching. "Don't bring things to a painful point" encourages us to avoid making the same sort of error. When we find a person's sore spot, we may be tempted to test it, reinforcing the problem and causing it to become more severe. For instance, a coworker's weak spot might be political discussions. Our discovery leads us to ask him if he happened to catch a certain politician's speech the night before, knowing it will set him off. Poking people this way might seem entertaining, but it is certainly not beneficial to the recipient. Helping to reduce their suffering would be the better medicine. 

Instead of pouncing on people’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities, we should be providing encouragement and support for their strengths. ~ Judy Lief

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

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.