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, December 5, 2016

Make the three gates inseparable.

Okra flower and pod photo by Bob Richmond

          Imagine a gardener going to the farming supply store and buying seeds indiscriminately; he doesn’t even bother to look at the packs to see what vegetables he’s chosen. After planting the seeds and watering them for many weeks, the plants begin to produce flowers and then vegetables. But the gardener becomes upset and frustrated when he sees what has grown: “I didn’t want okra, peppers and peas! I wanted tomatoes, cucumbers and squash!” His friends question him as to why he didn’t look at the seed packets before planting the seeds. Mind training allows us to be aware of the seeds of emotions and thoughts before we plant them. The mind’s yield of words and actions are based on the seeds we’ve sown and watered there. The three gates are the virtues of the mind, speech and body, and we would be wise to be aware of what we allow to pass through them. What passes through those gates will likely wind up growing in our yard, whether we want it to or not.

Every act, word, and thought in our daily life has the power to bring forth a fruit. 
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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

Monday, November 28, 2016

Don’t allow three things to diminish.

Photo by Sindre Kinnerød (worldwildlife.org)

          Ursus maritimus (‘sea bear’) evolved from terrestrial brown bears (Ursus arctos). Though the fur of the polar bear appears white, it is actually transparent; their black skin allows them to soak up as much of the sun’s rays as possible. These bears are dependent on sea ice for hunting, mating and denning. While their evolution allowed them to thrive as a part of the Arctic ecosystem, rising temperatures from climate change has now created a life of struggle. As more of the pack ice diminishes, it has become increasingly difficult for polar bears to travel, feed and raise young. Whether they survive or become extinct is intricately tied to whether the ice endures. Slogan forty-six cautions that the durability of our practice relies on respect for our mentor, enthusiasm for the teachings and a firm commitment to awaken our mind and heart. If we are interested in more than just a fling with mind training, we will make sure these things don’t diminish. Unlike the polar bear, we do have a choice.

Go forward with curiosity, wondering where this experiment will lead. This kind of open-ended inquisitiveness captures the spirit of enthusiasm, or heroic perseverance. ~ Pema Chodron

For more information on the forty-sixth slogan go here.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Take on the three principal causes.

Beaver photo by Joanne Kennedy

          Beavers rely on three resources to build their dams: a slow-moving stream with a mud bottom, hardwood trees, and stones. Trees with small trunks are cut and placed in the water with the butt downstream. The butts of these logs are weighed down with heavy rocks; the weight of the stones and the stream’s current force the ends down into the mud bed. Branches form the superstructure around the logs, layered to construct walls from 2 to 3 feet thick. Openings between the branches are stuffed with mud and vegetation to further seal the structure. Access to the lodge is through an underwater tunnel, which helps protect the beaver from predators. The ‘three causes’ in this slogan are the primary resources needed for a sturdy foundation; these three things are what will support us as we travel our spiritual path. The first is a compassionate mentor who can teach effectively, and whose knowledge and experience make him or her qualified. The second is our devotion to the teachings themselves – we enthusiastically apply ourselves to the principles and practices. The third is the support we find to continue our training – the encouragement of friends and an economic resource. Just as the beaver is constantly repairing its dam, so we must not become complacent in maintaining the strong base that will help us move forward.

To practice this slogan is simply to recall all of this when your get grumpy or dissatisfied: remember your community and teachers, remember the importance of mind training, remember that you have what you need to do it. ~ Norman Fischer

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

Monday, November 14, 2016

Train in the three difficulties.

Photo by Mark Lentz

            Striped skunks are generally passive animals, yet they are well-known for their defensive behavior. If these skunks feel threatened, they will raise their tail and stomp their front legs as a warning. Intruders or predators who fail to back off get sprayed with a repulsive-smelling musk that can travel up to 6 meters. The oily spray is difficult to remove and can cause nausea. If sprayed in the eyes, it may cause intense pain and temporary blindness. Most animals only need one such encounter to learn to keep their distance. Fortunately, a skunk’s black and white coloring makes them easy to recognize. Likewise, the three difficulties encourage us to recognize, back off and refuse to engage our kleshas – strong emotions that arise in us and lead to suffering. We don’t need to fight them; we just pull back and don’t react as we normally do. Instead of getting hooked by thoughts which add fuel to our desire, we relax and let the emotional energy move through us. As the emotion dissipates, we experience a sense of freedom rather than misery. Once these intense states begin to lose their seductive appeal, we will make it a practice to avoid them.

Practice paying attention to the tiny little shifts of thought that, like a match to a fuse, cause a big explosion of confusion. ~ Judy Lief

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

Monday, November 7, 2016

Observe these two, no matter what.

Dormice photo by Miroslav Hlavko

          Ethologists use naturalistic observation to study animals. Focusing on behavior patterns, they are interested in the responses that are triggered by the conditions in the animal’s environment. These scientists compile an ethogram, or activity catalog, of a species throughout its life cycle. For each behavior pattern noted, ethologists ask, “How does this impact the animal’s chance of survival and ability to reproduce?” Though staying alive and procreation may be the primary focus of wild animals, the two vows of slogan forty-three asks us to redirect our concerns to encompass more than just self-preservation. The vow of refuge shapes the choices we make through following the example and teachings of Buddha while drawing on the support of our spiritual community. The vow of the bodhisattva shapes our relationships through our commitment to be of beneficial service to others. These two promises give us a reason to stay grounded in reality rather than trying to escape it, which is what waking up is all about.

All vows are included in this one commitment: to be committed to paying attention to our lives, to be honest about what is going on and unflinchingly realistic about how we are behaving and thinking. ~ Norman Fischer

For more information on slogan forty-three, go here.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Whichever of the two occurs, be patient.

          “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes,” was Mark Twain’s tongue-in-cheek way to describe the climate of the northeastern states. The weather is so changeable, Barry Keim and Gregory Zielinski wrote a book in an attempt to examine and explain it. The authors state, “Not only is the weather quite variable from season to season, but it includes extremes of both hot and cold temperatures, droughts, heavy rainfall, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and more.” A look at the map of the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zones illustrates the variations, identifying five different hardiness zones in New England. The forty-second slogan also urges us to be patient, because change will come. There’s no need to get obsessed if things are going great or go berserk if things are going terrible. Instead of using these fluctuating circumstances as an excuse not to practice, our commitment to lojong can help us not get swept away. The slogans can teach us how to creatively deal with life in beneficial ways, no matter how conditions may change.

Whichever of the two occurs, keep your mind spacious, maintaining a sense of equanimity no matter what the circumstances. ~ B. Alan Wallace

For more information on the forty-second slogan, go here.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Two activities: one at the beginning, one at the end.

File:Little Gasparilla sunrise.jpg
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

          When the sun sits low on the horizon, sunlight has to travel through more of the Earth’s atmosphere. Along the way, rays of light encounter small particles and gas molecules that change their direction. The shorter wavelengths of blue and violet are scattered in a new direction more often than the longer wavelengths of orange and red. This is the reason sunrises and sunsets are generally red, orange and yellow; clouds act as projection screens for the colors. The skyline’s changing colors at dawn and dusk are a good reminder to practice this slogan. It encourages us to start our morning with intention and end our day with reflection. We begin the day with a cheerful attitude with an aim to keep our heart and mind open no matter what comes. In the evening, we look back on how well we carried out our intention. We don’t use what we find as a reason to gloat or feel guilty, but as information to better guide our thoughts and actions the next day. Such a simple commitment allows us to rededicate ourselves to the cause of compassion on a daily basis.

You can look at each day as a practice period, with a beginning and an end. So every morning you take a fresh start, and every evening you have a chance to appraise how you have done. 
~ Judy Lief

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