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, January 23, 2017

Train wholeheartedly.

Salmon run photo by Daniel J. Cox

          In autumn, mature salmon leave the ocean and return to the spawning beds from which they hatched. Most of them stop eating once they enter freshwater and focus solely on reaching their goal. Once there, the female salmon will dig a hole in the gravel with her tail and lay a few thousand eggs. The eggs are then fertilized by the male. All Pacific salmon and most Atlantic salmon will die after spawning, and the life cycle will start all over again. Like the determination that drives the migration of the salmon, slogan fifty-four instructs us to be just as wholehearted in our spiritual practice. Training is not meant to be a passing interest maintained only as long as long as our passion lasts. Instead it requires sincerity, enthusiasm and commitment. We are clear-sighted about our intentions and our challenges, relying on courage and an open heart to keep us swimming upstream. 

Dharma doesn’t promise wealth, a great job, perfect health, or respect. The goal of Dharma is to fulfill your innate capacity for happiness. ~ B. Alan Wallace

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

Don't vacillate.

Photo by Philip Lax

          In nearly every magazine for birders, there are ads for squirrel-proof feeders and squirrel deterrents such as baffles. Google “how to keep squirrels off feeders,” and thousands of homemade solutions will appear. Some folks suggest putting cayenne pepper in with the seeds or substituting safflower for sunflower seeds. Others grease their poles, install a piece of aluminum duct on the pole or use a slick pvc pipe as a pole to keep squirrels from climbing up. One of the latest solutions is to wrap a dangling Slinky toy around the pole. Some of the more desperate birders have even built a wire cage around their feeders. Most people who have enjoyed feeding the birds for a long time simply give up, knowing that squirrels are both persistent and smart. They will keep trying until they figure a way around any solution folks come up with. The slogan “Don’t vacillate” encourages us to be just as one-pointed in our spiritual focus as squirrels are at getting to the seeds in feeders. Small periods of practice on a daily basis will provide more benefits than a demanding practice done only occasionally. We may have to get crafty like the squirrel and find innovative ways to make time for practice, but the main point is to keep at it.

Cramming all our practice into intensive periods and then falling back into worldly life will bear far less fruit than doing small amounts of practice consistently over the long haul. ~ Traleg Kyabgon

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

Monday, January 9, 2017

Don't misinterpret.

Scarlet kingsnake photo by Glenn Bartolotti

The scarlet kingsnake, a nonvenomous native of the southeastern and eastern U.S., has a color pattern that mimics the much-feared coral snake. To tell the harmless snake from its poisonous look-alike, a helpful rhyme was created: “Red on black, scratch its back; red on yellow, kill a fellow.” The slogan “Don’t misinterpret” is a warning not to mistake the qualities that support our practice – such as patience, compassion and kindness – for their self-serving impersonators. When our mind is clouded by desires and fears, we may create distorted versions of these spiritual principles to fit them around our personal preferences. Rather than using challenges to train, we twist the teachings we’ve learned in an effort to become comfortable or remain complacent. Yet the dharma encourages us to be in touch with reality instead of purposefully ignoring it. We can pay attention to certain ‘markings’ of the mind (frustration, self-importance or impatience) to discover our misinterpretation. Then we can drop our agenda, open our heart and train with what life offers us.

When your spiritual practice is making you unhappy, when you feel grim or miserable about it, or on the other hand, when you are feeling happy about your practice and therefore quite arrogant and disapproving of others who are not as peaceful and holy as you imagine you are – when this is your situation, it is a sure sign that you are misinterpreting. ~ Norman Fischer

For more information about the fifty-second slogan, go here.

Monday, January 2, 2017

This time, practice the main points.

Baby meerkat photo from National Geographic Kids

          Wildlife researchers are beginning to study how some animals purposefully instruct their young. There has been much debate over what constitutes teaching, especially a criteria that could be observed by humans. In 1992, biologists Tim Caro and Marc Hauser successfully proposed three behaviors to identify such instruction:
  1. The usual behavior of the teacher is modified when an inexperienced pupil is present.
  2. There is a personal cost to the teacher.
  3. The student learns skills more rapidly than it would have on its own.
Helping their young develop survival skills will ultimately advance their species, therefore these animal instructors waste no time when it comes to teaching. What advances our spiritual development? Slogan fifty-one identifies three main points: selfless action, application of the teachings and a mind committed to awakening and compassion. Like the animal teachers, we have no time to lose.

Practicing what is important means getting your priorities straight in terms of your spiritual practice. ~ B. Alan Wallace

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

Monday, December 26, 2016

Don't be swayed by external circumstances.

Eastern box turtle - photo from Wikipedia.org

          Eastern box turtles mate between May and October, but finding a partner is rather haphazard. Mating occurs only if a male and female happen to come across one another, usually a chance encounter as they search for food. But the reproduction system of females has an unusual alternative for species support. These turtles can store viable sperm for up to four years. The right environmental conditions, such as food quantity and quality, cause hormone production that will trigger the formation of eggs. When conditions are good, the female box turtle can choose to use the stored sperm to fertilize her eggs. Some studies say that she can even choose which male's semen is used. Slogan fifty suggests that we don't rely on circumstances when it comes to our spiritual practice. Life itself presents us with the opportunities and tools we need train with, whether we experience loss or gain, are busy or bored, with fun-loving or difficult people. Choosing only specific times, people or situations to use for practice means we might miss a chance to develop a skill we sorely need.

Work with your mind instead of trying to change everything on the outside.
~ Pema Chodron

For more information on the fiftieth slogan, go here.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment.

Bison photo from yellowstonepark.com

          Bison are just one form of 150 different ruminant species, including cows, goats, deer, giraffes, moose, and elk. A ruminant has a four-compartment stomach; this digestive system allows the animal to obtain nutrients from plants by fermenting what is eaten. These mammals are often observed 'chewing their cud' - partly digested food that is returned to the mouth for further chewing. Resentment is a similar form of rumination, except we get nothing beneficial from it. It might actually be considered closer to acid reflux, because we relive a perceived injustice over and over again along with the same burning emotion. The forty-ninth slogan asks us consider not the resentment itself, but what provokes it. We are caught only in a memory, not an event that is currently happening. Have we been provoked because of an opinion or expectation that we cling to? Has our security been threatened, do we fear a loss of some kind? Even if the injustice is valid, resentment keeps our vision narrow and shuts us off from joy. We remain in the emotional role of a victim instead of becoming a rational proponent of change. 'Chewing the cud' of resentment may make us feel like we're doing something constructive, but it actually keeps us stuck in a never-ending cycle.

The bitterness that arises from a long-held wrong, gone over and over, encases the heart, making it difficult for love to get through. ~ Sharon Salzberg

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

Monday, December 12, 2016

Train without bias in all areas.

Monarch caterpillar photo by Twan Leenders

          Though monarch butterflies may sip nectar from a variety of flowers, they nearly always lay their eggs on milkweeds. Their preference is intended to give the caterpillars that will feed on them a tool for survival. The milkweed's sap contains a chemical that will become a part of the caterpillar's body when it consumes the leaves, causing the larvae to taste terrible. Predators like birds have learned to recognize the caterpillar's black and yellow stripes and steer clear of them when looking for food. The taste is even transferred to the butterfly after the caterpillar goes through its metamorphosis. When we practice lojong, it is tempting to have our own preferences too. We may convince ourselves that certain situations or people don't apply to the slogans. If we are having a bad day, we may rationalize taking a break from practice for a while. Yet slogan forty-eight encourages us to train wholeheartedly and without bias, no matter what conditions arise. The fodder for training that we are sure will be so bitter may be what provides the most benefit.

The lojong spirit comes from integrating equanimity and loving-kindness, so that we ground our compassion in impartiality. ~ Traleg Kyabgon

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