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.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Slogan Nine

In all activities, train with the slogans.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
            If we were to cross a field every day, we would tramp down the weeds and eventually create a well-worn path. The slogans help us create a new path by thinking differently. When we study and memorize the slogans, they steer our minds in a new direction.  We will find that no matter what situation arises, the memory of an appropriate slogan will come to mind. Their purpose is not to help us escape from life’s hassles or make all our troubles disappear, but to aid us in working with the challenges we face. The slogans increase our capacity for loving-kindness and decrease our self-absorption. We learn to break out of our habitual pattern of reacting in self-centered ways.
Photo: Fifty-nine different types of tumbled stones.

            What we do, see or hear frequently becomes familiar. As an example, check out these advertising taglines and see if you can connect each one to the product or company it represents:
  • ·         Just do it.
  • ·         Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.
  • ·         Can you hear me now?!
  • ·         Don’t leave home without it.
  • ·         It keeps going, and going and going…
  • ·         Good to the last drop.
  • ·         Plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is.
  • ·         Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven.
  • ·         Where do you want to go today?
  • ·         Live in your world, play in ours.
  • ·         Once you pop, you can’t stop.
  • ·         Snap, crackle, pop.

My apologies to readers who aren’t in the States as some of these catchphrases may not be recognizable to you (but I bet you could easily come up with your own list). When I make the slogans a part of my daily spiritual practice, they have a way of popping in my head just when I need them.
(Answers: Nike, M&Ms, Verizon, American Express, Energizer Batteries, Maxwell House Coffee, Alka Seltzer, Pillsbury, Microsoft, Sony Playstation, Pringles Potato Chips, Rice Krispies Cereal) 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Slogan Eight

Three objects, three poisons, three seeds of virtue.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
            Humans naturally categorize things as a method of survival, labeling some objects as beneficial and others as dangerous. But this slogan cautions us that labels may take on a life of their own. Judy Lief elucidates: “They change from being simple observations of a current situation or interaction to become unchanging definitions of the way things are. They become the world according to us.”  If we crave something, it becomes an object of attachment. If it is something we want to avoid, it becomes an object of aversion. If we could care less either way, it becomes an object of indifference. Each of these objects produces a reaction (poison) – desire, revulsion or ignorance – which leaves us feeling unhappy or desperate. But instead of blaming the object, we can take responsibility for our emotional reactions and see them as our own creation. We can realize they make our world very small instead of spacious. We breathe in and transform the “poisons.” As we breathe out, they are reformed as the seeds of virtue.
Photo: Three types of nuts, leaves and blooms on a sycamore leaf.

            I love gardenia bushes, and I've tried on multiple occasions to grow them in my yard. Unfortunately, they like moist, well-drained soil, and I live in an area where drought occurs and the soil is compacted clay. It’s similar to trying to grow something from a brick. On the other hand, I have poison ivy galore. Weed killers and pulling plants by hand are useless; the birds love the berries and just plant more. I would be quite an unhappy gardener if this was where all my energy was focused. In addition, my yard has nondescript plants like the tea olive with an unimpressive, scraggly appearance. Yet if I attend to its nearly imperceptible flowers in the fall and spring, I’ll be rewarded with a fragrance even more delightful than the gardenia’s bloom. Recently it dawned on me that indifference is quite different from detachment. It involves labeling something as so insignificant and useless, that I don’t consider it worth my attention. That kind of poison is worse than Roundup. It will keep the seeds of compassion from ever sprouting.   

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Slogan Seven

Sending and taking should be practiced alternately. These two should ride the breath.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:            
       “Sending and taking” refers to tonglen, a meditation that instills compassion. Norman Fischer defines compassion as “the willingness to feel pain with another, to feel another’s pain as one’s own.” Tonglen trains us to move toward rather than away from suffering; it teaches us that our pain is the same as that of other people. To practice, we visualize taking another’s suffering into ourselves as we inhale, perhaps feeling the air as hot and heavy or seeing it as dark and smoky. We pause, picturing the pain being converted into peace, healing and happiness. We breathe these wishes out to the person who suffers, imagining this breath as feeling light and cooling or appearing clear and radiant. Tonglen is also practiced with our own anguish; as we realize others feel this same pain, we extend our practice to include them. We are not harmed by the suffering we breathe in, but are transformed by it. It softens our hearts, making us more loving and kind.
Photo: Bare firethorn branch and azalea branch between two stones and bounded by Boston fern fronds.

                Are you familiar with the TARDIS on the British television show Doctor Who? From the outside its size appears deceptively small, much like our hearts. The first time I read about tonglen practice, my response was “Ugh, how awful!” I wish I could blame my reaction on being brainwashed by the Law of Attraction movement, but the reason went much deeper than that. I felt as if my emotional knapsack was full to bursting. I was barely managing my own pain and had no room for another person’s suffering. Buddhist wisdom nevertheless assures us that our hearts are much more expansive than we may think. As I breathe in with the longing to remove suffering and breathe out with the wish to send comfort and relief, my self-absorption loosens and my compassionate side unlocks. I begin to recognize my kinship and connection with all beings: everyone suffers. Like Seuss’s grumpy Grinch, I may suddenly discover my heart has grown by three sizes. 
Because suffering is impermanent, that is why we can transform it.
Because happiness is impermanent, that is why we have to nourish it.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Slogan Six

In post-meditation, be a child of illusion.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
            Shortly after our meditation, we can easily slide back into habitual patterns. But this slogan encourages us to continue to look at the world with fresh eyes rather than fixed ideas. A young child has little experience in the world, and so he sees with eyes of wonder. Our perceptions are based on our presumptions – “this” is like “that,” therefore I should like/dislike it. We become tangled in hope or fear based on a notion from a past incident instead of being present in the here and now. Yet nothing is solid and fixed; everything is continually changing. If we find ourselves waiting in a long line at the bank, we might think “this frustration is going to last forever.” But what happens if we de-familiarize ourselves from the scene? We might take notice of a nearby toddler who is grinning shyly at us. We may hear an unfamiliar noise coming from outside. As we pay attention to each moment that unfolds and shifts around us, we’ll stop worrying about the long line. We will have become a child of illusion.
Photo: Bubble floating above nandina (heavenly bamboo) shrubs.

       As a kid I loved optical illusions, those images that trick our mind into believing something that may not be real. I recently ran across one I hadn't seen before called the Checker Shadow Illusion.  I was so sure what I saw was truth (that the squares weren't the same color), I copied the image into Paint, cut out a section from each square, and then pasted them into a Word document for comparison. Lo and behold, they were the same shade of gray! Of course I wondered if maybe there was something off with my computer monitor. Yet the exercise turned out to be a good example of my preference as an adult for something solid and predictable rather than something indefinite and changeable. Nevertheless, if I can relax and observe - without being in strategy mode, without trying to quantify and label everything - my mind will open to a fresh view of life. And my inner kid would tell me there's a lot more joy in seeing from this perspective.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Slogan Five

Rest in the nature of alaya, the essence.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
            Certain Buddhist traditions describe eight types of consciousness. The first five are connected to the senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch) and the sixth is mental awareness (reflexive perception). Egoistic awareness is formed by our memories and experiences and becomes the repository that shapes our identity. The last type is alaya, pure awareness untainted by life experiences, judgments or preconceptions. This unbiased expanse of the mind is a place of refuge, a place that can prepare the ground for compassionate action. When we rest in this openness, we notice what is there but don’t cling to it – we gently let it go.
Photo: Hawk feather in Mondo grass.

            I was reading a book last night before bed, and one of the story’s characters had gotten his fingers caught in a Chinese handcuffs toy. This cylinder of woven bamboo allows for a finger to be placed in each end. The action of pulling the fingers back out makes the shape lengthen and shrink in diameter. The harder a person struggles to get loose, the tighter the toy squeezes. The not-so-obvious solution for releasing trapped fingers is to relax. We may struggle in the same manner with our thoughts. To borrow a line from Otis Redding, we don’t often sit on the dock of the bay and watch our thoughts roll away. We’re way too busy struggling; we throw rocks at the boats we don’t want tied at our dock or swim out to the boats we want to secure. But if we take Redding’s advice and observe our thoughts and emotions without judgment, without pulling or pushing, we’ll find a peaceful place to rest.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Slogan Four

Self-liberate even the antidote.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
            As we contemplate the last two slogans, we may believe we are beginning to figure things out. Our insight into emptiness – a mistaken view of a solid, stable sense of the world and ourselves – can become our answer and remedy for everything. But the fourth slogan cautions us not to turn our discoveries into a dogma; we should hold the slogans in an open palm not a closed fist. Otherwise we’ll attempt to use every insight to construct a solid conclusion, thus continuing our deception that we have something secure to which to cling. It also advises us to avoid replacing the experience of emptiness with a conceptual idea of emptiness. Pema Chodron clarifies, “We have to pull the rug from under our belief systems altogether. We can do that by letting go of our belief, and also our sense of right and wrong, by just going back to the simplicity and the immediacy of our present experience…”
Photo: Blue sky above cumulus clouds.

       I remember as a young adult learning about the patriarchal society, a community in which males hold positions of power in government, religion, the workplace and the family. “Aha,” I thought, “the oppression and inequality of women are why our society today is such a mess!” For several years, I painted every evil and every wrong in the world with this wide brush. I felt empowered by this information because I believed I had the answer for everything. Living in my head kept me smug and snug in my intellectual easy chair. Yet as I grew older, I began to notice all of my experiences didn’t perfectly align with my dogma. Yes, there were injustices against women, but not all of the men I encountered held such repressive beliefs. I began to see that a lack of communication, ignorance and fear were just as likely to cause such wrongs in society. My “absolute answer” that gave me a feeling of control and security was not so sturdy after all. The antidote of concepts is not a cure-all.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Slogan Three

Examine the nature of unborn awareness.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
                The third slogan looks within at the transparency of our identity. Though it appears connected to the brain, our awareness is not identical to it. Since we tend to view our mind as the place where identity resides, quietly observe (but don’t analyze) the thinking process. Pursue awareness to a deep level. Notice how perceptions of self are tied to things. The mind depends on the object perceived and the senses that perceive it – it coexists with everything. If these “things” are taken away, is there a perceiver separate from what is perceived? Is there a concrete “you” inside? We may discover our identities are only created by the thoughts we churn out. Yet beyond the ideas of “me” and “other,” we find a peaceful spaciousness.
Photo: Moon snail shell (“shark eye”) nestled among white clover.

       Our minds are constantly bombarded by stimuli - a knee scraped, soothing music, a stack of bills to be paid, the aroma of cinnamon rolls baking. The mind compares this information to our memory files of past information then creates emotion and thought that motivates us to act. This is "born" awareness, generated by things outside us. But there is another type of awareness that observes without judging or labeling; it does not separate everything into categories but sees all as a whole. How do you find it? Watch your mind and how it works. At first it may seem like an endless loop of thoughts and sensations, but be patient and keep watching. Eventually the unbiased observer will appear.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Slogan Two

Regard all experiences as dreams.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
                This statement should not be mistaken for a doctrine of nothingness – things aren’t literally a dream. Judy Lief explains that this slogan helps us “face up to our desire to make everything solid,” which we are apt to interpret as security. Yet everything is in a state of transition; even a mountain changes from day to day. Our thoughts and emotions are insubstantial too. The anger and rage we had toward the careless driver last week are now only a dim memory. As Pema Chodron states, “Every situation is a passing memory.” What we perceive is not in a fixed position but a state of flux. Pretending otherwise is like an attempt to, in Traleg Kyabgon’s words, “scoop water with a net.”
Photo: Smoke from Palo Santo incense in an abalone shell.

     Do you remember the mood rings from the 1970s? The glass stone had heat-sensitive liquid crystals in a strip beneath it that made it change colors based on the temperature. The first one I bought seemed to show no color change - it stayed black no matter how hard I stared at it. Eventually I forgot about it and got busy with other things. I was surprised to discover later it had turned a lovely shade of green. We all have moments when our emotions seem so intense and overwhelming; our thoughts tell us life will never change and will always be this way. But nothing is rigid and fixed, whether thoughts, emotions or circumstances. Like the wispy smoke in the card, they may appear permanent, but we are just observing one phase of an ongoing procession.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Slogan One

First, train in the preliminaries.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
                The preliminaries remind us of the human condition and inspire us to begin and sustain our practice. The first slogan is a foundation for all the rest, and is built on the Four Reflections:
·         The preciousness of human life.
·         The truth of impermanence (change) and the inevitability of death.
·         Thoughts, words and actions have consequences (cause and effect).
·         A repetitive cycle of suffering caused by a constant search for security.
The only adequate response is a practice that will allow us to develop wisdom, compassion and resilience –training to strengthen the mind and heart.
Photo: Nest among a tangle of Confederate jasmine in bloom.

       I recently put together a baby swing for our new grandson. When I pulled all the many pieces and screws out of the box, I had no desire to sort all the parts and read the directions. I just wanted to put the swing together as quickly as possible. That's my natural response - just get it done. But without understanding the directions, I doubt the swing would have worked the way it was designed. I couldn't jump from the first step to the last successfully. In the same way, I need to ground myself in the Four Reflections before I dive into the rest of the slogans. Once I begin to comprehend them and apply them, I can "hatch out" and move on the the next slogan.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Point Seven of the Seven Points

Point Seven – Guidelines of the Practice
            Several decades ago, bowling alley proprietors were wondering how to encourage younger children to take up the game. The problem was the gutters - most kids could not roll the ball without it veering off to one of the sides. Without knocking down any pins, it didn't take long before they became frustrated and gave up. The invention of bumper bowling changed their constant disappointment to pleasure; it aided not only the younger set, but also those with developmental disabilities. Heavy-duty cardboard tubes were first used, then inflatable tubes followed by retractable rails. Bowling balls that drifted towards the gutters were deflected back to the lane by the bumpers, assuring that the ball would make it to the pins. Like bowling bumpers, the slogans (39 - 59) of Point Seven keep us from swerving off our path. Eight of them suggest what not to do, while fourteen of them encourage us in what to do. These guidelines are particularly helpful in our daily lives (off the meditation cushion). They can bump our attention back to our spiritual intentions and keep us out of the gutter of self-centeredness.

Point Six of the Seven Points

Point Six – Commitments of the Practice
            Humans love loopholes. Even when we’re young, we look for ways around rules and rationalizations for our behavior. Take for example little Johnny, whose mom gets him up early, dresses him in his Sunday clothes, and then firmly tells him to stay clean for the family photograph they’ll be taking soon. When she checks on him an hour later, she finds him back in bed with wrinkled clothes and mussed hair. When scolded he replies, “But I am clean - I didn’t get dirty!” Fast forward to Johnny as a young teen; before leaving to go out, his parents remind him to eat at least one vegetable with whatever else he has for supper. Upon returning later, his parents discover Johnny has consumed a plateful of French fries with ketchup for a meal. When they ask what happened to his promise to eat a vegetable, he explains, “Since ketchup comes from tomatoes, I thought that would count.”
            At first glance, the Sixth Point (slogans 23-38) may seem like a long list of “don’ts” from a strict parent. Yet they are actually methods for improving our interactions with other people so as to avoid causing unnecessary harm. By being so specific, these slogans prevent much “wiggle room” when it comes to our commitment to compassion. But even if we catch ourselves doing the opposite of what a slogan suggests, Pema Chodron emphasizes that there’s no need for self-denigration. She suggests we use such an opportunity to explore three things: the circumstance, our reaction, and our strategy for dealing with the situation. We may find a habitual pattern that causes suffering to everyone involved (without the relief we expected). That observation may be all the encouragement needed to stop looking for loopholes and embrace a more gentle strategy.
Photo: A cowrie shell hiding among six tumbled stones.

Point Five of the Seven Points

Point Five– Evaluating the Practice
            I’m someone who considers herself directionally dysfunctional; I get easily turned around and lose my way without specific landmarks. The trend of including a GPS navigational device in cars has been a godsend for someone like me. Not only are maps included, but a voice can give turn-by-turn instructions to keep me moving in the right direction. Thankfully if I do turn down a wrong road, the GPS doesn’t respond by saying, “Are you a complete idiot?! Have you got rocks in your head?!” Instead the voice calmly suggests I might want to take the next exit so I can get back on track. In the same way, slogans 19 through 22 help me to honestly assess my practice with kindness and gentleness. Their purpose is not to label my efforts a success or failure. Instead, their guidance helps me refine my practice.

Point Four of the Seven Points

Point Four – Maintaining the Practice
            The following excerpts were written by former NASA astronaut Russell Schweickart in an article entitled “No Frames, No Boundaries:”

...he sees the Earth not as something big, where he can see the beautiful details, but now he sees the Earth as a small thing out there. And the contrast between that bright blue and white Christmas tree ornament and the black sky, that infinite universe, really comes through, and the size of it, the significance of it. It is so small and so fragile and such a precious little spot in the universe that you can block it out with your thumb. And you realize that on that small spot, that little blue and white thing is everything that means anything to you – all love, tears, joy, games, all of it on that little spot out there that you can cover with your thumb. And you realize from that perspective that you’ve changed, that there’s something new there, that the relationship is no longer what it was.

And from where you see it, the thing is a whole, the earth is a whole, and it’s so beautiful. You wish you could take a person in each hand, one from each side in the various conflicts, and say, "Look. Look at it from this perspective. Look at that. What’s important?”

Point Four includes the Five Strengths, practices that are a distilled form of lojong (similar to a “quick reference guide” you might find in an instruction booklet). They (slogans 17 & 18) show us where to concentrate our effort throughout our life and as we are dying. These practices allow us to develop and maintain an awakened heart and mind; then we too can live with an expansive and inclusive understanding such as Schweickart describes.

Point Three of the Seven Points

Point Three – Transforming Adversity into the Path of Awakening
            I have an elderly neighbor who takes delight in items most other people would throw out. In his hands, a scrap piece of wood becomes a wheel for a wheel-less wheelbarrow. An old broom handle is converted into a walking stick. A cracked, terra-cotta pot is turned upside-down to create a toad abode. Like my resourceful neighbor, Point Three involves transforming what we'd normally attempt to get rid of into something useful. Slogans 11 - 16 aid us in dealing with situations that trigger our emotional reactions. These slogans are tools for teaching patience, enabling us to be present with “what is” without flying off the handle and making things worse. We develop the capacity, as Norman Fischer explains, "to welcome difficulty when it comes with a spirit of strength, endurance, forbearance and dignity rather than fear, anxiety and avoidance."

Point Two of the Seven Points

Point Two – The Actual Practice (Cultivating Bodhicitta)
            I have a theory about why 12 Step groups have been so prolific and enduring since Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith founded the first one in 1935. They use a two-pronged method – an approach of the heart and mind. Group members are themselves addicts or alcoholics; they understand intimately the suffering of one another even though each person might be very different in a variety of other ways. Having walked in each other’s shoes, there are no labels of sinner or saint. Yet this common bond and the empathy it invokes isn’t enough to transform the problem. A rational approach is needed to see the truth behind the delusion. The actual chaos caused by one’s actions is observed, and the realization dawns that the sought-for comfort never materialized on a permanent basis. The solution of trading self-centeredness for a life built on honesty and kindness soon becomes clear.
            Likewise, lojong practice employs two types of bodhicitta*: absolute and relative. Slogans two through six involve absolute bodhicitta, or the way we work with the mind. They help cultivate a relaxed, open state of awareness that enables us to see reality with clarity. These slogans encourage us to view life from a larger perspective, which allows us to be present without being reactive. Slogans seven through ten cover relative bodhicitta, or how we relate to others via the virtues of kindness and benevolence. These slogans aid us in developing a generous heart, not to pat ourselves on the back, but to pull us out of a self-absorbed orbit. Through the insights of absolute bodhicitta, tenderness arises that in turn inspires the lovingkindness of relative bodhicitta.
*awakened mind/heart

Point One of the Seven Points

Point One – The Preliminaries
            I recently bought a garden cart that came unassembled (in what seemed like one hundred pieces). Thankfully, the instructions and diagrams included in the box were clear and simple enough to follow. Step one involved gathering the tools I would need and laying out all the parts. Without beginning at this starting place, I would have spent most of my time confused and frustrated, making little if any progress. Point One of lojong includes only the first slogan, but it lays the foundation for the rest of the practice. In Be Grateful to Everyone, Pema Chodron teaches that there are two tools needed before getting underway: self-compassion and a basic sitting practice. Why self-compassion? In the fifth chapter of the Udana, the Buddha says:
Searching all directions
with one's awareness,
one finds no one dearer
than oneself.
(translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)
If I am willing to sit with my own pain and observe it, I will be more compassionate towards others when they react to suffering. Self-compassion is the yeast that can transform an unleavened heart into one filled with loving-kindness. The second tool, a basic sitting practice, doesn’t eliminate my thoughts and emotions but helps me refrain from elaborating on them. It will allow me to see the truth behind the Four Reminders: my life is a wonderful opportunity to become awakened; everything is impermanent; I sow my own seeds of joy or suffering; and I create an ongoing cycle of misery by trying to escape the pain of impermanence. Both of these tools are meant to last a lifetime.

An Introduction to Lojong

Welcome to my lojong blog! Each week I will attempt to express and share the wisdom of this tradition through my photos and my (limited) understanding of the slogans. I would be remiss if I did not first list the teachers and sources through whom I've been introduced to this way of training:

Chodron, Pema. Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living. Boston: Shambhala Publishing, 1994. Print.

Fischer, Norman. Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong. Boston: Shambhala Publishing, 2012. Print.

Kyabgon, Traleg. The Practice of Lojong: Cultivating Compassion through Training the Mind. Boston: Shambhala Publishing, 2007. Print.

Lief, Judy. “Train Your Mind: Lojong Commentary by Judy Lief.” Tricycle. Web.19 Aug. 2014.

Trungpa, Chogyam. Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-kindness. Boston: Shambhala Publishing, 1993. Print.

Additional sources I have found useful:
Chodron, Pema. Always Maintain a Joyful Mind: And Other Lojong Teachings on Awakening Compassion and Fearlessness. Boston: Shambhala Publishing, 2007. Print.

Tulku, Ringu. Mind Training. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publishing, 2007. Print.

Wallace, B. Allen. Buddhism with an Attitude: The Tibetan Seven-Point Mind-Training. Boston: Snow Lion Publishing, 2001. Print.

Chodron, Pema. Be Grateful to Everyone: An In-Depth Guide to the Practice of Lojong. Boston: Shambhala Audio, 2011. Audio.

Khyentse, Dilgo. Enlightened Courage. Ithaca: Snow Lion Pub., 2006. Print.

Kongtrul, Jamgon. (translated by Ken McLeod). The Great Path of Awakening. Boston: Shambhala Pub., 2005. Print.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet, an introduction to lojong:
Lojong is a mind training practice in the Buddhist tradition. Brought to Tibet from India by Atisha (982-1054), it was originally a secret teaching given only to a select group. Geshe Chekawa (1102-1176) wanted to open the lojong instructions to other people. As a result, he wrote The Root Text of the Seven Points of Training the Mind, based on the slogans of Atisha. Lojong is a way to learn how to see things from a larger, inclusive perspective rather than a self-absorbed one. The seven points of mind training are comprised of fifty-nine slogans. Their purpose is to change the way we think, what we think about, and how we manage our emotions.

I. The Preliminaries
Slogan 1

II. The Actual Practice
Slogans 2 – 10

III. Transforming Adversity
Slogans 11 -16

IV. Maintaining the Practice
Slogans 17 -18

V. Evaluating the Practice
Slogans 19 – 22

VI. Commitments of the Practice
Slogans 23 – 38

VII. Guidelines for the Practice
Slogans 39 -59

Note: It's my personal opinion that these slogans were numbered for a reason. Their ideas build on each other, so it's helpful to understand slogan one before jumping to slogan fifteen. I would encourage people to start at the beginning and work through them first before randomly choosing one.