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, July 26, 2015

Slogan Thirty-nine

All activities should be done with one intention.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
            What thread runs through all of our daily activities? What motivation is behind our goals, projects and efforts? Usually our intention is centered on getting what we desire. We look to reward ourselves first before being concerned about anyone else. However, lojong involves a commitment to gentleness along with a willingness to benefit others – the essence of the bodhisattva vow. There’s no need to wage war on our ego, because this consideration means we are also compassionate toward ourselves. But instead of thinking only from a self-centered perspective, we can maintain a spirit of benevolence. Even the simple act of eating can be dedicated to other people, as we intend its use to help us reach out with loving-kindness.
Photo: A Virginia creeper clings to the trunk of a pine tree.

            Mentally make a list of all your weekly activities, including people with whom you interact, hobbies and obligations. Now imagine choosing a bead for each item on the list, possibly using shape, color or design to represent each one. If you were going to string all those beads to make a necklace, you would have to choose a strong fiber so it wouldn’t break with the weight. Slogan thirty-nine suggests that we use the sturdy thread of bodhicitta, the desire for an awakened mind. This longing has at its essence loving-kindness; we wish to alleviate everyone’s suffering, including our own. Pema Chodron related this story:
When I was about six years old I received the essential bodhichitta teaching from an old woman sitting in the sun. I was walking by her house one day feeling lonely, unloved and mad, kicking anything I could find. Laughing, she said to me, “Little girl, don’t you go letting life harden your heart.” Right there, I received this pith instruction: we can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Slogan Thirty-eight

Don’t seek others’ pain as the limbs of your own happiness.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
            Seeking happiness at the expense of others is a common characteristic of humans. Instead of concern, we feel gratified that someone else has worse problems than we do. We are secretly thrilled when a person we dislike faces misfortune, because we believe he or she deserves it. When someone loses, we are delighted if that increases our chances at winning. Yet if something wonderful happens to our adversary, we become upset; the memories of past hurts haunt us. These reactions are built on the idea that we can find joy through the suffering of other people. But such reasoning is flawed and contrary to the purpose of lojong practice. Trying to wrest happiness from such external events will only leave us feeling empty and depressed. If we allow it, compassion can teach us happiness is self-generating through acts of benevolence.
Photo: A squashed crape myrtle blossom run over by a car.

            When I was in middle school, I met Rita; I was an introvert, and she was extremely shy. We developed a deep friendship, finding a freedom in fully trusting each other. But as it turned out, she was one of those late bloomers who gained self-confidence as she got older. In high school she became a cheerleader and found a whole new set of friends. It wasn’t that Rita became snobby or mean; her time schedule just didn't allow her any free time for us to hang out. I was resentful of her new popularity status and the life she now led. If I learned she and a boyfriend had broken up or that she struggled in a particular class, I was delighted. But when something good happened to her, it made me burn with envy and anger. Have you ever seen a dog choke collar that tightens around the neck if pulled? I lived my life that way with her unknowingly holding the leash. I was miserable until I finally took responsibility for my own joy. What a relief it was to realize I could take off that collar!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Slogan Thirty-seven

Don’t make gods into demons.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
            If we start an exercise program, we might initially be very enthusiastic about it. We go out and buy special equipment or clothes and plan the days and times we’ll practice. But when we get around to actually exercising, we may discover it’s not as much fun as we thought it would be. We soon slack off our schedule or decide we’ll only do our favorite workouts, ignoring the ones that are hard. Our spiritual training can also follow the same path, as we are at first eager but then find some parts unpleasant or unsatisfying. At this point, we’ve turned our “gods” into “demons.” Yet our purpose is to transform our minds not coddle our egos by doing what is easy or makes us look good. We need to apply medicine where the injury is, regardless of whether it is comfortable or not.
Photo: Two halves of the same apple, one beginning to brown due to oxidation.

When I decided to give yoga a try, I was lucky to find a wonderful teacher. Carlanda had a studio in her home and a loyal group of students. She not only taught us the postures and breathing techniques but the philosophy behind yoga as well. We had an amicable, easygoing group, and I soon developed several friendships. After enjoying her classes for many years, Carlanda moved and our group disbanded. For several months I decided to do yoga on my own, but I missed the camaraderie. An acquaintance told me of a new yoga group that had started; the classes were reasonably priced so I signed up. The teacher was well trained and knowledgeable, but she led an intensive flow of postures that was demanding. After attending several classes that pushed me out of my comfort zone, I began grumbling. "Those other women in their expensive outfits must think this is a fashion show." I griped about the hardwood floors hurting my knees and the other students being clannish. What had happened to my original love for and dedication to yoga? Because the new class was more challenging, I was looking for an excuse to quit. The "god" had been made into a "demon." 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Slogan Thirty-six

Don’t act with a twist.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
            At times we get caught in the illusion that our spiritual practice is like a stock exchange. We may perform a generous act or grant our forgiveness to someone, but underneath, we expect to be repaid in some way. The “twist” spoken of in this slogan refers to those ulterior motives. We want people to think we’re a great person instead of doing benevolent deeds for the sake of kindness. We crave acknowledgement and admiration for our efforts. In reality, it may be impossible to be completely unselfish without looking for some payoff. But we can keep a check on our motivations and be aware of how we crave respect and honor. We can choose to train not for a reward, but because it is the better way to live.
Photo: Tendril of a Smilax vine used to help it climb other plants or supports.

          I mailed a surprise package to some friends over the holidays, and thanks to the USPS tracking service, I knew exactly the day it was delivered. Excitedly I waited to hear from them, but days passed with no "thank-you" note, call or email. As the days turned to weeks, my joyful mood changed to righteous indignation. I became angry at the same people I had originally desired to make happy. What could cause such an emotional about-face? The knot in my knickers was the result of my own expectations. Instead of enjoying the fun behind the intended surprise, I spoiled it through anticipation built on assumptions. In a 2004 New York Times Magazine interview, physicist Stephen Hawking was asked how he kept his spirits up since his life was drastically altered at age 21 by an incurable motor-neuron disease. He replied, "My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus." I need to be aware of the twists I add to my actions, or I may miss out on those bonuses.