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, November 22, 2015

Slogan Fifty-six

Don’t wallow in self-pity.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
            There is a spiritual recorded by Sam Cooke and others that begins, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen; nobody knows my sorrow.” This is precisely what our ego would like us to believe: we are special because no one suffers like we do and so could never imagine the pain we’re going through. When we are filled with self-pity, it isn’t because we are experiencing a difficult situation. It results from thinking that we have it far worse than anyone else. But we do have companions in this journey of life who share the same emotional joys and sorrows we do. The practice of tonglen permits us to take the misery we are feeling and focus on the thousands of other people who are at that moment experiencing the same pain. By breathing in the suffering of all and breathing out peace and comfort to all, we remember we are not alone. We reawaken our compassion and see the larger reality of life.
Photo: A battered Pearl Crescent butterfly in its last phase of life rests on a lantana shrub.

            The following meditation is my personal way of doing tonglen, a tool that helps me move away from self-absorption and toward a concern for the welfare of others:

Take a slow, gentle breath with a relaxed belly. Let the tension in your body melt as your muscles relax. Notice the weight of your body as it relaxes and the sensation of the chair as it supports you. Now imagine lying in a grassy meadow on a soft blanket. It is calm and peaceful here with nothing to disturb you. The sky above is a beautiful shade of blue; a few wispy, white clouds shade you from the glare of the sun. As you gaze upward, sense the spaciousness and freedom of the sky; it is much like the natural openness of your moment-to-moment awareness.

Now bring to mind what is presently causing you pain, whether it is emotional or physical. You may need to visualize the story around it to experience it fully. Begin to move your focus to the physical sensations this suffering causes in your body; explore the intensity and location of it. As you breathe in, notice how these feelings seem to constrict your heart and mind, how small it makes your world. With your next exhalation release this pain outward into the sky, as you say to yourself, “May I be free of the root of this suffering. May I find comfort and happiness.” Continue to breathe in as you gather your pain, and breathe out as you release it. If you have a spiritual mentor or a god of your own understanding, you might imagine them in your heart transforming your pain to joy. “May I be free of the root of this suffering. May I find comfort and happiness.”

As your heart begins to feel more open, remind yourself “Other people feel this too.” Whatever pain or suffering you’ve been experiencing; many others are going through the same kind of feeling. As you breathe in, reach out mentally to those who are suffering like you, with a desire to remove their pain. As you breathe out, say silently to yourself, “May you be free of the root of this suffering. May you find comfort and happiness.” As you send out these wishes, you might imagine people who are smiling and laughing. Again you may envision a mentor or spiritual being in your heart who transforms their pain. Continue for a moment to reach out to these people and send them joy. “May you be free of the root of this suffering. May you find comfort and happiness.”

Now think of something for which you are grateful. It may be as simple as a smile or a kind word. It may be for a friend or partner who has been supportive of you, or it may involve having a moment to enjoy the beauty of nature around you. Visualize this moment or person, and then gradually move your focus to your body. Does such gratitude warm and expand your heart? As you breathe in, focus on this sensation. As you enjoy this feeling, remind yourself, “Other people deserve to feel this too.” As you breathe out, send out a desire for others to feel such joy, saying “May your heart be filled with joy. May you be cheerful and carefree.”

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