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, May 30, 2016

Of the two witnesses, hold the principal one.

          The temperatures are sizzling here, and the markets are busy selling a fruit perfect for this kind of heat - watermelon. Most people have difficulty in determining whether an uncut melon is ripe before buying it. And since watermelons don't ripen once picked, some tips for choosing a sweet, fully developed one can be helpful:
  • It should have a deep, hollow sound ("thunk") when slapped.
  • The field spot (where it lay on the ground) should be yellowish, not white.
  • It should be relatively heavy (watermelons are 90% water).
  • The luster of the rind should be matte rather than shiny.
Of course there's no sure-fire way to judge the inside of a watermelon by its outside, which is precisely this slogan's point about people. The only person continually with us since birth is ourselves. While other people may have helpful observations, we are the best authority of our spiritual progress. Only we can truly tell if we're working with reality or running from it. Our practice can be evaluated by asking ourselves a few candid questions. Is my practice helping me know myself better - my thoughts, emotions and habitual reactions? Do I recognize my methods for deflecting insecurity (that only escalate my suffering)? Am I kind to myself and others? This assessment is not meant to produce self-satisfaction or self-denigration. Rather it acknowledges that we can be a trustworthy judge in seeing where we're stuck and where we're making headway.

You have never been away from yourself for even a minute. You know yourself so well. Therefore, you are the best judge of yourself.  ~  Chogyam Trungpa

For more information on the twentieth slogan, go here.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Working with the Slogans II

Photo by Doug Hickok

          My doorway into the lojong slogans was the commentary written by Judy Lief; I am gratefully indebted to her for sharing her wisdom. Her down-to-earth explanations and insights inspired me to learn more and make these a part of my daily life. I recently read an article by Lief in Lion's Roar magazine in which she listed three ways to use each slogan for contemplation over a period of three days:
  • On the first day, use the slogan to reflect on how you relate to your spiritual practice.
  • On the second day bring the slogan to mind in reflecting on how you handle personal relationships.
  • On the third day, apply the slogan to your relationships with colleagues and your approach to your work.

Monday, May 23, 2016

All dharma agree at one point.

Spiny orb-weaver - photo by Steven Scott

          The purpose of the dharma is to liberate us from the enthrallment of our ego, thus allowing us to see the truth. Much like the stickiness of a spider's web, the ego is skilled at catching us unaware; it always prefers a comfortable dream world to reality. As Chogyam Trungpa warns, "The problem is that ego can convert anything to its own use, even spirituality. Ego is constantly attempting to acquire and apply the teachings of spirituality for its own benefit." Under the influence of ego, we may gain knowledge and perform techniques as proof of our worth and goodness. We might become constantly alert for any experience we can point to as a special sign of being right or being on the true path. Or we may use our spiritual practice as a way to avoid dealing with any kind of pain or discomfort. But as this slogan implies and Trungpa points out, for our practice to be meaningful "it must entail us giving up our hope of getting something in return."  

It is important to see that the main point of any spiritual practice is to step out of the bureaucracy of the ego. ~ Chogyam Trungpa

For more information on the nineteenth slogan, go here.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Five Strengths are instructions for dying.

Photo by Zen Sutherland

The truth is that we are all singing and dancing on the Titanic, but we behave as if it’s a cruise to Bermuda. ~ Larry Rosenberg

          Everything in this world, no matter how strong or sturdy, is subject to the reality of impermanence. If the dharma has become an integral part of our life, it will be a trustworthy guide as we experience the greatest change of all. Familiarization reminds us that death is not some form of punishment but a natural part of life. We can relax and move with rather than against its flow. The cultivated seed of goodness allows us to freely let go of remorse or resentment. We then experience tenderness toward others and ourselves without clinging. Reproach points out that fear of uncertainty is produced by an ego that doesn’t really exist. The openness of strong determination brings clarity rather than confusion. Instead of being anxious, we have the option of being curious about this new adventure. And aspiration helps us remember and connect to other people who are facing death; we can use tonglen to send out the comfort we wish for ourselves.

Seeing there’s no time to stay long, I put aside the words and practiced the meaning.
~ Godrakpa Sonam Gyaltsen

For more information on the eighteenth slogan, go here.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Train in the Five Strengths.

Southern Live Oak - photo by Louis Dallara 

          Among the majestic trees of the South, Quercus virginiana is one of the belles of the ball. With sweeping arms that dip to the ground, the live oak's width is about twice that of its height. The tree's deep tap root anchors it when young; as the canopy expands, a lateral root system develops that can radiate up to 90 feet from the trunk. Its low center of gravity and impressive root structure have enabled many live oaks to withstand the force of hurricane winds that claimed the lives of other trees. In the same way, the Five Strengths support us in sustaining the vitality of our practice. Strong determination - the tap root - helps us keep our heart and mind open and connected, regardless of what life presents us. We come to realize, as J.N. Hollingworth stated, that "something is more important than fear." Familiarization allows us to apply what we've learned to whatever each day brings. The seed of goodness is a reminder that everyone already contains a reservoir of tenderness and openness. We just need to water the seed so it will grow. Reproach asks that we first cultivate self-compassion and a sense of humor. Then we can gently smile when we catch red-handed the person responsible for our suffering (our own self). Aspiration gives us encouragement when we feel that we have failed. We can recognize our current limits while aspiring to develop beyond them. These essential instructions are aids in maintaining our course through any weather.

You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather. ~ Pema Chodron

For more information on the seventeenth slogan, go here.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Whatever you meet unexpectedly, join with meditation.

Cooper's hawk - photo from Wikimedia Commons

          My backyard is full of bird feeders designed to entice a variety of birds. As I relaxed and watched the avian activity from my porch one afternoon, a gray hawk swooped down and grabbed a smaller bird. It happened so suddenly, I was completely taken by surprise. It took a few seconds for me to even register what had happened. No matter whether they are astonishing or horrifying, these unexpected moments have a way of stopping the mind. This brief gap when all concepts seem to dissolve offers us a chance to rest in alaya - the natural, spaciousness of the mind. But once our conditioning kicks back in ("Where's my bird book? I should have had my camera!"), we can move from an absolute bodhicitta experience to a relative bodhicitta one. In the case of something wonderful, I can send out the wish for others to experience this joy; if unpleasant, I can embrace the suffering of others and breathe out comfort and peace. No matter how the unexpected shows up, it is a chance to widen the heart. 

We are one blink away from being fully awake.  ~ Pema Chodron

For more information on the sixteen slogan, go here.