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, 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.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Make the three gates inseparable.

Okra flower and pod photo by Bob Richmond

          Imagine a gardener going to the farming supply store and buying seeds indiscriminately; he doesn’t even bother to look at the packs to see what vegetables he’s chosen. After planting the seeds and watering them for many weeks, the plants begin to produce flowers and then vegetables. But the gardener becomes upset and frustrated when he sees what has grown: “I didn’t want okra, peppers and peas! I wanted tomatoes, cucumbers and squash!” His friends question him as to why he didn’t look at the seed packets before planting the seeds. Mind training allows us to be aware of the seeds of emotions and thoughts before we plant them. The mind’s yield of words and actions are based on the seeds we’ve sown and watered there. The three gates are the virtues of the mind, speech and body, and we would be wise to be aware of what we allow to pass through them. What passes through those gates will likely wind up growing in our yard, whether we want it to or not.

Every act, word, and thought in our daily life has the power to bring forth a fruit. 
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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