During this final review of the lojong mind training aphorisms, Peter described how the lojong tradition is a revisiting of the Four Noble Truths from a Mahayana perspective, with emphasis on tonglen, the practice of compassion. The last stage of the lojong listing is a reminder of the important things to integrate into meditation practice and daily lifestyle routines in order to further the process of awakening.
Here are the aphorisms referred to in the talk: GUIDELINES FOR APPLYING THE COMMITMENTS
Next week’s discussion will focus on the value of regular meditation practice and occasional retreat participation to maximize the benefits received from the Buddhist process of awakening.
During this talk, Peter reviewed 3 lojong mind training commitments: “Don’t revert to magic”, “Don’t reduce a god to a demon”, and “Don’t seek pain as a component of happiness”. The common theme of these three commitments is to be mindful of mental rigidity, which produces “magical thinking” (Misperceiving one’s beliefs to be “things”, that is, accurate personality defining characteristics). This consequence of craving and clinging can create a rigid, doctrinaire, “holier than thou” approach to life, comparing and judging others harshly for their beliefs. This rigidity can manifest as a punitive approach to life, that is, relishing the suffering of others.
The review was followed by discussion by various persons attending regarding how this rigidity is experienced and what aspects of the Four Noble Truth can bring resolution to the rigidity and harshness.
This review is the last focused on the commitments of lojong mind training. Peter will be on a two-week self retreat over the holidays. The first meeting in January will review the retreat process he experienced. The following meeting will summarize the lojong mind training with a review of the remaining aphorisms, which emphasize the importance of various elements of the lojong mind training system.
Here are the notes prepared for this discussion: AVOIDING MENTAL RIGIDITY AND HARSHNESS
This discussion began with a quote from the Upaddha Sutta: “…Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life…” because the emphasis for this week focuses on the lojong commitments regarding interpersonal responsibility. Three commitments were described: “Don’t indulge in malicious speech or sarcasm”, “Revenge is not sweet, but toxic”, and “Don’t throw your pain at others”. These commitments were modified by Peter to be more applicable to contemporary relationships from a Buddhist perspective on Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood.
After the explanation, participants offered their observations regarding how these principles bring benefit to relationships. Here are the notes prepared for this talk: RESPONSIBILITY IN RELATIONSHIPS
Next week’s regular meeting will occur on Thanksgiving Eve, so following the routine for at number of years, the discussion will be organized around the benefits of gratitude for daily living.
This talk focuses on the lojong commitment “Don’t Rely On Consistency”, which emphasizes how social norms put pressure on individuals to conform, even when such conformity violates the Buddhist principle of benevolent intention. One example would be the pressure to conform with materialistic drives regarding the upcoming holiday season–the perfect party, the perfect gift, etc. Another example is the conformity of ethnic prejudice, that is, the culturally conditioned feeling of aversion around someone who looks Muslim.
The discussion also focused on the struggle of individuals to conform to their own conditioned expectations of themselves, and the frustration experienced when one doesn’t meet a standard of performance.
During the discussions, Peter repeatedly referred back to aphorisms discussed in prior meetings, such as being a “child of illusion” and the importance of daily meditation practice to build the capacity to be mindful and nonreactive to cultural pressures that conflict with benevolent intention.
Here are the notes for this discussion: Working With Unpredictability
This talk addresses the problems of perfectionism, which often manifest as internal narratives that are shame-based. Various lojong mind training aphorisms were reviewed to clarify how the applications of the aphorisms can support transforming feelings of shame and humiliation into humility. Humility can be understood as recognizing the enormous complexity of external and internal conditions that are part of life, and how this recognition can reveal the interdependence/selflessness that is a core realization of Buddhist practice. The internal transformation from humiliation to humility is accomplished with the practice of tonglen, which reforms self-organization through compassion.
Here are the notes prepared for this presentation: LETTING GO OF PERFECTIONISM
Next week’s topic will be the aphorism “Give Up Toxic Ego Food”.