May 30, 2010

Be a child of illusion

Each Friday, Acharya Judy Lief, teacher in the Shambhala tradition of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, comments on one of Atisha's 59 mind-training (Tib. lojong) slogans, which serve as the basis for a complete practice. Following each commentary Judy offers us a weekly practice.

Here is Slogan 6 (each slogan provides links to the previous slogans, including a two-part discussion of their history and use in practice). I've been following along each week myself—a good way to stay grounded—rather ungrounded!—in my practice.

6. In postmeditation, be a child of illusion.

Judy Lief logong slogansPractice can be divided into two: meditation and postmeditation. Meditation refers to time spent in formal practices such as mindfulness-awareness, and postmeditation refers to what we do the rest of the time. The notion of practice, of being a spiritual practitioner, includes both meditation and postmeditation, which means that practice applies both on and of the meditation cushion.

Once you embark on the meditative path, once you are called a practitioner, everything you do should be seen as practice. The problem is that this could be taken in a very heavy-handed way, which would cloud ordinary activities with a pall of earnestness. It could be taken in an overly precious way, in which everything takes on deep import and a quality of icky religiosity. The trick is to maintain an attitude of practice and at the same time be light and ordinary.

In this slogan, the particular postmeditation practice is to “be a child of illusion.” It is to play within an environment that we recognize to be shifty and illusory. So rather than trying to make our world solid and predictable, and complaining when that is not the case, we could maintain the glimpses of the illusory nature of experience that arise in meditation practice, and touch in with that open illusory quality in the midst of our daily activities. That looser more open quality is the ground on which the compassionate actions of the bodhisattva can arise.

Today’s practice
Notice what happens when you move from formal meditation practice to postmeditation practice. Where is the continuity and where is the discontinuity? When you see yourself getting more and more solid and fixed, remember this slogan, take a fresh start, and notice how that affects the quality of your actions.

You can find the first 5 slogans and additional background here.

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