A teacher, translator, and disciple of Kalu Rinpoche speaks with Tricycle about how the Tibetan lojong or “mind training” teachings can shift the soil in which anger grows
Lojong is usually translated as “mind training,” but “mind refining” is also an accurate description. In the Mahayana tradition, mind training doesn’t try to “deal” with the problem of anger. The whole Mahayana bent is on dealing with the present. Anger is the fastest and probably the most powerful reaction to the fear of not existing, of having your sense of self bashed by the opposition you’re facing.
Mind training is about learning and knowing that you don’t exist the way you think you do. Anger ceases to arise because there’s nothing to defend. In anger, you destroy your relationship with whatever is threatening. But if you can stay present with the whole experience, you can circumvent anger.
Suppose you’re at a meeting and you put forth your opinion on a subject and someone contradicts you. If you’re identified with that opinion, you suddenly feel you don’t exist—your identity, your sense of self, has been negated. If you’re not able to stay in the present moment, anger takes over—that fast. What you do is destroy your relationship with being contradicted. It may mean leaving the meeting, or blasting the person who contradicted you, or shutting down your feelings. Those angry reactions destroy your relationship with what you experience, and move you right out of the present.
How does mind training help? It works in two ways, which are the two components to Mahayana practice. One, they help cultivate compassion,and two, they help cultivate an understanding of emptiness.