Train Your Mind: Don't Wait in Ambush

Atisha's 59 Lojong Slogans with commentaryJudy Lief

The Mind-Training Slogans, #32

Acharya Judy LiefEach 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.

Atisha (980-1052 CE) was an Indian adept who brought to Tibet a systematized approach to bodhicitta (the desire to awaken for the sake of all sentient beings) and loving-kindness, through working with these slogans. Judy edited Chogyam Trungpa's Training the Mind (Shambhala, 1993), which contains Trungpa Rinpoche's commentaries on the lojong ("mind-training") teachings.

Each entry includes a practice.
Read all the lojong slogans here.


#32. Don't wait in ambush

This slogan is about scheming mind, the mind that never forgets a slight or an insult. Instead it keeps eating away at us, sometimes for years, and even decades. This unforgiving attitude can cause us to cut ourselves off from long-term friends or relatives. It can become so rigid and fixed, that even on our deathbed we refuse to let it go. Many people carry such grudges for life.

Beyond simply carrying a grudge, we begin to plot our revenge.  We wait patiently for just the right moment, a time when that person has let down their guard, or when they are in a weakened position, and then we let them have it. That is what waiting in ambush is all about.  We think, “Just wait, I’ll get you back!”

You can see this pattern on the individual level and on a larger scale, within organizations or between nations. First one side is insulted, then the tables are turned, and the other side gets insulted back.  First you are the underdog, and you scheme about all the things you will do to those who disrespect you once you are in power. And once you are in power, you mistreat them just like they mistreated you.

It is easy to get caught up in a cycle where we dwell on the many insults we have endured. We stew about them and how unfair and undeserved they are. We dwell on that and let it fester, and slowly we build our case for ambush. We lay out our plans and wait, ready to pounce. But we have let the insult take us over, and by doing so we have become a slave to the actions of others. Those remembered insults we hold onto so tightly have taken over our mind. By working with this slogan, we can free ourselves from that unhealthy pattern.

Today’s practice
In the present, notice your response when somebody insults you. What is the physical sensation and what thoughts arise in your mind?

Looking back, do a grudge survey.  How many grudges have you been carrying with you, and for how long? How does it feel to carry a grudge, and how does it feel when the grudge softens or dissolves or you consciously let it go?


Home page image: Rob Ireton

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fraterlvx's picture

Wonderful article! I work in academia in technology no less. There is enough ego and to spare. This teaching is timely. I have pondered on this and found that the silence of contemplation and my yoga practice enables me to deal with such rising feelings. I understand how painful and destructive the desire to get back at those individuals can be on a person. Knowing this I acknowledge the burning, breathe, understand where that path takes me and allow it to dissipate through time. The feelings lose their hold in time and those that have said those things can become our teachers.

DougVieques's picture

I am afflicted with Irish Alzheimers... I forgot everything except the grudges!

Edith's picture

There is a Christian contemplative practice called 'Open Heart, Open Mind' or 'Welcoming Prayer' where one sinks into the feeling and physical sensations which the emotion conjures up and simply sits with it for a while without thinking about it or analyzing it at all. Then when ready you silently begin to welcome the presence of a Higher Order, or your True Self, or God - whatever one names the vast inner spaciousness and openness, and all beomes surrendered. Finally one repeats the words 'I let go of my desire for power, control, security and affection. I let go of my desire to change anything." It is an act of living totally, mindfully, in the Present Moment.

Marys's picture