Train Your Mind, Slogan 11

Atisha's 59 Lojong Slogans with commentary by Acharya Judy Lief

Judy Lief

The Mind-Training Slogans, Slogan #11

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.


11. When the world is filled with evil, transform all mishaps into the path of bodhi.
Judy Lief logong slogans
When things go wrong, when we encounter obstacles, the last thing on our minds is the dharma. Instead, what is the first thing on our minds? Ourselves! It is all about how we are being inconvenienced, burdened, put upon, attacked, misunderstood, rejected—you name it. Not only do we lose track of the path, but our concern for others goes into hibernation as we focus front and center on our own particular problem.

Is it possible to use the very obstacles that block us and cause us to close down as a means of awakening? If so, it would be great, as there is certain to be no shortage of mishaps, and who can think of a time when the world was not filled with evil? When all was harmonious and at peace?

According to this slogan, you do not have to pretend that everything is okay. And you do not have to wait for things to get better in order to practice. Instead of viewing mishaps as personal attacks, you can include them in your practice. You might even welcome them, for it is when you face difficulties, not when things are going smoothly, that you learn the most. That is what tests the strength of your practice.  

Transformation does not mean that all our problems go away or that we overcome all our difficulties. It does not mean that the world is suddenly all rosy. It means that the path of dharma is big enough to accommodate whatever arises, good or bad. When you work with mishaps using the tools of mindfulness and loving-kindness, your relationship to such mishaps is transformed—and in the process, so are you.

Today’s practice
As obstacles arise throughout the day, pay particular attention to your immediate response and the assumptions embedded in that response. Where is the awakening and where do you get stuck?

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Camille Martinez's picture

Ohh....your teaching is so timely for me.  Still, I am experiencing turbulence.  First turbulence was by those close to my heart... but turbulence now includes a storm caused by neutral others.  And the effects of this storm batters, bruises, and cuts open my perception of my job, my perception of my role in the community.  

"It means that the path of dharma is big enough to accommodate whatever arises, good or bad. When you work with mishaps using the tools of mindfulness and loving-kindness, your relationship to such mishaps is transformed—and in the process, so are you."

I am so mindful that I would prefer to use a mallet rather than loving kindness.  Ohhh....you have provided a meaty lesson.  I need to slow down, and really pay attention...how do I apply loving-kindness in a spot where I would prefer to ... pounce and pound?

Camille Martinez's picture

Ohhhh..  your teaching hit a chord in me.  I have always said I learn from my mistakes.  I am going through a difficult time now.  I ...  freeze/stiffen up against potential for mistakes but then hesitantly acknowledge the mistake is inevitable because ... well, I would search for the lesson.  (I have an internal picture of approaching the moment with my eyes squinched up, arms and hands up protecting my face as if a blast of cold wind were hitting me.)

With this teaching, there is sudden awareness my perspective was wrong:  "for it is when you face difficulties, not when things are going smoothly, that you learn the most. That is what tests the strength of your practice."    It is the facing of the moment that starts learning. It is not the labeled "mistake"  because I couldn't immediately resolve the situation, move towards "a rosy, smooth life".  

Ohhh.... so much more freedom, more balance for me.   It is okay to be an open canvas.  Thank you.