Train Your Mind, Slogan 2

Atisha's 59 Lojong Slogans with Acharya Judy Lief

Judy Lief

The Mind-Training Slogans: Week 4

Acharya Judy  LiefEach Friday, Acharya Judy Lief, teacher in the Shambhala tradition of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, will comment 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 will include a practice.

Read all the lojong slogans here.


Slogan 2: Regard all dharmas as dreams.
Judy Lief logong slogans

If the point is not to sleepwalk through life, but to be awake to our life, why would we want to regard all dharmas, or all phenomena, as dreams? Is that not a contradiction?

It is intriguing that this slogan comes right at the beginning, because it sets a tone that is a little intimidating. If we want to work with the slogans, we need to allow our reality to be bit more shifty. This slogan challenges our desire to make our world solid and reliable—solid objects, solid self, solid views, solid ideologies, solid opinions, solid relationships, solid everything!

We take ourselves and our world so seriously. Things seem so real, so intense and colorful, even overwhelming, but at the same time, everything we try to hold onto slips away. Nothing is all that substantial. It is amazing that there is anything at all! At the same time, nothing seems to be there in the way we would want.

Seeing the dreamlike quality of experience is not sloppy or vague, and it is not just spacing out. It is just the opposite. In fact, it is our habit of imagining ourselves and the world around us not to be dreamlike that is the delusion.

So the starting point of working with the slogans is to face up to our desire to make everything solid. When we lighten up on that particular scheme even momentarily, our mind opens up a bit and relaxes. And the more openness there is, the more slogan practice becomes gentle and natural rather than heavy handed or moralistic.

Today’s Practice
As thoughts, emotions, experiences, and dramas come and go, try to notice the point at which you appropriate them into your solid interpretation of the way things are. Pay attention to the contrast between holding and solidifying and releasing and opening out.

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qpla's picture

You are not what you are aware of. You are what is aware.

Danny's picture

I am thinking of some truth found in a childrens nursery rhyme:

Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Life is but a dream.

tricia16401's picture

Dreaming is just the beginning of reality..........

pathapornb's picture

I am from Thailand so I am a buddhist.
I find my religion to be very relaxing and gracious. I enjoy reading other people's thoughts and feelings as well. I do agree that we do take ourselves far to seriously. We should try and "let go" a lot more than we do. Perhaps there would be more patience and understanding of other people if we did.

iamuami's picture

For me, it is easier to acknowledge my "true nature" after all one's true nature is our Buddha nature. Perhaps this is because I only partially "know" and or "understand" my/our Buddha nature. It's the acceptance of my Karma, the present circumstances that requires my courage/strength, the fear that arises when reality collides with my personal fiction...wanting things to be different than they are. I try to remember one of the dharma quotes :... Even if I am currently incapable of transforming many of my negative thoughts, opinions, fears into manifestations of the divine, I know I can train in recognizing them as they arise… let them go… and slide back into the present moments’ practice...
Difficult...very difficult

iamuami's picture

I am reminded of a teaching by Pema about the illusion of solid ground and how desperately I/We seek that illusion. I have a collection of statements, phrases, what I call dharma. I've collected them over years of reading, studying and, in the words again from Pema:.."trying to get-it"...then "hold it" and "make it solid-ground". Your challenge... to notice the point at which we make them a solid interpretation of the way things are...struck me as something I've been doing for quite some time. Yes I've noticed myself doing this...and I've even mede efforts to "stop" even throw-out what I've come to call my "lost-dharma" collection. I'm definitely NOT there ..yet. I may never get "there", and that's ok. This is me and my level of awareness....one of my dharma quotes refer to a "radical acceptance" of who we are.
I guess awareness is one level of acceptance...I'm not sure about how radical it is.

Dominic Gomez's picture

Happy New Year, iamuami
Throughout my experiences and observations, awareness is only the starting point. And as you describe it, who and what you are (your karma at present) is one of the most daunting things to accept about ourselves. For some folks, it is quite "radical" to fully and honestly admit one's true nature...one's strengths as well as one's weaknesses. For a great many others, it's a fearful enough prospect that denial is their only option. That's where Buddhism comes in. It allows the individual to gather the courage and wisdom to face and change his or her karma.