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Buddhadharma : Fall 2005
fall 2005| 38 |buddhadharma Judith Lief is the editor of training the Mind and CuLtivating Loving-Kindness, ChögyaM trungpa’s CoMMentary on the seven points of Mind training. she is an aCharya, or senior teaCher, in the shaMbhaLa buddhist tradition. Ken MCLeod transLated the great path of awaKening, JaMgön KongtrüL’s CoMMentary on LoJong, and is the author of waKe up to your Life. he is the founder of unfettered Mind in Los angeLes, where he teaChes buddhist Meditation and praCtiCe using a ConsuLtant- CLient approaCh. b. aLan waLLaCe wrote a CoMMentary on LoJong entitLed the seven-point Mind training and is a teaCher and transLator of tibetan buddhisM. a forMer MonK ordained by the daLai LaMa, he reCentLy founded the santa barbara institute for the interdisCipLinary study of ConsCiousness. photography by Michael DaviD Murphy Forum: The Lojong Mind Training Practices CoMPassion, iT would aPPear, is easier said than done. all the world’s great spiritual traditions exhort us to be kind, and yet judging by the state of our world, genuine compassion is rare. we have plenty of great thoughts about compassion, but how much are we actually doing about it moment by moment, day by day? a system of practices that would upset our usual way of doing things and encourage compassion would seem to be in order. in fact, without such prac- tices, a tradition like Buddhism, committed as it is to meditation, might easily lead to a private striving for peace, and many of us who practice Buddhism might easily fall into the trap of self-perfection. apparently Buddhist practitioners from long ago experienced this very problem, and at some point, a system developed within the Mahayana tra- dition to counteract ego’s tendency to convert whatever it encounters into its own territory. like a family of viruses, this system of teachings, known in Tibetan as lojong, or mind training, attacks ego’s immune system and the myriad defenses it throws up to prevent us from experiencing a moment of openness and warmth. There are many different kinds of lojong, but in this forum, the panel- ists discuss the form of lojong best-known in the west, as laid out in The Seven Points of Mind Training. There are several theories about who exactly was responsible for these teachings, but it is widely believed that they were brought to Tibet when the great indian yogi and scholar atisha dipankara traveled there in 1042 at the invitation of the Tibetan rulers. one of atisha’s poems describes an arduous sea journey he made to sumatra and Java to receive lojong training from the renowned teacher serlingpa (dharmakirti), who is said to have resided at Borobudur. These teachings on developing enlightened attitude were passed on to many students and were eventually written down in the twelfth century by Chekawa as a series of aphorisms, the form that survives to this day. in the nineteenth century, Jamgön Kongtrül the Great wrote a concise commentary that has become one of the primary sources for lojong teachings. The mind training teachings have two main components. The first focuses on recognizing absolute, or ultimate, bodhicitta (literally, “awakened heart or mind,” or, emphasizing its aspirational quality, “the thought of enlight- enment”). ultimate bodhicitta is our basic nature, which is pure awareness. Through contemplative practice, the practitioner lets go of attachment to phenomena as being solid and unchanging, as expressed in the injunction “regard all dharmas as dreams.” This series of contemplations ends with the prescription “in post-meditation, be a child of illusion.” in other words, we are asked to have a childlike faith in the quality of ultimate bodhicitta and to rest in the illusory phenomenal display we encounter in all of our undertakings. softened by such naiveté, we act freshly, rather than seeking to recreate a familiar home for ourselves. The second part of the mind training involves the cultivation of relative bodhicitta. This practice recognizes that in all our interactions we draw on an arsenal of means to solidify our position: blaming, self-congratulation, false modesty, competitiveness, possessiveness, and a host of others. Yet each time we seek to secure our position, we are also vulnerable, which leaves the possibility of openness. This is where mind training operates. For example, if we are about to denigrate someone for all the problems they have caused us, the phrase “Be grateful to everyone” may arise in our mind. as a result, a moment of bodhicitta could emerge. For a moment, ego dissolves and judithliefbyAddisonthompson;b.AlAnwAllAcebyVesnAA.wAllAce.