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Buddhadharma : Fall 2005
buddhadharma| 85 |fall 2005 definitely agree with Ken. one shouldn’t view oneself as the great tonglen healer. Ken MCLeod: The essence of compassion is being present with suffering, as Judy was just saying. what comes out of that presence no one can predict. Very wonder- ful things may happen, but approaching this with the intention of getting a certain result contradicts the spirit of the lojong teachings. buddhadharMa: Many people have said that since it started as a monastic tra- dition, Buddhism focuses on solitary meditation and has little means to deal with relationships. is lojong just such a means? Ken MCLeod: absolutely. let’s say you are having a fight with your wife, and in the middle of the fight, you are able to move to taking and sending. You take in the pain your wife is experiencing in the fight, and you give her your love and affection and the value you place in the relation- ship. That is going to have an immediate effect on the dynamics between the two of you. it will result in an immediate step- ping out of one’s reactions to things and right back into the situation as it is, not as you want it to be. That is what these teachings are about. i find that if people start with these kind of practices, they will come to appre- ciate that the stability of attention devel- oped through shamatha-vipashyana helps them to apply these practices even more powerfully. They will look at meditation practice as a means to deepen their own ability to practice mind training. buddhadharMa: so what would cause me to break the momentum of anger in the argument with my wife? aLan waLLaCe: You would be invited to take a fresh look at reality. we get so locked in to our habitual ways of fram- ing issues – “This is good for me; this is bad for me.” – that we need something to break that up. as a result of the lojong, one can ask, “what am i really angry with?” The first answer will usually be “Her!” But you would be focusing on the person as an independent ego and as the source of your problems. if you look at it again, you can ask whether it really is this independent ego out there or, rather, some mode of behavior. You then can ask, “what behavior did i find so dis- agreeable? do i ever display that kind of behavior, that kind of mental affliction?” as shantideva says, if you are going to get angry at something, get angry at mental afflictions, because people are just pup- pets on the end of the string of their own mental afflictions. if you are going to get angry, direct your wrath towards men- tal afflictions. This is what you could be inspired to do. Judith Lief: The way i see the slogan practice working in that regard is not a laborious, stop-in-the-middle, let’s-con- sider-what’s-going-on-here process. i find that if you if you memorize the slogans and study them on a regular basis, they are rattling around in your mind and they just pop up. slogans just pop up at the most embar- rassing times. when you’ve really blown it and you’ve lost your mind and you’re completely freaked out, a slogan pops up in a provocative way. in that way, they are almost effortless, annoyingly so. They pop up whether you like it or not. and when they arise for me, it’s not as if i have unraveled all the sources of my multitude of neuroses, but somehow the neuroses at least get pricked a little bit. The slo- gans are almost like mosquitoes buzzing around your ears, frustrating your neu- rotic patterns. buddhadharMa: so it is necessary to memo- rize them? aLan waLLaCe: Yes, the traditional prac- tice is to memorize them. Tibetans would memorize all of these and then recite them frequently. Ken MCLeod: alan’s quite right. This is training, refining the mind. You learn the stuff, you memorize it, and you learn how to apply it skillfully to every situation and to every person in your life. aLan waLLaCe: Tibetan teachers will often laugh when a person says of a particular teaching, “oh, i know that very well. it’s in a book in my library.” in that case, the book can achieve enlightenment, but good luck to the person whose knowl- edge is left in the book, rather than in ➤ continued from page 47