Monday, July 20, 2009

Training the mind 1: get out of the way!

Lojong is not a topic many buddhist practicioners I know find exciting from the word go. Most tend to be drawn to the Jedi-stuff first: mantras, mahmudra, dzogchen, enlightened joy. Meditation is good, too, as meditation will obviously instantly provide anyone the most extraordinary experiences of truth and beauty to be had this side of most narcotics laws.

Lojong, or Mind Training, on the other hand, tends to look and feel like slightly masochistic self-help advice for upstanding citizens who want to make a valuable contribution to society.
"Work on your strongest reactions first."
"Don't rely on sense of duty."
"Don't be competitive."
Not very T-shirt-worthy, ain't it?

But y'all hunker down in the dust now, and listen up to the Turtle: this is the stuff practice really comes down to. Don't be a bastard. Put others first. Don't blame the world for your own silly choices.

I am no teacher or realized bodhisattva or anything, but I feel I can pretty much guarantee that nobody will ever recognize the nature of mind without being willing to sit down and sort through the banana peels and sausage skins of their actual, daily lives. Gettin' the crud of samsara out from under the fingernails of your mind.

Now, much is being made of the fact that the dharma is supposed to make you feel happy. At least two high profile meditators are publicly known as the happiest man on earth: Matthieu Ricard and Mingyur Rinpoche. And it does, mah' friends, the dharma will make you insanely happy. But the practice of the dharma is not always about being happy right here and right now. Often it is about feeling shit.

And then doing something constructive with that.

The very first thing in the Mind Training is simply to get out of the way*. Realise that your life is not about what you happen to think you are or what you feel you want. Usually we spend incredible amounts of time keeping our emotional slacks from sliding down our thighs, becoming too tired to treat ourselves and the people around as the precious, vibrant jewels of life and awareness we are.

The important thing to remember here (and why Lojong ≠ masochism) is that we shouldn't feel we have to let go of our self-importance because it's bad. No, we want do it because it's silly. And useless. And, when you get right down to it, simply not true.

Brad Warner, a bloggin' obnoxious prick and Zen teacher, said something the other day which nicely fits with this premise:
The trick is to see that none of the ways you characterize yourself are ultimately any better than any other.

So, why this "Hello world, meet Lojong. She will be your new best friend."-post? Because, for the coming weeks, I plan† to go randomly through the 59 slogans of Chekawa Yeshe Dorje's famous Seven Point Mind Training and saying stuff about them on Blinde Schildpad. This should not be seen as teaching or commenting on these, actually rather precious, teachings. It's just to see if something interesting will happen. Stuff's happening in this blogger's life which is making Getting Out Of The Way a fait accomplis anyway, so I might as well shed my spiritual dandruff publicly.

What I will try to avoid (as I have done in this introductory article) is explaining stuff. Y'all got the Google if a word seems mysterious and the wise ones among you have teachers if life seems mysterious.

Go ask them.

*) Jetsünma's phrase.
†) "Do you want to make the Buddhas laugh? Tell them you have a plan..."

(images taken from Tower of Garbage, Cambodia, CC by leclercle)


  1. En voor iedereen die nog altijd zit te wachten op het laatste deel van de Cursus Depressie: dit, maar dan andersom, oké?

    Ongelukkig dat je dan zal zijn, joh!

  2. Jahahoo, zó zijn we niet getrouwd! Wij wachten niet op het laatste deel van de cursus, maar op de laatste twee delen!

  3. Hoewel het een groot verlies is voor het estethisch verantwoorde masochisme, hoop ik dat onze schildpad de weg naar de ultieme depressie nu dan toch voorgoed verlaten heeft.

    Praise the lojong!

  4. ik doe net alsof ik deze serie niet ga lezen totdat ik de laatste delen van de 'hoe word ik depressief' serie gelezen heb.

    Wat heb ik uberhaupt aan boeddhisme als ik niet depressief ben?