Napa Valley Insight Meditation Message Board › Pulling Out the Rugl: Readings for August 7th NVMG Meeting
On Wednesday we will continue our exploration of the Lojong practice. The reading comes from the 3rd chapter of Pema Chodron’s book “Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living.”The chapter is entitled “Pulling Out the Rug” and invites us to use our practice to simply lighten up about our lives.
You can print out a copy of the reading by clicking on the link below:
Please bring a copy with you to the meeting.
Lojong is a mind training practice based on a set of slogans formulated in Tibet in the 12th century. The fifty-nine slogans that form the root text of the mind training practice are designed as a set of antidotes to undesired mental habits that cause suffering. In chapter 3, we will examine three new slogans that are a bit challenging and build on last week’s slogan: Regard all dharmas (phenomenon, perceptions, etc) as dreams. The new slogans are:
1. Examine the nature of unborn awareness: This slogan asks us to look at the nature of who we are. What is awareness and how does it arise? What does it mean to perceive a world? The question of consciousness seems to be connected with the physical brain, yet not identical to it—and when you are aware of something, it doesn’t seem to be the brain that is perceiving, but you! But who or what is that you?
2. Self-liberate even the antidote: The problem this slogan addresses is our tendency to cling to the insight uncovered in our practice. You may have all sorts of realizations, but as soon as you make a realization yours, it is no longer a realization, but another obstacle to overcome.
3. Rest in the nature of Alaya, the essence: Alaya, or essence, is the open unbiased expanse of mind. It is stillness. It can be envisioned as an expanse, or simply as a gap in our ongoing preoccupations, activities, and concerns.
The 59 mind training slogans are all about cultivating loving kindness or bodhichitta. The first 5 slogans, however, don’t launch right into the practical aspects of kindness and compassion, what is termed “relative bodhichitta”. Instead, they begin with what is seemingly impractical - asking us to explore and recognition the empty and insubstantial nature of our experience, or “absolute bodhichitta.” The idea is to ground ourselves in the impermanent and shifting nature of reality first, so that our virtue and compassion do not become heavy-handed and distorted. Otherwise our kindness can lead to self-aggrandizement in the disguise of helping others. Even when our attempts at kindness are not distorted, trying to do the right thing can be wearing. It is a struggle.
If Lojong seems a bit esoteric for you, don’t worry. Think of the slogans as phrases that are meant to provoke us into undertaking a deeper investigation of our lives. Sometimes using unfamiliar words and phrases can help us experience the world in new ways, and give us new insights into the nature of consciousness and the roots of our suffering. The beauty of these slogans is that you can come back to them over and over again and find new meaning.