Archive for the ‘Lojong Slogans’ category

Lojong #10

December 25, 2015

What could be better than a Lojong slogan for Christmas?

Lojong #10
Begin the sequence of sending and taking with yourself
Photo: Green cherry laurel leaves and red tip photinia leaves with stone on cracked, dry mud.


The Buddhist philosophy of not running away from the pain you feel is one that widens your ability to see and sit with the suffering of others.

It’s a toughie though. I find that society emphasizes shopping in particular when you feel bad. God forbid you should actually feel any sadness or panic or suffering. Get your credit card out and un-payable debt be ignored.

Yet, it’s not so bad to sit with anguish and despair. You would think it would overwhelm you but it doesn’t, the feeling looms up and you sit there resisting the ensuing panic, and then you realize, maybe while your back is aching or your neck pain rears up, that if you simply sit there you aren’t going to panic or be overwhelmed or run out in the back yard to kill yourself. It’s there, it doesn’t feel good but it’s not quite as bad as you imagine when you hurtle around doing anything to avoid it.

It is really true that self-protection causes deeper pain. You hold onto things, you try to avoid what you don’t like, when simply facing things rather than trying to escape them works the best, and makes us feel better. You can’t control the world to suit yourself, but we don’t need to avoid or protect ourselves from pain. Turn to it, accept it, and something odd happens, it transforms pain and thus transforms you.

You send and take to yourself first, and then you can send it to others. I admit I find it difficult to send to others, perhaps because I have not developed compassion or kindness for myself yet. It’s difficult to believe but practice helps.

Photinias are of the rose family and related to apples and have glossy leaves. they are also close relatives of cotoneasters and hawthorns. Cotoneasters I do have and they have glossy leaves. Some varieties of photinia have toxic foliage and fruit. They grow in warm climates which is why I’ve never seen one.

Laurel is also from warmer climates and glossy. They sometimes have toxic sap to defend themselves and many are hard to identify and classify, but they are ancient plants. We know them best for the bay laurel which we use in cooking and the way ancient Romans and Greeks used the plant for wreaths or crowns.

Oh, that stone in the centre here, sitting in your chest, you trying to blow toxic shopping sprees to kill it, doing anything not to feel the heavy stone and the cracking mud underneath it. Sending and taking, like the polarity of these two plants around the stone, sometimes toxic, sometimes glossy and lovely. And so what if it’s dry for a time, cracking and horrible and dry, dry, dry? The stone could be heavy or it might just be solid, steady, and so what of that?

A lot of people have trouble with Christmas. I find it unbearably sad, but that’s okay, there is no need to die over it, sit and accept the feelings and send on the ensuing peace. It isn’t so bad, and knowing that, taking that ourselves, we can then send the feeling to others in their pain.





Lojong #54

July 26, 2015

I made it into the third bedroom for an hour or so yesterday, and threw out a full garbage bag full of stuff. Then it became overwhelming. This is the room we refer to as “the den” and it’s a catch-all room for my dollhouses, dolls, craft stuff, and my card deck collection.

Today I woke up at 6 a.m. worried about mildew getting at things I have stored in there and on it went from there. I know the rule about declutter and how if you haven’t used it for a year, get rid of it, but I saw another rule yesterday that made even more sense. It was to ask yourself “Would I buy this today?” and the answer for me in many cases is “No, I wouldn’t” but then where do they go? I can’t throw them out because they are new things, but they are a burden because I have no place to store them.

Worrying, I decided to pull a random Lojong card.

Train wholeheartedly
Photo: A Canada gosling munches on the seeds of Bahia grass.


That made me smile because I am sure getting a workout in uncertainty, change, the ambiguity of being alive and letting things go. Pema Chodron makes the point that training yourself every day in the small things will eventually filter in so that when a big thing comes along to cope with you will know what to do.

Like this baby Canada Goose gosling, we fall and get up, we teach ourselves how to find things to eat, but we keep going, falling and getting up. Norman Fischer calls this “Be wholehearted” and says pay attention, don’t worry, don’t forget, don’t complain—all these things. Come home and feel your breathing and your heartbeat.

We make excuses for not keeping up with our mind training, but more than that we don’t practice. Here I have a perfect opportunity in selling the house and moving 4500 kms, to keep up, to train each day, to recognize emotions and face things I’ve kept in a room. BUT if I open the door and wholeheartedly get to it, I get to all the stuff I’ve avoided for years, which is fear, sadness, disappointment, a wall of emotion, lingering and festering.

Judy Lief says:

“Pay attention to the boundary between wholehearted practice and a more vague and lukewarm approach. Notice your thinking process, your bodily sensations, and emotional undercurrents. What happens at those moments in which you click in and are really practicing?”

I can tell you what happens, the emotions dissipate, I feel relief and hope and I think to myself “This isn’t so bad.” But it requires some discipline to do it, to practice wholeheartedly.

Time to munch some seeds.

Lojong #26

April 26, 2015

I had a meltdown last night, worrying about moving and “staging” the house for sale and not having room to put things away, and having to take art down off the walls. The trouble is that I have nowhere to store paintings safely and I know the glass would get broken and I’m weary of things getting wrecked. I will take small things down that I can wrap and keep safe before we paint the rooms. Edit it somewhat, but only small things that I can store without breaking them.

Still, it bugs me, all this staging stuff you have to do today. You want things to look nice and get a good sale price but everybody wants perfection. I already have trouble sleeping and this worry exacerbates it.

Lojong #26
Don’t ponder others.


That leaf in the middle is starting to feel surrounded and bound on all sides. All these other plants saying “Your leaves should be like mine!” Other people do tend to get preoccupied with helping you fix or change things. They get caught up in comparing, assuming, analyzing, and living your life instead of their own. It’s distracting to them, it’s about making them feel okay, not you.

I got two calls in the last two weeks from someone I refer to as The Cat Lady. Neither one of us will answer the phone and speak to her. This is not a friend, this is someone who latched onto me and has never really made an effort to know me or to listen to me after 28 years. She hasn’t been in my house for 15 years, and yet she phones and phones sounding bitter and resentful when I do pick up the phone. I can no longer take it.

This card is about minding your own business. We have enough trouble knowing our own hearts and minds, so how can we know about others? Norman Fischer calls this “Don’t figure others out.” What a relief just to say it. (Judy Lief says the same thing, so that’s a innate part of this slogan, we all feel the relief.)

Part of not figuring people out is to leave them alone, don’t ponder them. It works both ways. Trust your own experience and don’t compare yourself, don’t highlight the flaws of others and ignore your own.



Lojong #3

March 17, 2015

Lojong #3
Examine the nature of unborn awareness.


This is about awareness, how we think we are something, we label it, tie it to objects, or trot out our stories about ourselves, but awareness of “me” is another feeling, a mysterious unknown. Every now and then we grasp this, if we can let the rational babble go and simply sit without it. The light dawns on this thing we are.

For me, this is akin to Wayne Dyer’s phrase “The secret that sits in the centre and knows” for which Bev’s photograph of the shell provides an echo. Find yourself under all those emotions, and sensations. It’s identifiable but it’s not what you think of as your identity. Norman Fischer says it’s a “feeling of presence” a profound and mysterious thing. He also says that the “burden” of this card is to recognize this fact and train in it.

Bev explains more on her blog post for this card. All our memories are stored in the brain and they can generate emotion or identity quite readily. This is “born” awareness. But underneath that is the awareness that has no labels for things, and does not sort and categorize, does not get overridden by emotions, and this is “unborn” awareness.

The burden for this is that to access or recognize this is hard for us at first since we are so used to the other way. Training by meditation, letting the learned identity go, will provide understanding of this.

I suppose some think this feeling of presence is God, we really don’t know. But the feeling of something more substantial than your normalized identity is profound and it flickers in and out of awareness.

We really don’t know what we are, do we? We can say we are human, we are a species that lives on Earth, but beyond the biological things, we have no idea other than this fleeting perception that underneath it all there is something mysterious, something else, some other “me” than the identity we carry around in our minds.



Lojong #24

February 12, 2015

I got an alarming sense of being overshadowed or overwhelmed by things stacked against me with this image.

Change your attitude, but remain natural.


This is about attitude and putting ourselves or our views before others. We are not more important. So perhaps I could say what is stacked against me is my own attitude?

Norman Fischer calls this “Don’t be a phony.” In other words, change your life, don’t pretend to. Relax, you don’t have to impress anyone or make grand gestures of enlightened spiritual posturing. If you slip up with anything in life, get back on track.

As usual with Buddhism there is an element of compassion for yourself. That pile of rocks can turn against you, impose themselves on you. The regimen of practice that you build against yourself can eventually overwhelm. If you are the big cheese who imposes themselves on the world, it will backfire.

Bev has some interesting links on her blog and there was one from Tricycle for an article this week called “Bible Belt Buddhism” which I found fascinating.

It’s that tiresome imposition of judgement and hatred that permeates religion today. That’s what I began to object to, the stones stacking up of misinterpretation and hating The Other. That leads to spiritual posturing and it will hurt you and others. Hey, I just thought of something: river stones are worn smooth by water, but a lot of smooth, manipulative characters imposing on others is not good.

So, be natural, care for yourself and others, be mindful of your attitude. Don’t be this stack of river stones.



Lojong #21

January 25, 2015

I am really supposed to build on these slogans from the beginning, one by one, so that they add up and build on each other. I delight in drawing them randomly at first, and then maybe later I can do them in order. It reminds me of the C.S. Lewis book title Surprised by Joy which speaks of this random delight to me, each card a surprise all on its own.

Lojong #21
Always maintain a joyful mind.


I have Purple Coneflowers in my own garden so this photograph really sent me rocketing to the moon. Admittedly it doesn’t take much where cards and art are concerned.

Many days I am cheery and can find such joy in small things. Other times this card comes in handy. Norman Fischer calls this “Maintain joy (and don’t lose your sense of humor)” or simply “Maintain joy and humor.”

Okay, so if you don’t feel this way there is no need to beat yourself up over it, or pretend that you don’t feel a lack of joy. The idea is that you can allow yourself to feel a lack of joy, and then perhaps remember that you have a choice in how you feel too. Don’t cover up the feelings of bitterness or try to fake joyous feelings, but pay attention to how you feel, that lack of lightness, and inject some humour in your life. Stay interested and curious and shift your attention to appreciating something better or something humorous.

The other thing Bev says in her notes is that we can get trapped by our particular ideas about what joy should be, thus shutting out other kinds of joy. That way you appreciate things that you might ordinarily dismiss, but that might give you joy. It’s another way of shifting attention from habitual thought to maintain joy.

Those coneflowers do look very joyous.



Lojong #25

January 4, 2015

While having trouble getting to sleep last night, I picked up a Pema Chodron book to browse through and she mentioned the Lojong slogans which reminded me to pick a card. I went through the slogans reading them and picked one whose title interested me.

Don’t talk about injured limbs.


This image is of a redbud leaf with holes made by leafcutter bees. Danger, danger, a natural history clue! I have never heard of leafcutter bees but they make these distinctive 3/4-inch circles on tree leaves. Wow.

Don’t we all know this card? Sure we do, as we pick at people who are disabled or stand out in some way. We point, we whisper, we gossip and taken generally, we can choose to do this with everyone about anything. Let’s snipe at Mary’s new haircut or ridicule Joe’s new girlfriend behind her back.

What I like about this photograph is that it gets across the point of staring and whispering about people who are physically disabled but it also shows the idea of people picking and nibbling at each other. Norman Fischer calls this slogan Don’t talk about faults and that could be anything.

How much different life would be if we just stopped it, stopped nattering away about people. Even if they are nasty and deserve it, speak differently about them, speak of them with sympathy or kindness, or don’t speak at all.

Now that’s a tough leaf to chew.