Lojong Slogan 17

April 24, 2020   |   Leave a reply

With Practice the five strengths, the condensed heart instructions, we bodhisattvas-in-training are settling into a sense of meditation practice permeating our entire lives. Distinctions between meditation and non-meditation begin to blur and we see that there is only awareness available to us all the time, no matter how heightened our state of feeling. We are nourished by this and find that we are up for the exertion involved in showing up for confusion, our own and others’.

The five strengths or condensed heart instructions (meaning they pack a powerful embrace) are:

1. Having a strong determination to recognize that I am always in the right place at the right time. There are no mistakes. Even though this is a challenging concept to put into action, I have a strong determination to do so every opportunity that comes my way.

2. Practicing familiarization with the movements of my erratic, idiosyncratic mind. This happens on and off the cushion. I trust that when I lose my mind, the universe will conspire to bring it back to me. Or, even better, show me that I never really lost it at all. My mind was always there. I trust that I must experience the illusion of leaving and returning on this never-ending journey. Leaving and longing for home and longing to leave and then longing for home while I am gone—that is the path. I cannot escape how fundamentally sane I am on this illusory journey back and forth. Familiarization with my cycles is fundamental to my growing compassion for myself and others.

3. Recognizing that the positive seed of goodness is always within. That seed is what allows and guides me to resist just collapsing into confusion or pursuing a desire to feel good over the search for truth. It is also the instigation for all practice and desire to help myself and others untangle from the endless cycles of suffering.

4. Enlisting an attitude of reproach for my self-centeredness helps me to see what it really is. Self-centeredness is a habit. Aligning myself with the insight that putting myself first does not actually fulfill my wishes takes a reproach of the tendency to say ‘me first’. When ‘me first’ shows up, fighting to the front of the line, I can reproach it by firmly rejecting the habit and letting ‘me first’ know that I know it’s a failing concern. In that way, I benefitting from the added adornment of being a little eccentric. When my ‘eccentric bodhisattvahood’ manifests in the form of good-humored reproach of ‘me’, then I know I’m on the right path.

5. Reminding myself that my actual aspiration is a) to save all sentient beings; b) to remember that I am always bodhisattva—even when I seemingly mess up and act like an ass or when I am sleep; and c) that no matter what arises, no matter how difficult or strenuously challenging it may be to my heart and mind, I remember that I am a person imperfectly-perfectly and beautifully aligned with compassion.

Practicing the condensed heart instruction involves some faith in things just as they are, without our help. We are slowly growing more capable of seeing how and when to practice disciplines such as Right Speech. Should I say what I feel compelled to say right now? Is this the right time? Am I speaking a necessary truth or am I simply bothering other people with my own ‘me-first’ fear or anxiety? Through practice we discover that we actually trust ourselves and the world. We begin to rest in knowing that the situation does not necessarily need us to weigh in on every little thing just because we have an opinion about it. Awareness around expression naturally results in speaking more truth and wisdom because when we refrain from the small scatterings of opinion, we begin to discern what actually needs to be said. It begins with our conversation with ourselves and naturally extends to how we interact with others. Speak softly, work with the condensed heart instructions, and eventually, your actions will begin to hold great strength. –Crystal Gandrud

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