Lojong Cards and Booklet

Lojong Cards and Booklet
This self-published deck and booklet are the intellectual property of Beverly King. Please do not copy or reproduce any photos or blog posts without permission.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Slogan Nine

In all activities, train with the slogans.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
            If we were to cross a field every day, we would tramp down the weeds and eventually create a well-worn path. The slogans help us create a new path by thinking differently. When we study and memorize the slogans, they steer our minds in a new direction.  We will find that no matter what situation arises, the memory of an appropriate slogan will come to mind. Their purpose is not to help us escape from life’s hassles or make all our troubles disappear, but to aid us in working with the challenges we face. The slogans increase our capacity for loving-kindness and decrease our self-absorption. We learn to break out of our habitual pattern of reacting in self-centered ways.
Photo: Fifty-nine different types of tumbled stones.

            What we do, see or hear frequently becomes familiar. As an example, check out these advertising taglines and see if you can connect each one to the product or company it represents:
  • ·         Just do it.
  • ·         Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.
  • ·         Can you hear me now?!
  • ·         Don’t leave home without it.
  • ·         It keeps going, and going and going…
  • ·         Good to the last drop.
  • ·         Plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is.
  • ·         Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven.
  • ·         Where do you want to go today?
  • ·         Live in your world, play in ours.
  • ·         Once you pop, you can’t stop.
  • ·         Snap, crackle, pop.

My apologies to readers who aren’t in the States as some of these catchphrases may not be recognizable to you (but I bet you could easily come up with your own list). When I make the slogans a part of my daily spiritual practice, they have a way of popping in my head just when I need them.
(Answers: Nike, M&Ms, Verizon, American Express, Energizer Batteries, Maxwell House Coffee, Alka Seltzer, Pillsbury, Microsoft, Sony Playstation, Pringles Potato Chips, Rice Krispies Cereal) 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Slogan Eight

Three objects, three poisons, three seeds of virtue.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
            Humans naturally categorize things as a method of survival, labeling some objects as beneficial and others as dangerous. But this slogan cautions us that labels may take on a life of their own. Judy Lief elucidates: “They change from being simple observations of a current situation or interaction to become unchanging definitions of the way things are. They become the world according to us.”  If we crave something, it becomes an object of attachment. If it is something we want to avoid, it becomes an object of aversion. If we could care less either way, it becomes an object of indifference. Each of these objects produces a reaction (poison) – desire, revulsion or ignorance – which leaves us feeling unhappy or desperate. But instead of blaming the object, we can take responsibility for our emotional reactions and see them as our own creation. We can realize they make our world very small instead of spacious. We breathe in and transform the “poisons.” As we breathe out, they are reformed as the seeds of virtue.
Photo: Three types of nuts, leaves and blooms on a sycamore leaf.

            I love gardenia bushes, and I've tried on multiple occasions to grow them in my yard. Unfortunately, they like moist, well-drained soil, and I live in an area where drought occurs and the soil is compacted clay. It’s similar to trying to grow something from a brick. On the other hand, I have poison ivy galore. Weed killers and pulling plants by hand are useless; the birds love the berries and just plant more. I would be quite an unhappy gardener if this was where all my energy was focused. In addition, my yard has nondescript plants like the tea olive with an unimpressive, scraggly appearance. Yet if I attend to its nearly imperceptible flowers in the fall and spring, I’ll be rewarded with a fragrance even more delightful than the gardenia’s bloom. Recently it dawned on me that indifference is quite different from detachment. It involves labeling something as so insignificant and useless, that I don’t consider it worth my attention. That kind of poison is worse than Roundup. It will keep the seeds of compassion from ever sprouting.   

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Slogan Seven

Sending and taking should be practiced alternately. These two should ride the breath.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:            
       “Sending and taking” refers to tonglen, a meditation that instills compassion. Norman Fischer defines compassion as “the willingness to feel pain with another, to feel another’s pain as one’s own.” Tonglen trains us to move toward rather than away from suffering; it teaches us that our pain is the same as that of other people. To practice, we visualize taking another’s suffering into ourselves as we inhale, perhaps feeling the air as hot and heavy or seeing it as dark and smoky. We pause, picturing the pain being converted into peace, healing and happiness. We breathe these wishes out to the person who suffers, imagining this breath as feeling light and cooling or appearing clear and radiant. Tonglen is also practiced with our own anguish; as we realize others feel this same pain, we extend our practice to include them. We are not harmed by the suffering we breathe in, but are transformed by it. It softens our hearts, making us more loving and kind.
Photo: Bare firethorn branch and azalea branch between two stones and bounded by Boston fern fronds.

                Are you familiar with the TARDIS on the British television show Doctor Who? From the outside its size appears deceptively small, much like our hearts. The first time I read about tonglen practice, my response was “Ugh, how awful!” I wish I could blame my reaction on being brainwashed by the Law of Attraction movement, but the reason went much deeper than that. I felt as if my emotional knapsack was full to bursting. I was barely managing my own pain and had no room for another person’s suffering. Buddhist wisdom nevertheless assures us that our hearts are much more expansive than we may think. As I breathe in with the longing to remove suffering and breathe out with the wish to send comfort and relief, my self-absorption loosens and my compassionate side unlocks. I begin to recognize my kinship and connection with all beings: everyone suffers. Like Seuss’s grumpy Grinch, I may suddenly discover my heart has grown by three sizes. 
Because suffering is impermanent, that is why we can transform it.
Because happiness is impermanent, that is why we have to nourish it.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Slogan Six

In post-meditation, be a child of illusion.
From the Lojong for the Layperson booklet:
            Shortly after our meditation, we can easily slide back into habitual patterns. But this slogan encourages us to continue to look at the world with fresh eyes rather than fixed ideas. A young child has little experience in the world, and so he sees with eyes of wonder. Our perceptions are based on our presumptions – “this” is like “that,” therefore I should like/dislike it. We become tangled in hope or fear based on a notion from a past incident instead of being present in the here and now. Yet nothing is solid and fixed; everything is continually changing. If we find ourselves waiting in a long line at the bank, we might think “this frustration is going to last forever.” But what happens if we de-familiarize ourselves from the scene? We might take notice of a nearby toddler who is grinning shyly at us. We may hear an unfamiliar noise coming from outside. As we pay attention to each moment that unfolds and shifts around us, we’ll stop worrying about the long line. We will have become a child of illusion.
Photo: Bubble floating above nandina (heavenly bamboo) shrubs.

       As a kid I loved optical illusions, those images that trick our mind into believing something that may not be real. I recently ran across one I hadn't seen before called the Checker Shadow Illusion.  I was so sure what I saw was truth (that the squares weren't the same color), I copied the image into Paint, cut out a section from each square, and then pasted them into a Word document for comparison. Lo and behold, they were the same shade of gray! Of course I wondered if maybe there was something off with my computer monitor. Yet the exercise turned out to be a good example of my preference as an adult for something solid and predictable rather than something indefinite and changeable. Nevertheless, if I can relax and observe - without being in strategy mode, without trying to quantify and label everything - my mind will open to a fresh view of life. And my inner kid would tell me there's a lot more joy in seeing from this perspective.