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.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Four practices are the best methods.

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The Wave - Photo by Greg Bulla

          Located in Arizona is a sandstone rock formation known as "The Wave." Years of erosion - first by water then by wind - have shaped its undulating form and thin ridges. Our existence is likewise shaped by conditions. In our elusive search for security, we have a tendency to develop established patterns that become automatic. Yet lojong provides a way to train our minds, allowing us a choice in how we respond. The Four Practices of this slogan can help us resist and transform our habitual reactions. "Accumulating merit" cultivates generosity without an agenda. "Acknowledging neurotic actions" guides us in changing our course so that we create less suffering for ourselves and others. "Offering to the dons" opens our hearts and minds to viewing challenges as opportunities to awaken. "Offering to the dharma protectors" is a way to show appreciation for the teachings of Buddha through applied dharma in daily life. We can let circumstances mold us, or we can use them as spiritual nudges and agents of change.

We have an infinite number of ways that we distort our experiences through habits of the mind. ~ Sharon Salzberg

For more information on the fifteenth slogan, go here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The ultimate protection is emptiness; know what arises as confusion to be the four kayas.

Photo by Rolf Hicker

          The mind has two facets: its natural essence that flows freely, and its confused state that arises when the essence is obstructed by mental formations (thoughts, emotions, sensations).  The kayas describe the fluid nature of the essence of mind, how our perceptions appear and then dissolve. Comparing them to the water cycle may help with understanding them.  The dharmakaya can be thought of as the atmosphere, the nirmanakaya as water, the sambhogakaya as a cloud (the combination of atmosphere and water), and the svabhavivakaya as the whole cycle itself. The nirmanakaya is the physical aspect of the mind; it is our perception of what our senses show us. The dharmakaya is the transcendental aspect from which everything arises. This kaya is boundless, spacious, and formless  “empty” – lacking any independent existence or lasting substance. The union of these two kayas is the cognitive aspect of the mind, the sambhogakaya. The energy and vibrancy in our sense perceptions, when combined with infinite openness, produce clarity and equanimity. Our thoughts, emotions and sensations are experienced, yet they are recognized as being unstable and impermanent. Obstructions to this natural flow occur not because feelings and concepts arise, but because we become attached to them. Yet we can wake up to our ego’s grasping habit – wanting this but not that. Unhooked from its seduction, we ease our suffering by realizing these mind states are not as solid or unchanging as first thought. Deprived of a concrete self, these things are able to wash right through us.

How joyful this freedom from confusion arising as luminosity! ~ Ngotrup Gyaltsen

For more information on the fourteenth slogan, go here.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Be grateful to everyone.

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Mimosa pudica - photo by H. Zell

          Every spring a sprawling plant appears under a particular oak in my neighborhood. Its blooms resemble gumball-size, florescent-pink explosions. But the most interesting feature of this plant is its reactive movement which characterizes its common name - sensitive plant. If the plant is disturbed by a touch, temperature change or breeze, the leaflets fold inward exposing its prickly stems. The reaction is thought to discourage insects and herbivores who might munch on the leaves. Yet the defense is energetically costly for the plant as it interferes with the process of photosynthesis. Most people have similar reactions when provoked by people or situations. We close up and show our thorny sides; our habitual patterns come out in full force. But this slogan is a reminder to be thankful to whomever or whatever makes us aware of our blind spots. Our irritations show us where to focus in order to deepen our practice, where we need to be calmer, more patient and flexible. What provokes us becomes training equipment to help us widen our minds and hearts.

Each time someone provokes us, we have a chance to do something different, to tend to our own reactions. Either we can strengthen old habits or we can take a moment to pause.
  ~ Carrie Dinow

For more information on the thirteenth slogan, go here.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Drive all blames into one.

Delta - photo by Arthur Belala, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

          Farmers here have begun fertilizing their fields in preparation for the growing season. Plants in nature extract nutrients from the soil, and what gets used by them is returned when the plant dies. However with cultivated crops, what gets extracted isn't given back and requires the addition of fertilizers. Unfortunately what benefits the farmers has adversely impacted our coastal waters. The water runoff from the fields includes nitrates, which wash down the major rivers into the sea. Algae and other microorganisms feed on the nitrogen, bloom and die. Their decomposition creates a low-oxygen area known as a "dead zone," where no animal can survive. Four hundred of these hypoxic zones have been identified around the world, with one of the largest being in the Gulf of Mexico. Should we blame the farmers for these lifeless waters? Or perhaps the agricultural corporations and the consumers should be held accountable? One could even argue that the environmentalists who pushed for the production of biofuels are partly at fault. The twelfth lojong slogan suggests boiling all the blame down to one thing - the self-centeredness of the ego. When we search for a scapegoat, we instantly armor ourselves from the pain of what has gone wrong. Yet if we allow ourselves to feel those tender spots and drop the drama, we have a chance to focus on the real issue instead of getting caught up in who's to blame.

True spirituality is not a removal or escape from life. It is an opening, a seeing of the world with a deeper vision that is less self-centered, a vision that sees through dualistic views to the underlying interconnectedness of all life. ~ Jack Kornfield

For more information on the twelfth slogan, go here.