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, June 27, 2016

Change your attitude, but remain natural.

Plains Zebras - Photo by Medford Taylor

          Zoologists suggest a zebra's stripes work to camouflage it in two ways. Alone, the wavy stripes help it blend in with tall, wavy grass. Since its main predator (the lion) is colorblind, this type of pattern camouflage works well. Because zebras usually move in herds, their stripes work as a group camouflage too. A lion doesn't see an individual zebra, but a large, striped, moving mass. This type of camouflage makes it more difficult for a predator to target and attack a weaker member of the herd. Slogan twenty-four suggests that while we internally shift our priorities, externally we should adopt the zebra's habit of blending in. Yet as we gain knowledge and skill in our practice, it is tempting to want to impress others. We may think offering our insights could be beneficial to someone. But instead of simply saying, "Perhaps you could try...," we subtly list all the reasons they should take our advice. We tell them about the teachers we've studied under, retreats and seminars we've attended and books we've read. We follow up with personal stories about how our new knowledge has radically changed our life. By the time we dole out a helpful suggestion, we've made sure the other person being 'helped' knows how wise we are. But lojong training advises that we've missed the mark if we perform instead of transform; the intention is not to gain fame but to become less self-centered. Learning the skill of 'camouflage' can help keep our ego in check rather than encouraging it to become our public relations agent.

Instead of cherishing yourself, you cherish others - and then you just relax.
~ Chogyam Trungpa

For more information on the twenty-fourth slogan, go here.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Always abide by the three basic principles.

Porpoises - Photo by William Keener

          Over 60 years ago, marine explorer Jacques Cousteau noticed a group of porpoises following his research vessel as his team headed toward the Atlantic Ocean through the Strait of Gibraltar. Curious to see if these mammals knew the straightest route to the ocean, he changed the boat's course by a few degrees. The porpoises followed briefly but then adjusted their course. Cousteau, a former naval officer, reasoned that these marine mammals had a type of sonar similar to a submarine. Subsequent research would prove these animals did use reflected sound for navigation. Like echolocation, the three basic principles allow us to monitor our position and direction of movement. Instead of dogmatic rules to follow, these guides can keep our lojong training from drifting off course. 
  • Am I working to develop mindfulness, wisdom and compassion?
  • Am I unpretentious in my practice, or do I think of myself as "spiritually advanced?"
  • Am I patient and without bias in dealing with others and myself?
Any time we discover unawareness, arrogance or annoyance, we can simply change our course.

On the spiritual path, over and over again it is a good idea to keep coming back to a few basic principles. By doing so, you can bound your actions with discipline. You can keep your practice on track. ~ Judy Lief

For more information on the twenty-third slogan, go here.

Monday, June 13, 2016

If you can practice even when distracted, you are well trained.

Great horned owl - Photo from Savannah Bird Cam

          High among the trees on Skidaway Island are two bird cams that record the birth of new generations of great horned owls each year. The live feed allows bird lovers to watch the parents as they raise their owlets, keeping them warm, fed and safe. On the nest, the mother appears relaxed but watchful as she scans the marshy landscape and skyline continuously. Though she stays busy taking care of her little ones, her alertness never wavers. In the same manner, the twenty-second slogan encourages us to stay watchful as well. Moving through our day can be like walking down the sidewalk of a crowded, busy city. There is much to attend to and do, yet we should be on the lookout for familiar faces. Do we recognize the faces of clinging and aversion? Are we aware when we've lost our openness and kindness? Noticing our distraction is not meant to be disheartening. Rather it is simply a cue to wake us from our inattention. 

You may well be distracted. But there’s nothing wrong with that. As soon as you know your state of distraction, you are practicing, you have remembered your practice. 
~ Norman Fischer

For more information on the twenty-second slogan, go here.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Always maintain only a joyful mind.

Anna's hummingbird on a nest the size of a ping-pong ball

          The self has a tendency to shrink our world down to the size of a hummingbird nest. It insists that things be pleasant and go our way; whatever is contrary is seen as unfair and intolerable. Yet even when we are in pain, this slogan reminds us we can find joy by opening fully to our experience. We aren't required to accept our suffering with a forced grin and a stiff upper lip. Instead, meditation can assist us in discovering our innate joy. We learn to focus the attention on what is happening without narrating a mental story around it. As Zen teacher Darlene Cohen explained, "it is only in the present that you can cultivate the mental stability that is required to practice non-preference for the conditions of your life." She describes the process of "widening our weave," meaning we acknowledge and feel our pain rather than run from it. As an alternative to closing down, we make more space - space that allows our suffering to move through us. Training our attention also helps us be aware of the more subtle sensations that are also going on at the same time. Though we may feel intense discomfort in our body, we may also notice a cool breeze that blows across our face and hear the sound of it in the tree tops.  Rather than narrowing our perception down to what is happening that we don't like, we can expand it to include what is joyful there too.

You need to cultivate skills that enable you to be present for all of your life, not just the moments you prefer. ~ Darlene Cohen

For more information on the twenty-first slogan, go here.