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, March 12, 2017

Cicada shell - photo by B. King

I'll be taking a break from this blog for awhile to pursue other endeavors, but I do hope those of you who visit will continue to leave comments or questions. Lojong will be a lifelong practice for me, even if I'm not blogging about it. For those looking for information on a certain slogan, use the search box found on the right hand side to type in a keyword or slogan number (for example, 'slogan twenty-two' or 'applause'). As of this date, there are two posts for each slogan.

When we are not so self-involved, we begin to realize that the world is speaking to us all of the time. Every plant, every tree, every animal, every person, every car, every airplane is speaking to us, teaching us, awakening us. It’s a wonderful world, but we often miss it. ~ Pema Chodron

Monday, February 27, 2017

Don't expect applause.

Wolf | Gray wolf growl
Photo from Living with Wolves

          For social animals like wolves, communication among the group is vital in reinforcing bonds, maintaining stability and coordinating action. Body language - posture, facial expression, ear and tail position - are one way these animals express their intent and expectation non-verbally. Vocalizations may include barks, yips, whines, growls and whimpers; each sound is effective in sending important information and keeping the community united. Since smell is one of the wolf's most acute senses, scat and urine are used as identification and boundary markers. Humans too rely on communication; even one-year-olds can recognize facial expressions of approval or disapproval. This pressing need to earn the good opinion and applause from others often follows us into adulthood, usually to our disadvantage. As we train and practice on our spiritual path, we may look to others for positive feedback. Yet this compulsion is nearly always a distraction and rarely an aid. The Buddha reminded his followers that they were capable of perceiving for themselves whether a teaching was beneficial and true by simply putting it into practice. Our own experience will provide all the feedback we need.

What further reward is there beyond finding that our actions are gratifying, meaningful, and purposeful in themselves? ~ Traleg Kyabgon

For more information on the fifty-ninth slogan, go here.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Don't be frivolous.

Killdeer feigning broken wing - Photo by Earl McGehee

          Scientists have identified two ways the brain processes external information it receives: willful focus (like watching a traffic light) and automatic focus (such as seeing something unusual or hearing a loud noise). Several types of birds have become adept at using a predator's automatic focus as a distraction method. Birds that nest on the ground will walk away from their eggs while pretending to have a broken wing. Other birds will fly off from their nest and act as if their flight is impeded by injury. These displays are intended to divert the predator's focus away from the original target. The fifty-eighth slogan cautions us not to be frivolous (having no purpose or value) with our attention or energy. This instruction is not meant to keep us from having fun (which is worthwhile) but to be aware of how we try to distract ourselves from reality. We may enjoy our comfort so much, that we'll try hard not to attend to any insights that might unravel it. Yet when we work to push away clarity, we waste energy and compound our pain. To be awake requires that we embrace the truth with gentleness, rather than distract ourselves from it.

Do a little census of what you think about and how you spend your time. How do you distinguish between what is frivolous and what is worthwhile? ~ Judy Lief

For more information on the fifty-eighth slogan, go here. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Don't be jealous.

Adelie penguins - photo by George Pellissier

          Adelie penguins breed and raise their young in Antarctica. To protect their eggs from the run-off when ice melts, their elevated nests are built from stones. Males with the best-looking nests are more likely to attract a mate, but unfortunately, they share space with a half million other Adelies. Good stones are highly prized and sought after, and because the nests are so close, the rocks in one penguin's nest are sometimes stolen by another. It may seem odd to compare thievery with envy, but isn't that what it is about - an attempt to steal someone's joy about their good fortune by our negative attitude or corrosive words? "Don't be jealous" is an encouragement to notice that hollow, grasping feeling when it arises within us, not to shame ourselves, but to wake us up. We can remember how good it feels to have someone genuinely share our happiness, the gift of doubling our joy. Where jealousy is accompanied by strong resentment, we can try a twist on loving-kindness (metta or maitri) meditation. We send out kind wishes for each person (beginning with those we feel benevolent toward and moving on to difficult people): "May your joy never decrease; may your good fortune continue." 

The practice of developing happiness for others confronts the patterns that bind us to these painful states and helps us loosen their grip. It opens the door to realizing that the happiness of others doesn't take anything away from us but can instead be our own happiness. ~ Sharon Salzberg

For more information on the fifty-seventh slogan, go here.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Don't wallow in self-pity.

Pill bugs photo by Edward S. Ross

          The pill bug, fondly known as the roly poly by children, is the only crustacean that can spend its entire life on land. These bugs live in damp, dark places and come out at night to feed on decaying plant matter (thus playing an important role in the decomposition process). Yet the characteristic most people associate with pill bugs is their ability to completely roll themselves into a ball when disturbed. The type of self-pity described in the fifty-sixth slogan has the same effect on us. We become completely self-absorbed, curling around our pain and misfortune as if protecting it. It becomes our only focus; we willingly give away our power of choice and remain stuck in our suffering. Our constriction keeps us from realizing we are not unique; no matter how 'good' people are, bad things will happen to everyone. This is simply part of being a physical being in an impermanent world. Rather than self-pity, we can choose compassion for ourselves and others which opens our heart and gives us a wider perspective. Such a response will help us unfurl from our tightness and understand that we are not alone. 

Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity. ~ Pema Chodron

For more information on the fifty-sixth slogan, go here.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Liberate yourself by examining and analyzing.

Photo by Chris McLennan

          New Zealand photographer Chris McLennan sought a way to get close-ups of lions in their natural habitat. His friend Carl Hansen provided him with a tool to do so – a remote-controlled buggy with a Nikon camera inside. The buggy worked well, and it turned out that these big cats were just as curious as their domesticated cousins. The lions enthusiastically investigated the strange, rolling critter, allowing McLennan to get some great shots. They eventually ended up using it for a chew toy, but thankfully the camera survived intact. Humans, like cats, have an internal mix of caution and curiosity, but it is our curious nature that helps us learn. The fifty-fifth slogan asks us to use this side of ourselves to investigate the situations that tie us up in emotional knots. Is it our anger, fear of reality, attachment, jealousy or pride that causes most of our mental afflictions? Looking more closely, we may find at the bottom of our distress is simply things aren’t as we wish them to be. Our mind keeps us in a continuous loop reacting to the problem rather than looking for rational ways to deal with it. Being teachable, the mind can learn that this repetitive pattern isn’t helpful. Reality won’t be affected, but it will free the mind to make space for considering other options.

Freedom derives from the resolve to truly recognize an affliction as the real enemy, rather than believing the cause of unhappiness is an outside agent. ~ B. Alan Wallace

For more information on the fifty-fifth slogan, go here.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Train wholeheartedly.

Salmon run photo by Daniel J. Cox

          In autumn, mature salmon leave the ocean and return to the spawning beds from which they hatched. Most of them stop eating once they enter freshwater and focus solely on reaching their goal. Once there, the female salmon will dig a hole in the gravel with her tail and lay a few thousand eggs. The eggs are then fertilized by the male. All Pacific salmon and most Atlantic salmon will die after spawning, and the life cycle will start all over again. Like the determination that drives the migration of the salmon, slogan fifty-four instructs us to be just as wholehearted in our spiritual practice. Training is not meant to be a passing interest maintained only as long as long as our passion lasts. Instead it requires sincerity, enthusiasm and commitment. We are clear-sighted about our intentions and our challenges, relying on courage and an open heart to keep us swimming upstream. 

Dharma doesn’t promise wealth, a great job, perfect health, or respect. The goal of Dharma is to fulfill your innate capacity for happiness. ~ B. Alan Wallace

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

Don't vacillate.

Photo by Philip Lax

          In nearly every magazine for birders, there are ads for squirrel-proof feeders and squirrel deterrents such as baffles. Google “how to keep squirrels off feeders,” and thousands of homemade solutions will appear. Some folks suggest putting cayenne pepper in with the seeds or substituting safflower for sunflower seeds. Others grease their poles, install a piece of aluminum duct on the pole or use a slick pvc pipe as a pole to keep squirrels from climbing up. One of the latest solutions is to wrap a dangling Slinky toy around the pole. Some of the more desperate birders have even built a wire cage around their feeders. Most people who have enjoyed feeding the birds for a long time simply give up, knowing that squirrels are both persistent and smart. They will keep trying until they figure a way around any solution folks come up with. The slogan “Don’t vacillate” encourages us to be just as one-pointed in our spiritual focus as squirrels are at getting to the seeds in feeders. Small periods of practice on a daily basis will provide more benefits than a demanding practice done only occasionally. We may have to get crafty like the squirrel and find innovative ways to make time for practice, but the main point is to keep at it.

Cramming all our practice into intensive periods and then falling back into worldly life will bear far less fruit than doing small amounts of practice consistently over the long haul. ~ Traleg Kyabgon

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

Monday, January 9, 2017

Don't misinterpret.

Scarlet kingsnake photo by Glenn Bartolotti

The scarlet kingsnake, a nonvenomous native of the southeastern and eastern U.S., has a color pattern that mimics the much-feared coral snake. To tell the harmless snake from its poisonous look-alike, a helpful rhyme was created: “Red on black, scratch its back; red on yellow, kill a fellow.” The slogan “Don’t misinterpret” is a warning not to mistake the qualities that support our practice – such as patience, compassion and kindness – for their self-serving impersonators. When our mind is clouded by desires and fears, we may create distorted versions of these spiritual principles to fit them around our personal preferences. Rather than using challenges to train, we twist the teachings we’ve learned in an effort to become comfortable or remain complacent. Yet the dharma encourages us to be in touch with reality instead of purposefully ignoring it. We can pay attention to certain ‘markings’ of the mind (frustration, self-importance or impatience) to discover our misinterpretation. Then we can drop our agenda, open our heart and train with what life offers us.

When your spiritual practice is making you unhappy, when you feel grim or miserable about it, or on the other hand, when you are feeling happy about your practice and therefore quite arrogant and disapproving of others who are not as peaceful and holy as you imagine you are – when this is your situation, it is a sure sign that you are misinterpreting. ~ Norman Fischer

For more information about the fifty-second slogan, go here.

Monday, January 2, 2017

This time, practice the main points.

Baby meerkat photo from National Geographic Kids

          Wildlife researchers are beginning to study how some animals purposefully instruct their young. There has been much debate over what constitutes teaching, especially a criteria that could be observed by humans. In 1992, biologists Tim Caro and Marc Hauser successfully proposed three behaviors to identify such instruction:
  1. The usual behavior of the teacher is modified when an inexperienced pupil is present.
  2. There is a personal cost to the teacher.
  3. The student learns skills more rapidly than it would have on its own.
Helping their young develop survival skills will ultimately advance their species, therefore these animal instructors waste no time when it comes to teaching. What advances our spiritual development? Slogan fifty-one identifies three main points: selfless action, application of the teachings and a mind committed to awakening and compassion. Like the animal teachers, we have no time to lose.

Practicing what is important means getting your priorities straight in terms of your spiritual practice. ~ B. Alan Wallace

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