Lojong 15) Whatever you encounter, immediately apply it to meditation.

Meet everything with awareness.

3. Using Adversity (11-15)

The meaning of this saying is clear as soon as we realize it is in the section called Using Adversity.  The meaning of this saying is actually a common theme in the Lojong slogans.  A common pitfall is to take an adverse event as a only a setback.  It may be a setback, but it is also an opportunity for increased awareness. Often these (so called) adverse events present the best opportunities to develop awareness. 

All that occurs is simply what happened, however, we have a tendency to label things as either an adverse event or an advantageous event; or simply labeled either good or bad.  Upon only casual inspection we can see that whatever occurs is actually neither good nor bad, but it just is what happened.  

Lojong 11 suggests that "adversity" may be a particularly good opportunity to develop awareness, but even those things we label as fortunate or advantageous are also great opportunities for development.  And if we take this Lojong to heart we will realize that everything is an opportunity to develop awareness.  

Mindfulness is "to be present in this moment".  Proper application of meditation to each moment is not contrary to being fully present, but is simply another way to describe being present.

How does one reach a place of equanimity, in which events are neither good nor bad?  It is through the process of applying this Lojong:  Whatever you encounter, immediately apply it to meditation.


Lojong 17) All dharma has a single goal. (All lessons are designed to subdue ego clinging)

5. Yardsticks (17 - 20)


There are several related slogans, which have a lesson similar to Lojong 17.  These are:  12) Drive all blames into one (Suffering has no other cause than ego clinging), and to a lesser extent: 37) Do everything with one intention (Transform everything, even obligations into spiritual practice with “bodhichitta” intention), and 38) One method will correct all wrong (Awareness / mindfulness).


The following is based on the Practical Dharma, which is similar to Stephen Bachelor’s, Buddhism Without Beliefs.  If you already know you find this philosophy unappealing, please do not stress yourself by reading further.  If you are open to consider Philosophical Buddhism, your discussion is invited.


The key component of this slogan is to subdue “ego clinging”; there is no real profit in attempting to subdue ego.  [One might reasonably attempt to gain awareness of ego.]  The benefit is to subdue clinging in all forms.  Clinging is manifested through and by the ego.  It is only the ego that clings to things.  If “I” become aware of the nature of what we call the ego or self, it will become clear there is no permanent object that is “I”.  The thing perceived as the ego is merely this momentary sensation, which often deceptively feels like an enduring and substantial thing.  Then to add to our misunderstanding of what will bring peace, we often see things we want, thinking these will bring happiness.  These things can take many forms; such as the typical possessions that we can usually see are not really sources of happiness.  But the things we cling to can also take the form of ideas or beliefs, such as an enduring and everlasting soul or only a little more sophisticated, the belief that part of “me” can exist again through reincarnation. 


It is often assumed that after many cycles of lives, if “I” have reached sufficient enlightenment, then “I” will be in perfect peace and able to leave the cycle of rebirth to enter a nirvana of emptiness at the end of this life.  If ego clinging can be subdued in this life, it will bring peace to the practitioner.   However, whether “you” understand “all is empty” or not; you will receive the great gift of nirvana at the end of this life.  In addition, your life here will be much more peaceful and enlightened, if you are able to subdue ego clinging in each moment.  


This is why the single goal of the dharma is to subdue ego clinging.



Lojong 14) Emptiness comes in meditation on the four Kayas

a.  all is empty

b.  first arising of compassion from emptiness

c. compassion without conditions

d. simply being with distinctions, categories, diversions

3. Using Adversity (11 - 15)

It may seem to those unfamiliar with Buddhist Philosophy that it is pessimistic and negative.  Of course, this is only a misunderstanding.

First it naturally arises that "all is empty".  There are no exceptions to this.  "I am" starts out with wrong understanding.  Admittedly, "What seems to be me" appears to have substance and existence outside of this moment.  

Meditation on this eventually leads to the truth that all is empty and if contemplated a bit longer there is an arising of compassion in this.  Compassion for: what I experience as myself and for all sentient beings who struggle with the false perception of self (and other forms of ego clinging). 

With a little more time with the understanding that all is empty and the arising of compassion in this place, it becomes clear compassion has no conditions.  With mediation of emptiness we move beyond the simple minded "I will be compassionate to those who are compassionate to me." - which is clearly wrong thinking.  We move to compassion without conditions.  In this moment, "I" have compassion for every sentient being, no matter what his or her condition (either good or bad).  It is the same for those that deserve it (no matter what “it” is) and those who appear not to.  It is not my place to intentionally inflict suffering upon others in a misguided attempt to be an agent of Karma.  Karma operates by mechanisms over which I have no direct control.  (On another topic all together, I am not obliged to enable other's misconduct either.)  

And then with continued meditation on emptiness "I" come to simply being, again.  

I am simply in this moment with compassion


Meeting Obligations with Right Effort

Today is January 1, a time I review my intentions for the next year (New Year's Resolutions).  A resolution I thought about recently was, "How can I increase my integrity by meeting my commitments and obligations?"

The solution is a paradox.  For most people reading this, it is impossible to improve in this task by increasing effort in commitment to obligations.  This is because increasing such effort only increases the number of commitments and obligations with no possible end. 

When someone “enables” another person, it is because one person has taken on an obligation that belongs to the other person and therefore he or she is over-doing while the other person is under-doing.  In addition, the other person is deprived of the opportunity to accept responsibility, leaving them increasingly dependent.  It is called co-dependency, when one person is unwilling to let the other person accept his or her responsibility due to an emotional over-involvement.  (As in the case when one would feel guilty if he or she required the other to suffer the consequences of his or her choice.)  One is co-dependent to the extent that he or she sees the the other person's under-do as an opportunity to over-do, to avoid feeling guilty about the other's plight (result of Karma), which of course is totally due to the other person’s conduct (such as a habit of under-doing or doing wrong actions).  No amount of over-doing or enabling (by someone else) will resolve this issue and inevitably over-doing/enabling (by someone else) only contributes to more under-doing or wrong action on the part of the other.

Even in the case were there is no co-dependency operating, this same dynamic (if I over-do, someone else is likely to be in the position of under-doing) is at work. This could be the situation when one fails to delegate appropriately or when one simply volunteers for more than can be handled.

It was suggested earlier that for most of us reading here, it is not possible to increase commitment to obligations as a solution.  It is assumed that if you are reading this you are open to insight and strive for a life of integrity. Therefore you are probably already exerting right effort, but may still be having difficulty.  If this is the case, it is suggested that the problem may be related to not setting boundaries on the obligations accepted.

Engaging in more dilegent effort to meet obligations is (perhaps) what we have been trying without success. Increasing the commitment to work harder at obligations usually results only in accumulating more obligations that cannot be fully accomplished. However, there is at least a partial solution.

The key to meeting obligations is appropriate boundaries.  If one only accepts those obligations that one actually owns, it is more likely "right effort" will accomplish these.  When one accepts obligations that actually belong to others, there is no end to the cycle of accepting more and more obligation, because the others may begin or continue to expect this. With so many things that need to be done in the world, there is an endless supply of obligations that can never be fully met.

Summary:  The key to meeting commitments is to only accept those that are actually yours, by maintaining appropriate boundaries.  Accept only commitments and obligations that are appropriate, by saying “No” when it is needed.  Then you can extend right effort to accomplish these appropriate obligations. Avoid taking on another’s obligations because this diminishes the other by placing him or her in the position of not doing his or her fair share. 

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Lojong 16) Practice the five strengths

4. Life and Death

This lojong is stated as:

16) Practice the five strenghts

a. Be egoless (through)

b. Being mindful and aware

c. With virture (by cultivating Bodhicitta)

d. Abandoning clinging

e. Through prayer for others.

Sayings like this one are not my favorite kind.  This is because I don't like such obvious prescriptions.  The Practical Dharma philosohphy does not have rules.  It only requires action that is consistent with a coherent philosophy based on mindful and value driven action.  So it may be OK to eat meat as long as I am properly respectful of the sacrifice of those sentient beings who made this possible for me (such as the animals, farmers, truck drivers, etc.) So if I am fortunate enough to eat meat, I would hope to be mindful and aware during this time by saying a "prayer" to myself recognizing the sacrifice of the many others who make my life possible.  I would not say the prayer out loud or demand others engage in it.  I don't demand that I have the meat, but I recognize it is a gift from others when I am so fortunate to consume it.

This seems consistent with b) being mindful and aware, d) abandoning clinging, and e. reminding myself with prayer.  I prefer not to strive for egolessness or demand virture - what about "26) Give up hoping for results".

I like Lojong #26 a lot (and the others that wake me up without telling me what to do).  I suppose that is why I don't like the prescriptive sayings as much.  These seem to point in the direction of hoping for results by doing the precribed action.