I am using Weeping Buddha and the lojong sayings and commentary from Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness by Chogyam Trungpa as a study, together.
I’ve been practicing tonglen for almost three decades, and it is my main practice.
This is the fifteenth weekly installment. To start at the beginning go here.
Continuing from last week with slogan #12, “Drive all blames into one.”
I use tonglen’s breath-work when I am stuck, for my own well-being.
It is especially helpful when the actions of another person are unfathomable.
I bring whatever anger, fear, and hopelessness of the “other” to my zafu.
I breathe in all the foolishness, stubbornness, and abandonment that the world seems intent on, bring it right into my heart like a warrior. I open to whatever the Universe is offering to teach me, and because I have committed to the path of the Boddhisattva,
I hold the negative tension gently wrapped in maitri bhavana*, and wait.
Forever if that is the way.
*maitri bhavana: Maitri translates as loving-kindness;
Pema Chodron also speaks of it as friendliness.
Bhavana is Sanskrit for meditation.
Together they can refer to various forms of
loving-kindness contemplation and concentration.
In this case it refers to the practice of tonglen.
The Sanskrit word karma translates as “deed” or “action.”
(Nominative kárma कर्म from the root √kṛ कृ, means “to do,
make, perform, accomplish, cause, effect, prepare, undertake.”)
From Sanskrit karman ‘action, effect, fate.’
Let’s forget the added judgements of good/bad karma and everything that everyone lays on this word (“instant karma’s
gonna get you**”) and just look at the word itself.
It is impossible to exist without taking some action, even if the action is to do nothing. Most people would say that lying is taking negative action, but what about not telling the truth as a passive form of lying, especially when you are withholding an important truth? Not telling the an important truth is something that is thought about, then avoided, and so it is an action or deed. Most people think that voting or giving money to a political cause is action, but ignoring is something that you put energy into also. Ignoring issues is voting by abstinence. No action = action too. And withdrawing the projection that the other is to blame is an action. The simplest question might be, What is my part in this circumstance?
Noun: An act of giving up something valued for the
sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy:
we must all be prepared to make sacrifices.
Verb [with obj.]: To give up (something important
or valued) for the sake of other considerations.
Selfless good deeds or a short term loss in return for a greater gain;
it has also come to mean ‘doing without something’ or ‘giving something up.’
ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French, from Latin sacrificium;
related to sacrificus ‘sacrificial,’ from sacer ‘holy.’
From Lojong Practice 14, I quoted Trungpa: “You are willing to let somebody sacrifice his life for you.” I’ve thought about the causes we take on in our household, and the actions we take — or don’t take — all our choices. We choose to sacrifice so that another — the child in sweatshop labor, wild and domestic critters, our grandchildren — have a better life. We take action on those issues that we believe in, and this often means we sacrifice our momentary pleasure or ease for that cause. The reverse is true also, that those who have information about right action, especially those that can afford it and even believe it is so, and do not take right action are also creating karma. No action = action.
A personal example, and I warn you, a bit of a sermon: We buy organic at all costs. We want the environment of the earth to be healthy for our grandchildren and wildlife, believe that massive amounts of pesticides are hindering life on this planet, and believe that it also keeps us healthier. We take action. A lot of other people have the same information we have and yet they do not take action, though they can afford to do this. Their not-taking-action is really about taking another kind of action, or taking the easy way out. Let’s look at daily coffee at Starbucks: for the convenience, you get a helping of non-sustainable farming, poor labor practices, high fructose corn syrup, GMO’s high levels of pesticides and a host of chemicals***. In just this one instance, if everyone were to live by their a sustainable healthy beliefs, and chose another smaller barista who served organic or even non-chemical laden ingredients, Starbucks would lose a LOT of business, and eventually change their practices. Other companies might also notice and change their practices. Soon there would be no Monsanto/GMO fight, because they would have fewer businesses to whom they could sell their pesticide laden products. I know some people cannot afford organics, and certainly we have to give up items that we cannot afford to buy organically, but if those that can afford to did so each and every time, thereby matching their professed beliefs with appropriate action, hundreds of millions of political dollars might be going to feed children, create jobs — gads who knows — instead of fighting Monsanto. We do have the power, and it is a quiet power of taking responsibility for our own small part of all the issues.
Trungpa’s final words from the chapter (Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness) on “Drive all blames into one(self),” was such a surprise! I swear they were not there last time I read this text: “Creating an enlightened society requires general cultivation of this nature.” Exactly what I was thinking! If only our current political environment took responsibility! And so: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” Jill Jackson and Sy Miller, 1955
In this weekly commentary on the lojong, I am not open to the feed becoming
a debate for people to nitpick Buddhism or my interpretations of Buddhist concepts.
(There are lots of places for debates.) I am more interested in hearing about
YOUR life or how the lojong affected you or your practice awakening in some manner.
For more info about why, go here.
©D. Katie Powell. My images/blog posts may be reposted; please link back to zenkatwrites. Art (unless stated) is also by me; please link to dkatiepowellart.
Thanks to Wikipedia, Judith Tyberg, and The Shambhala Dictionary.
**From the song by John Lennon, Instant Karma, Apple Records, 1970.
***The article on the ingredients in a Starbucks latte is from Food Babe!