Saturday Dec 8th, am, 2006
Lojong: how the mind functions and how to clarify confusion when it arises
The Lojong teachings started in Tibet in the eleventh century of the Christian Era, and were based on the Mayahana principle of developing wisdom and compassion, particularly on the notion of taking the Bodhisattva vow to focus one’s existence on the liberation of all beings. They were a key oral teaching in the early Kadampa school, which is in many ways the forerunner of the modern Gelugpa school.
‘Lo’ in Lojong means intellect, the capacity of the mind to have a reflective clarity to see for oneself what is going on, and ‘jong’ means to develop, or to purify. So it’s really about developing and integrating an observing capacity and an executive capacity. That is to say, being able to see how one is moving or situating oneself in relation to internal and external experience, and then mobilising oneself in a way that will make a difference. To undertake such a profound challenge to one’s own self-centredness and selfishness, is to engage in a great deal of struggle.
The Bodhisattva notion is really very radical. It says that the most important thing is for all beings to awaken, and my role in relation to that is to become a servant of these beings. In other words the purpose of my existence is nothing other than servitude, I voluntarily go into servitude for the sake of others.
In our time this is an incredibly radical idea; we live in a time of extreme self-definition, of people wanting to make their lives on their own terms, people finding ordinary family duties and responsibilities to be very onerous, let alone the notion that you could tilt your energy out in duty, in servitude for the well being of all others. So this aspiration, which carries with it a line of intentionality, is used as a kind of marker that lets us see the ordinary flow of our intentionality. I will explain more precisely what I mean by this.