"Like the diamond, the sun, the medicinal tree, [Lojong] is the principle, ever precious discipline.”
Or so writes Shamar Rinpoche, author of The Path to Awakening (Delphinium, 176 pages, $14.95). Lojong, also known as “mind training,” is a Tibetan Buddhist practice aimed at achieving the ultimate state of enlightenment. The book is intended as a condensed, simplified version of Chekawa Yeshé Dorjé’s Training the Mind in Seven Points, written shortly after the turn of the first millennium.
Rinpoche’s book, which he reads from tonight at Powell's, is as extensive as it is complex: layered like an endless onion and difficult like a lotus headstand yoga pose. Lojong is said to be a suitable, non-sectarian practice for humans, semi-humans, animals and the divine. The Path attempts to simplify and condense the practice, but it’s still not quite Lojong for Dummies.
We won't attempt to to review a 1,000-year-old way of life. But here's our even more simplified version of it.
1. The day begins at 5 am and ends at 10 pm. Correct meditation posture includes sitting cross-legged on the floor with your spine tall and your face and hands relaxed in a natural state. Throughout the day, be mindful of what you’re eating and make sure your stomach is always a quarter empty.
2. There are three main poisons in the world: desire, aversion and ignorance. These cause a multitude of negative emotions. But there is one remedy for all, known as tonglen.
3. There were many yogis who sang on their journey to enlightenment. When you’re happy, sing: “Oh, I am happy. Very good, it means I can give. May all my happiness go to all sentient beings and let them enjoy!”
And when you’re sad, sing: “Oh, I am suffering. Very good, it means I can take. May I absorb the suffering of all sentient beings, and relieve them completely!”
(The root text version of this, in Sanskrit, may or may not rhyme).
4. This point involves something that is like a yoga posture, but for dying. If you are about to die, position yourself with your head facing north and lie on your right side. Slide your right palm under your cheek and extend your legs. Then, outstretch your left arm atop your left hip. (Google “sleeping Buddha.”)
5. The dharma teaching has one conclusive purpose: to eliminate the ego. Without the self-clinging ego, you will find you have less stress, feel more comfortable, peaceful and at ease with yourself and others. (It’s like rolling on X.)
6. One must abide by a set of rules that will eliminate poor habits and behaviors. There are many rules to abide, including but not limited to:
7. The final point, which comes on page 149 of Rinpoche's book, contains 22 additional suggestions to enhance and support your mind-training practice. These include but are not limited to:
GO: Shamar Rinpoche visits Powell’s Books on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 878-7323, on Monday, March 17. 7:30 pm. Free.