"True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings." -- Pema Chödrön
I've had my nose buried in books a lot this past week, diving once again into a stack of works on the Lojong Trainings.
Although the 59 slogans of this Tibetan Buddhist system of training the Heart and Mind were passed on as secret teachings in Tibet by the ninth century emigre Indian teacher, Atisha, they were codified and opened to a wider audience by Tibetan teacher Geshe Chekawa in the 12th century.
Now, in the 21st century, that audience has become worldwide. Here, in the melting pot of American Buddhism, there are numerous translations and commentaries on these Teachings in English -- and not only by teachers in the Tibetan tradition of Pema Chödrön and her teacher Chögyam Trungpa. In fact, these days my favorite book on Lojong is that of Zen teacher, Sensei Norman Fisher. His book, Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong, rocks!
In print, in digital media, and on the web, viewing the vast array of material on Lojong available today is like peering at the rainbow facets of a diamond while slowly spinning it around in the sunlight. It's dazzling.
How cool is that?
The Theory and the Practice
Of course, studying is one thing. Unlearning the habits of a lifetime is another. Since we were in the womb (if not before that,) we've each been immersed in a pool of energies that have conditioned us in ways that disconnect us from our True Nature. Rather than face the world with an open heart and clear mind, we were taught to distrust ourselves, others, even life itself. In light of this deep-set conditioning, the effort to recover our natural compassion and wisdom takes commitment, energy, and patience.
It takes Practice.