Lojong, or mind training, is a set of teachings and practices from Tibetan Buddhism. This project offers a reorganized version of Lojong centered on a teaching known as The Three Difficulties.
Lojong teachings and practice are presented in all three lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. Its origin in Tibet is typically attributed to Atisha, an eleventh century Bengali master who founded the Kadampa tradition and also had a profound effect on all the Tibetan Buddhist lineages.
In the twelfth century, a teacher named Geshe Chekawa Yeshe Dorje authored the first commentary on the Lojong teachings and also introduced the Seven Points of Mind Training as a framework for the teachings.
Eventually Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye, an eighteenth-century master, authored a commentary that influenced Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who wrote the first text on Lojong that I ever encountered, Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness.
This is of course a very brief and summary history. For a more detailed history, as well as a listing of many contemporary sources, please visit the Shambhala website.
I have been studying and practicing Lojong since about 2006. In addition to reading the Lojong books by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Pema Chödrön (see below), I took a one-semester class at Naropa University on the subject.
In the last few years I have discovered a renewed interest in Lojong by introducing my partner to the teachings and practices. We share an ongoing, regular practice of meditation, working with the slogans, reading commentary and trying to bring these teachings to life in our day-to-day experiences.
Over the last two years of studying and practicing, I discovered one slogan that constantly seemed to “rise to the top” as the central point of these teachings: Train in the Three Difficulties. This deceptively simple slogan first invites us to notice our conditioning and habitual patterns (the first difficulty, seeing neurosis as neurosis) with gentleness and acceptance. Next we are pointed toward the second difficulty, trying something different. Finally, we are encouraged to lean into continually doing this in all situations through the third difficulty, making this a way of life.
As I practiced the Three Difficulties, I increasingly saw them as the heart of the Lojong teachings and practices. Eventually it occurred to me that I could reorganize the original Seven Points of Mind Training and fifty-nine Lojong slogans to express this idea. The result is offered as this project.
PLEASE NOTE: I do not claim to be an expert in Lojong, meditation, Buddhism or anything. I merely want to contribute to myself and others by offering this re-organized and hopefully fresh presentation of this timeless wisdom. If you have comments or feedback about this project, please leave a comment on a post on the blog.
My primary sources for learning and practicing Lojong are:
- Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
- Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chödrön
For many other sources from various lineages, visit the Shambhala website.