In reflecting on years of our practices, Sam and I noted a mysterious turning toward something, a sense of a commitment to a view. While not initially knowing what this view was, we realized our old way of living and seeing life was not how we wanted to live our lives. What was it we saw?
I did not know and yet kept moving toward something over the years.
Something, like a knowing that is deeper than the thinking mind -- a seeing deeper than the episodes of the day, a mystery about what this knowable “something else” is. What is it? I don’t know. Yet when I am still and quiet, there is something.
We recall as children a peace in nature away from relationships and events, a calm. Somehow knowing there is something else. What is it I have been recognizing in nature, in some people who had an inner peace? We would gravitate toward these places and people over the years, not knowing why.
And so we commit.
The teachers of this 2,600 years of practice and study have looked and seen the mind movements and developed guidance for us on how to develop in practicing training the mind, so that we can learn to live a life with more understanding and compassion.
The Lojong slogans are to help us recognize where we are in our aspiration to live a life of meaning in the midst of so much we may not yet know of this mysterious mind. The slogans help us learn to develop an intelligent interpretation of our experiences and see the way we use our thoughts and emotions in our lives. We begin to see that how we use experiences is always up to us -- whether we use them for betterment or for continuing old familiar habits. The Buddha offered us encouragement and wisdom teachings, and the teachers of Lojong slogans guide us with specific slogans, such as making a commitment to the mind training.
This making of a commitment is different than other commitments in our lives.
When the teachers guide us to commit, and recommit, it is not a commitment like we have made in the day-to-day usual world, of promises made and broken, then feel guilt.
This is a different relationship with commitment.
A deeper voice making a promise we hear, of a way knowing that may not always be apparent in our days of failures and distractions, afflictive emotions, entangled relationships. Somehow there is this knowing like we experience this evening sitting together, still, an experience of being with one another and a view of living.
As we sit with support of a guided meditation, supported by each others’ attention, we cultivate qualities of our natural mind, and we touch this experience of calm, of space. There is a knowing deeper than the thinking mind, a view beyond day-to-day events. Whatever is happening outside does not affect this mind.
Then with the Metta practice, we wish this wellbeing for not only for ourselves, but also for others. How amazing the experience of heartfelt wish for our happiness and for others, realizing the effect of our wishes result in experiencing a connecting, a oneness. A mystery. Of what is this experience of such wellness?
When we gain some space for a wider view, the mind trainings give us opportunity for a moment to stop and not blame ourselves or others. An opportunity to look at ourselves and commit not to continue rehashing old stories, for this moment, and this moment, and this moment. And so we seek out the teachings, we seek out teachers, we seek out other people to be with and soak up their peaceful stable minds.
To strengthen our resolve, a certain amount of commitment is an essential element, a commitment to resist the seductions of old tendencies. Time and time again to deliberately think about our commitment to our intentions and the mind trainings and reaffirm our determination to do something meaningful and purposeful with our lives.
With recommitting, we become more aware and attentive to our daily situation and notice how many opportunities we ignore while ensnared in personal dramas. When we commit to capitalize on situations as they arise we see most of them are capable of bearing fruit. And so we commit: Whatever happens in my daily life, I will use every opportunity to practice training the mind.
Our thanks to Marilyn Warlick for this article drawn from a Dharma talk given by herself and her husband Sam at the Naples Sangha in November. Sam, led by Fred, recently gave FCM's first Mind Seeking Way talk in Tampa.