A London Oasis
Last weekend Lama Jampa returned to the beautiful, tranquil setting of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s centre at Barnes, London to give teachings on three short lojong (mind training) texts.
The Source and History of the Text
Lama Jampa began with a brief history of the text and its sources. These short teachings are included in the ‘Collection of One Hundred Lojong Teachings’ compiled by Zhonnu Gyalchok and Konchog Gyaltsen in the fifteenth century. The lojong teachings have their source in the Mahayana teachings of the Buddha and the classic works of Shantideva, Nagarjuna and Asanga that flowed from these.
The Purpose of the Teaching
Next Lama Jampa talked about the type and purpose of the teaching to be given, reminding us that the lojong are a very direct form of teaching, something we can apply in our lives right now. The disturbing emotions that we already have in abundance are all we need, as they are the material that is transformed by lojong. So all the resources that we need to practice lojong we have already: the difficulties of life that cause the disturbing emotions to arise as well as the disturbing emotions themselves. Transforming seeming difficulties onto the path, they become the path, the means for developing wisdom and compassion.
Lama Jampa explained that these three short works are not such a full presentation of lojong as given for example in the ‘Eight Verses of Mind Training’. Instead, these short texts focus on how to deal with difficulties as they arise: both how to tame them and how to turn them into the path.
The aim is to develop compassion, that makes no differentiation between the suffering of self and other, and wisdom, the seeing of reality as it is. This is the extraordinary point about the Mahayana: compassion cannot be founded on ignorance, an obscure mind, but relies on correct understanding, upon wisdom.
The three texts taught focussed on the generation of both aspects (conventional and ultimate) of bodhichitta, the connection between mind training practice and the manifestation of the three forms or kayas of the Buddha at enlightenment, and the necessity of practising contentment - settling of the mind and recalling its true nature in order to practise effectively and gain realisation.
Lama Jampa ended the morning session by explaining how mind training relates to other categories of dharma practise.
In the widest sense lojong simply means changing attitudes.
So whether we are practising sending and taking, conventional and ultimate bodhichitta -whichever practice we do - the aim is to change our attitudes, to overcome self clinging, to deal with negativity. So even if lojong is not our main practise, we need to develop the changed attitudes that they teach.
Lojong shows us how to do what needs to be done…. Without lojong as an ingredient in our way of relating to the dharma it’s very easy to go wrong.
Lojong is like a check-up for our heart: how are we doing in the dharma, what’s really going on in the messy place “the foul rag and bone shop of the heart”? The lojong has a scalpel to help us see what is going on there.
Transmission of the Text
Lama Jampa concluded saying that he had received the whole of the ‘Lojong Gyatsa’ from Karma Thinley Rinpoche in the 1980s and that he would be teaching two or three more of the short texts from this collection in London in the autumn of this year.
Initiation of Saravati
In the afternoon Lama Jampa bestowed the initiation of Saraswati, female embodiment of wisdom and in particular of poetry and music.
Lama Jampa’s next teaching will be on ‘The Notion of Emptiness in Buddhism’ in relation to his book ‘Patterns in Emptiness’. Following a book launch in Paris on Thursday 21 March, the weekend’s teaching will take place at Karma Euzer Ling in Normandy on 23-24 March. See the local website for full details