Lojong Practice Journal: Don’t Be Frivolous
The 59 slogans through a social justice lens
When I first sat down to write a reflection on the slogan ‘Don’t be frivolous’, I was aware of how my mind was pulled to a video game I’d been playing. I wanted to write, but I was also wondering if maybe I had earned a break to tackle the next level.
It’s not necessarily frivolous to go play a video game — but what does it mean to do that instead of sitting down to work on writing a Lojong commentary? Granted, the game in question is kind of about examining what is frivolous and what truly matters. The character you play can rewind time, seeing all possible outcomes of a conversation or action before making a decision. I’ve learned, while playing it, that seeing every outcome doesn’t actually make a decision easier. But even if we don’t know the outcome, it’s important to reflect on why we make the choices we do. What are we avoiding or what are we opening ourselves up to?
Frivolity is our tendency to skim along the surface, to do things on a whim and never go deeper. It’s the ways in which we don’t commit to our practice, using the dharma for spiritual bypassing, instead of doing real work to meet our edges and go for the stretch.
Frivolity shouldn’t be confused with self-care. Choosing to take time to do something we enjoy, to play and have fun, isn’t frivolous. We wouldn’t want, in following this slogan, to go the opposite direction and become strict and harsh, choosing to push ourselves to the point of burn-out or trauma. Life is meant to be enjoyed and we can be child-like in our approach — full of wonder and delight — whilst also remaining committed to our practice.
It’s far more important to consider this slogan in regards to where and how we are meeting our edges. I know that writing these commentaries is a challenge, but I also know I tend to push myself too hard, to my own detriment. Sometimes, I really do need to take a break and go play a game or read a book. But sometimes, I know I’m coming up with excuses not to challenge myself to dig into a teaching and apply it to how I live my life. I know it’s not enough to read a slogan and memorize it so later I can trot it out as a credential. I have to engage with it, take it out into my life, and look at how it helps me to expand my heart and mind.
It’s good to have reminders that we are always in process and can always go deeper. It’s good to not think we’ve ‘arrived’ at an understanding, and to carry with us the questions: Is this frivolous? Will it have an outcome that will be of benefit? Or is it contributing to numbing out? By asking myself these kinds of questions, I can see clearly when I’m skimming along versus when I’m exercising self-care, or I’m hankering to play a video game as a way to distract myself from how hard it is to write a reflection on a Lojong slogan.
This blog was originally published on Medium.
This is part of a series of posts I am doing to support my practice.
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