Lojong Practice Journal: Don’t Vacillate
The 59 slogans through a social justice lens
In the case of this slogan, we are being instructed to stay present with whatever is going on, to see every moment as an opportunity for practice. When we are tired, it can be tempting to check out, veg in front of a TV or distract our mind with a video game or a gossip-filled magazine. When we are upset, we might be unwilling to look at our minds, watch what is going on and observe what we are feeling throughout our body. We repress the feeling instead, convinced that if we just ignore it, it will go away. We may guilt trip ourselves, fretting about whether or not we are ‘good enough’ or wondering what’s wrong with us.
It’s not that we won’t veg out or get upset or feel guilty — those are all human things, and practice is not about rejecting these qualities. It’s about cultivating steadfastness with whatever is going on, and a willingness to be present for that. In fact, if the ‘don’t’ aspect of this slogan is bothersome, you could think of it instead as ‘Be steadfast’.
Feeling angry? Be steadfast.
Feeling malaise? Be steadfast.
Feeling anxious? Be steadfast.
It’s important to remember that this is not an all or nothing thing. We have years of training in not being steadfast. We have spent years vacillating between self-loathing and confidence, arrogance and humility, often rejecting one and trying to hold on to the other.
It takes time to build up steadfastness with ourselves, no matter what is going on. This is one of the essential purposes of meditation and news that can be a bit jarring for some. For anyone who has been meditating with the aim of thinking less or not thinking at all, the good news is, the reason you’ve found that so difficult is because it’s impossible. We don’t have to beat ourselves up for thinking — thoughts are going to come and go as they please.
We don’t meditate so we won’t think anymore. We also don’t meditate because it’s relaxing. Relaxation and calm are side-effects of meditation, not the point.
We meditate as a way of formally training in being present with ourselves no matter what is going on. It’s not a quick fix, but meditation is the best tool we have for working with this slogan. By training in being present through formal sitting, we will begin to develop the ability to be present when we are not sitting. It’s a process and one that requires regular cultivation and a life-long commitment if we want to truly free ourselves from the swings and roundabouts of our emotional landscape.
Originally published on Medium.
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