Lojong Practice Journal: Pay heed that the three never wane

The 59 slogans through a social justice lens

Lojong card sitting on a black stand in front of a bunch of Buddhist books on a white shelf. The card reads “Pay heed that the three never wane.”

“Pay heed that the three never wane” is yet another slogan with cryptic wording. It really gives us the sense that the Lojong slogans were notes a practitioner made for themself, more than a set of instructions for others to follow. This became apparent when I could not find a single commentary that agreed on what is meant by ‘the three.’ Each commentary I found had a different take, occasionally with overlap, but the order and specifics are not definitive. Are they devotion, enthusiasm, and bodhicitta? Or humility to the teacher, joy in practice, and commitment to the path? Or is it actually about not lapsing in our commitment to notice how passion, aggression, and ignorance arise? Or maintaining our commitment to taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha? Or being consistent in aligning our body, speech, and mind towards liberation?

Rather than causing confusion, all these interpretations show us that 1) The path is personal and 2) nothing we say, do or believe happens in isolation from anything else. The path is personal, and how we make our way on it and what we share about it will impact those around us.

There is a quote by Toni Cade Bambara that I’ve been carrying with me as a teaching for many years now, which came to mind as I reflected on this slogan:

“The role of the writer is to make the revolution irresistible.”

Bambara was a prolific writer, but her work was not always published. She shared her work with the community she’d built — of organizers, change makers, writers, poets, artists — and so her quotes are not always easy to cite accurately. Like Lojong slogans, the wording varies. The first time I heard this particular quote of Bambara’s, it was phrased as “The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible.” I’ve also seen it as “The role of creativity is to make the revolution irresistible.”

As with this slogan, Bambara’s quote has many interpretations. The instruction we can get in both, regardless of how we interpret them, is to use whatever we need to galvanize us on the path of liberation.

Currently, the three things that galvanize me the most are:

  • my belief in the inherent capacity of all beings to become a Buddha/awaken fully

  • my intention to bring joy into the world as a way to alleviate suffering

  • my commitment to liberation for all beings

In anything I do, I ask myself questions like: “Is this conducive to our liberation?” and “Is this an opportunity to generate joy?” I remind myself that every person I encounter is someone’s favourite person. In any given situation, I wonder, what will be of the greatest benefit for all of us?

In this way, I have a practice that sustains and nourishes me as a writer, as an artist, as an organizer, as a Buddhist chaplain — whatever hat I’m wearing.

Reverend angel Kyodo williams talks about expanding the field of our liberation by practicing with such enthusiastic devotion that it not only changes us, but also piques the curiosity of others. This is what is happening when we encounter a teacher whose teachings resonate for us — we hear a talk or read a book and think, “This person seems to have something figured out about what it means to be human.”

At first, we may emulate the teacher’s practice, until we slowly begin to see how personal the path is and find our own ways of showing up for our lives and in service to others. We begin to express the dharma in our own way, as writers, artists, musicians, dancers and so on. We are nourished by the practices that fit our lives best, and in turn, we contribute to the lineage given to us by others on the path of liberation. And thus, whatever the “three” is for us, personally, ensures that not only does our commitment to liberation never wane, but that how we express that commitment will compel others to join us.

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This blog was originally published on Medium.

This is part of a series of posts I am doing to support my dharma practice.

Visit www.KaitlynSCHatch.com to find out more about what I do.

Thank you!