Sunday, August 30, 2015

Intentionality Again: On Not Being Frivolous

Upon reading the next tenet, my first reaction was pretty much...

You see, this is something I've been struggling with lately as it is. 
Don't be frivolous.
Even the translation at made me wince a bit: "Don't be impulsive." Not to mention the way their brief explanation resonated:
"Acting on whatever pops into your mind prevents you from developing any stability or consistency."
Don't get me wrong. I'm not really that impulsive. I'm a grown up (for the most part), but the part of my brain that flitters about from topic to topic or activity to activity is still alive and strong. I struggle with spending too much time on social media (although I'm getting better), and I've got a small problem when it comes to buying books that I don't even have room for in my apartment. I can keep myself from acting on most things that pop into my mind, but not all. I am consciously and intentionally working towards living my life more intentionally and towards strengthening my willpower, but I know I have a long way to go... thus the sigh.

Frivolity is another thing altogether. I have toys in my office and watch cartoons regularly. I named my cats for comic book characters, after all. But these aren't necessarily bad things. Lief's piece was especially illuminating on this topic:
"It is tricky to work with frivolity. First, it is easy to confuse it with the kind of openness, light-heartedness and playful childlike mind that is cultivated by meditative practice. Frivolity can seem to be a virtue, but it isn't. Second, it is possible to overcorrect to counter frivolity with an overblown display of seriousness. But the mind/heart cultivated by mind training is neither stodgy nor frivolous. The idea is to avoid both these extremes."
Yes, that is right at the heart of my struggle lately. Her advice is almost always exactly what I need, and I think this time is another example of that:
"Do a little census of what you think about and how you spend your time. How do you distinguish between what [is] frivolous and what is worthwhile?"
Having good definitions is the first step towards feeling more intentional.

So that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Inform But Not Override: On Not Being Jealous

When I read this week's slogan...
Don't be jealous.
...I rolled my eyes and winced a little bit. Some of these tenets are things that I've had handled for years, or my whole life. This one felt like Chekawa Yeshe Dorje was speaking directly to me. I know better. I know that we only see the surface of other's lives and even with our closest friends we don't see the whole picture. I also know, and really believe, that "comparison is the thief of happiness," but I have a hard time acting on the knowledge. has an equally pertinent translation: "don't be hypersensitive." And their explanation confirms how much this applies to me:
"Neither stability or momentum will develop if you constantly react to minor irritations, slights, or inconveniences."
I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me, even just in the last week.

Judy Lief's piece on this teaching brought the two translation into peace with each other:
"This slogan is not only about jealousy, but also about overall irritability. If your meditation practice or mind training is making you even more irritable and touchy than before, something is off. You should be less susceptible to jealousy and irritability, not more so."
She goes on to talk about how jealousy is really another disguise for self-pity, and that we have to be honest with ourselves about our emotions and our state. It's not that we shouldn't notice the differences between ourselves and others, it's just that we shouldn't lend it so much weight or so much emotion. Or, if we cannot avoid the weight and emotion, we should just observe it and learn from it - like we can observe and learn from any emotion.

Finally, she gives her readers a very practical way to apply this teaching:
"Think of someone you know who you are jealous or envious of, and take a look at all the characteristics that spark that feelings. Now think of qualities or circumstance you have that might make someone else envious. There is no end to jealousy once it takes hold. Notice how it feels to be captured by jealousy and how it feels when you are able to drop it before it grows."
I think about my resume, and how - at the beginning of my career - I felt so jealous of the model resumes I saw. Now I look at my resume and it's just as good as those I saw when applying for my first job, if not better. In my career, I let my jealousy inform but not override me. I need to learn how to do that with the rest of my life.

So that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Disappointment and Boastfulness: On Not Wallowing in Self Pity

This next slogan is confusing me a bit, but mostly because there are two translations - one from the cards I've been using and also from Tricycle, and the other from

Both the card and Tricycle translate is as:
Don't wallow in self pity.
That seems fairly straight-forward to me, and Judy Lief's piece echoed my thoughts. She speaks about persevering when the fatigue of self-examination hits. Lief also accurately captured a thought process that flitted through my mind earlier this week:
"When your practices is not going well, or you feel it is too hard, you may begin to regret undertaking it in the first place. It is easy to start to feel sorry for yourself. The anti-lojong slogan, 'Ignorance is bliss,' begins to sound pretty appealing. You think, why not just live a 'normal life' and forget about all this? Why take on this extra burden of mind training and the cultivation of loving-kindness?"
Actually, my whole life has felt a bit "why take on this extra burden of..." lately, with professional writing projects and work challenges piling up. But the answer to my workload is the same as the answer to lojong: because I've found the right way and can't imagine any other approach to my profession or to my religious practice. And indeed, Lief's piece echos that exact sentiment:
"The problem is that once you begin to see things through the eyes of lojong, it is very difficult to turn that off. If you have an insight, it is almost impossible to erase it, or to make the insight an un-insight. What you see, you see. And insight is a good thing, so why feel sorry for yourself?" has, as I mentioned above, a very different translation and corresponding explanation.
Don't boast. 
"When you brag about how kind your [sic] are or how well you do mind training, you are bolstering your sense of self. Send your practice, along with its benefits, to others."
That made me think of a very different kind of pig:

It does seem to me, however, that there is one common thread that runs through both translations of this tenet, and that's this: don't get lost in your image of yourself as a practitioner of Lojong and mind training. It isn't supposed to look a certain way or feel a certain way; it is a process you're following to benefit yourself, yes, but also others. I had a meeting earlier this week that might normally have sent me into a stress spiral but that I handled with equanimity and ease, and it kept the other people in the meeting from spiraling as well. There's something in moments like that one that is worth continuing.

Lief's advice for applying this teaching seems to me to apply to either translation:
"We expect so much from the world and from other people, and when those expectations are not met, we feel angry and sorry for ourselves. Notice the kinds of expectations you have and the relationship between those expectations and the arising of disappointment and self-pity."
And, I might add, the relationship between those expectations and the arising of boastfulness.

So that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Introspection's the Name of the Game: On Liberating Yourself by Examining and Analyzing

Last week's slogan pushed at the boundaries I've put around my practice of Buddhism, pushed further than I had - and I had been thinking about the way I, in the past, drew distinctions between my practice of Buddhism and my everyday life.

This week's pushes even further:
Liberate yourself by examining and analyzing. 
Introspection's the name of the game again, it seems.'s translation supports my interpretation, too: "Find freedom by probing and testing." The same can be said of their brief explanatory passage:
"If you don't push the limits, you will stay as you are. Push on patterns, question assumptions, and don't take anything for granted."
Judy Lief's piece at Tricycle gave further support to the idea that this is about truly looking at myself with an eye for growth:
"The tendency to pretend everything is okay, while avoiding unpleasant realities, can be seen in external social relationships and internally as well. But to train your heart/mind you need to stop pretending. Lojong is not about putting on a show, or keeping up appearances. Instead you bring all aspects of your experience to the surface, even those that provoke you the most."
It's odd how often my professional life dovetails with my spiritual life, and this is another whopping example of that. I've been working, very recently, with a group that is learning about autoethnographies with the ultimate goal for each of us to write a chapter in a book that collects the autoethnographies of academic librarians. So this idea of questioning assumptions and looking deeply and unflinchingly at my plusses as well as my minuses is a bit of a theme right now.

Lief's advice is going to be difficult to follow, but important:
"Bring to mind something that gets a rise out of you. Notice the heightening of emotionality and the arising of a kind of frozen and solid self-regard. Try to stay with that experience and to examine it in depth, as a mental, bodily, and emotional sensation In doing so, remember that lojong is gentle, so don't begin with your most challenging and deep-rooted habit patterns, but with something more ordinary."
I'm going to have to spend a while with this, going to have to keep coming back to it again and again. So that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Every Fiber: On Training Wholeheartedly

Kohler's Pig, by Michael Sowa
I know it's been a couple of weeks, but taking last Sunday off from this blog was one of the kindest things I could do for myself. It was a weekend for being in a weird head space, and getting through and out took most of my energy.

It also gave me experiences that prepared me for this next tenet:
Train wholeheartedly.
"Wholehearted" is one of my favorite words, so it definitely made me smile to see it in the cards I use to guide me through this study. I knew, in an instant, what this teaching means. I still turned to my usual resources for help deepening my understanding. had the exact same translation (it's hard to imagine a different way of saying this), and their brief explanation held no surprises for me:
"Going through the motions isn't enough. You chose to practice. Pour your heart into it."
In fact, this website is where I got the idea for the picture up there. Michael Sowa is one of my favorite artists. He puts animals in situations that make them seem almost human, and that pig jumping into a pond with an expression of utter glee... it really does embody the idea of wholeheartedness, of doing things with every fiber of your being.

I still turned to Judy Lief for a little more depth, and that's exactly what I found:
"Sometimes people think the Buddhist practices are all about mind, nothing else. But the notion of whole-heartedness is that you really feel what you feel and that you feel it completely. You should bring your heart and your emotions into the practice so that you can feel more and more deeply the contrast between ego-imprisonment and freedom."
Bam. That difference between "ego-imprisonment and freedom" is exactly the kind of thing I've been experiencing this week. That is where I'm living, both in my head and my heart. Realizing that I'm floundering a bit but not actually stuck is part of what's happened. And it's a big part of why I'm feeling much more wholehearted than I have in years.

Lief's parting advice will be particularly helpful to me, moving forward:
"Pay attention to the boundary between wholehearted practice and a more vague and lukewarm approach. Notice your thinking process, your bodily sensations and emotional undercurrents. What happens at those moments in which you click in and are really practicing?"
So that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Keeping It Switched On: On Not Vacillating

I wrote the first post on this blog at the beginning of last year. I'd promised myself I was going to write more and be more serious about studying and becoming a Buddhist. The two paired well for me, and it's odd to think of how I'm going to spend that hour every sunday that has typically been spent on this blog. More to the point of this new tenet, I'm going to have to find another way to avoid vacillating in the practice of my Buddhism.
Don't vacillate.
I didn't even bother forming an opinion about what this might mean before turning to Their alternate translation, "Don't switch on and off," didn't help much. Their explanatory passage just made me feel guilty.
"Consistency is the key to effective practice. On again, off again practice never develops any momentum."
I worry that I'll vacillate without the weekly post to write about the next slogan. I know I did before I hit on this blog idea. Judy Lief's piece, however, calmed me again:
  "No matter how you enter into the practice of mind training, the idea is to become more steady and confident. Constantly changing your mind about what you are doing drains away your enthusiasm and leaves you depleted of energy. You sink into a kind of undertow of self-doubt. It is important to break this pattern and to develop more self-confidence and certainty in the dharma and in your own insight."
I know I've built up some momentum on this mind training, and I have ideas about how to keep it going, so it's nice to see Lief talk about it as something "to develop." Her advice for applying this tenet also helps:
"When your enthusiasm seems to be flickering, try to drop down a layer to a more steady and fundamental stream of inspiration. By placing whatever you experience within that stream, you can gradually gain greater certainty in the view and practice of lojong."
So that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Setting Priorities: On Not Misinterpretting

Just two words on the slogan card this time:
Don't misinterpret.
All I could think upon reading that was, "that's all well and good to say one shouldn't misinterpret, but how are we to know when we are interpreting correctly and when we are otherwise?" So of course I turned to my commentaries. The translation offered by is even more confounding: "Don't get things wrong." I'm not Buddha. I'm still subject to samsara and am still a work in progress. I am going to make mistakes. I am going to get things wrong. Their brief explanation helped a bit, by putting this tenet in context. However, it added other confusion:
"When an attitude, behavior, or relationship pulls you out of balance and presence, you are not bringing attention to what is arising. Use taking and sending to experience the imbalance itself."
So, when you make a mistake and get out of balance, use taking and sending to fully experience the mistake? What?

Then, as frequently happens, Judy Lief made things make sense.
"This slogan focuses on six qualities - patience, yearning, excitement, compassion, priorities, and joy - and how they can be misinterpreted. More generally, the point is to see how we can twist things so that our avoidance of the dharma is considered to be a virtue rather than a fault."
Am I being patient only with myself and with people I like, or am I practicing patience with those who harm me and those I love? Am I yearning for another nerdy t-shirt or book or other worldly possession, or am I yearning for the opportunity to practice loving-kindness? Am I looking for a way to practice the dharma, or am I using the words of the dharma to further entrench without changing? What are my priorities?

I know my priorities aren't in line with my ambitions, and I'd already been thinking about that. Spending less time doing things like surfing the net and binging on series on Netflix, more time reading and doing things intentionally. So I think this week's exercise will help me in general. Lief recommends:
"Start with the misinterpretation of priorities. List out your main activities for a week, and calculate how much time you spend on each category, such as work, sleep, TV, study, practice, socializing, etc. What does this tell you about your priorities? What would need to shift to free up a little time for dharma practice?"
So that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

In the Middle of Here and Now: On Practicing the Main Points


The next tenet gets at the heart of how I turned a corner in a troubled relationship and I'm trying to do the same with other problems:
This time, practice the main points.
I'll admit I needed a different translation, because my first thought about this was, "what time?" Turned to and found something that made more sense: "Practice what's important now." The brief explanation helped a lot as well:
"What's important right now is the level of attention you can bring to what you are experiencing. Nothing else really counts."
I turned to Judy Lief's great series on the Tricycle website next. I highly recommend you read that entire post. The whole thing resonated deeply for me, but two sentences in particular stood out:
"Loving-kindness is not just a warm fuzzy add-on, but it is the very core of the Buddhist path. Too much focus on self-improvement can make us even more self-centered, while what we really need to cultivate is greater love, compassion, and sympathy for our fellow suffering beings."
It brought to mind my favorite book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I'll leave it to you to read the synopsis of that fable-ish tale, but one moment of the book is particularly pertinent:
"Sullivan sighed, but he did not argue. 'I think I'll miss you, Jonathan,' was all he said.
'Sully, for shame!' Jonathan said in reproach, 'and don't be foolish! What are we trying to practice every day? If our friendship depends on things like space and time, then when we finally overcome space and time we've destroyed our own brotherhood. But overcome space and all we have is here, and overcome time and all we have left is now. And in the middle of here and now, don't you think we might see each other once or twice?'
Sullivan Seagull laughed in spite of himself. 'You crazy bird,' he said kindly."
According to that book (which I first read when I was a pre-teen and that has informed a lot of the adult I've become), love is the highest and hardest skill to practice. I know that book is a huge part of why I was primed and ready to think about "loving-kindness" as the core of my adopted religion.

Lief's advice for applying this slogan will be helpful since I struggle with loving-kindness:
"Loving-kindness begins simply, with connection. Notice in your interactions the ways in which you are continually connecting with and disconnecting from others. What draws you out of yourself? What causes you to pull back?"
So that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Just Keep Working: On Not Being Swayed by External Circumstances

This week's tenet is a nice follow up to last week:
Don't be swayed by external circumstances.
I knew right away what this meant: that good or bad, keep working on mind training. Or, more to the point, don't let the bad days get in the way. The different translation at gave me a different perspective that helped expand my understanding: "Don't be dependent on extraneous conditions." That idea of "extraneous," of the outside stuff is superfluous, struck a chord. And the explanation provided deepened my understanding further:
"Conditions don't affect taking and sending practice. If your experience is good, internally or externally, use the good experience in taking and sending. If things are difficult, do taking and sending with the difficulties."
In other words, it's not a matter of ignoring what's going on in your life and practice no matter what. It's about *using* what's going in on your life to enhance your practice.

That sentiment was echoed in the commentary Tricycle has published:
"It may seem that the slightest little glitch is all it takes to throw you off course. However, lojong practice is completely impartial: if your external situation is not so good, you can breathe that in; and if it is excellent, you can breathe that out. In that way, instead of being a victim of circumstances, blown here and there by whatever arises, you can cultivate mind training no matter what is going on."
And that's why it fits so nicely with the slogan I considered last week. That situation isn't going away anytime soon, but I can use the thing that is provoking so much resentment as fodder for my sending and receiving. Judy Lief's advice is particularly pertinent:
"Pay attention to what causes you to turn on and turn off your mind training practice. When does it arise more naturally and when does it completely disappear? What external circumstances are most apt to throw you off course, and how can you utilize those same circumstances to return you to the practice?"
Even though I've been at this for a while now, I should probably admit that sending and receiving has never felt a natural practice to me. I have to consciously and intentionally cultivate it. But I know a lot of why, and I can work with it. I'll just keep working, like that cat with the tennis ball, no matter what and with whatever arises.

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Reflecting on Reflections: On Meditating on Whatever Provokes Resentment

I read the commentaries as always this week, both the one on and the Tricycle piece. They both confirmed the meaning behind this gut-punch slogan, but I'm going to move away from my usual treatment of these tenets because this one is so very close to my heart.
Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment.
I don't remember where or even when I realized that my anger/resentment/etc. (you can substitute any negative emotion here) was always more about me than about the person who was provoking it, but I know it's been at least a decade. It is always a reflection of something about me.

The thing is, it's so much easier to be mad at someone else. It means we don't have to change anything about ourselves. There is a particular thing in my life right now that is bringing up a lot of resentment and I've been trying to parse the situation into its components. I've also been avoiding practicing sending and receiving with this situation, but I'm going to take this new tenet as a signal that it's time to get to it.

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Wholehearted: On Training Without Bias


The next slogan might be designed specifically for me:
Train without bias in all areas. It is crucial always to do this pervasively and wholeheartedly.
The translation is essentially the same: "Train on every object without preference. Training must be broad and deep." And the brief explanation held no surprises:
"Mind training must embrace every aspect of your life. Whatever you ignore or overlook will consume you."
That sounds a bit ominous, so I turned to the Tricycle Magazine piece about this slogan that was written by Judy Lief. This part hit home for me:
"Being without bias means that there are no excuses. You do not declare any areas off limits, but you relate to your life as a single whole, a back and forth rhythm of meditation and postmeditation. When you are without bias, instead of waiting for the right occasion, you apply lojong on the spot, no matter what is going on at the time. In that way your lojong practice becomes more than a hobby or accessory - it is a way of life."
I used to that do that - I thought of my time reading Buddhist writers and writing this blog and the time I spend in meditation as "Buddhism Time." It could have had a trademark symbol it was so much a part of the way I approached lojong and mind training. But then somewhere along the line I realized that wasn't helping me any. I started trying to see the opportunities, started to see the whole of my life that way. (This thinking brought to mind goofy pie chart jokes, and the one I put up there is the one that made me laugh hardest.)

Then the best thing started to happen: I am sometimes able to bring mindfulness and wholeheartedness into my daily life. I recently spent a while with someone I've known for a long time, and something happened that would normally have blown up into an argument - one of our greatest hits, as it were. But instead of letting it get beyond me, I took a moment and breathed and put myself in the other person's place. And instead of fighting, it blew over immediately.

Lief's advice should be good for me, too:
"The best way to develop a more wholehearted lojong practice is by 1) spending time practicing mindfulness and tonglen, and 2) memorizing some or all of the slogans. For today's practice, focus on one or two slogans that particularly strikes you. Touch on those slogans from time to time, and notice when they come up on their own."
So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Got My Thinking Cat On: On Keeping the Three Inseparable

Last week was a bit of a challenge since I've been out of my normal patterns - took some "use it or lose it" time off from work and did a bit of traveling. Yesterday and today have been back to typical, and there's some comfort in that even though I've enjoyed myself during my time off.

Anyway, onto the new tenet:
Keep the three inseparable., my usual first stop, was pretty helpful this time. Their translation, "Engage all three faculties," actually confused me a bit. However, their explanation made things really clear:
"Engage all three faculties in your practice. Physically, move and sit in attention, aware of your body and behavior. In speech, be aware of what you are saying and how you are saying it. In mind, cultivate attention and taking and ending all the time."
I felt calmer after reading that - I usually feel a little stress as I encounter and deal with new aspects of Lojong. I turned to Tricycle next, and Judy Lief gave me the missing piece: how to apply this to my life. She talks about how these three, body and mind and speech, need to work together. One part in particular fel like someone had conked me over the head with a cricket bat...
"When you practice wholeheartedly, it shows in your thinking patterns. Part of lojong training ha to do with simply noticing how your mind works. What do you do with your mind? What do you think about most often? By applying lojong to your mind, you can begin to reverse the habits of preoccupation and self-absorption that take up so much mental energy. As a result, your mind becomes less tight. It begins to relax and turn outward."
Ouch. Every time I think I've got a handle on this, I realize I've still got so far to go. This is an example: there are two or three things that take up probably 90% of my mental energy. Yes, I do struggle with anxiety issues, so it makes sense. Even still, this is yet another way I can work on the problem.

She goes onto give more specific advice for applying this teaching:
"When you think about your lojong practice, does it seem balanced and wholehearted or one-sided and limited? What helps you come into harmony in your body, speech, and mind and what tends to make you lose that feeling of harmony?"
I will have my thinking cat on, tracking what pushes me out and what brings me back into harmony.

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

We Are Worthy: On Paying Heed that the Three Never Wane

When I picked up the card for the next tenet and read it, I had an immediate association. 
Pay heed that the three never wane.
Because of the way I'm wired, the popular culture association was powerful and immediate:

And it made me laugh. I set the thought aside and consulted the commentaries I use every week., as usual, gave me a different translation: "Take care to prevent three kinds of damage." Not the same thing as what I found on the card, but not enough different to make me think I'd gotten the wrong page. The explanation gave me something to consider, but didn't quite seem to go with what I'd read on the card:
"Lack of appreciation damages your relationship with your teacher. Lack of enthusiasm damages your practice. Lack of mindfulness in your behavior damages conditions conducive to practice."
I've learned that I can't skip, since Tricycle sometimes leaves me confused. I really do need both, and today was a good example. Lief's piece on this teaching put things into perspective. The three that need attention are the flip side of the three kinds of damage: devotion to those that teach us the dharma; appreciation for the practice and process of mind training; and a disciplined approach to the practice.

One warning she gives rang true for me:
"Our initial inspiration to study with a teacher or to practice the dharma has a tendency to fizzle away over time. It is one thing to enjoy a burst of enthusiasm, but it is quite another to keep going after the initial excitement wears off. But that is exactly the point when you begin to practice for real."
That fizzling is the reason I started this blog. Writing for a real (if small) audience gave me an external reason to be more disciplined. Sure, it's a bit of a crutch, but forming new habits can be hard and a bit of support helps.

Also, it turns out that my mind turning immediately to Wayne's World wasn't completely off-base. Lief warns against the kind of hero worship that can result from blind devotion to our teachers, devotion without the balancing factors of appreciation and discipline. The whole point behind the practice of loving kindness is knowing we are worthy.

Lief's advice for applying this teaching might not be something I can do this week, but I can think about how I've handled it in the past:
"Reflect on the balance of the three qualities of devotion, appreciation, and discipline in your practice. Notice the waxing and waning of inspiration on the path, and how easy it is to let your initial inspiration just fade away. When that happens, what brings you back?"
So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Finding a Stable Base: On the Three Principle Causes

I guess the best place to start is with the teaching itself:
Take on the three principle causes.
As usual, had a different translation: "Foster three key elements." Not much help there, but the brief explanation did give me some insight:
"The three elements are: a teacher, an effective practice, and conditions conducive to practice."
But what do those really mean...?

Well, Judy Lief (as is typical) resolved things for me right away:
"It is good to be aware of the convergence of circumstances that makes it possible for you to practice the dharma. By attending to the underpinnings that support you on the path, you can create and maintain a strong base for moving forward. You can develop greater appreciation for your good fortune, and not take it for granted."
She then goes on to talk about how each of us who found the dharma had someone, whether it was a friend or a book or a movie or something, that brought it to our attention. We also have begun the work of mind training. Finally, we have a way to continue that mind training because our financial and social and spiritual lives are conducive to the work. We may not have all of these elements at the same time, and need to look to which of the three might be lacking. We also need to reach out to others and try to help them along the path.

All of this made me smile since I'm giving a talk next week at a librarian conference. I'm actually one of the keynote talks (gulp!), so it will be me talking to *everyone* attending the conference - all at once. And the reason I smiled? Because I'm going to talk about a basic part of Buddhism: how attachment is the source of suffering, and a lot of it is our attachment to who we think we should be and how we think things should turn out. I won't be proselytizing, per se, but I may be that first source of the dharma for someone in the audience.

Regardless, Lief's advice will inform a lot of my practice this week:
"What kinds of supports could you put in place to help strengthen your practice? Do you need more guidance (the first cause), more confidence and conviction (the second cause), or a more stable social or economic base (the third cause)?"
I am confident in the guidance I've found - attending to each of the tenets in turn, one per week, helps tremendously. I'm not lacking for conviction - I see how this plays out in my life and can feel results. I do, however, need to work on my social and spiritual base.

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Just Order the Roast Roadrunner: On Training in the Three Difficulties

This tenet falls under the category of "maintenance" apparently, and it is timely considering the ups-and-downs I've had of late are evening out a bit.
Train in the Three Difficulties.
I'm beyond the "lolwut?" response that I had to obscure sounding teachings back when I started this project. With where I am now, eager and happy for each new piece of the puzzle, I don't even try to interpret the slogan before turning to my commentaries. So, knowing I'd have very little insight ahead of time about what those three difficulties might be, I just turned to

When I got there, I found an alternative translation that had me scratching my head a bit: "Learn to meet three challenges." However, the explanatory paragraph helped a bit:
"The three challenges are: to recognize a reactive pattern, to develop a way to work on it, and to work on it until it releases."
All I could think was, "Okay, but how?" So I turned to Judy Lief, and her opening paragraph affirmed that this teaching isn't a starting point by reminding her reader of what we've gotten ourselves into by studying lojong.
"Mind training or lojong is a way to uncover and develop confidence in our inherent goodness and that of all beings. It is a way to cultivate loving-kindness. You might way that is the good news. But the way to go about that is by going directly to the dark side, to what prevents that awakened quality from manifesting which is not an easy task. You might say that is the bad news."
And it is a constant process. Cyclical and iterative. That's kind of the point of mindfulness and lojong, to go beyond and change your ways. After reading everything, I sat back and thought. As usually happens, as I mulled it over I thought a lot about pop culture. Self-awareness is sorely lacking in a lot of characters in pop culture. However, something Lief said later in her short piece (included below) made my mind turn to the one who I think could be a poster child for "the definition of insanity": Wile E. Coyote. He was constantly bruised, banged, burned, smooshed, and shamed. He was always my favorite when I was younger, but no longer. All I can think is that one ounce of self-awareness might have kicked him out if his reactive patterns and into an order for "roast roadrunner" from Acme. (The Vimeo above was their earliest appearance, and still one of my all time favorite cartoons in general.)

Lief's advice for this tenet will help: "Instead of battling big deal emotional hang-ups, practice paying attention to the tiny little shifts of thought that, like a match to a fuse, cause a big explosion of confusion." I'm also going to keep Wile E. in mind, and do the opposite of what I think he'd do in any situation.

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Practice, Practice, Practice: On Observing These Two

The next tenet was a bit of a head scratcher when I first read it:
Observe these two, even at the risk of your life.
I know better than to think this is some kind of action film catch phrase, but it definitely confused me. And the translation wasn't much better: "Keep these two, even if your life is at risk." It still sounds so ominous, don't you think? Their explanation helps soften it a smidge:
"Internal transformation s the organizing principle of your life. Let go of your commitment to it, and you lose your life. Mind training is the method you use to transform your life. Let it go, and you fall back into reactivity."
Still a little unfriendly, but not life-threatening.

This is one of those weeks when I really needed Judy Lief's insight, and she brought it to bear right away in her commentary on this teaching:
"The two primary vows or commitments of the Buddhist path are the refuge vow and the bodhisattva vow. More generally, the two primary commitments one makes on the spiritual path are to work on oneself and to help other beings. These two vows provide fundamental guidelines for how to approach your practice and your daily life."
That's when it clicked: this is the next evolution of all the mindfulness I've been practicing. It's like that old joke about Carnegie Hall. But now, it's not just paying attention: it's about what to do with the things I notice. In the mindfulness, I need to remember to practice loving kindness with others and with myself. And working on mindfulness and presence gives me the opportunity to take that pause and have my actions guided by these principles.

Lief's parting advice resonated as well:
"What would change if you took seriously the two principles of working on yourself and helping others as the measure of your actions? How committed are you to yourself or to others?"
So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My New Cat and Cartoon Characters: On Being Patient

Sometimes these slogans confuse me at first. Other times, I get a pang of guilt because I suspect what it's trying to tell me. Today when I picked up the car, all I could do was sigh and laugh.
Whichever of the two occurs, be patient.
You see, I've got a new cat in my life, and he is SUCH a cat. Martin can be incredibly sweet, but he's also a whole long younger and way more rambunctious than Holly, my recently departed cat, ever was. When I picked Martin from the cats at the shelter, I was reacting from a place of grief. I got him maybe an hour after coming from the vet after being told it was time to let my old cat go. Perhaps I should have waited, but I needed the distraction from the deep well of sadness that accompanied the loss of Holly.

Martin is about 40% the sweetest cat ever, 60% the most bitingest-fightingest cat ever. It's not for nothing that I contemplated naming him Six (short for Project 626) for a short time before settling on Martin Fivebones.

Martin's role in my life has evolved to be an immediate external test of my patience. That's why, when I read the card with the newest tenet, all I could do was sigh and laugh. I immediately translated it to "Whichever of the two Martins occurs, be patient." Don't give up hope when it's Bitey-Fighty Martin, and don't get too involved when it's Purry-Furry Martin. But expanded to my entire life, my entire practice.

What I found at echoes that idea. The slightly different translation, "Whatever happens, good or bad, be patient," as well as the brief explanation provided:
"If things go well in your life, send your wellbeing to others. If things go badly, take on the misfortunes of others. In either case, don't get carried away by what arises."
Judy Lief's piece on the slogan is also an expansion of this idea. I know when things are rough I have a hard time finding the mental energy or space to send and receive, to sit zazen. I'm pretty good at it when things are going well in my life, but I'll admit that I have gotten "caught up in [my] own pleasure and [my] wish to maintain it."

Her ideas for working with this tenet are a bit longer term, so I need to start thinking about it right away:
"Notice the waxing and waning of your inspiration to practice mind training. What patterns do you see? What would be threatened if your practice were more steady and continuous?"
So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bookending My Day: On Two Activities

It's been rough for me lately, between grieving for my former feline overlord and getting used to flow of things with my new one. But I feel back to myself the last few days, especially with the work I've done with the tenet from last week. I was definitely ready to read the commentary for this new teaching:
Two activities: one at the beginning, one at the end.
Funny aside: right as I started to do my research for this post, The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" started playing. Not really pertinent to this conversation, but it gave me a giggle.

Once I stopped chuckling, I turned to and found the alternate translation: "Two things to do: one at the beginning, one at the end." Sometimes I think the translations at UM are willfully different just to be different from the standard, and today was one of those times - nothing different, really, so it shed no new light. Their brief explanation, however, was a revelation:
"Start your day by setting the intention to be present and to use taking and sending. End your day with a review of your states of mind during the day."
There's that quality I value so highly in lojong: practicality. Kōans have their purpose, but I feel much more comfortable with immediately applicable lessons. So, armed with the idea that I'll be bookending my days with intention and examination, I turned to Tricycle and Judy Lief for a bit more illumination. And wow did I find it:
"The practice of lojong is a life-long journey, but that journey takes place one day at a time. You cannot do anything about days gone by, and speculating about the future can be overwhelming and somewhat pointless. But you can look at each day as a practice period, with a beginning and an end. So every morning, you take a fresh start, and every evening you have a chance [to] appraise how you have done."
That passage is both daunting and comforting. But it gives me a direction.

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Don't White Knuckle Your Way Through: On Correcting All Wrongs With One Intention

My daily and weekly routines have been disrupted, smashed to pieces, because of recent events. I've not been able to meditate for more than five minutes at a stretch and I can't concentrate much. The well worn ruts in my mind have become easier and easier, so I really needed the message behind this new tenet.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, let me walk you through the research I always do...

There is no mistaking the fact that this teaching is a companion to the one I wrote about last week
Correct all wrongs with one intention.
As usual, the translation at is fairly different: "Use one remedy for everything." The explanation provided resonated deeply and made me feel a bit more optimistic about getting back in the habit of meditating:
"Use taking and sending to counteract any reactive tendency that arises."
Taking and sending is a hard practice since it goes against some ingrained ideas about "in with the good and out with the bad," but when I have practiced it regularly I found it extremely effective. I'm in the process of grieving for the cat I recently lost to kidney disease and just the reminder of taking and sending helped a bit. 

Then I turned to Tricycle to read Judy Lief's piece about correcting all wrongs with the "intention to train [my] mind in loving-kindness." Then there was the passage that made me cringe a bit because it totally captured my mindset lately:
When you encounter obstacles and obstructions to practice, how do you get back on track? How do you correct your course? The approach of just trying to push your way through does not work very well; it is hard to fight with your own state of mind.
Oof. Yes, that is exactly what I've been doing. Berating myself for not meditating and then, when I manage to sit zazen for a moment, not being able to concentrate. Me trying to push through this block is like Maru trying to get out of that box by walking forward. I can't just white-knuckle my way through the things that are getting in my way.

That's what makes Lief's advice particularly important to me. She recommends: 
When you find yourself struggling with an external or internal obstacle and falling into resentment or discouragement, notice the tendency to simply feel stuck and under attack. Notice how your relationship to such obstacles shifts when you reconnect with your intention to train your mind in loving kindness.
Wow, I needed to hear/read that.

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Embracing Service to Others: On Having One Intention

The new slogan has me thinking about how it would be so easy to disregard the inconvenient aspects of studying lojong, because this one is definitely presenting some difficulties.
All activities should be done with one intention.
My initial dig for commentary, at, yielded an alternative translation - "Use one practice for everything" - and my first inkling of I-Don't-Wanna. The toddler reaction came from the explanatory passage:
"Bring taking and sending to bear on everything you experience, in formal meditation and in daily life."
Everything? EVERYTHING? It's easy to apply these ideas with the negatives in my life - with my mistakes, with my neurotic moments, with my occasionally uncontrollable worry about my elderly and sick cat - but I don't wanna do it with the positives. I want to hold onto how people had such positive things to say about both of the presentations I gave at ACRL. I want to hold onto the memory of a macaw that danced with my friend at the zoo. I want to keep those for my own and hold them close.

So turning to Tricycle induced a bit of trepidation, but I did it anyway. That internal toddler might be loud at times, but I can usually resist her. And, as usual, I was glad I'd pushed through. 

The one passage that resonated most made me wince but it also made me a bit more willing to let go of the positive things:
"Without saying it in so many words, often the thread holding all our thoughts ad activities together is: 'What's in it for me?' We wonder how we can survive, get ahead, win, succeed, overcome, take over, grab something, be recognized, appreciated, rewarded... you name it, the list is endless."
Though that way of thinking, of holding onto all the positive things, might be helpful in the short term, it's not who I am or want to be in the long run. I want my "gestures, speech, thoughts, and emotions should all be expressions of one intention: the powerful intention of benefiting sentient beings." (It was upon reading that phrase that I got the image of a cat using a dog as a pillow stuck in my head, thus the above illustration for this teaching.)

Lief's advice for this tenet is especially appreciated since I know this will be hard for me to put into action:
"Notice the way in which your underlying intentions color your actions.  Notice also the quality of pointlessness or aimlessness and times when whatever you are doing seems to be without any clear intention. Choose an activity, you normally do and see what happens when you link it with the intention of cultivating gentles and service to others."
So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Downside of Schadenfreude: On Not Profiting from Sorrow


New slogan is a bit of a doozy:
Don’t seek others’ pain as the limbs of your own happiness.
The language is a bit obfuscating, but not terribly so. Still, I turned to the page about this tenet and found a much more intelligible version: "Don't look to profit from sorrow." The explanation added depth to my preliminary understanding as well:
"All Buddhist practice, and mind training in particular, is about ending suffering. Anticipation of gain from others' suffering, or even complacency about it, breaches the intention of this practice."
After reading that I had a moment of guilt, especially after all the videos of cat fails that I've watched. I can even admit to the occasional juicy moment of schadenfreude. However, since I'm not one to shy away from growth and challenge, I moved onto the Tricycle page about this tenet.

One paragraph in particular stood out as a reason for me to work on this but not to beat myself up too much about it:
"This slogan is about exploitation. It is about taking advantage of others in order to maintain our wealth and privilege. It could also be applied to our attitude to our mother earth. It is about the habit of take take take, with no gratitude, and with blindness as to the consequences."
That idea of "with no gratitude" resonated, still resonates, so strongly. Gratitude is a huge thing for me. I'm grateful to people who hurt me because it gives me the opportunity to grow. I'm grateful to people who help me for the same reason. I'm especially grateful for cat fail videos that make me laugh. Heck, I'm even grateful to the animals and plants who give their lives so I can eat, to the farmers who grow my food, to the drivers who transport it, to the cooks and grocery clerks and so on. I think it is impossible to live and never benefit from someone else's pain even distantly. It *is* possible to feel grateful for the people who help you be who you are.

It's about mindfulness. Lief's advice for this tenet, "Whether you think of yourself as privileged or as underprivileged, contemplate the effect of buying into the paradigm that increasing your happiness depends on decreasing the happiness of others," doesn't feel as applicable to my life this week. Instead, I'm going to try to pay attention to all the people who do benefit my life in whatever way and express my gratitude for them.

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Accepting Enlightenment, No Matter How Tough: On Not Making Gods Into Demons

Have to say, I'm quite happy with myself for sticking to the original schedule of publishing weekly. Not sure it will last, but I'm enjoying it while it does.

Regardless, let's turn to the next tenet:
Don't make gods into demons.
The translation isn't too different: "Don't turn a god into a demon." But the explanatory passage gave me pause.
"Mind training becomes a source of reactive emotions when you take pride in what you accomplish with the practice."
The thing is, I am happy about the progress I've made. If I'm truthful, I am sometimes proud. With that dismaying realization, I turned to Judy Lief's piece on this teaching. One particular passage stood out to me:
"At first meditation and compassion practices seem so beautiful and gentle. We feel enriched and nurtured. But as we continue, we begin to encounter a more threatening and provocative side to mind training practice. It makes us feel unmasked and exposed, embarrassed by our own mindlessness and the puny nature of our compassion for others.
As the practice begins to bite or to be more challenging, when it is no longer simply an add-on to our regular way of going about things, but a call for personal transformation, we feel threatened." 
I've had moments like that lately, where I feel my pursuit and study of Buddhism has changed me in ways that I never anticipated. When I first found and started to study, it made so much sense to me - things I'd read prior to Pema Chodron had me ready. But I've recently found a transition between Buddhism fitting into my preexisting understanding of the way things are and how I see it now... I feel like my ideas from before have kind of melted in the face of lojong.

So I'm not particularly worried about this becoming a problem in the immediate future. Seeing each new day as an opportunity to deepen my practice and letting go of old patterns, even when the new day brings "negative" things to me, is part of my practice. And yet, I need to be vigilant. Or, as Lief admonishes, "How can you identify with the dharma without making it into just another credential?"

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Examining Motivations: On Not Acting with a Twist

Sometimes translation is everything when it comes to my initial impression of a new-to-me slogan, and this week is a perfect example. The cards I've been using have this for the thirty-sixth tenet:
Don't act with a twist.
My confusion was immediate. At first I thought about twist ties, and then I thought about this twist:

After I had a little laugh at my imagination, I turned to and found an immediately intelligible translation: "Don't make practice a sham." Don't be a Buddhist for show, in other words. As usually happens when my understanding starts to dawn, I felt a little guilty and like I've been doing it wrong. That feeling intensified when I read the short explanatory passage:
"Your practice is a sham when you use it to gain higher status, greater abilities, or other benefits. Practice is about being present. It is not about your getting something for your efforts."
Then there was a whole different kind of twist: one in my stomach. My gut twisted a bit because I wrote a post about my Buddhism for my other blog this past week. My initial impulse to write that piece came from an acquaintance of mine questioning and insulting my practice as a Buddhist. But if I'm honest, I do like the attention Letters to a Young Librarian gets and there was a drop of trying to get "something for [my] efforts" in the mix as I wrote.

I let myself feel the guilt for a moment, but not too long. I took a deep breath and turned, as I usually do, to Judy Lief's piece on this slogan on the Tricycle site, and that helped me a bit. Well, to be honest, what Lief wrote made my stomach twist a bit more at first. This passage especially had me feeling self-recrimination:
"We keep track of our acts of kindness and our moments of awareness as demonstrations of how we ourselves are progressing. Instead of genuinely opening our heart, we go through the motions. Then we look around to make sure that our benevolence is properly noticed and admired. In reality, under the guise of helping, we are just using people. They are props for our self-development project."
But that's not what writing a post about Buddhism for my library/librarian blog was about. I'm not a Buddhist for anybody but me. I know in my heart that I'm not doing this to be noticed or admired. I don't want to take my perspective for granted, though, so I will still follow Lief's advice and examine my motives as I progress through the next week and beyond.

Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Just Keep Swimming: On Not Trying To Be The Fastest

Last week's work was hard. There are some things going on in my life that made that slogan particularly pertinent, but I think I'm stronger for the attempt.

This week will likely be just as necessary and difficult:
Don't try to be the fastest.
I got a small quiver in my stomach just from reading the card: I definitely recognized myself there. Remembering how I needed both the resources I normally consult, I went first to Unfettered Mind and found they'd translated this slogan as: "Don't be competitive." Their short explanation resonated even more than when I first read the slogan:
"Open to the sense of deficiency, of not being enough, that pushes you to be needlessly competitive."
Did I say "resonated"? I meant "punched me in the gut." Because really, that sense of deficiency is a specter I struggle with regularly. Not just the feeling, but the difficulty of owning it publicly. Like right now - I have to struggle to admit to struggling sometimes.

I turned turned to Judy Lief's response to this slogan with a bit of trepidation, but I needn't have worried. While it's true there has been a time or two when I was left feeling more confused by what Lief had to say, but that's been rare. And when I found the following passage, I realized I've been working towards embodying this tenet even longer than I've been actively studying Buddhism:
Slogan practice is about cultivating both awareness and compassion, both in formal practice and in daily life. Ideally this is one complete package. You don’t try to get somewhere, but you just keep going.
And that made me think of a movie line I've been quoting a lot lately as I navigate my struggles:

The movie itself... I enjoyed Finding Nemo but it's not so much the story as the idea embodied in that gif above that is important. And that advice above, with a touch of mindfulness, is the same kind of thing I found in Lief's advice for how to work with this teaching:
"Notice how the quality of speediness affects your practice and your daily life. Do you feel superior or special because you are faster than others and have passed them by? On the contrary, do you feel of inadequate that others are passing you by and leaving you in the dust?"
So that's what I'll be doing. Until next time, namaste and all that. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Keeping Balance: On Not Transferring the Ox's Load to the Cow (or the Donkey)

This week's slogan didn't resonate with me at first, even after going through all my normal research.
Don't transfer the ox's load to the cow.
Of course, being who I am, the first thing that came to mind after I read the slogan was the opening of Cow and Chicken, but once I was done singing that a couple of times, I moved onto the research.

Because I've found such help there over the course of this blog, I decided to turn to Judy Lief's piece at the Tricyle website first. The whole of her short discussion seems to look at concepts like false modesty and shifting responsibility at work and in our personal lives. I, on the other hand, tend to think false modesty is bunk. Further, I've got a bad habit of taking on too much at once and saying yes to everyone. Learning to delegate is one of the biggest challenges I've had in my professional career. At the very end of Lief's piece, just before her suggestions for applying this teaching to our daily lives, she did share one idea that started to help this come into focus for me:
"This slogan is also about developing skill in working with others. It is an art to know how much responsibility to take on yourself and how much to direct to each of the people you are working with so that each person feels challenged but not overwhelmed."
That's when it started to click that, even if I'm the ox and others are the cow, I still need to figure out a balance.

I turned next to the place where I had been starting in the past. Now, the translation provided by isn't different enough to share it here, but the brief explanatory paragraph did begin my understanding of this teaching:
"Life is what you experience. What you experience is your life. Don't try to shift the unpleasantness your reactive patterns bring you onto another person."
I could help but think of all the times I've said things like, "They're too busy to add something else to their plate, so I'm not even going to ask for help because I know they'll say, 'no.'" It's a different way of shifting blame for the unpleasantness, but I think it's still within the scope of this tenet.

So, instead of following Lief's advice, "Pay attention to the temptation to shift your burdens to those who are weaker than you," I'm going to reverse it and pay attention to the temptation to shift the burdens from others to myself. I'm going to keep that poor donkey up there (which was the picture accompanying the Unfettered Minds post) in mind.

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

To Pounce or Not To Pounce: On Not Bringing Things to a Painful Point


Those cats in the gif are (mostly) just playing. If you look elsewhere, you'll find pictures and videos of these two cuddled up and friendly. Trust me, I'm a big fan of their blog so I know. 

But this kind of angry or even play-angry pouncing cat behavior is exactly what came to mind as I was reading up on this lojong teaching:
Don't bring things to a painful point.
On the surface, it's kind of a no-brainer. Why bring things to a painful point? The whole goal for my studying Buddhism is to ease away from the sometimes painful noise in my head, right? But then I started digging for commentary.

The first thing that stood out to me as relevant from Judy Lief's piece was a doozy: 
"We all have lots of faults, and it is easy to get caught up in dwelling on them. It is easy to see all the things that are wrong about everyone and everything else as well."
I'm completely guilty of focusing on my own faults, sometimes to the exclusion of all else. Further, I a keen eye for the faults of others. I try not to be overly judgmental, but sometimes it's really hard to stop. We need to be able to judge safe or unsafe, useful or not useful, but it's easy to get into a habit of judging every little aspect of every little thing. Even more than baseball, I sometimes think judging others is the "Great American Passtime."

When Lief moves onto discuss the aim of this tenet, she does so succinctly:
"According to this slogan, instead of pouncing on people’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities, we should be providing encouragement and support for their strengths."
I already do this to a certain extent. I've embraced a philosophy of management known as Strengths Based Leadership, but this teaching is making me think I need to expand that view beyond the workplace and even beyond my group of friends. This is going to take a serious amount of thinks, since I've yet to find a consistent way to draw the line between healthy judgement - I shouldn't walk down that dark alley alone at night with a $100 sticking out of my back pocket - and unhealthy judgement. However, I know one of my own strengths is perseverance, so I'm sure I'll get it eventually.

Lief's advice for practice is going to be hard, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try:
"Notice the quality of faultfinding, which can take place on a light level or on a more going-for-the-jugular scale. When you find yourself caught in this pattern, notice your motivation. When you have difficulty with a person, can you see beyond their faults? Can you find a positive potential to build on, even if it seems small?"
The next time I get caught in the rut of judging, I'll try to bring this idea to mind.

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Breathing and Just Being: On Not Waiting in Ambush


I know: it's been a while. "Better late than never" feels like a hollow apology, but I'm going to have to go with that. Things get busy, and it's unfortunate but this blog tends to fall by the wayside first. But so long as I keep coming back to it, so long as I don't give up, it's okay. I really believe that.

Regardless of any self-derision, I want to move onto the new slogan:
Don't wait in ambush. 
Alternatively, according to "Don't lie in ambush." This didn't resonate as a problem for me, but I'm committed to this line of study no matter what. That means I did look further, to the brief explanatory paragraph:
"You wait in ambush because you seek revenge. Do taking and sending with the anger that drives the revenge."
I'll admit I tried to get even with people a couple of times when I was much younger, but I realized I was hurting myself more than I was hurting them and I lost interest in the idea. So I turned to Tricycle. Once again, I found myself grateful for Judy Lief's insight:
"This slogan is about scheming mind, the mind that never forgets a slight or an insult. Instead it keeps eating away at us, sometimes for years, and even decades." 
I may not seek revenge, but I have been known to hold a grudge. I work to forgive, and frequently am able to do so, but it's rare that I forget. And then, towards the end of her short piece, I found something even more resonant:
"Those remembered insults we hold onto so tightly have taken over our mind. By working with this slogan, we can free ourselves from that unhealthy pattern." 
And all I could think of was the stereotypical little kid, like Agnes up there, holding onto their breath like it's going to change anything. Really, the only person it harms is the child. And holding onto past hurts, whether I seek revenge or not, is only going to hurt me. I need to learn to stop holding my breath. I need to learn to breath and just let things be. That's why, even though the slogan itself didn't seem relevant, Lief's advice for putting it into action did:
"In the present, notice your response when somebody insults you. What is the physical sensation and what thoughts arise in your mind?
Looking back, do a grudge survey.  How many grudges have you been carrying with you, and for how long? How does it feel to carry a grudge, and how does it feel when the grudge softens or dissolves or you consciously let it go?"
I've done it before. I remember how good I felt when I realized I'd let go of my anger about my divorce. If I can forgive and forget that, I can forgive and forget anything. I will need to work on it, but I know I can do it.

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.