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.

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