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.

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