Lo Jong
Teaching by Lama Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
January 10, 2000, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Beginning of the Lo Jong kickoff and beginning of the Lo Jong study. So this is a very special, I think, very special event tonight. And last weekend about thirty-six, I think, people did the exam here. And people wrote exam papers for a minimum three hours. So this long examination, and I was very happy, I was very pleased. It was a wonderful, wonderful exam. So many people put so much energy. There was great energy. And also we had a oral examination; I was sitting up there. People come up, so each person spent about ten minutes. So I ask questions. Everybody give very, very good answer, and I was very joyful and very happy.

And sometimes you don't know how much people really have understanding of Dharma. Like I don't know. And sometimes we don't know our Sangha ourselves, you know, our Sangha. The other person, the brother or the sister, how much she or he has understanding. And so when we do these kind of exam, I think it is very, very good. I find it's very good. It is not only testing one's own understanding of Dharma, Buddhism, but also when you find out the other person's understanding, you can rejoice. And I've been rejoicing myself the last couple days. And I was very happy, and I was also listening music and reading poetry and rejoicing about our Dharma brothers and sisters, their understanding of Dharma. So rejoicing is a very good way of practicing Dharma. According Mahayana teachings says if you rejoice other person's Dharma practice, realizations, you can create lot of merit, good karma. So you give me the opportunity to practice Dharma and create good karma and rejoicing. So I am very happy.

And also we have people in Toronto, Nelson and Moscow, Idaho, other places like in Australia people are studying Lam Rim, and they are also going to do the exam, same exam. So there is like a link, we have all the Sangha in different parts of the country doing the same study. I think it's very, very good.

I also had a couple of dreams, about last week. My gurus, I saw in my dreams, they were very pleased. And some of the deities and protectors, they were very pleased. They were all saying, "Welcome, and welcome. Welcome! Good! Good! Good! Good!" So I was very pleased. And I feel very proud, in a way. Same time I try to be humble, modest, but I feel very proud. So I like to say thank you for your patience and your practicing and studying Lam Rim for a whole year. So this is rejoicing time.

And now I believe that lots of people are going to study Lo Jong. Lo Jong is a wonderful teaching. So tonight now I'm going to say a little bit about, actually I'm going to talk about Lo Jong tonight. This is Lo Jong kickoff. So I will go through some of the main points of Lo Jong, based on this little book. Actually you are going to study this book. This book will be the main text, and there are other Lo Jong texts, commentaries. There's about six, five or six, books in English -- commentary written by Kargyu lamas and Nyingma lamas and Gelugpa lamas, various teachers. So we could study all of them, because although their root text is the same text, but each commentary is a little bit different. It gives you a little bit of a different kind of a flavor, and it gives you a little bit of a different light. So it's very good. I will talk about Lo Jong based on this book. It's called "Advice from a Spiritual Friend" and this commentary was given by a great teacher called Geshe Rabten and Geshe Dhargyey.

So Lo Jong, the word, Lo Jong is Tibetan word. "Lo" means "mind"; "Jong" means "training." "Mind training," or you could say, "purifying the mind." "Cajoling the mind" or "purifying mind." This teaching is Mahayana teaching, Mahayana Buddhist teaching. According Mahayana, when we practice Mahayana teaching we experience sense of gentleness towards ourselves and compassion for others. So the Lo Jong teaching says that it is very important to be gentle for ourselves; learn how be gentle and how to be kind to ourselves. At the same time how to be kind for others and how to practice compassion, the karuna. "Karuna" is "compassion"; the Sanskrit word is "karuna." So that actually also means, "karuna" means "the noble heart"; "noble heart"; "good heart." We cultivate good heart, noble heart. And this means we are willing to commit ourselves to working with all sentient beings. So when we say, "Lo Jong," "training our mind" we try to kind of make some kind of commitment ourselves to working with all sentient beings.

So this is not easy, working with all sentient beings. Before we actually launch into that project of working with all sentient beings, first we need to do lots of training. Training the mind; purify the mind and meditate on the mind, and trying to have and trying to develop understanding of the mind, our own mind, how the mind works. How do we actually, sort of, how do we think? What do we think in our everyday lives? What are our concerns, what is our attitude, and so on? To kind of look inwardly and make observation to see. And meditate on it, and practice mindfulness and awareness of the mind. Like Vipassana-type of meditation, or you could say Mahamudra-type of meditation, to observe our mind.

So then when we observe and meditate on our mind, we find out how much sympathy we have towards other beings. Or we can also find out how much sympathy we have to ourself. And so we find out these things. And we also find the obstacles of becoming Mahayanist, and we find out the obstacles of becoming what, you might say, true Buddhists or good Buddhists. Actually one of the questions I asked, during the oral examination, I said to people, "What is your definition of good Buddhist, being a good Buddhist?" [Rinpoche laughs.] And a lot of people laughed, and a lot of people smiled. So, well, we would like to become a good Buddhist, and since we try to become Buddhist, why not try to be good one? [Laughter.]

So the obstacle, usually, obstacle of becoming good Buddhist or good Mahayanist is not having enough sympathy for other sentient beings. That is the obstacle of become Mahayanist or Buddhist. When we find that there is not enough sympathy, and when we find out most of the time we think about ourself, like I think about myself most of the time. The moment you get up in the morning until you go to bed, until you crash, you think about "myself." I think about myself, like "me, me, me, me, me." It's like mantra: "I, I, I, I, me, me, me!" [Laughter.] "I have to this. I must get up. I drink tea. I drink coffee. I take shower. And I should go through all the list of daily things, you know." And so, we think about ourselves. And that is actually habit. And actually just thinking about me myself is nothing wrong. I'm not saying right or wrong so much. But we don't have much, sort of, room left for concerning about other people. And also lot of times it's cultural, I guess, cultural. Some cultural people think themselves more; some cultural or tradition says that you should think about others. Cultural or traditions or upbringing.

So we think about ourself a lot. We don't have enough sympathy. And now, I'm talking about generally, but there are also some people think about always, always themselves. Most of the time, some people I've noticed, when you talk, when you meet, as soon as they open the mouth, always say, "I'm doing this. I did this. Last week I have done this. Now I'm this. And I'm unhappy, I'm hurt, I'm injured, I'm sad." And this and that, all the time "Me, me, me." So they think about themselves all the time. So it is actually kind of sad, you know. Because when you really think about deeply, when you think about, I myself is only one person. I'm one person. And comparing to the number of all these sentient beings, living beings, I'm actually nothing. I am like a tiny little particle or atom, tiny little dirt. And comparing the numberless sentient beings, I'm just one person. So why do I think so much about myself?

And also one of the sufferings, one of the cause of suffering is actually thinking about myself. Usually when we think about ourselves all the time, this is why the sufferings also come. Those people who think more others they have usually more happiness. Usually, we have saying in Dharma, "True happiness, the real happiness, comes from helping others." When you think about other people and the welfare, wellbeing and happiness of all sentient beings, of others, trying to put them first, then you have more happiness. And because you are not thinking about yourself so much. So this is how seems like it work.

Also there are so many people on this earth, we have so many beings, so many wonderful people. And right here in this room we have so many wonderful people who think about the welfare and happiness of others. And some people don't even think, some people don't even think about other people's welfare and happiness -- they actually live. Like Bodhisattvas, for example, they don't actually think, "Ok, I have to do this for the benefit of this being or that being." They don't actually think; they live with it. They are actually born with the idea of working for the benefit of all sentient beings. So it's a spontaneous act. Spontaneously all your senses -- eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind -- all your senses, spontaneously, just kind of automatically or spontaneously, you are working for the benefit of all sentient beings. You live this way. You don't even think, just live. Just sort of be. And many people you see, like when somebody's hurt, you see in the street, suddenly you don't even think, you just jump. You say, "Uh, oh! That poor little kid, or that poor man or poor woman, hurt. I want to help." You know, you just jump, you don't even think. You don't have time to think, you just do it. So like that, Bodhisattvas live like that. Always live like that, spontaneously.

So this kind of mind is wonderful mind, I think. And this kind of mind can be accomplished. And we can accomplish this kind of mind, the Bodhisattva mind. This is actually the goal of Lo Jong practice. And so, as I said, Lo Jong means training the mind. Lo Jong means "to tame." To tame this wild mind of ours, or wild mind of human beings. And sometimes we also call it the "monkey mind." To tame this monkey mind, very busy mind. And to tame this uncontrolled, or emotional, or neurotic perhaps, mind. And to tame it.

It is like the story of capturing the wild ox. You see in the Buddhist scriptures they have story, "Capturing the Wild Ox." You go to the forest, capture this wild ox, and you domesticated this ox. And once you tamed this ox and domesticated this wild ox or bull, and actually then the bull becomes friend of the tamer. And the bull actually like it. The bull like to be domesticated. He actually enjoy being domesticated. He kind of realize, "Oh, it's nice to be domesticated." The tamer, or perhaps the owner, is going to look after you. The food is provided, the shelter is provided at wintertime, you can live in a nice barn. There's food in the silo and lots of hay. And so on and so forth. And the ox is happy. So like that, when our mind, this wild kind of mind is tamed by awareness, by meditation, then our mind becomes very content, peaceful and happy, and liberated and free, and joyful and protected. And you become also very strong, become very strong. And you actually appreciate, you appreciate so much that your mind is now tamed. You achieved this realization of Lo Jong.

So that is the meaning of Lo Jong, thought transformation. 

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