Category: Awake in the City

Objects and Poisons are Seeds of Virtue {Lojong Teaching}

  By Daniel Scharpenburg This is part of the Lojong teachings. I think it’s a little more confusing than some of the previous slogans, so I’ll make sure I try really hard to unpack it well. Objects refers to people. I know that’s confusing, but maybe it helps to refer to English class—the distinction between subject and object? We’re talking about other people who are the focus of our attention. In the context of this slogan, people are described as coming in three categories: friends, enemies, and neutrals. I’d rather describe them as people we like, people we don’t...

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The Practice of Tonglen: Sending & Receiving with the Breath {Lojong Teaching}

  By Daniel Scharpenburg The first time I heard about tonglen practice I thought it sounded really weird. I don’t connect with visualization type practices very well a lot of the time, so when I read that this was (sort of) a visualization practice I assumed it wouldn’t mean much to me. I was wrong. Tonglen is called the practice of sending and taking. It’s a sitting meditation practice. You sit and visualize inhaling the suffering as a black smoke and exhaling a clear blue light. We are imagining that we are taking suffering into ourselves and transforming it...

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After Meditation, Be a Child of Illusion {Lojong Teaching}

  By Daniel Scharpenburg   One key idea is implicit in this slogan. We aren’t just practicing when we’re on the cushion—we’re practicing all the time. Our practice isn’t about going to a temple or going on a retreat for a while and then returning as though nothing has happened. Our goal, if there is one, is to be shaped by our practice, to bring the lessons and insights we learn on the cushion into our day-to-day life. If we aren’t doing that, then what’s the point? The phrase “child of illusion” seems a little weird at first. It...

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Rest in the Openness of Your Mind {Lojong teaching}

  By Daniel Scharpenburg The idea of resting in openness is just being here. It’s what Ram Dass described in “Be Here Now” and what Rob Bell described in “How to Be Here”. It’s what the Buddha was talking about when he said, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” It’s a description of formless meditation practices, where we aren’t focusing on the breath or repeating a mantra or visualizing some crazy image. These are practices dedicated to just being here. Some of the historical Zen masters...

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Don’t Get Stuck on Peace {Lojong Training}

By Daniel Scharpenburg Sometimes our spiritual practice can make us feel removed, separate from the rest of the world. That’s not the Bodhisattva way. The Bodhisattva way is to be in the world, open and vulnerable; awake in the world, not separate from it. This is sometimes called the Poison of Emptiness. We want to see the impermanent, interconnected, dreamlike nature of things, but even that can become a point of attachment for us very easily. We can’t get excited about the illusory and empty nature of reality. That’s not something we can maintain, even if we try. Getting excited...

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