This is part 46 of my series on Lojong, a Buddhist mind training technique.
The three principles of the practice of Lojong are devotion, appreciation and discipline. This slogan gets to the point that our inspiration to practice loving kindness and compassion comes and goes from time to time. We sometimes feel so strongly connected to our path, our dharma, and it feels like nothing can shake it. And then life hits us with something new and our convictions might wane, or we might get off the path when we get busy with something else.
This slogan asks that we always look at the balance of devotion, appreciation and discipline. Is your devotion strong? Do you open your heart to whomever you consider your teachers whether it’s Buddha, Christ, Allah, a friend or parent or any other teacher? Wherever your inspiration comes from, remain grateful for it. I’ve had many teachers over my life. One is my mother who showed me by example how to get sober. She also introduced me to many concepts without pushing them on me which led me to the path I’m on. Other teachers include Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Buddha and countless other inspirations. I’m grateful for the part each of them has made in my life, whether big or small.
Appreciating the practice you have developed for yourself as you move through your path is the second of the principles. The lojong journey is the practice for some, but not all. We all have our ways of practicing and coming back to the beliefs we hold. Appreciating that you have developed a method that works for you is important. What habits have you developed that support your spiritual practice? Appreciate these habits for what they are.
Discipline is the third principle. Sometimes we just don’t feel like meditating, or reading spiritual text, or practicing yoga, or praying… the list goes on. Sometimes we do it anyway. This is discipline. If you’re anything like me when you really aren’t in the mood but force yourself to do whatever practice you’re putting off that supports spirituality, you feel so much better! And then you feel grateful for the practice itself.
Spirituality can be a balancing act. Sometimes it feels so difficult to maintain and discipline comes into the picture. Sometimes we forget who our teachers are but we come back and remember that everyone in our lives are teachers, some play a bigger role than others and we may feel more grateful for some. And sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have developed in ourselves, we don’t appreciate how we have developed on our journey and we need to look back at the start. Looking back we can see all the steps we took to get us where we are and we can truly appreciate where we’ve been and where we are going.