This week we will go a little further into the final section of slogans Guidelines For Mind Training which is about the container for your practice off the cushion. We will be exploring 3 slogans together – Two Activities: One At The Beginning, One At The End; Whichever Of The Two Occurs, Be Patient; and Observe These Two, Even At The Risk Of Your Life. These 3 slogans are actually referring to three different things. I am grouping them together primarily because of time (so we can finish all the slogans by years end). This week the twos, next week the threes.
We begin with the two of beginning and ending. Regardless of whether you find time to sit or not, you need an orientation; a framework for how you want to live. This first slogan is about setting the container for your life. If you link it to your overall spiritual intention – it means as soon as you wake up you orient your mind towards your intention (in my case, I set an intention to be friendly and kind to whomever or whatever arises in my day) and as you lay in bed you look over the day from that same intention (in my case, I look over my day’s actions through the lens of kindness, considering both when I was kind and when I was not. I ask for forgiveness either way). This simple waking and ending practice is very powerful. It helps me stay closer to a spiritual practice whether or not I meditate. In fact, I think the slogans in this last section is what puts the spirituality in a meditation practice. I don’t see my meditation practice as a spiritual act – I see my intention towards kindness as spiritual. Beginning and ending my day with my intention to be kind, wraps everything in my life into context like a spiritual blanket.
Likewise, the two of being patient with both the good and the not good builds equanimity in all things human. As humans, we can’t stop ourselves from judging life, and the things of life, as either/or; either something is good or its bad, either right or its wrong, etc. This slogan points to holding both with patience. I like this! Often we talk about the practice from the perspective that there is no such thing as good/bad, right/wrong. There just is. But so long as our minds perceive life from this dualistic place, trying to see everything as the same is near impossible. In some respect, I think it just makes us hide from our aversion to what we don’t like or quickly change/fix the situation so we appear equanimous. This slogan is the antidote to this type of spiritual bypass. It cares less about how we label an experience and more about how we hold the experience generally. We train to simply hold all experience in patience. This holding in patience is what trains our minds towards equanimity.
Finally, we keep our two commitments around the refuges and the precepts close at hand. This is pointedly about observing these commitments above all else. On the high end, it means refusing to kill, even if it means you would lose your life. It means refusing to steal, even if it means you and your children go hungry. It means refusing to lie, even if the truth will cause you to lose everything. On the lower end, it means paying attention to how our judgments kill people, how our “taking” and “consuming” in life is causing harm and how our idle chatter may not be so lighthearted. We don’t do this from some rigid puritanical judgment over ourselves but from a deep connection to the intention we set out above – the intention we start and end our day.
I’ll see you tomorrow night! Tuere