From a letter to the group as we began the investigation of the 7 Points of Mind Training:
“Our shared focus in the groups for the next few months (or perhaps longer) will be the 7 Points of Mind Training and the associated 59 lojong slogans. We will also continue our ongoing focus on calm abiding meditation, and meditative reflection and inquiry.
The trainings are described as a very direct way to cultivate well-being and compassion. From the introductions of three of the books we will be using in the group:
Buddhism with an Attitude by Alan Wallace: ‘…lojong…is designed to shift our attitudes so that our minds become pure wellsprings of joy instead of murky pools of problems, anxieties, fleeting pleasures, frustrations, hopes and fears.’
The Great Path of Awakening by Jamgon Kongtrul: ‘…we become more tolerant, less arrogant, more open and responsive…feel genuinely at peace with ourselves, naturally happy and cheerful even in difficult situations…’
Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron: the practice ‘is about awakening the heart…when we find that we are closing down to ourselves and others, here is instruction on how to open. When we find we are holding back, here is instruction on how to give. That which is unwanted and rejected in ourselves and in others can be seen and felt with honesty and compassion.’
This is the final paragraph in Pema Chodron’s preface to Start Where You Are: ‘For those who feel prepared to practice sitting meditation and tonglen meditation and to work with the lojong slogans in an ongoing way, doing so may be the beginning of learning what it really means to love. This is a method for allowing a lot of space, so that people can relax and open. This is the path of unconditional compassionate living. It is designed especially for people who find themselves living in times of darkness. May it be of benefit.’
What a wonderful invitation! She starts the paragraph with “For those who feel prepared to practice.” Although you can use our groups to simply learn about the 7 Points and the lojong slogans, (worthy in itself,) I encourage you to be really whole-hearted about it, committing yourself to a daily meditation practice and a daily reading practice, as well as doing all you can throughout the day to return frequently to a mindful state, and to the eyes of compassion. The support and energy of our little community can also be of great benefit, and I hope that you will make attending the weekly groups a priority.”