For February we will indulge in two subtle heart openers- one is Lojong, where the effort is on remaining concentrated and aware of the many Tibetan Buddhist slogans that bring us closer to experiencing enlightened compassion. The other, the physical pose, is Gomokasana arms. This pose is when we take one arm up in the air, bend the elbow and reach our fingers down between our shoulder blades. The other arm reaches down and then after the elbow bends we take that hand up between the shoulder blades too. The hands will reach towards the back door of the heart, and in some cases, in some bodies, will join there.
This pose is based on the strength required to move the elbows closer to the body- the top arm towards the head, the bottom arm towards the side seam. We often think it is our lack of flexibility that prevents the full expression of this pose. Range of motion depends so much on strength, beautifully demonstrated in this pose. Range of motion is also dependent on proper positioning. If we are not positioned correctly (in this pose the position being elbows close in to the body) no matter how flexible our shoulders are, our hands wont join. The forearms are just not long enough to span the space of our back. Much like Lojong, if our point of view is positioned on the sense of "I", and not closer in to the core of our being, compassion remains outside of our grasp. Our hearts will not join with the other. Lojong encourages us to shift our prospective to the Boddhichitta, which requires a certain type of strength and flexibility. Once in that arena our view is much different, and more lies within our reach.
The slogans as outlined by Pema Chodron are listed below. Take a look. See what is within your reach right now, and then what you are able to reach for at the end of the month.
Lojong is the Tibetan Buddhist practice that involves working with short phrases (called "slogans") as a way of generating bodhichitta, the heart and mind of enlightened compassion. Though the practice is more than a millennium old, it has become popular in the West only in the last twenty years or so—and it has become very popular indeed, because it's a practice that one can fit very well into an ordinary life, and because it works.Through the influence of Pema Chödrön, who was one of the first American Buddhist teachers to teach it extensively, the practice has moved out of its Buddhist context to affect the lives of non-Buddhists too.
ONE: The preliminaries, which are the basis for dharma practice
First, train in the preliminaries.
TWO: The main practice, which is training
Regard all dharmas as dreams.
Examine the nature of unborn awareness.
Self-liberate even the antidote.
Rest in the nature of alaya, the essence.
In postmeditation, be a child of illusion.
Sending and taking should be practiced alternately. These two should ride
Three objects, three poisons, three roots of virtue.
In all activities, train with slogans.
Begin the sequence of sending and taking with yourself.
THREE: Transformation of Bad Circumstances into the Way of Enlightenment
When the world is filled with evil, transform all mishaps into the path of bodhi.
Drive all blames into one.
Be grateful to everyone.
Seeing confusion as the four kayas is unsurpassable shunyata protection.
Four practices are the best of methods.
Whatever you meet unexpectedly, join with meditation.
FOUR: Showing the Utilization of Practice in One's Whole Life
Practice the five strengths, the condensed heart instructions.
The mahayana instruction for ejection of consciousness at death is the five strengths: how you conduct yourself is important.
FIVE: Evaluation of Mind Training
All dharma agrees at one point.
Of the two witnesses, hold the principal one.
Always maintain only a joyful mind.
If you can practice even when distracted, you are well trained.
SIX: Disciplines of Mind Training
Always abide by the three basic principles.
Change you attitude, but remain natural.
Don't talk about injured limbs.
Don't ponder others.
Work with the greatest defilements first.
Abandon any hope of fruition.
Abandon poisonous food.
Don't be so predictable.
Don't malign others.
Don't wait in ambush.
Don't bring things to a painful point.
Don't transfer the ox's load to the cow.
Don't try to be the fastest.
Don't act with a twist.
Don't make gods into demons.
Don't seek others' pain as the limbs of your own happiness.
SEVEN: Guidelines of Mind Training
All activities should be done with one intention.
Correct all wrongs with one intention.
Two activities: one at the beginning, one at the end.
Whichever of the two occurs, be patient.
Observe these two, even at the risk of your life.
Train in the three difficulties.
Take on the three principal causes.
Pay heed that the three never wane.
Keep the three inseparable.
Train without bias in all areas. It is crucial always to do this pervasively
Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment.
Don't be swayed by external circumstances.
This time, practice the main points.
Liberate yourself by examining and analyzing.
Don't wallow in self-pity.
Don't be jealous.
Don't be frivolous.
Don't expect applause.
When the five dark ages occur,
This is the way to transform them into the path of bodhi.
This is the essence of the amrita of the oral instructions,
Which were handed down from the tradition of the sage Suvarnadvipa.
Having awoken the karma of previous training
And being urged on by my intense dedication,
I disregarded misfortune and slander
And received oral instruction on taming ego-fixation.
Now, even at death, I will have no regrets.