In this week’s Meditation & More session, our focus was turned to the Lojong slogan – “Three objects, three poisons, three seeds of virtue”, and for this, I used some coloured masks to convey the teaching as though we are looking at life through a coloured lens. As a visual learner, I’m always looking for ways to support this, even in meditation.
Consider this: You’ve sat for your meditation practice, whether 10 or 20 minutes or even an hour, and you may, as a result, have found a sense of calm. Getting up off your cushion and re-engaging with life, we want to be able to maintain this as life is an extension of our practice. It doesn’t end the moment we get up and move away from the cushion.
My meditation teacher, Maarten Vermaase, always uses the phrase ‘mind the gap’. Like London Transport’s constant reminder when getting on / off a train, we also need to be aware of what can happen in that gap between meditation and life.
The post-meditation period is where we put everything into perspective and practice. So this label is a remedy, of sorts. Something we can apply to our everyday encounters because we label everything. As you read this, you may be unaware of it, but there’s a categorising of sorts happening. We categorise our world and the people we meet constantly. This is ok sometimes, because after all, we need to know if we can trust someone.
I recently watched all of the Hunger Games movies back-to-back over a weekend, and it was interesting to see how the contestants had to quickly work out which groups the others fell into and whether they could be allies.
Our lives are not the Hunger Games, though we often behave as though our lives depend on certain outcomes.
Problems arise when the categories we use move from being somewhat simple observations to more solid definitions of how we are viewing everything.
Friend, enemy, stranger in terms of how we view others.
When it comes to aspects of life the 3 objects are desire – we want more of something; aggression – we want less of something, we push things away; indifference – no fixed feeling, quite neutral, though it needs to be remembered that indifference is still a feeling.
Attachment – by desiring more, we form attachments as we want to hold on to the people and things that make us feel good or happy. Anger – we become aggressive when the happiness ends, we don’t want this in our lives, this isn’t how it was meant to be. Ignorance – we’re not really forming a strong opinion and therefore are neither strongly attracted or repelled by something.
3 Seeds of virtue:
This is applying our vigilance off the cushion.
Friend – this is someone we feel we can rely on, trust even. How many times have we experienced a friend letting us down or destroying our trust to then become someone we dislike – an enemy? Apply the seed of non-desire – not becoming attached to people or things as they have the ability to change.
Enemy – this is someone we have a dislike or even hatred for. Someone we don’t believe we could ever trust. We all have an experience though of someone like this showing us another side to themselves and therefore giving us cause to reconsider our original thoughts (label) about them. Non-anger – endeavouring not to be aggressive or dismissive of these people, as they can so often change from being an enemy to a friend.
Stranger – this person can likewise fall into the label of either a friend or an enemy. Non-ignorance – being aware at all times as causes and conditions change our perception of someone or something can too.
Ultimately what we are striving for is to see that everyone and everything deserves to be met with a clear lens – our judgement isn’t coloured.
Notice your labelling – when you react, notice what you are reacting to and which object / poison is being played out.
Claire runs a monthly meditation group in the Watford area. Teaching is based on Calm Abiding (Shamatha) from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The sessions also comprise a monthly exploration of a lojong slogan together with vibrant discussion from the current book that is being read, combined with 2 – 3 meditation practices.
[Image: Google blackandlizars.com]