The first of the Lojong (mind training practice) slogans is to train in the preliminaries. Preparation for training the mind cannot be done only once though, it must be repeated often. It requires that we continually remind ourselves of why we decided on a spiritual path to begin with.
Trunga Rinpoche, an important teacher in the Kagyü lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, used the analogy of combing the hair, saying each time we go back to the root. When we remind ourselves of what inspired our journey on a spiritual path, we are often able to reconnect. This means reminding ourselves of the human condition, both as an abstract concept and of our own specific condition according to Judy Lief, a teacher in the Shambala tradition of Chogyam Trunga Rinpoche.
No matter who we are there are always things that are out of our control; sickness, aging, and dying amongst them. This can lead to a human condition that manifests in a great deal of frustration, anger, and grief. But then there are the times that we are amazed at what life has to offer us. We feel so blissful and content and peaceful. Either of these types of events could have sparked the desire to know more. Perhaps these moments made us want to look more deeply into what it is to be alive, to ask whether there wasn’t something more than what we see. Perhaps events in our lives have brought about changes within us that at one time we thought impossible. For me, the journey involved quitting drinking which allowed me to remove the blinders I wore and see how much pain I was creating both for myself and those who cared about me. When I feel overwhelmed by whatever situation I am encountering, I know deep down that it’s never worse than it was then.
Lief suggests “as you go about your day, notice whether you are using the business of your life as a reminder of your inspiration to awaken or as an excuse to continue sleeping.” Right now I am experiencing some pain in my body that is not allowing me to practice asana (yoga poses) the way that I normally do. It’s quite frustrating for me and there is a part of me that is rebelling against this human condition. And yet, I do not wish to continue sleeping and so I will remind myself of why I went down this path to begin with; because in the beginning it had nothing to do with my physical body and everything to do with making my spirit and mind more peaceful.