This is part of my series on Lojong, Buddhist Mind Training.
This slogan is somewhat straightforward and is more action oriented than some. It gives us four practices to incorporate into daily life.
1. The first practice is to accumulate merit. It’s not asking us to do good deeds to collect merit badges, though. Instead we do good deeds in order to disrupt our ego from taking over. Sometimes when we do good, it actually grows our egos. We do good deeds not to show how good we are, or to receive praise either from ourselves or another, but because we are all here to serve in some way.
2. The second practice is to lay down evil deeds. This sounds very ominous, but the lesson is simply to stop taking part in activities that are not for your greater spiritual self, such as actions that feed into your neurosis (confusion, stress, depression, anxiety etc that is brought on by our attachments). Give up guilt- that won’t help! And if you happen to take part in those activities again, be gentle with yourself. This isn’t about punishing yourself for ‘bad’ behaviour.
3. The third practice is to offer to the döns. Döns are sudden attacks of neurosis that seem to come out of nowhere. Accept these attacks as gifts- they shake us out of our complacency just in case we thought we’d mastered our minds! Offer thanks to the döns.
4. The fourth practice is to offer to the dharmapalas or dharma protectors. According to Acharya Judy Lief “dharmapalas are said to protect the integrity of the teachings and keep an eye on practitioners who lose their way. They are guardians of awareness.” When we lose our way, which is perfectly normal, it reminds us of the peace of mind that comes from a mindfulness practice. Appreciate the reminder – and then find your way back.