This is part 24 of my series on Lojong, a Buddhist mind-training technique.
Attitude is our customary way of thinking and it colors everything that comes into our minds and therefore all of our actions. The attitude that must change, according to this slogan, is that you are more important than others. This is thought to be an ingrained position in most human beings. Others come second. In an effort to practice loving-kindness and compassion for others this slogan asks that we put others first.
This slogan is a more challenging one for me; not because I have a hard time putting others first, but because I find that many people, especially women, do this all the time – sometimes to their detriment. When we always put another first and do not nourish ourselves, we have nothing to give. I had to really think about this slogan. We sometimes do put our children, partners or jobs first. We don’t, however, put people that are outside our inner circle or other creatures or even the earth first. We often consider what will be easiest for us and our families and friends right now as opposed to considering the greatest good for all of the world. We use resources often without thought or kill randomly (insects that are doing no harm for example) without thought. We do think that we humans are first; or that we who live in a specific area come first; or that our generation comes first. We must, as individuals, ensure that we take time for our own selves to remain healthy and happy. Have we really considered what it is that will bring happiness though- real bliss as opposed to those fleeting episodes of happiness? It just might be that when we put the world first instead of ourselves and those closest to us that we find bliss and peace.
If we are able to shift our attitude so that we consider the welfare of others in the world we can master this slogan. It doesn’t need to be about grand gestures though; simple thoughts and actions that move us in the direction of awareness and loving-kindness for all is the goal on this spiritual journey of Lojong.