Shönu Gyalchok and Könchok Gyaltsen. Mind Training: The Great Collection. Trans. and ed. by Thupten Jinpa. Message from the Dalai Lama. Boston, Mass.: Wisdom Publications, 2006. Hardcover, xv + 693 pp.
Compiled in the fifteenth century, this is the earliest anthology on mind training ( lojong), containing no fewer than 43 individual texts authored in the period between the eleventh and the fifteenth centuries.
The word lo in the phrase lojong ( blosbyong) denotes “mind,” “thought,” or “attitude.” The word jong means “training,” “cultivation,” “habituation,” or “purification.” Lojong, which is a key practice of Tibetan Buddhism, stands for the discipline of generating the mind of awakening, or bodhicitta, which is the profoundly transformative aspiration to attain enlightenment as quickly as possible in order to benefit all sentient beings. It involves, most significantly, a reeducation of the emotions, which in the ordinary individual are ego-based and often negative.
Traditionally, lojong is the practice of putting others first, that is, mindfully actualizing an altruistic motive and attitude. In other words, the ego is suspended in one’s volitions, thoughts, feelings, and actions. This manifests in the form of compassion, kindness, generosity, and the other great virtues that characterize the life of a bodhisattva.
At the heart of lojong is the meditative practice of tonglen, “giving and taking,” consisting in surrendering one’s happiness to others and assimilating their suffering instead.
The teachings on mind training, as defined above, are traced back to the great master Atīsha, who also formulated the “Stages of the Path” (see his marvelous Lamp for the Path of Enlightenment). A century later, his scattered teachings on lojong were gathered together by Langri Thangpa (Eight Verses on Mind Training) and Chekawa (Seven-Point Mind Training), both of which are found in this volume along with Atīsha’s ownBodhisattva’s Jewel Garland.
Each text in this anthology, compiled by two great masters, is like a sparkling jewel in a precious crown, which derives its luminosity from the spiritual realization of the adept who wrote it.
Thupten Jinpa, the editor and translator, is a most erudite guide whose introduction and annotations to the texts greatly facilitate the reader’s understanding of the essentially simple but multifaceted tradition of mind training.
I have a feeling that this volume will be one of my favorite sources of inspiration in the years to come.
Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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