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Lojong, Mind Cultivation
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Mind-Cultivation

The precious gems of literature [are] known as proverbs, elegant sayings, golden precepts. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz (1968:251n)

Cultivating the mind

If you learn worded gems well, you may well profit from them - it could happen. They could come in handy at times, and more than that too. Here is how in a nutshell; there is lore about it: Meditate to sharpen up, and focus on the selected mantras or other words of wisdom that suit you. That is a great part of what mind-cultivation is about. Lojong is a Tibetan word for that. Mind-training is also a term that is used.

Lojong might help a study. Going deep through the art of meditation and then focus on select utterances when the mind is calm, is a means to cultivating the mind by probably learning more deeply. There are good things to say about meditation in its own right, and meditation yoked to learning is tall help in its way too, or can be. [◦Huffington Post article]

Laxer ways of mind-cultivation bring tenets into focus during a meditative calm, to help learning them well. Lojong is the term for that. Christian contemplation is similar.

Samyama

Samyama is a certain way of cultivating the mind during deep meditation; and lojong is either (a) that, or (b) after-meditation practice, or (c) both. It can be used in either way that suits us, and results tend to depend on the skills developed.

Samyama practice goes far back in time in India. In Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (3:4 etc), for example, the meditative skills that are called samyama, signify meditative focus on tenets, and with a very terse tale of the fruits (the results, the powers, sidhis) that may be gathered from it. The Yoga Sutras were compiled in antiquity, estimatedly somewhere between the fifth century BCE and the 4th century CE. So mental cultivation is a part of higher yoga, and been practiced for two thousand years or more.

Brain studies

That some forms of meditation foster better coordinated brain hemispheres and more unison discharges in the brain, is documented by research on the brain waves of meditators versus non-meditators. Jean Paul Banquet, who is now at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, informs in his article "Spectral Analysis of the EEG in Meditation" (in Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology 35(2):143-51, September 1973) how

EEG [electroencephalography] combined with spectral analysis was performed on a group of subjects during Transcendental Meditation (TM). The findings were compared with those obtained in a resting control group. (1) Alpha rhythm increased in amplitude, slowed down in frequency and extended to anterior channels at the beginning of mediation. (2) In a second stage, theta frequencies different from those of sleep diffused from frontal to posterior channels. They took the form of short theta periods or longer rhythmic theta trains. (3) Rhythmic amplitude-modulated beta waves were present over the whole scalp in a third stage of deep meditation by advanced subjects. (4) The most striking topographical alteration was the synchronisation of anterior and posterior channels. Therefore EEG records from meditators practising TM distinguish the meditative state from other states of consciousness. The combination of sequential EEG changes in relation to topographical alterations produces a particular pattern. (Abstract)

Further, fast brain waves go along with concentration, or better focusing skill. When a meditated brain focuses on lessons to be learnt, grades improve, according to averages-based statistics. It means that if - say - fifty students learn TM and practice it twice dayly for three years, their grads tend to improve. [◦Research findings on TM].

If a better coordinating brain focuses with a little skill on selected statements, they might form more durable memory networks. In that way meditative focus may help memory, and thereby help study. In fact, there is research that document that students who meditate the TM way, get better grades. It is not just the destressing that TM helps.

A historical look

In ancient India, and the medieval times in Tibet, meditative focus was used to learn texts very well. Buddhist teachings, for example, were originally handed over orally for decades, before they were put down in writing. The same is told about ancient Vedic teachings. They were transmitted orally for a long time before they were written down. And after they were written down, many of them or parts of them were learnt by heart.

So the method of lojong is very old, and has been practised from long before the current era. Further, there is research that TM is good for students. Deep meditation may be used together with focus on "things". The TM-Sidhi program is described as a natural extension of the Transcendental Meditation technique. The extention is marked by good use of samyama.

Fruit-Talk
There are seeds for mind, growth of seeds and saplings in the mind, and in time good fruit from many of them if all goes well.

Polished and precious gems of literature may be found among proverbs, sayings, precepts, aphorisms and teachings that are

expressive of the very quintessence of mankind's experiences throughout the ages; they set forth . . . principles and common denominators of life. Accordingly, . . . If made the bases for various exercises in meditation . . . they will be found productive of much spiritual fruit. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz (1968:251n).

That may well be, but it is hardly well documented by rigid research - not yet, at any rate. The benefits of coupling deep meditaton and learning a curriculum are documented by better grades, on the other hand (see the link above).

Lojong and Superlearning

Buddhist Vajrayana practices involve proverbs or mottoes used as tools of Mind Training (Tibetan: lojong and lamrim), a practice made known by Chekawa already in the 1100s. First get into a deep meditative state by a suitable method, next reflect on a chosen saying or two or three in the light of "go on living", for example, and then go on living! You can build a wisdom base that can come in handy in this way.

Today you may use recorded sayings too, to ease your way to benefit from neat and useful sayings "deeply, quickly and easily": Record them in a pleasant way, spacing them out with, say, 5 seconds between each one (it is a variant of "Superlearning" (see further down). Subdued, mild and pleasant music may be good along with it too.

Then play your recordings for up to 50 minutes at night, trying to relax or meditate as the recorded sayings work on the subtler levels of mind. It may take several repeats with at least two days between each, till you find you get fruits of such practice. Then you should reap lots of "fruits" for your "life handling base" by opportune sayings coming to mind as needed, just as when people are reminded of proverbs and the like - by associative networks too. To derive great benefits from wisdom tenets is thus largely up to you. Feel free to try.

Superlearning is a learning-method developed by the scientist Georgi Lozanov. It could be good for passive learning of the curriculum also. Little by little, integrating fair new thoughts with what you already know, seems to be a good way to learn a language. Superlearning (Psychopädie in German) may be useful for learning a lot in a quite relaxed way. One may try and find and adapt a tenable method to test it out when not upset. Some basic steps are:

  • Be comfortably arranged, and refrain from trusting a lot, for trust may be abused. Just be lax. Relax and listen.
  • Make sure you understand the words. A teacher or dictionary may solve those problems.
  • Have many wisely meted out periods of listening.
  • Soft background music may be added for those who like soft music.
  • After some repeated playbacks of the words of wisdom, the sayings may be made more active by being recalled and drawn on as time goes by.

The subject of lojong, of mind training based on ideas to consider, is extensively covered in Tibetan Buddhism. A good overview and five links are found in the Wikipedia article on Lojong. Also, the Berzin Archives cover lojong at length: [◦Berzin Archives]

A beautiful mind

Lojong may fit positive thinking as an outlet of positive psychology. There are many sides to them. It may help to be realistic, calm and tactful along the road.


Lojong, mind-cultivation, focused attention, mind-training, Literature  

Berzin, Alexander, and Dalai Lama. Fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism – Level 3: Lojong (Mind Training) Material.. Berlin: The Berzin Archives, 2003–2016. ⍽▢⍽; The Archives presents Lojong material and much else from the Tibetan traditions: Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu, Gelug, and Bon - among other subjects..

Evans-Wentz, W. ed: The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation or the Method of Realizing Nirvana through Knowing the Mind. London: Oxford University Press, 1968. ⍽▢⍽; The fourth and final book in the Tibetan series from Dr Walter Y. Evans-Wentz, it tells of a mental yoga practice called the Supreme Path. Padma-Sambhava brought this yoga to Tibetan Buddhists in the 700s. Dr. Evans-Wentz was a student of the Sikkim translator for years, and has got world renown for these four works. The original was first published in 1954 (same publishers), and there are no text changes in this edition, only expanded preliminary matter, with a psychological commentary by Carl Gustav Jung. A new translation called Self-Liberation Through Seeing With Naked Awareness (etc.) (tr. John M. Reynolds, 2nd ed. Snow Lion, Boston, 2010), could be useful as well. The treasure text, terma, is said to be a work by Padma Sambhava and later rediscovered. - The text expounds Dzogchen ("Great Perfection") views on the best enlightenment path. There are meditation practices aimed at realizing the state of Great Perfection too. Dzogchen is central in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, and is also practiced in other schools.

Könchok Yenlak. A Concise Lojong Manual. Tr. Pamela Gayle White. Boudha Phulbari, Kathmandu: Marpa Kagyu Dharma Preservation Center, 2010. ⍽▢⍽; Here is a condensed, accessible presentation of lojong, mind training maxims and explanations. Tibetan texts with good English translations are included, as well as a brief biographical sketch of the author, who was the fifth Shamarpa, Shamar Könchok Yenlak (1526–83).

Rigpa Translations. Lojong Texts: An Anthology. Lotsawa House, 2012. ⍽▢⍽; Brief aspirations allied with positive thinking, in short.

Rinpoche, Thrangu. The Seven Points of Mind Training. Auckland, NZ: Zhyisil Chokyi Ghatsal Publications, 2004. ⍽▢⍽; The work is a compilation of pithy points. The text deals with Buddha thought on practices to develop by. Thrangu Rinpoche expounds the meaning and methods of these teachings as fit for daily life.
     Lojong is a mind training practice that was brought to Tibet in the 1040s by a teacher from the Nalanda University in India. He produced the root text of the training, A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. A Tibetan, Geshe Chekawa Yeshe Dorje (1101-1175 CE), produced a commentary on lojong points, The Seven Points of Training of the Mind. The text is a set of aphorisms.
     Among Tibetans, the teachings on lojong training were for a long time secret oral instructions in a tradition established by the venerable Gampopa (1079–1153). He established the Kagyu school (form) of Tibetan Buddhism, and the Kagyu school is today one of its four main schools (forms).
     The practice is one of refining and purifying one's motives and attitudes. One may engage in mind training while doing everyday things.

Shakya Milan. Mind Training Practice (Lojong) of Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana. Thesis. Kirtipur, Nepal: Tribhuvan University: Central Department of Buddhist Studies. ⍽▢⍽;

Thupten Jinpa, ed and tr. Gyalchok, Shönu, and Könchok Gyaltsen, comps. Mind Training: The Great Collection. The Institute of Tibetan Classics and Wisdom Publications, 2006. ⍽▢⍽; Compiled in the 1400s, this highly recommended classic is the earliest known anthology of "mind training," or lojong in Tibetan. It contains 43 individual texts authored in the period between the 100os and the 1400s. The main focus of these texts is altruistic thoughts and emotions through pragmatism and down-to-earth advice on coping and living. The volume contains forty-four individual texts, including the most important works of the mind training genre, together with the earliest commentaries on these seminal texts. The compilaton is a lovely contribution to the world's literary heritage. It can open doors for those who practice its teachings well enough.

Ostrander, Sheila, and Lynn Schroeder, with Nancy Ostrander. Superlearning 2000: New Triple Fast Ways You Can Learn, Earn, and Succeed in the 21st Century. New York: Dell, 1997.

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