Manage episode 376786284 series 2496615
The Lojong slogan "Work with your greatest defilements first" emphasizes the importance of addressing the negative habit that is most deeply disturbing our inner peace and happiness. Lojong, which means "mind training" in Tibetan, is a set of teachings in Tibetan Buddhism aimed at developing compassion, wisdom, and the ability to transform adverse circumstances into opportunities for spiritual growth. Central to Lojong are short, pithy instructions called "slogans," like "Work with your greatest defilements first." By working with the habit that causes us the most problems first, we can make significant strides in our quest for peace and happiness.
In Buddhism, defilements (or kleshas in Sanskrit) refer to mental states that cloud the mind and lead to suffering. Sometimes called delusions or afflictions, common defilements include greed, anger, ignorance, pride, and jealousy.
Tackling our greatest defilement first helps us in two ways. First, we can open up so much more peace and joy in our lives. We also remove a major obstacle to spiritual growth. This approach acknowledges that we all have deeply ingrained habits that hinder our progress toward liberation and mental peace. It takes courage and vulnerability to take responsibility like this, especially if it’s creating a big mess in our lives or affecting others.
How to work with your greatest defilements first
The practice starts with self-awareness. We identify the habit causing us the most difficulties or suffering. Perhaps it is a delusion like jealousy that is currently very strong, like a thorn raking through our hearts. Or it is a habit that frequently bothers us. Through mindfulness, we observe how the habit is triggered. We also try to understand the consequences it brings.
Once revealed through mindfulness and self-reflection, our greatest defilement can then become a target, something we gradually work on as we gather spiritual tools. If it’s anger, for example, one can find Buddhist teachings focusing on anger or seek therapy to address it. Several episodes of this podcast are dedicated to working on anger, for example. We can't expect to solve our greatest defilement right away. However, we take a huge step toward peace just by becoming aware and taking responsibility for it.
Him I call a brahmana who has for him neither this shore (i.e., the sense-bases)
nor the other shore (i.e., the sense objects ),
and who is undistressed
and free from moral defilements. (Verse 385)
--Buddha, The Dhammapada
Links to References
Buddha (1986).The Dhammapada: Verses and Stories. Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A. (Website). Edited by Editorial Committee, Burma Tipitaka Association Rangoon. Courtesy .of Nibbana.com. For free distribution only, as a gift of dhamma.
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