Regard All Dharmas As Dreams

by Larry Steele

Walter Parker’s favorite Lojong slogan is #2: “Regard all dharmas as dreams.” 

“It speaks to emptiness,” Walter said recently. “It reminds us that ultimately we are making everything up. All that head tripping! Our monkey minds never seem to stop projecting our own neuroses on the world.”

Walter Parker will offer his very popular class, “Lojong: Buddhist Teachings on Compassion and Mind Training,” for five Monday evenings, July 29 through August 26.

Lojong are a set of Buddhist slogans formulated in Tibet during the 12th century as a practice for mind training.

If you have a deck of Pema Chodron’s Compassion Cards, every day you can contemplate a new Lojong. Maybe you will place the card on a little stand to face you while you meditate, or as you come and go through your front door. When you turn up the card #2: Regard all dharmas as dreams, “it can help you cut through your own narration,” about whatever you experience, Walter said.

As a student of Chogyam Trungpa and a professor of social studies and education at the University of Washington, Walter combines the profound vision and the practical life skills that are balanced in Lojong practice.

Another key Lojong is “Sending and taking should be practiced alternately. These two should ride the breath.” This is the first slogan about how to live in the relative, or daily, world. It expresses the practice of Tonglen, which will be a focus of the class.

“Tonglen is like an atom bomb for the ego,” Walter said. In the practice you send out happiness to others on the out-breath, and take in the suffering that others feel on the in-breath. This can be really difficult.

The class will focus on Pema Chodron’s book, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living, which is required reading. A companion book by Zen teacher Norman Fisher, Training in Compassion, would make good comparative reading.

“Pema Chodron has such a friendly way of explaining every practice,” Walter said. Concurrently, “it is always good to have multiple interpretations.”

Like slogan #1, which says “First train in the preliminaries,” students attending the Lojong class should have at least six months of meditation experience. This could include practice with Shambhala or other lineages.

Are you ready for a refresher course in loving kindness? Sign up now! 

“Lojong: Buddhist Teachings on Compassion and Mind Training” starts Monday, July 29th.

Walter Parker has been a student of Chogyam Trungpa since 1975 and a student of Pema Chodron since the 90’s. We are fortunate to have him join us for this book reading and discussion for the wisdom he brings to the subject. He will also bring other teacher’s interpretations of Lojong into the discussions. He is a long time member of the Seattle Shambhala Center and a professor of education at the University of Washington.

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