Lojong: Training the Mind to be Happy

"The mind that cherishes all living beings and would secure them in bliss is the gateway leading to infinite virtue. Seeing this, I seek your inspiration to cherish these beings more than my life, even should they rise up as my enemy." (passage from the Guru Puja) "Mind training" (Tibetan: lo-jong ) refers to a specific collection of teachings within Mahayana Buddhism. It consists of many different reflections written by great Kadampa masters such as Geshe Langri-Tangpa (1054-1123), and Geshe Chekawa (1102-1176).
The purpose of these teachings is to transform the mind of the spiritual aspirant, from one of self centered preoccupation, the source of all problems, into a mind that wishes to perfect all of one's positive qualities in order to be of highest service to all sentient beings. When one has developed this mind of awakening (bodhicitta) to its fullest, every action, word, and thought is infused with the precious thought to benefit others, while simultaneously seeing clearly into the nature of truth - the wisdom that directly (nonconceptually) understands the reality of interdependence and emptiness.
For most people, including myself, intention is barely conscious, if at all. We tend to act solely out of habit. The most pervasive habit amongst unenlightened beings is " the self habit". We tend to relate to the world from the perspective of an inherently existent self that sees itself as separate from the rest of existence. This habitual view does not accord with the way things actually exist though, and according to the Buddha, this misapprehension is what leads us blindly around the wheel of becoming, the beginning-less cycle of problems called "samsara." The self does exist, but not solidly, independently, or inherently, as it so strikingly seems.
The "bodhisattva", or being dedicated to full awakening, endeavors to bring all mental intentions into conscious awareness and make them one with the mind of bodhicitta, transforming them int o one powerful force capable of realizing the state of Buddahood, the innate potential existing within all beings. By training oneself to bring the magnificent heart-mind of enlightenment into all activities of body, speech, and mind, our daily life rises from a mundane existence to a deeply meaningful and fulfilling experience. Actually there is no "mundane" or "ordinary" existence; that is simply another deluded habit of mind, which conceptually creates the cognitive filter, giving it the label, "mundane ", or "ordinary". As we gradually realize this, we slowly transform all of our actions into a means for removing the adventitious stains borne of deluded action, thus revealing the innate clarity of our mind.
And as we practice in this way, we accumulat e vast quantities of merit or positive potential, which is one of the main causes for our own liberation and complete enlightenment. This process is in alignment with the law of dependent origination: All conditioned experiences arise solely on the basis of their causes, and ultimately, by virtue of conceptual imputation, or thought. So, if we wish to be free of suffering we need to stop creating the causes of suffering, and to practice instead, creating the causes for complete happiness.
Mindfulness and alertness is of great importance in this process, because before we can establish our intention, we first need to shine the light of awareness on the subtle mental currents of energy that precede all activity. In other words, we can't set a purely positive motivation until we become keenly aware of, and remove, all the subconscious motivations dominated by the deluded thoughts: "I, me, mine".
Meditations. Reflect on these and develop your own. The important point is to cultivate bodhicitta, the wish to benefit all beings, before every activity. "Practice is perfect."
Going to Sleep: I go to sleep now in order to rest my body and mind, in order that I may awaken refreshed and continue serving beings as I travel the path of awakening. (Recite every evening as you go to bed.)
First thought upon awakening: " How fortunate I am to have this precious human life. I resolve to not harm any living being. I wish to benefit all living beings. I wish to remove my mental obstacles in order to benefit all living beings." (Recite every morning, Lama Zopa Rinpoche)
Walking and breathing: With each footstep, and each breath, I lead all beings towards the infinite Buddha fields. As my foot connects with the Earth, and as I breathe out, love energy streams from the sole of my feet, healing the Earth, and all beings on the planet. From the Earth, with great compassion conjoined with my in breath, I draw up into myself, all of the suffering of all living beings, transforming this into a black beam which strikes the lump of selfishness at my heart, exploding the ignorance and revealing my Buddha nature. This is a variation on the "taking and giving" meditation (Tibetan: tong len) which is found in many Mahayana texts.
Going downstairs: Now I am descending to the lower realms of existence - the hells, ghost, and animal realms - in order to rescue those beings trapped there, relieving them of their terrible suffering.
Going upstairs: Now I am leading them to the higher realms of existence.
Turning on lights: With the flick of this switch, I illuminate the mind of all beings, with the supreme truth of reality, the inseparability of method and wisdom, compassion and emptiness, appearance and emptiness.
Opening a door: I am opening the door to wisdom, and in an instant, infinite beings awaken to the truth, giving them everlasting happiness.
Closing a door: I am now closing the door to the lower realms forever, and to ignorance, for myself, and for all beings.
Washing dishes, sweeping the floor: As I remove stains and dirt, I remove the stains and obscurations from the mind of all beings. I contemplate my own shortcomings and negative habits, strengthening my resolve to remove these. (One very dull monk, advised by the Buddha to practice this way, realized Nirvana by following this instruction.)
Eating: As I have dedicated this body to the service of others, I eat not for personal pleasure or amusement, but only in order to sustain this body so that it has energy to serve others. As I chew or drink the food, I gather into myself and all beings, the supreme nourishment of Dharma, the inspiration of the Buddha and the infinite field of merit. I imagine the food in the aspect of blissful wisdom nectar. With each bite I experience the bliss of insight into the nature of ultimate existence.
Driving (or riding in a bus/plane/yak train): I am traveling to the far shore of liberation. As I practice navigating through the many treacherous paths of samsara, I lead all beings to that safe haven with me. Whoever sees this vehicle, may they be filled with peace and may they find the path of liberation. May no one ever again experience anger, impatience, frustration, worry, or any disturbing emotion, and may these unpleasant mind states cease in all beings this instant. May all beings reach their destinations, whether worldly or ultimate, with safety and ease.
Speaking and listening: I speak in order to express noble thoughts of kindness, friendship, encouragement, truth, and nonharming. I ask sensitive questions and listen to others, in order to clarify my understanding of Dharma, as well as to understand these other beings more completely, always reflecting on the most skillful ways to benefit them.
Work: The work I perform is an act of service bringing benefit, seen and unseen, into the world. May the benefit created bring ease to the lives of countless beings, and may they thereby have greater opportunity and leisure, to meet and practice the Dharma, thus freeing their mind from internal bondage.
Putting on clothes. These are not ordinary clothes of an ordinary person, but the celestial silks of a divine being, bestowing uncontaminated bliss upon the wearer and all beings who behold them. With these celestial clothes, I shed my ordinary deluded identity and assume the divine identity of a Buddha - my own deepest nature.
Conclusion: Understand the basic idea? Be creative and make the path of awakening a joyful one. Create your own mind transformation exercises for brushing your teeth, typing at the computer, shopping, going to the church or temple, listening to spiritual teachings, and so forth.
May whoever reads these words instantly abide In supreme peace. May they actualize all levels and stages of the path, and may they lead infinite beings to realize the supreme peace of Buddhahood.