In this series, Lojong Mind Training in Seven Points, you will be listening to lightly edited audio teachings by Gelek Rimpoche given from January through September 1999 in Ann Arbor.

Buddha shared that the actual source for both happiness and suffering lies within our own minds, adding that to free ourselves from suffering we must address our addictive habitual patterns. Among them, the most compelling and difficult to come to terms with is our continual creation of “ego”. In this commentary Gelek Rimpoche provides “nine bullets to target the ego”. When they land their targets, the way is made clear for us to deepen our qualities of innate goodness.

Descriptions for teaching sessions 15-27 follow.

Clinging to Self – the Obstacle to Happiness
Session 15

Gelek Rimpoche probes the Buddhist understanding of this ‘clinging to self’ from different angles to make it relevant for his spiritual friends. Rimpoche uses topical villains drawn from the day’s news to set the stage into which he applies spiritual insights like Shantideva’s ‘ghost’ that is always with us. He then turns to traditional stories to illustrate our struggle with this shadowy ghost who steals all our happiness and joy.

Our Mind – the Creator of Karma
Session 16

Gelek Rimpoche focuses on Karma as the controlling factor of our lives. He stresses the importance of mind in creating karma, and as a precursor to both speech and action. After discussing positive, negative, and neutral actions he suggests that all the suffering in all of existence comes from our love of ego.

The Wheel of Sharp Weapons and Lojong – Different Styles of Mind Training
Session 17

Gelek Rimpoche quotes from the Wheel of Sharp Weapons which he offers as an analogous form of mind training to Lojong. He suggests that our habit of blaming others is misguided. Acknowledging our survival as being dependent upon others and their kindnesses, we should turn all blames to our own ego.

The Practice of Tong Len
Session 18

Gelek Rimpoche discusses the practice of Tong Len (exchanging self for others). Tong Len counters the ego by turning it around to pursue opposite tendencies. We imagine taking in the worst qualities of others and giving back the best of what we have. Although Tong Len is initially imaginary in one sense, it is an effective mind training technique.

Different Ways to Practice Tong Len
Session 19

Gelek Rimpoche expounds on different ways of meditating Tong Len. He explores ways to see others that begin to trick the ego and empathize with the plight of our fellow beings. He discusses visualizing the ego as a heap of dirty things in the center of the body – seeing this as the target of our work. When giving energy back to others he suggests visualizing it as a wish-fulfilling genie lamp. He concludes by connecting Tong Len practice to the Four Noble Truths.

The Importance of Tong Len
Session 20

Gelek Rimpoche summarizes the importance of Tong Len. He states that ‘taking’ is training in compassion while ‘giving’ is training in love. Love and Compassion are one mind with two separate aspects. Compassion longs to remove suffering from all sentient beings just as love wishes them joy and happiness. He shows how to use the Lama Chopa verse for three types of giving (body, wealth, and spiritual development).

Questions and Answers around Tong Len Topics
Session 21

In this session Gelek Rimpoche answers questions that range from topics of ego, bodhimind, and compassion to fears about the Tong Len exchange practice itself.

Learning, Thinking, and Meditating on the Three Poisons and Three Virtues
Session 22

What is the difference between relative and ultimate bodhimind? What are the three poisons and three virtues? What is involved in developing wisdom? Rimpoche begins to review key ideas in this Lojong teaching. Here, he highlights the importance of applying focused effort to speed up, strengthen and stabilize our capacity for bodhimind. He urges us to be happy when we succeed at defeating the poisons of attachment, hatred, and ignorance; and when we take these poisons from others in order to relieve their suffering.

How to Train Your Mind in Compassion and Love: Synopsis 1
Session 23

What are the five main ideas of this Lojong teaching? How can we transform negativities that harm the environment and others? How can suffering and enjoyments serve as my teacher or guide, or as a reminder? Rimpoche begins to lay out a concise summary of seven points Mind Training. In his review of the first three of five main ideas, he discusses the importance of preliminary practices; the relative and ultimate forms of bodhimind; and how to make best use of obstacles and unfavorable conditions.

How to Train Your Mind in Compassion and Love: Synopsis 2
Session 24

How do I integrate this practice into my life? What is the “white seed?” What are the “5 forces of virtue” and “5 forces of dying”? Rimpoche continues to review the five main ideas of Seven Point Mind Training. Here, he explains more about how to transform obstacles into the path; and he offers commentary on the fourth idea, spelling out how to integrate this practice into one’s life by applying the “five forces of living” and “five forces of dying.”

How to Train Your Mind in Compassion and Love: Synopsis 3
Session 25

How do I apply the “five forces of living”? What can I do as I am dying? What is the Lojong Phowa? Rimpoche continues to review five main ideas of the Seven Point Mind Training. Here, he elaborates on the “five forces of living” and “5 forces of dying.” Through compelling storytelling he highlights the Lojong Phowa. He also discusses how to destroy the ego by using oneself and others as witnesses.

How to Train Your Mind in Compassion and Love: Synopsis 4
Session 26

What is the main purpose of this practice? What are the “five great-nesses?” Rimpoche continues to review the final ideas of Seven Point Mind Training and discusses the fifth idea of combining all dharma into one intention, to destroy the ego. He reminds us that suffering is impermanent, and offers an explanation of the “five great-nesses.” To elaborate on these, he shares a moving story told to him by Ram Dass.

How to Train Your Mind in Compassion and Love: Synopsis 5
Session 27

We have a rough edge to our mind. Improve yourself. Be more gentle, more kind. Love and compassion is your protection. Rimpoche concludes his teaching on Seven Point Mind Training and underscores the importance of equanimity; the Four Immeasurables; patience; and keeping one’s commitment. Training the mind with these good works gives us good results, and makes our life worthwhile.

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