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 Formal Practice   Chogyam Trungpa

Sending and Taking Should Be Practiced Alternately. These Two Should Ride the Breath
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Tibet/Kailas Pilgrimage Blog
Sending and taking is a very important practice of the Boddhisattva path. It is called tonglen in Tibetan: 'tong' means 'sending out' or 'letting go' and 'len' means 'receiving' or 'accepting'. 'Tonglen' is a very important term; you should remember it. It is the main practice in the development of relative Bodhicitta.
The practice of tonglen is actually quite straightforward ; it is an actual sitting meditation practice. You give away your happiness, your pleasure, anything that feels good. All of that goes out with the outbreath. As you breathe in, you breathe in any resentments and problems, anything that feels bad. The whole point is to remove territoriality altogether.

The practice of tonglen is very simple. We do not first have to sort out our doctrinal definitions of goodness and evil. We simply breathe out any old good and breathe in any old bad. At first we may seem to be relating primarily to our IDEAS of good and bad. But as we go on, it becomes more real.

Sometimes we feel terrible that we are breathing in poison which might kill us and at the same time breathing out whatever little goodness we have. It seems to be completely impractical,. But once we begin to break through, we realize that we have even more goodness and we also have more things to breathe in. So the whole process becomes somewhat balanced...But tonglen should not be used as any kind of antidote. You do not do it and then wait for the effect - you just do it and drop it. It doesn't matter whether it works or not: if it works, you breathe that out; if it does not work, you breathe that in. So you do not possess anything. That is the point.

Usually you would like to hold on to your goodness. you would like to make a fence around yourself and put everything bad outside it: foreigners, your neighbors, or what have you. You don't want them to come in. You don't even want your neighbors to walk their dogs on your property because they might make a mess on your lawn. So in ordinary samsaric life. you don't send and receive at all. You try as much as possible to guard those pleasant little situations you have created for yourself. You try to put them in a vacuum, like fruit in a tin, completely purified and clean. You try to hold on to as much as you can, and anything outside of your territory is regarded as altogether problematic. You don't want to catch the local influenza or the local diarrhea attack that is going around. You are constantly trying to ward off as much as you can.

...The Mahayana path is trying to show us that we don't have to secure ourselves. We can afford to extend out a little bit - quite a bit... if you develop the attitude of being willing to part with your precious things, to give away your precious things to others, that can help begin to create a good reality.

How do we actually practice tonglen? First we think about our parents, or our friends, or anybody who has sacrificed his or her life for our benefit. In many cases, we have never even said thank you to them. It is very important to think about that, not in order to develop guilt but just to realize how mean we have been. We always say "I want", and they did so much for us, without any complaint... If we do not have that, then we are somewhat in trouble, we begin to hate the world - but there is also a measure for that, which is to breathe in our hatred and resentment of the world. If we do not have good parents, a good mother, or a good person who reflected such a kind attitude toward us to think about, then we can think of ourselves.


Just relate to the technique: the discursiveness of it doesn't matter. when you are out, you are out; when you come in, you are in. When you are hot, you are hot; when you are cool, you are cool... Make it very literal and simple. We don't want to make this into a revolutionary sor

From Training the Mind & Cultivating Loving-Kindness by Chogyam Trungpa , copyright 1993 by Diana Mukpo.
(Official Chogyam Trungpa Website)
Published by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston.

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A contemporary reinterpretation of the proverbs, building on Jamgon Kongtrul's 19th century commentary, by the first man to teach Mind Training extensively in the West.
Fascinating autobiographical account of Trungpa's early life and training in Tibet, his daring escape to India, and his teaching in the West.
'The problem is that the ego can convert anything to its own use, even spirituality'. His incisive, compassionate teachings serve to wake us up from this trick that we all play on ourselves, and to offer us a far brighter reality: the true and joyous liberation that inevitably involves letting go of the self rather than working to improve it.
Incisive teachings by one of the most influential Tibetan Buddhist teachers in the West. A central theme: giving up our hopes that meditation will bring us bliss or tranquility or make us better or wiser people or otherwise serve our ego's purposes, and realizing the liberation that is right here within our pain and confusion and neurosis.