That's a good one to remember if you find that the tonglen
practice has you crying a lot. This whole approach could evolve into self-pity very easily, and self-pity takes a lot of maintenance. You have to talk to yourself quite a bit to keep it up. the slogan is saying to get to know what self-pity feels like underneath the story line. That's how the training develops a genuine, openhearted, intelligent relationship with the whole variety of human experience.
We're so funny: the people who are crying a lot think that they shouldn't be, and the people who aren't crying think they should be. One man said to me that since he's not feeling anything when he does tonglen practice, maybe he should leave; he felt that he wasn't getting the point. He wasn't feeling mushy or warm; he was just kind of numb. I had to encourage him that a genuine experience of numbness is a genuine experience of what it is to be human.
It's all raw material for waking up. you can use numbness, mushiness, and self-pity even - it doesn't matter what it is - as long as you can go deeper, underneath the story line. That's where you connect with what it is to be human, and that's where the joy and the well-being come from - from the sense of being real and seeing realness in others.
From Start Where You Are : A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron, Copyright 1994, Shambhala Publications.
Published by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston.
This site provides an on-line database of commentaries on the Tibetan Buddhist meditation practices of lojong (Mind Training) and tonglen.