Buddhadharma in Everyday Life: Lojong Slogan “Perform All Activities with One Intention,” via Linda Lewis

Via on Dec 20, 2009

lojong atisha linda lewis

Buddhism: if your motivation is to be of benefit, then anything you do is meditation.

Perform All Activities with One Intention

Lojong XIV

By Linda V. Lewis

Atisha’s Lojong (“Mind-Training”) slogans are not rules or commandments to obey, but are helpful guidelines, suggesting how to proceed and be of benefit in everyday life.

Any activity in post-meditation (you know, after formal meditation practice) can be considered further practice if

(1) there has first been some meditation before the activity and (2) if there is the genuine motivation to be of benefit.  Motivation to be of benefit is the “One Intention” referred to in Atisha’s slogan:

Perform All Activities with One Intention

But this motivation needs to be continuous throughout the activity, because the inclination toward self-interest can rob us of that altruistic intention.

It doesn’t matter if we work inside an office in a crowded city, or do manual labor out on a farm in the spacious countryside. If our motivation is to eliminate suffering, our activity is dharmic.  And we can evaluate our post-meditation practice by honestly examining whether our speed, aggression, and ignorance are decreasing or whether our conduct has become more gentle.

This slogan captures the essence of the bodhisattva vow and what are known as “The Four Limitless Ones”:

May all sentient beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.

May they not be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering.

May they dwell in the great equanimity free from passion, aggression and prejudice.

Furthermore, this willingness to be helpful and to work for the well-being of all beings can spread from individuals to an entire society.  As environmental eyes are watching the climate conference in Copenhagen, my Canadian Prime Minister drags his feet there.  Yet, in a tiny corner of the world, out of the spotlight, is a small example of what a nation can do if its intention is to be of benefit.  Bhutan, located at the base of the Himalayas, surrounded by the giants of China to the North and India to the South, is a quiet leader in environment, economics, and education—largely because its view of gross national happiness (GNH) is based on altruistic intention rather than on GNP.

For many decades Bhutan has created sustainable development, conservation, and sane governance.  Formerly a Buddhist kingdom, it is now a democracy. It looks like the Switzerland of Asia with its snow-capped mountains, freely flowing rivers, densely forested hills, and farming areas. But Bhutan’s GNH motivation offers a unique and viable alternative to the usual paper-profit economies of modern democracies because it provides a measure of progress based on sustainability.  For example, over a quarter of its land is protected (26%) by legislating against old growth logging and the export of raw lumber.

Bhutan is also attempting to create an educational curriculum based on holistic and contemplative approaches, critical thinking, and indigenous knowledge.  Among other things Bhutan is introducing meditation in the classrooms; strengthening its arts programs; having students do field work to learn the medicinal value of native, herbal plants and agricultural biodiversity; and in general is emphasizing the view that eco-consciousness is prerequisite for the sustainability of the nation.

Being a predominantly Buddhist nation has inspired the Bhutanese to act on the awareness that humans are only one species in an immensely complex and interdependent web of life.  Every form of life is precious.  By not placing monetary profit above human and natural resources, the Bhutanese link this awareness to the welfare of ALL beings.

Bhutan is not utopia.  It has its problems like any nation.  Yet because it has the motivation to be of benefit, it is a leading example of sustainability and well-being in the world today.

Linda Lewis

Linda Lewis lives and teaches in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is the mother of all things elephant.

About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive. Questions? info elephantjournal com

8,199 views

4 Responses to “Buddhadharma in Everyday Life: Lojong Slogan “Perform All Activities with One Intention,” via Linda Lewis”

  1. Tsultrim says:

    Hi Linda,

    I lost your email. I was trying to remember the Ginger Roger connection in your family. Ginger Rogers is 92.

  2. Tsultrim says:

    Hi Linda,

    I lost your email

    tsultrimwalter@yahoo.com

  3. Very insightfully written.
    I enjoy the factual examples rather than the platitudes most include in articles such as these.
    Thank you for this.

Leave a Reply