Everyday Buddhadharma with Linda Lewis: Buddhist Lojong Slogan #8: Always Maintain a Joyful Mind.

get elephant's newsletter


Obviously, it’s easy to be happy when things are going well—when we have “reasons” to be happy.  This is known as conditional happiness—happiness due to positive conditions. 

But in any given life, mishaps and difficulties happen.  We are not immune to problems and adverse circumstances.  Being mortal, we all experience sickness, aging, and dying.  Even a child goes through the cycle of childhood diseases and the pains of teeth coming in, falling out, and coming in again.  So how in the world can we learn to “always maintain a joyful mind?”

As we meditate and relax, we learn that aggression, ignorance, despair and negativity are not inevitable. And as we continue to practice, we discover that we can be peacefully uplifted no matter what occurs.  This is what is meant by the slogan to “always maintain a joyful mind.” Whatever befalls us can encourage us to practice more, rather than to become despondent or angry. The more we develop mindfulness-awareness and increase compassion, the more cheerful we become. We enjoy helping others.

In tonglen practice we train in taking on not only our own troubles but breathing in the suffering of others.  The more we do this, the more we let go of “me” and ‘mine”.  And this letting go continues to help us take ourselves more lightly post-meditation. In other words, practice cheers us up!

As Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche said,

“Resting your mind in basic goodness, and having appreciation of that, brings joy and a sense of celebration.”

I shattered my right wrist several years ago. After the shock and the loss of consciousness during two operations, I woke up to the kindness of the first nurse and then the friendship and love of so many sangha friends who brought yogurt and berries and chicken soup and Dharma books.  After the four days in the hospital this love and support continued until I was more or less on my feet, learning to write with my left hand while my right was in a cast. In spite of intense pain that made it difficult to sleep, I felta counterintuitive, unconditional joy running through that experience.

This kind of joy is quietly contagious. A smile to a passerby was usually returned—perhaps because of the incongruity of my big cast and the smile. 

But even in ordinary times, helping a five-year old child master the monkey bars is joyous satisfaction, shared. Finding the perfect gift for someone and seeing how happy they are to receive it gives just as much joy to the giver.

When we are sick or in debt or experiencing loss or difficulties, we know from experience that neither complaining nor blaming helps.  We know that despair only solidifies the problem.  That is why Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche advises us “to practice more when we have difficulties, and to practice more when we have life changes.”

Then, rather than emoting and over-loading others with our latest greatest drama, we face the music, and are better able to deal with our troubles.  As Mipham Rinpoche also says, “Some problems can be solved by talking…but some things are solved by not talking. That’s called practice.”

To be a practitioner is to be a “warrior,” in the sense that we become brave.  We can become unconditionally brave and unconditionally joyful, discovering a spacious good cheer that runs through both the ups and downs of life.


Always Maintain a Joyful Mind.

is a new feature on Elephant Journal—enabling you to instantly share your mindful ideas, photos, art, YouTube videos/Instagram links & writings with our 5 million readers. Try it Now.

Write Now

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.


6 Responses to “Everyday Buddhadharma with Linda Lewis: Buddhist Lojong Slogan #8: Always Maintain a Joyful Mind.”

  1. Cliff in Cleveland says:

    Great great article. Thank you!

  2. Devin Liles says:

    Thanks for a great reminder. So much of our upset is often the mind running away with what is, creating a drama where there need not be one. Needless suffering aside, we can even look at it from a more practical life management perspective. Meeting the pain/fear head on along with the pre-cognitive emotional upheaval, we can indeed take delight in the efficiency of the process. Maybe the habitual thoughts are even still arising and one takes joy in observing the path(s) not taken, a momentary affirmation of basic goodness. I've been experimenting of late with more frequent small practices through out my day and have found a continuity of calm, if you will. Sometimes a calm in a storm mind you, but still that fundamental appreciation for life as it is right now. Thanks again, Devin Liles http://www.mindfulapps.com/

  3. Shari says:

    Wonderful! thank you

  4. joan says:

    great article,,send me this article plss

  5. Sarnath Buddha

    Sarnath (also Mrigadava, Migadaya, Rishipattana, Isipatana) is the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Sarnath is located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, India.

    The deer park where the Buddha preached his first sermon is now called Sarnath. It lay forgotten … until a British amateur archaeologist excavated the site in the nineteenth century. He found stupas and a pillar originally erected by emperor Ashoka in the third century BC. The biggest stupa, called Dhamekh, was on the site where the Buddha supposedly gave his first sermon, sitting with the Brahmins from Kapilavastu. Later archaeologists discovered the shrine where the Buddha apparently had sheltered from the rains; they also found monasteries, which seemed to have been destroyed by a great fire. A temple built by the Sri Lankan Buddhist Anagarika Dharmapala now stands in place of the shrine. The ruins of the monasteries lie amid vast green lawns. The grounds also include a deer park and a zoo


  6. […] {Was Dickens studying the eighth lojong as well?} […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.