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Lions Roar : July 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2012 53 self-destructive, this exercise is surprisingly liberat- ing. You discover that the habit of trying to protect yourself by holding on to some things and getting rid of others does not really protect you; it just makes you mildly paranoid and defensive all the time. When you are not battling against whatever is bugging you at the moment but really breathe it in, you realize that you don’t have to take everything that happens to you as a personal attack. It is just what is happening, and you can find a way to deal with it. On the sending-out side, you begin to realize that you do not have to parcel out your limited store of goodness or health for fear of running out, and you can let it flow more freely. The less you try to hold on to whatever virtue you have as your little treasure, the more there seems to be. Making it your posses- sion has been like trying to drive with the parking brake engaged. This practice is remarkable in its effects. When you are not so caught up in sucking in goodies and warding off threats, when you are not so attached to perfection and afraid of flaws, you can come to accept yourself and others in a new and fresh way. This reduces burnout and defeatism. When people encounter you, they sense that you are not trying to use them, even subtly, to further your own schemes. I think this is one reason that tonglen is such a heal- ing force and is so helpful for people who work with pain and suffering in their line of work. With slogan practice, we step-by-step liberate trapped energy, energy recruited to the project of propping up ego. That project is based on fear. Whenever we mess up we worry about being caught. We even worry about catching ourselves. So we waste a lot of energy covering up, being defensive, or making excuses. According to slogan twelve—Drive all blames into one—most of our problems can be traced to one underlying cause: ego fixa- tion. Until we start to deal with this level, we will only be treating symptoms. With this slogan we take responsibility for our own actions. Instead of hiding our mistakes, we face them and look for their underlying cause. And the more we look, the more we understand the power of ego clinging and the damage it does. We begin to have a glimpse of what a difference it makes when we are not carrying around the hidden agenda of ego. This slogan is also helpful when we are dealing with groups, where it is common to get in struggles about who is to blame, as though finding the guilty party will solve the problem. With this slogan you take on the blame yourself, no matter what the case. By doing so, the process can shift from one of finger-pointing to one of problem-solving, to the benefit of the whole organization. This does not mean that you do not try to discover where specific problems arise. In fact you are more apt to figure this out, since you have removed the need for others to cover up or to defend themselves from attack. Another powerful lesson of slogan practice is how to relate to the ups and downs of life. Slogan forty-two—Whichever of the two occurs, be patient—is a reminder of how easily we are swept away by the excitement of things going our way or the disappointment of things not working out for us. When things are going well, we forget that it will inevitably change. Witness the optimism of the housing bubble. When things go downhill, we tend to get in a funk and see no way out. Witness the doomsday phenomenon. This fluctuation in circumstances can take place on a grand scale or simply as the ups and downs of an ordinary day. Instead of just experiencing what we are experiencing, we either hope to get out of it or fear losing it. The practice of this slogan is to stay with present experience and not assume anything about what may follow. This allows us to find our ground in ever-shifting ➢ page 89 PHOTO©PLAINPICTURE/ANJALUBITZ