using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : November 2019
From Welcoming the Unwelcome by Pema Chödrön . © 2019 The Pema Chödrön Foundation. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications. friend of hers I’d never met before. The two of us really clicked, so we went on walks and talked a lot. She saw my mother as funny, sassy, inventive, cre- ative—a totally different human being. I was think- ing, “Mom? ” And I realized that as I labeled her, so she appeared to me. I was fixated on just one or two facets of her and then I met this friend, who had a totally different vision. Another interesting thing was that the friend had heard a lot of bad things about me and was surprised at how nice I was. We were both surprised, and both had a chance to get unstuck from our narrow labels. My root teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, used the phrase “random labeling” to help us realize the arbitrariness of how we often speak and think about things. If you speak English, you use the word “chair” for the object you sit on. In Romanian, it’s scaun. In Zulu, it’s isihlalo. It’s just a neutral object, and then we give it a label. Of course, we need lan- guage so that we are able to coexist and talk about things. It’s an innocent part of human behavior. But then this strange thing happens where the object or feeling or person that we label actually becomes that label in our mind. We believe in our arbitrary designation. If we get too fixated on our label, we forget that the nature of things is open, fluid, and subject to change and interpretation. When I labeled the kitchen as “dirty”—a label that had a strong emo- tional charge for me—it became fixed that way in my mind and colored how I actually saw it. But if we remember that labels are merely labels, we can use them to our advantage. We can use the fluid, open-to-interpretation nature of things to work with our habits. The practice of tonglen is another way of working with our labeling. Normally, when we suffer from any kind of pain, or when we notice certain of our propensities that cast us in an unflattering light, we do everything we can to avoid those feelings. Maybe we don’t consciously label them as “bad,” but that’s how they feel to us. With tonglen, we purposely lean into what we want to avoid and start to turn these labels around. It’s not that suddenly what’s “ bad” becomes “good” and what’s “good” becomes “ bad.” But we start to discover that by gradually opening up to the difficult and painful, our heart becomes warmer toward ourselves and warmer toward others. What was formerly “bad” is transformed into bodhicitta. It becomes a longing to wake up so that we can stop causing ourselves and others pain, and instead help others realize their full potential of joy and basic goodness. The discomfort in the feeling may remain for a while, but it is no longer firmly fixed in the “bad” category. We may still feel a strong desire to reject, but as long as we keep chal- lenging ourselves by breathing in the unwelcome, the practice will continue to open our heart. The more we experiment with labels, the easier it becomes to see through them and to use them to our advantage. We will continue to use labels to think and communicate—but more positively, and without investing them with so much seriousness. Trungpa Rinpoche told this stor y about how he once was sitting in a garden with Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, one of his most important teachers. They were just enjoying their time together in the beautiful setting, hardly saying anything, simply happy to be there with each other. Then Khyentse Rinpoche pointed and said, “They call that a ‘tree,’” and both of them roared with laughter. For me this is a wonderful illustration of the freedom and enjoyment that await us when we stop being fooled by our labels. The two enlightened teachers thought it was a riot that this complex, changing phenom- enon, with all its leaves and bark and so on, could be thought of as a “tree.” As our labels loosen their grip on us, we too will start to experience our world in this lighter, more magical way. ♦ LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2019 53