Dzigar Kongrul grew up in a monastic environment and received extensive training in all aspects of Buddhist doctrine. In 1990, he began a five-year tenure as a professor of Buddhist philosophy at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. He also founded Mangala Shri Bhuti, his own teaching organization. His previous books includeLight Comes Through: Buddhist Teachings on Awakening to Our Natural Intelligence and It's Up to You: The Practice of Self-Reflection on The Buddhist Path is Pema Chodron's teacher and friend.
In this profoundly insightful work, he spells out ways to advance tonglen, an essential Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice of giving and taking, coordinated with the breath, for transforming the mind. It can lead to "the freedom, peace and joy we all seek in our lives."
Kongrul affirms altruism (defined as "holding others as important and dear") and goes on to salute the love of the Bodhisattvas as the means whereby we can turn any situation in life into a chance to practice. For example, if we give our place on a bus to someone else who needs it more, we will experience the delight in being kind, loving, and generous. Here the motivation is to step out of the small self and turn any activity into bodhisattva activity. So the intention each day is to use every interaction with others as an opportunity to benefit them.
Kongrul notes that practitioners can also work with the lojong slogans, short teachings that were developed to help us diminish self-importance and discover how to enhance the happiness and well-being of others. He recommends that we train wholeheartedly. Some of the best and most insightful commentaries are on these slogans:
- Abstain from toxic food.
- Do not wait in ambush.
- Do not be competitive.
- Practice impartiality toward everything.
- Always meditate on what is most challenging.
- Do not feel the world owes you.
- Do not be reactive.
This is a substantive guide to the compassionate life with wise and practical steps toward putting others before yourself and seeking in all things to benefit them.