Blog 60: Summary: Working with the Slogans

Summary: Working with the slogans
Although the word slogan is often associated with advertising or with political campaigns, the origin of the word comes from the Scottish for “war cry.” If you imagine that you are in a battle with distraction, confusion, and self-absorption, then like a war cry, the appropriate slogan is designed to abruptly interrupt your discursiveness and call you to attention.

You could also think of the slogans as pointers, pointing you in the direction of awareness, kindness, and on-the-spot with-it-ness. When you are lost and directionless, slogans can point you in the direction of awakening.

I like to think of slogans as zingers that puncture self-absorption and ego-bloat, collapsing one’s pretensions quickly and mercilessly.

Another way to look at them is as exposés of our ridiculous earnestness and solidity of view and habit. That can be embarrassing, but it is also refreshing, a real relief. What a joke!

There are many ways to work with the Atisha slogans. You can apply them specifically to meditation practice or to daily living. You can look at them as literal common-sense advice or as teachings with multiple levels of meaning. There may be one or more slogans that seem to be “your” slogans, ones you know you need to focus on. There may be slogans you find yourself avoiding. You could create a new slogan to work with.

What is essential to remember is that in working with these slogans and with dharma practice altogether, it is important to have a light touch. The basis of this practice is openness and kindness, not aggression or perfectionism. Although slogan practice is sharp, and may sting at times, that sharpness is grounded in loving-kindness and compassion.

Today’s practice

Choose one slogan to work with for the week. What comes up as you apply this slogan to your sitting practice? What comes up in trying to work with it as you go about your daily life?