46. Pay heed that the three never wane.
Our initial inspiration to study with a teacher or to practice the dharma has a tendency to fizzle away over time. It is one thing to enjoy a burst of enthusiasm, but it is quite another to keep going after the initial excitement wears off. But that is exactly the point when you begin to practice for real.
This slogan is about three central aspects of mind training practice: devotion, appreciation, and discipline. The first aspect, devotion, has to do with your appreciation for your teachers. Devotion is not based on hero worship or a fixation on celebrity. It is an opening of the heart. You should be grateful to have encountered genuine teachers, and you not just take it for granted.
The second aspect is appreciation for the practice of mind training. You should be grateful that you have been given a practical and effective way to work with your mind and emotions and to cultivate wisdom and kindness. It is good to know that loving kindness it is not something that you either have or you don’t, but something you can cultivate step by step by means of lojong practice.
The third aspect is your discipline. The dharma gives you a way to work with yourself and to benefit others through formal practice and in the midst of everyday life. By conducting yourself with grace and dignity, you can inspire the people around you and develop greater confidence in your own potential. You should realize how lucky it is that you have a path and a discipline that works.
The point of this slogan is that you should pay attention to the ups and downs of your inspiration, so that when your devotion, appreciation, and discipline begins to fade, you can bring yourself back. If you want to stick with mind training, not just dabble, your best ally is the ability to pay heed.
Reflect on the balance of the three qualities of devotion, appreciation, and discipline in your practice. Notice the waxing and waning of inspiration on the path, and how easy it is to let your initial inspiration just fade away. When that happens, what brings you back?