Lojong slogan card reading “Don’t seek others’ pain as the limbs of your own happiness.”
Lojong slogan card reading “Don’t seek others’ pain as the limbs of your own happiness.”

The 59 slogans through a social justice lens

“Don’t seek others’ pain as the limbs of your own happiness” is basically an instruction not to indulge in schadenfreude — the experience of pleasure at witnessing or hearing about someone else’s misfortune. On a basic level, this makes sense, and yet feeling satisfaction at watching someone get their comeuppance seems to be a common human trait.

I have worked with this slogan most in the context of past romantic relationships that were steeped in toxicity. I am humble enough to admit that I’ve felt a degree of smug satisfaction to hear that an exes’ current relationship is not going…


Lojong card that reads “Two activities: one at the beginning, one at the end” sitting on a wooden shrine with an unpolished chunk of quartz to the right and a meditation bowl to the left.
Lojong card that reads “Two activities: one at the beginning, one at the end” sitting on a wooden shrine with an unpolished chunk of quartz to the right and a meditation bowl to the left.

The 59 slogans through a social justice lens

Buddhism is referred to as a “practice” because it calls us to continuously study, reflect on, and integrate wisdom into our lives. This cyclical approach is often referred to as the ground (the inherent potential we all have for waking up), the path (the action we take towards our own awakening), and fruition (the moments of realization we have that can never again be obscured). The slogan, “Two activities: one at the beginning, one at the end” is a practical and simple guide for how we can ensure we are consistently engaged in this cycle, no matter the circumstances.

The…


The 59 slogans through a social justice lens

“Don’t act with a twist” is calling us to pause and reflect on what expectations we may have about the outcomes of our actions. The simplest example I can think of would be how we show generosity. Generosity is one of the paramitas, often listed as the first due to how it leads us to cultivate the others. As a paramita, generosity is about opening our hearts and learning to stretch the edge of our comfort zone. The practice of generosity isn’t a practice of giving; it’s a practice of letting go.

When we give — time, energy, gifts, money…


The 59 slogans through a social justice lens

The practice we are guided to do with the slogan “Don’t bring things to a painful point” is one of refraining from acting out of strong emotions. A painful point is when we say the most damaging, hurtful thing we can think of to someone we love in the midst of an argument. A painful point is when we maintain a relationship with someone when that relationship has become toxic. A painful point is when we continue to follow and track someone we used to be in a relationship with, torturing ourselves with what they are doing in our absence.


The 59 slogans through a social justice lens

When I was a kid, maybe about ten or eleven, possibly younger, my mum taught me a valuable lesson. She told me if I ever had an issue with something someone had done — if someone hurt me or did or said something upsetting — I either had to tell them to work through it together, or I had to take responsibility for what it meant to not tell them. Specifically, she said I didn’t get to harbour resentment towards someone who didn’t even know they had done something wrong.

This is a lesson I have had hundreds of opportunities…


Yesterday, January 6th 2021 on the Gregorian calendar, white supremacists attempted a coup in the United States.

I had to write that down because even though I watched it unfolding on the BBC newsfeed and followed folks on Instagram sharing memes and thoughts and dismay about it, it still feels unreal.

Not surprising. Not shocking. Not unexpected.

Despite the response of politicians, what happened yesterday is absolutely American and absolutely a lineage of all colonialist countries. …


The 59 slogans through a social justice lens

The Lojong slogan “Don’t malign others” seems quite straightforward. To malign is to be evil in nature or effect. To be destructive, injurious, or harmful. In looking at other translations, the messaging becomes more specific. The Padmakara translation group writes this slogan as “Don’t meet abuse with abuse.” Another translation reads, “Do not retaliate to verbal abuse.”

All three are giving the instruction not to use harsh words or actions against others. Two of them specifically invoke the oft-quoted Dhammapada verse:

For hate is not conquered by hate:
hate is conquered by love.
This is a law eternal

To unpack…


Collected images and titles of all 80 books I read in 2020 taken from Goodreads
Collected images and titles of all 80 books I read in 2020 taken from Goodreads

Part 2 — Books to educate, galvanize & build resilience

The second half of my book recommendation blog post for 2021 is all about books that can help build resilience and grow your intersectional awareness. These are six books that take voices from the margins, offer validating narratives, and generally helped me feel community connection throughout the months of isolation.

Non-Fiction


Collected images and titles of all 80 books I read in 2020 taken from Goodreads
Collected images and titles of all 80 books I read in 2020 taken from Goodreads

Part 1 — Books to distract, delight & for escape

For the first time since I started writing these, it has been surprisingly difficult to categorize a list of recommended books. In the past, I’ve grouped my suggestions according to genre and managed to offer up the same number of books in each category. In the past, the year was not coloured with the ongoing impact of a global pandemic.

I became quite deliberate about what I was choosing to read throughout 2020. I’ve finally entirely gotten over the need to finish a book I’m not enjoying. There was no space for me to be reading something I found to…


The 59 slogans through a social justice lens

The slogan “Don’t talk about injured limbs” is one I’ve understood to mean that we should not gossip about others’ shortcomings but its phrasing bothers me. The implication is that an injured limb is a failing, a fault, an imperfection. This wording is an example of the ableism that runs through many traditional Buddhist teachings. In many translations, it’s not remotely subtle. The translation used by Kelsang Gyatso (p.91, Universal Compassion) is written as, “Do not speak about degenerated limbs.” In the case of Dilgo Khyentse’s commentary (p.73, Enlightened Courage), physical disabilities are practically conflated with moral shortcomings and ignorance:

Kaitlyn S. C. Hatch

Prolific reader, Creative human being, meditates daily.— www.kaitlynschatch.com

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