What is Mind Training?
Mind training (In Tibetan: blos.byong, pronounced "lojong") is any method that implants a set of ideas, perspectives, and experiences that work to dismantle habituated patterns of behavior, emotionality, and perception. The mind training presented here plants the seed of compassion and nurtures its growth into the tree of awakening mind (bodhicitta) until it blossoms into presence and the effortless activity that helps others to wake up and be present in their lives, too.
How does mind training work?
Mind training works like two sticks rubbed together to make fire. One stick consists of the perspectives and discipline of mind training; the other is composed of the projections and dynamics of habituated patterns in you. Practice generates friction that causes both sticks to burn up.
Taking and sending
Taking and sending (In Tibetan: gtong.len, pronounced "tonglen") is a specific technique used in mind training to undermine the pattern of self-centeredness that characterizes pattern-based experience. It is based on the more general technique of mentally exchanging one's experience with the experience of others. Taking and sending provides a simple effective method to carry this intention into all aspects of one's life.
Where does mind training come from?
Serlingpa, Atisha, and Chekawa
The tradition of Mahayana mind training begins in India, probably around 200-300 C.E. It was certainly in full flower by the time of Shantideva, who makes extensive use of it in his Bodhicharyavatara.
The technique of taking and sending itself is usually traced to Serlingpa (Dharmakirti), a master who lived in Indonesia. Atisha received instruction from him in both mind training and taking and sending and brought these teachings to Tibet in the 11th century.
Mind training was originally a secret transmission, taught only to students who had a proven capacity and sincerity for practice. Chekawa Yeshe Dorje (1102-1176), for whom the practice had special significance, composed the seven points and taught them openly.