How to meditate on one’s own suffering with the motivation of bodhichitta

Lojong in One Session is the title of a set of meditation practices that Lama Jampa taught in London towards the end of 2019. This  wonderful cycle of practices incorporates the essential elements of the Mahayana mind training. Starting from a special meditation to gain inspiration from the example of one’s Lama, this then progresses through further stages of preliminary contemplations and meditations. These include reflecting on the ‘four thoughts’ – precious human birth, death and impermanence, the defects of samsara here implicitly including karma. In this way, having begun to recognise these operating in one’s own life experience, we can then move on to further meditational stepping stones that lead one into the core practice.

In the main part, the practitioner is subtly navigated through stages of taking on the suffering of others; meditation on the ultimate emptiness of phenomena; and meditating on themselves as a wish-fulfilling jewel to benefit beings.Though this is a profound practice to which a beginner Mahayanist may well aspire, it is something we need to work up to in stages, before being able to accomplish all in one session as the title of the teaching implies.

Here, one begins with ‘taking from oneself’: one’s own suffering and their causes, past actions. This meditation removes negative factors that would otherwise obstruct one’s ability to practise the core meditation. This is not a case of meditating love towards oneself, as one sometimes hears about from methods that have been taken from Buddhist teachings and misleadingly repackaged for westerners. Rather, it is a practice through which one opens up through the receipt of blessings in order to purify past actions that would otherwise cause suffering in the future and impair one’s ability (through feelings of inadequacy and guilt) to be effective in benefiting others.

To be more specific, in this practice we are told to imagine all sufferings that are liable to occur in this life and future lives, and the causes of those future sufferings. (Clearly, a proper understanding of the nature of samsara and the workings of karma is needed for this meditation). We are to imagine in our meditation that all those sufferings ripen and bear fruit at the very instant that we bring them to mind in our session. 

Putting this into context, Lama Jampa explained that rather than being fearful of those future sufferings, we imagine, in our meditation that they are purified right now as we bring them to mind. This meditation effectively relinquishes self-clinging which, as the Lama pointed out in his explanation, is the very cause of suffering so we should not need to be fearful of practising it wholeheartedly. 

It is beyond the scope of this short blog post to expound in detail on all the profound meditational practices that are incorporated in the text for Lojong in One Session. We have simply attempted to draw out some aspects of how a beginner Mahayanist can approach this wonderful practice with an intention to fulfil it in the future under the guidance of their lama.  

It is clear that in order to practise this effectively, one needs to have developed a comprehension of teachings on the four thoughts as well as confidence in the purifying power of Buddhadharma. Then, having achieved some accomplishment in this purifying meditation, one will be ready to progress into the various forms of meditation on compassion for development of bodhicitta, and subsequently ultimate bodhicitta. 

Forthcoming Teaching on Lojong

Lama Jampa will be giving further teachings on Lojong in London on Saturday 21st March. See event details.

Please note that posts in this blog are not intended to represent full accounts of teachings given by the Lama. They focus on particular aspects of teachings that the authors think may be of interest to people coming new to the Dharma, and other fellow students. They represent the understanding of the authors who bear responsibility for the content. Please address any comments to