Free Your Pen

Buddhist Writing Prompt: First, Remember the Basics

First, remember the basics is about the intention behind starting something new. Your intentions lay the foundation for everything you do, so your reasons for doing something are important and will determine how things turn out.

The original lojong slogan is: First, train in the preliminaries. This refers to the four basic facts of life that you can’t avoid. The preliminaries form the foundation for everything in your life so how you feel about them will determine everything else. The four basic facts are:

  • Life
  • Death
  • Karma
  • Suffering

Life is precious and death is unavoidable. They’re part of a great cycle of change linked by cause and effect, or karma, which leads to suffering. So this slogan reminds you to face up to the reality of your life and to be willing to deal with whatever comes your way.

The foundation for training your mind is to say yes to the life you have and to work with it. You can’t avoid the consequences of your actions or wallow in suffering. But by training your mind you can transform your life and you do that by starting with the basics.

Apply this slogan to your writing practice by thinking about the intention behind your desire to write. For your writing to have the best possible foundation it must be built on your most authentic truths. Your true voice can only come from the deepest part of yourself.

You can connect with your deepest intentions by remembering the basic facts of life. Your life is a one-off opportunity to become who you’re meant to be. Your voice is unique and only you express it – nobody can do it for you.

When you get stuck in your writing, use this slogan to bring you back to the foundation of your life and remember why you are writing in the first place.

Your writing prompt this weekend: Think about the intention behind your desire to write. What is your deepest, most authentic motivation? Write for at least 10 minutes…

More in the book: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers
Or read this whole chapter here: Applying Lojong Slogans to Writing
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