Free Your Pen

Buddhist Writing Prompt: Don’t Misinterpret

Don’t misinterpret is about not misinterpreting the teachings and applying them in ways that mean you don’t really have to change. The original lojong slogan is the same and focuses on six specific qualities that you should avoid misinterpreting (see the book for more).

Spiritual practices of all kinds can make you feel good and improve your life in many ways. But you can also fool yourself if you’re not careful. Meditation is designed to transcend the ego, but it can also be used to avoid problems and subtly boost the ego instead.

This happens when you misinterpret the teachings and only apply them when it suits you. When you do this it means you’re not really practising.

It’s easy to practice when you have no problems and life appears calm. But you can also slip into bad habits and become complacent, and even start to believe that you’re better than others because you’re not struggling and they are.

Don’t assume that when things are going well for you that everything is fine and that your practice is faultless. This slogan reminds you to check that you’re not misinterpreting the teachings or disappearing into a spiritual fantasy world.

If you want to awaken to your true nature, you have to walk your talk. It has to be real or it’s just more delusion.

Apply this slogan to your writing practice when you’re feeling uncertain or struggling with rejection.

There are many unknowns in the process of writing. You don’t know if you’ll be able to finish the story you’re writing, and you don’t know if it’ll make sense even if you do succeed. You don’t know whether anybody else will enjoy your story. You don’t know if your book will be published, and you don’t know if it will sell. Sometimes you don’t even know if you can write at all.

Faced with all this uncertainty, it’s tempting to start making assumptions. You look at what’s going on in your writing and your life, and you jump to conclusions.

This slogan encourages you to be careful how you interpret what’s going on and what you’re feeling. Don’t take the rejection of your work as a sign that you should give up writing.

Don’t let the uncertainty of life interfere with your writing. Don’t allow it to push you into making assumptions based on misinterpretations of partial facts of dubious value. Your writing is worth more than that.

Your writing prompt this weekend: In your slogan journal, list all the times you have misinterpreted a situation because you didn’t have the full picture.

More in the book: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers

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