“The third paramita trains us to be steady and open-hearted in the face of difficult people and circumstances. Patience entails cultivating skillful courageousness, mindfulness, and tolerance. In general, when we feel that others are hurting or inconveniencing us, we react with various forms of anger and irritation, instantly looking to strike back. When it comes to the paramita of patience, however, we remain as unwavering as a mountain, neither seeking revenge nor harboring deep resentment inside our hearts. Patient tolerance is a very powerful antidote to anger.
The three categories of patience are (A) patience with enemies, (B) patience with hardships on the path, and (C) patience with the ups and downs of life.
(A) Here we must learn to tolerate three types of enemies: those who are stronger than us, those who are weaker than us, and those who are equally strong as us. Towards enemies we cannot overcome, we avoid harboring jealousy or resentment; towards enemies we can overcome, we avoid cruelty; and towards enemies that are our equals, we avoid endless competition and squabbling.
(B) It often happens that no matter how faithfully we perform all the practices on the path of Dharma, we feel like we have achieved nothing. We are so focused on the idea of gain—the goal of enlightenment—that we become discouraged, frustrated, and tired when we begin to realize the difficulty of actually attaining it. To cultivate the patience necessary to eventually realize buddhahood, we must focus instead on compassion for others, while continuing to perform our practices without expectation of immediate results.
(C) We also need to train in applying patience to whatever circumstances arise during the course of our lives. All the difficulties we encounter should be considered important aspects of the path. Ups and downs are inevitable in samsara, and if we can see them as manifestations of our own karma that, in essence, are no different than our experiences on the cushion, we will not be shaken or overwhelmed by these ups and downs any more than we are by the movements of our own thoughts. To remain firmly on the path to enlightenment, we should patiently move forward, facing the responsibilities of this life with spiritual dignity and courage of heart.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Ceaseless Echoes of the Great Silence: A Commentary on the Heart Sutra Prajnaparamita (pg 71-72)
Photo of Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches leading the morning practice of Mipham Rinpoche’s “Buddha sadhana” at Padma Samye Ling around 2005.
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