6 Paramitas : Patience


Patience is the third paramita or great perfection. We should understand the benefits of patience and shortcomings of impatience. Patience helps us to overcome anger that destroys good impressions in our mind and our merits. It also protects us from the anger of others, not letting the anger of others destroy clarity and light of our mind. Patience helps to create a good karma and have less enemies in this life and others and protects from rebirth in the lower realms.

There are three ways to practice patience (bzod-pa-gsum):
1. to refrain from hurting those who have caused one a grief and pain,
2. to deal with any suffering one experiences without fighting it uselessly or feeling intimidated, and
3. to have confidence in the ultimate truth.

The first type of patience is the patience of not being moved by harm-doers, gnod-byed-la-ji-mi-snyam-pa’i-bzod-pa. The teachings speak of the patience of not being offended when someone hurts or abuses one personally or those who are dear, ji-mi-snyam-pa'i-bzod-pa. Put simply, it means not retaliating when someone hits us because then they would have “really” managed to hit us, in other words, not being offended when hit or knocked around by somebody. One understands that their blow did not come out of the blue rather is based upon causes and conditions created in the past – causes and conditions that one created oneself. By accepting a blow, the cause of a particular situation is overcome and the blow itself is used as an exceptional opportunity to practice patience without feeling resentment. One sees it as a chance to turn what might seem negative into a beneficial practice without becoming angry, khro-med.

The second type of patience is the patience of enduring any suffering one experience without fighting it uselessly or feeling intimidated sdug-bsngal-la-ji-mi-snyam-pa'i-bzod-pa. Although it might sound so, the patience of tolerating suffering does not mean one seeks suffering and pain and rejoices when one is in agony. Since time that has no beginning until the present every sentient being living in one of the six realms of existence has been suffering in one way or another. During the entire expanse of time it is a fact that everyone has endured billions of centuries of suffering in the hell realms, billions of centuries of suffering in the animal and in all other realms of our world system, which is therefore referred to as mi-mjed-kyi-‘jig-rten, “the Saha world of endurance.” In one way, all past suffering can be helpful in that one appreciates that one doesn’t suffer much at this point, yet in another way it hasn’t really helped much.

The third type of patience is practiced by having confidence in the excellent qualities of the Three Jewels, chos-la-nges-sems-sam-mi-skye-ba'i-chos-la-bzod-pa. Confidence arises through taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha and develops and increases through practicing the instructions that one receives. This is the patience of bearing hardships for the sake of the Dharma, chos-phyir-dka'-thub-bzod-pa’i-bzod-pa.

It is important to continuously learn about and recall the qualities of the Three Jewels so that one is inspired to patiently seek to understand and realize the absolute and relative truths. Karma, i.e., cause and effect, is valid and effective in the relative world and therefore one should do good and avoid evil actions and ways. The absolute truth is that everything is like an illusion and therefore virtue and vice are also illusory. It is not easy for most people to acknowledge and appreciate the simultaneity of the two levels of truth, so it is important to practice the patience of not fearing the profound meaning of the Dharma, zab-mo'i-don-la-mi-skrag-pa'i-bzod-pa.

The third type of patience is developed and increased by really learning to understand more fully that it would be a pity to waste one’s life and therefore important to practice patience of taking responsibility, khur-bzod-pa.