2020-08-10 Pāramīs (6 of 10) Patience
2:53PM Aug 10, 2020
So we start today with sixth of the ten pāramīs. And it is generally in English it's translated as patience. And it's important to appreciate how much that this emphasis on patience as perfection follows or builds on the foundation of the first five of generosity and what we learn from generosity and how generosity frees us in a certain way and benefits us.
And with that benefit of generosity, then we build next step is to live in a life of ethical conduct ethical behavior, to not through our behavior, speech and body cause harm in the world but actually offer benefit and have that be source of again, not obligation, not restriction. But the opposite, that ethical conduct in Buddhism is meant to be another step towards learning how to be free. And then renunciation is beautiful quality of letting go of the things that harm us, to let go of the things which will limit us and keep us from the higher good, the higher purpose that at least the pāramīs represent the purpose of liberation and the purposes of living a life of compassion. And then we have the with renunciation, we have wisdom. And the wisdom is, is very much has to do with understanding what causes harm, and not to do it and what brings benefits and to do the things which are beneficial. It's not, doesn't take a PhD in Buddhist studies or philosophy to understand what wisdom in Buddhism, it's very experiential.
But building on these earlier pāramīs, this understanding of harm and benefit becomes more and more acute or more and more sensitive in a very important way.
That allows us then to engage, to make effort and effort on the path to liberation, the effort on ethics, on the effort on the path of, of, of compassion. And, but as we make effort, that sometimes we need patience, and but that patience is building on the other pāramīs, it's supported by them. So it's a patience that knows how to stay, be patient without harming ourselves be patient with in a way that's compassionate, and patients that is really supported by a real clear insight. Understand Finding wisdom about why it's important to be patient. So in this teachings of this Buddhist word khanti, which translates into English usually as patience, there are three different elements of it are aspects of it. And the first is perseverance, that do just continue to continue duty of practice and continuity of just being engaged again, building on the other armies. So this is not blind perseverance or foolish perseverance, where we just kind of hitting our head against the wall or, or purser persevering in such a way that we get exhausted and, and, and stressed out and don't really you know, it's perseverance that I call a gentle perseverance, perseverance that is wise, and does the wise thing in order to keep the Keep inside the long term goal of practice. Even though the emphasis is so much like on last meditation was about just being in the moment fully. Doing that practice of being in the moment fully is not the end of the story or the beginning of the story. It's like if your goal is to walk to the top of a mountain, you might want to just be with each step at a time, some part of the walking just really that step. And that's maybe sometimes that's all you can do. But the preparations to go on the hike, the understanding of where the goal is, all those are in the picture part of it. So this long term vision, so yes, this is worthwhile. I'm going on this path, and I'm going to persevere. And for some people, perseverance is actually their most important quality that supports their Buddhist practice.
They might not have a lot of concentration. They might not I have a lot of mindfulness, a capacity for that. But what carries the day, what really supports them is they just keep practicing day in and day out. It could be relaxed. It's like running a marathon. He can't, you know, wprint, but day in and day out moment by moment coming back practicing and practicing and practicing, holding the course. So, perseverance, having the wisdom and that patience to pursue, persevere.
The second quality of patience is patience under insult. And this is sometimes it's called the forbearance and this is managing to go through all kinds of things which are challenging, difficult. insulting to us are painful to hear. But learning not to give in to our own anger, not to pick up the anger The hostility especially to not give in to hostility, we might feel because of it. That the patience under insult is the patience to not to give into, into the hostility. It's not doesn't mean we don't somehow take care of ourselves or that tells people to stop or go away or do whatever needs to be done. We have to be wise about the circumstances we're in. But we don't give in to hostility. And this can be as simple as not becoming annoyed or hostile towards our devices if they're not working. Right. And, you know, they you know, we feel insulted in a sense by our devices not working and the connections don't work or something. And, and we couldn't be major problems in life, that if persevering and not giving into hostility, not giving into despair or discouragement is is not always really easy given the magnitude of human suffering and the challenges people have in their lives with, especially now with COVID-19. And people having the illness or losing loved ones and illness or not being able to go visit loved ones who are dying because you know, you don't want to travel are not allowed to visit the nursing home or something. And there's unemployment that people have and economic challenges that are huge from a huge percentage of people in this country. And how to how to live through all that, without succumbing to our hostility, to anger to despair. And some of that has to do with this idea of patience, being patient, persevering. Giving yourself a continuity of practice understanding The tremendous value of staying free or staying compassionate, or practicing along the path of liberation. Seeing that has the greatest value, probably the greatest value of anything, certainly a greater value than any good that can come from hostility, that hostility we don't give into. So this is a very important principle. And this teachings of the pāramīs, that and sometimes it's called forbearance and it's not a very popular idea in the modern West, I think, the idea of forbearance, we often want to solve things quickly and fix things quickly. And but classically, in Buddhism forbearance is a very important quality, because of how it protects us from our own hostility.
Then the third quality of patience is the patience of acceptance of truth that some of the sometimes when we see what's really happening and it's true that there's, we don't want to accept it, it's difficult to accept it. It's challenging to our very sense of who we are. Some of the Buddha's teachings of not self, not just teachings, but some of the deeper insights that we get. It's very hard to accept, and to have the patience, acceptance of being present for all the workings of our inner life that are a little bit out of our control. There's enough self there to find our freedom there. So for example, sitting down to meditate, I've there been times where I took a while for me to accept the truth that my mind was out of control. And that I had to be patient with that that I had to accept it. That was the condition in which I was practicing in. And only then when accepted, my mind was out of control, thinking a mile a minute or something 60 miles a minute or something. That I would only then would I begin meditation to really begin to start that any avoidance of what's true. pretending it's out there trying to override it doesn't really work in terms of Buddhist practice.
So it might be the truth of what's going on in the world, around us, in our family and our relationships in our work, that there's a acceptance of the truth. And that acceptance the way it's described, it doesn't mean that we condone it or we just blindly go along with it, as if, you know, as if we have to accept it and just continue with it. It's an acceptance, that it's a recognition, we accept the recognition of this is what's true. And then hopefully, we're wise about if it can be changed, we see what we can do to change it. But I think that this idea of patient's acceptance of the truth is to accept things which we cannot change. We cannot change how impermanent in constant this life is. And we cannot change the march of time that does. Some people, you know, are challenged by especially some people, we simply get older, or we, you know, and we see the end in sight in a sense, the acceptance of our condition or mortality. The there are things there are things to be accepted that are true, that if we fight it, we're actually going in the wrong direction, from freedom and from compassion.
So, the patience, so, patience, the pāramī of patience, and it's needed to be about in the wake of efforts because as soon as we make effort, sooner or later, usually sooner than we need patience to continue with the effort. We need perseverance, we need patience, forbearance. So we don't give in to hostility patience, gentle patience under insult and, and the kind of appropriate acceptance of what's true, at least have a clear recognition of what's true. And that becomes the starting point for how to find our way.
So patience. So you might consider for the next 24 hours, where and how you can have greater patience and what your relationship to patience is and which of these three forms of patience is your strength in which you have challenges with and which you'd like to develop more. And which you have questions about and doubts about. Really engage in this topic of patience and talk to friends and read about patience and kind of let for the next 24 hours a study of patience, really live with you and explore it and get to know it and that'll be preparation for tomorrow, because the next pāramī is truth. And perhaps there's something about patience that allows us to engage more fully and to see more fully what is true.
So thank you very much and I look forward to our time tomorrow.