The Perfection of Patience

Khanti: patience, endurance, forbearance, forgiveness.

Kham_: a) patience endurance, b) earth.


The three kinds of patience:

  1. patient perseverance;
  2. patience under insult;
  3. patient acceptance of the truth.


Having acquired heroic engagement through the perfection of vigor, one becomes patient with the many faults that people have.

Visuddhimagga



Patience is the unimpeded weapon of the good in the development of noble qualities, for it dispels, without residue, anger, the opposite of all such qualities. It is the adornment of those capable of vanquishing the foe; the strength of recluses and Brahmins; a stream of water extinguishing the fire of anger; a mantra for quelling the poisonous speech of evil people; the supreme source of perseverance in those established in restraint. Patience is an ocean on account of its depth; a shore on account of bounding the great ocean of hatred.

Patience should be fortified by reflection: "All beings are like my own children; who becomes angry over the misdeeds of his or her own children?" Or, "I am wronged by others because of some residue of anger in myself; this residue I should remove." Or, "A wrong-doer is a benefactor, for he or she is the basis for developing patience." Or, "If there were no wrong-doers, how could I accomplish the perfection of patience?"

"When there is patience, the mind becomes concentrated, free from external distraction. With the mind concentrated, all formations appear as impermanent, stressful, and not-self. In addition, Nirvana appears as unconditioned, deathless, peaceful, and sublime. The groundlessness of "I-making" and "mine-making" becomes evident to reflection thus: 'Mere phenomena alone exist, devoid of self or of anything pertaining to a self; they arise and pass away in accordance to their conditions. They do not come from anywhere, they do not go anywhere, they are not established anywhere. There is no agency in anything whatsoever.'"

Dhammapala's Treatise on the Paramis



Patient endurance is the supreme austerity.

Dhammapada 184



It is through adversity that a person's endurance may be known, and then only after a long period by one who is attentive and discerning.

Anguttara Nikaya IV.192



And how is a practitioner patient? By being resilient to cold, heat, hunger, and thirst; to the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, and reptiles; to ill-spoken, unwelcome words and bodily feelings that, when they arise, are painful, piercing, disagreeable, displeasing, and menacing to life.

Anguttara Nikaya V.140



What is the way of impatience? If scolded, one scolds in return; if insulted, one insults in return; if abused, one abuses in return.

What is the way of patience? If scolded, one does not scold in return; if insulted, one does not insult in return; if abused, on does not abuse in return.

Anguttara Nikaya IV 165



Whoever endures abuse, assault, and imprisonment
    Without animosity,
And who has patience as one's strength,
    As one's mighty army,
I call a Brahmin.

Dhammapada 399



A wise person,
    Understanding the Dharma,
    By insight, free of longing
    And free of desire
Is calm as a still pool.

Iti 92



Obtaining praise is a trifling thing,
    And not enough to bring tranquility.
Realizing this, one should not dispute,
    But rather see the peaceful state wherein there is no dispute.

Atthakavagga 13



Things get worse
    By responding to anger with anger.
By not returning anger with anger
    One gains two victories:
One pursues the welfare of both
    Oneself and the other
And, knowing the other is angry,
    One mindfully keeps one's own peace.

SN 1.222



Develop a state of mind like the earth. For on the earth people throw clean and unclean things, dung and urine, spittle, pus, blood, and the earth is not troubled or repelled or disgusted. And as you grow like the earth, no contacts with pleasant or unpleasant things will lay hold of your mind or stick to it.

Majjhimae Nikaya



Debate

Once when the Buddha was residing in the Jeta Grove he addressed the monks saying,

"Long ago, monks, when there was a battle raging between the Devas and the Asuras, Vepacitti, the ruler of the Asuras, said to Sakka, the ruler of the Devas, "Let the victory be won by whoever excels in speech!"

Sakka replied, "So be it."

With an audience of Devas and Asuras as judges the contest of words began with Vepacitti saying in verse:

The foolish grow ever more angry
If there is no one to stop them.
Therefore, let a strong-minded person restrain the fool
With firm and sharp reprove.

Now the Asuras responded to this with applause; the Devas however, remained silent. Sakka then said in verse:

It is my persuasion that the only way
to curb a foolish person
Is for the alert-minded to cultivate
Calm and stillness when another is filled with rage.

This time the Devas applauded while the Asuras remained silent. Vepacitti then said:

I see a serious mistake
In what you so patiently endure.
When a fool thinks, "It is from fear that someone tolerates me,"
The fool will continue to attack,
Like an ox that charges as you flee.

To this the Asuras applauded and the Devas remained silent.Then Sakka offered the following verses:

Let the fool think whatever he will,
In cultivating the highest goal
Nothing compares to patience.
And the highest form of patience
Is to tolerate the weakness and shortcomings of others.
Whoever thinks that the strength of fools is strength,
Will claim a strong person to be a weakling!
For it will not occur to a strong person,
Protected by virtue, to exchange words of anger.
Worse off is the one who, when reviled, reviles back.
But whoever does not revile back when reviled,
Wins a two-fold victory.
The strong seek the best
For themselves and for others;
Understanding another's anger, they cultivate calm and stillness.
And thus they heal both themselves and others.
Those who call this weakness, do not understand the Dharma.

And speaking in this way, Sakka, continuing to rule the Deva realms, is one who promotes patience and gentleness.

Samyutta Nikaya I.222