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Patience as an Act of Compassion and Equanimity

Six perfection of Bodhisattva

“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. However, when it comes to the paramita of patience, 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.”


Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches


Patience or khanti is an act of compassion toward ourselves and everyone around us, as well as an antidote to anger and hatred. Patience is unconditionally accepting what is happening right now in the present moment. When you lack patience, you reject the present moment, substituting some future moment from your imagination, thinking that this future moment will help solve the imagined problem with the present moment. So we can only have patience when we are present at the moment.

By not being patient, you are harming yourself first. Impatience is great unhappiness, making you agitated, tense, and angry.

The three categories of patience are

  • Patience with enemies. 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.

  • Patience with hardships on the path. 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 expecting immediate results.

  • Patience with the ups and downs of life. All the difficulties we encounter should be considered essential aspects of the path. Ups and downs are inevitable in samsara, and if we can see them as manifestations of our karma. To remain firmly on the path to enlightenment, we should patiently move forward, facing this life's responsibilities with spiritual dignity and courage of heart.

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