….there is a peace, wellness and intrinsic joy that is not dependent on conditions, and that compels us to forget what we thought ourselves to be, and instead live for whatever benefit we can offer other beings.
Fortitude in adversity, temperance in prosperity, said Francis Bacon, the great Elizabethan essayist and Renaissance man. To withstand the pressures, disappointments, frustrations that the world inevitably tests us with, and not be pulled away from the “truth” – what we know to be the case.
Gandhi spoke about satyagraha– “holding to truth”. Not being derailed from our integrity, no matter what. To have this kind of inner strength and gravity, that we don’t reach for risky quick fixes nor overreach under duress, is part of what this paramita is about.
I remember my teacher Joan Rieck Roshi once giving a talk on a cowboy rancher she had known, and the sense of spaciousness in his eyes, of his familiarity with wide landscapes and the coming and going of life and death. Kshanti connotes that kind of bigger perspective, one based on a broader vision, as if in every moment a wider horizon were visible.
Stephen Batchelor speaks of the word “path” meaning that we have space – just enough space to choose how we move, how we respond.
Another important aspect of patience is that it means patience with our practice itself. You might almost say that practice is about learning to be patient with our practice. If we get that, the life generally will become easier.
It means learning that we can’t force our practice to be just the way we want. Rather, practice is about wearing down the very person who is wanting things to be a certain way. The more we surrender, the more a beautiful patience can start to blossom in our hearts. We start to find a joy, not in things becoming the way we want them, but in allowing things to be the way they are.
We could call this the beginning of our “spiritual life” – the fringes of the great discovery that there is a peace, wellness and intrinsic joy that is not dependent on conditions, and that compels us to forget what we thought ourselves to be, and instead live for whatever benefit we can offer other beings.
Read Part 2 of this series on Kshanti (the third paramita).
Message from Henry is from our March 28, 2017 Newsletter.
Image by Rosa Bellino, used with her permission.