Lotus pond, Lumbini, India ©Janet Levine 2007

One of the Buddha’s profound teachings is that the greatest prayer is patience. Nothing to do, nothing to say, nothing to think, but simply to be, and be patient. Let’s examine this further, what is  patience? According to the Buddha’s teachings, patience is a mind structure that accepts the truth of a situation as it is. It contains all the meditation and self-awareness practices you have undertaken in order for you to arrive at this patient point that is the eternally present moment and from where you can see cause and effect, the subjective conditioning we bring to all our psychological states and interactions, our understanding of the ephemeral nature of change and nature of duality in this realm where we live our lives.

From this vantage point we can understand that to experience insult and distress without resentment and to persevere is not wimpish behavior but an act that arises from  self-knowledge and courage. The stance manifests our understanding of objective truth. From a negative point of view, it seems that patient endurance is to tolerate an adverse situation. However, in reality, endurance is not in a cowardly way blindly accepting what happens. Once we have glimpsed objective reality beyond our relativism we can be proactive, yes proactive, by being patient, and not expending energy on emotions of anger, fear, resentment and blame. A mind-state of patience is effortless, a state of clear understanding.

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