Courageous forbearance

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I am still studying the Diamond Sutra. Chapter 14 is a long one, and it has challenged me fiercely.

  1. Charity / generosity
  2. Morality / ethics
  3. Forbearance / patience
  4. Vigor / perseverance/ diligence
  5. Meditation / concentration
  6. Wisdom

These are the Six Perfections (Paramitas). In the commentary on Chapter 14, I found much to ponder about forbearance.

In this sutra, the Buddha focuses on three of the Six Perfections, namely, those that counteract the Three Poisons: the perfection of charity, which counteracts the poison of desire; the perfection of wisdom, which destroys the poison of delusion; and the perfection of forbearance, which eliminates the poison of anger. Although this sutra only mentions these three by name, each is closely related to the other perfections: charity with morality, forbearance with vigor, and wisdom with meditation. (p. 235)

Merriam-Webster says that to forbear is “to control oneself when provoked”; to “be patient.”

Is it the perception of anger that forbearance eliminates? No, because if anger arises, then we will have a perception of that anger. With forbearance, we restrain our actions. We look our anger in the eyeballs, unflinching, and we refuse to budge. Looking at it, unmoving, we allow compassion to arise. We provide the space for compassion; we stop time so that compassion finds time to emerge.

In the fall 2009 issue of Tricycle, there’s a brief essay about forbearance on pages 14-15. Forbearance might look like cowardice, author Hsing Yun has written. But because of the great strength required to control our emotions, in fact forbearance is “an act of courage.”

Breathe.

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