The value of Patience

The cultivation of patience is the highest practice
and Nibbana is the highest truth.
The one who harms or upsets another
is not a true disciple.

Dhammapada: verse 184

There is an enormous tendency to separate spiritual training from our ordinary life. To see them always as two different and distinct things, but so many times it has been said by Dhamma masters, that they are always one.
Our spiritual life is our worldly life, and our worldly life is our spiritual life. We do not need to be meditating in a monastery or a cave in the Himalayas to train, we need only to raise the intention to change how we live. In this respect, the teaching is always around us.
So, as a spiritual discipline the development of patience can often be seen as something beautiful and even romantic, but in our everyday life not really something useful or even practical. However, according to our Dhamma tradition, the Buddha has said that ‘patient endurance is the highest teaching’, and this highest teaching is to be found in every moment of our life.
To surrender into the reality of the moment is what will ultimately free us from the suffering of the moment. To be with things ‘as they are’, and ‘to be here now’, are all manifestations of the power of patience. If we are stuck in traffic or waiting for an appointment, being angry and impatient will not help us or the situation, but patient endurance will. This does not mean giving up our turn in the queue, but it does mean changing our attitude from ‘waiting’ to ‘simply being’. To cultivate patience by surrendering into the moment is the highest practice.
On one retreat I was leading some years ago in Thailand, the temperature in the afternoon was so high that the only thing we could do individually and as a group, was to surrender into it. To sit in meditation and feel the endless streams of perspiration, beginning on the face and slowly trickling down the body to be caught in the waistband of our trousers, was a wonderful practice. Not romantic or spiritual, but eminently practical. To give up our idea of how it should be and be with the conditions as they are.
Without patience our life becomes and endless series of frustrations and irritations as we continually give our power away to conditions that we cannot change. In this place we are easily able to hurt and upset others as our compounding frustration means that we are no longer in control of ourselves. This is not the way of pure Dhamma, which is established in love and awareness, peace and joy, but is the way of the world, established only in desires and impatience.
To cultivate patience is to practice the highest Dhamma.
To practice the highest Dhamma is to cultivate patience.
May all beings be happy.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Kewley is the former Buddhist monk Pannadipa and now internationally acclaimed master of Dhamma presenting courses throughout the world. For full details and biography contact.