In eastern philosophy, patience (“khanti” is Pali) is one of the ten “paramis” (Pali for “perfections” or “that which has gone beyond”). According to Gil Fronsdal, lead teacher at Insight Meditation Center, there are three key aspects to patience:
Gentle Perserverance — The aspect of patience which keeps us from succumbing to doubt, discouragement and fear. Perseverance enables us to maintain steady effort even when progress does not meet our expectations.
Patience Under Insult — This kind of patience keeps us from succumbing to anger or despair when threatened. Instead, it means being mindful of our reactions and emotional responses, finding wiser ways to respond.
Acceptance of Truth — This type of patience refers to the willingness to see deeply without resistance, the truth of the moment. It requires recognition of the luminous emptiness at the center of all things — that is, willingness to let go of the fixed idea of who we are. It can be quite frightening to let this view go, so patient acceptance of truth requires strength of virtue, discernment, wisdome, resolve and loving-kindess.
It is easy to imagine the how these three aspects of patience might be of value when engaging in discussion with those whose opinions differ from one’s own. If two people’s views are diametrically opposed, patience is required for a civil conversation to progress far enough to reveal the humanity — the common ground — behind eachother’s views.
Just as humility is a companion to curiosity, so is patience a companion to human transformation. How might you practice patience in your life today?