Patience, again

Khanti pāramī : patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance

The reason I’m sticking with this parami is that it’s the one I find applicable in the most situations, and because it’s the one that has produced the most tangible results in my experience. Where some people might see endless opportunities for generosity, I see endless opportunities (and the need) for patience.

Ajahn Chah used to talk about the idea of bothering. Things bother us – noises, sights, smells, etc. But Ajahn Chah pointed out that the noise, the smell, the cold, the whatever – it’s just there. It has nothing to do with us. It’s we who go out and bother these stimuli. We latch onto something we find bothersome and worry it until it becomes a big problem. But it’s not personal unless we make it personal.

From a book called “Finding the Missing Peace” (p.50-51) by Ajahn Amaro:
Ajahn Chah came to England in the 1970’s. It was a big thing – the Great Master coming from the Far East to visit a Buddhist group in London. They had a very small place and a lot of people squished inside. It was one of those very rare hot summer nights in England, and the room was steaming. They started the meditation session, and everyone was hot, so they opened the window. But there was a noisy pub playing loud rock music across the street. After a few minutes of the music, they closed the windows again. Ajahn Chah just sat there the whole time. With the windows closed, everyone started heating up again. They’re about to asphyxiate, and Ajahn Chah is still sitting there. They open the windows, and there’s the rock music and so on and so on. He let them sit there for an hour-and-a-half. Finally, he rang the bell. Because this was England, everyone started apologizing immediately. They had even been across the road to the pub to try to get them to turn the music down, but it didn’t work. The first thing Ajahn Chah said was, “You think that the sound is annoying you, but actually it’s you that is annoying the sound. The sound is just what it is; it’s just the air vibrating. It’s up to us whether we start an argument with it.”

This lesson is useful in a vast number of situations. Lawn-mowing or leaf-blowing in the early morning leaps to mind; everything that we think shouldn’t be the way it is because it is unpleasant or inconvenient for us. Unless there’s actual danger, can we just let things be as they are? Can we stop bothering all these conditions?

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