Still thinking about Ajahn Sucitto’s reflections on patience (khanti), there are two points to add. In a section of the essay called “Recognizing Patience Teachers” Ven. Sucitto says:
Living with other people, in families, relationships and communities, can be an occasion for developing patience.
This should probably be classified as an understatement. We may feel entirely peaceful in body and mind after a good meditation or (even more) a long retreat, but when we encounter other people, that serenity is likely to be shattered. As Jack Kornfield’s book title has it, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. It is a particular form of dukkha to feel that we’ve crashed to earth from a refined and lofty mental state. But as Ajahn Sucitto wisely counsels, if we see other beings as our teachers (of patience), we understand that it’s our own defilements, our expectations and demands, that make others seem difficult.
(The full book, Pāramī [Perfections], can be downloaded here: https://forestsangha.org/teachings/books/parami-ways-to-cross-life-s-floods?language=English)
The second point to share is regarding the importance of patience in shaping our intentions.
All the perfections merge in the highest wisdom, the steady insight into suffering. But it is patience, if cultivated thoroughly and insightfully, that penetrates our will to do, or intention (cetana). Intention is the mental activation that seeks, wavers and tightens. It is also the source of kamma, because kamma is based on the intention behind the mind’s thinking, responses, habitual strategies and general jumping around. Intention directs one’s attention and interest in a particular way, so corresponding concerns and aims come to mind, and sometimes speech or bodily action follows. And this is what our “world” is made of.
So, patience has the power to penetrate to the deepest roots of our desire and aversion, and reveal their workings to our conscious mind. This is no small thing. Even a slight increase in our patience can have profound effects on our relationships with others and our thoughts about our place in the world. Patience may be our best tool for wearing away our unwholesome habits of body and mind and for remembering our best intentions in more and more situations.
If we are alert to opportunities to cultivate patience as they arise, we may be able to stop resisting and reacting to these “teachers” and start welcoming them as chances to develop our wisdom.