The Perfection of Patience

Ksanti (kshanti): Patience, acceptance; to suffer or allow things to happen with perfect equanimity. In its highest perfection it means to welcome all events, good or evil, with the knowledge that they only happen to help us to grow, but have no inherent reality.

God is all and God is perfect; therefore, anything that we see as imperfect is within us. – Lester Levenson

Said Ummon to his disciples, “I do not ask you to say anything about what has happened before today, the fifteenth of the month, but say something about after today, the fifteenth of the month.” Because no monk could reply, Ummon answered himself and said, “Every day is a good day!”  (Suzuki, 1950, p. 56)

If you view something that is right as right, then there is something that is wrong. If you view something that is wrong as right, then there is nothing that is wrong. – The Ta-ch’eng Ju-tao An-hsin fa

Be very charitable; when one of your eyes sees what is not right, shut it and then open the other one! Change everything into good. – Saint Mariam of Jesus Crucified (the Flying Nun)

Be a passerby. – Yeshua (Gospel of Thomas)

Without a breath of censure or criticism, he surveyed the world with eyes long familiar with the Primal Purity. His body, mind, speech, and actions were effortlessly harmonized with his soul’s simplicity. – Yogananda

God gives to all things alike, and as they all proceed from God they are alike. . . . A flea, to the extent that it is in God, ranks above the highest angel in his own right. Thus in God all things are the same and are God himself. – Meister Eckhart (Walshe, Vol. II, Sermon Fifty Seven)

If you truly walk the Way,
You are blind to the faults of the world.
If you judge others’ faults,
Your fault-finding itself is wrong.
Others’ faults I do not judge;
For my faults I blame only myself. – Hui-neng (BTTS)


Those who know that coming and going are not under the control of the self know that that which the ego takes as real are illusory phenomena that cannot be grasped. If one stops resisting the illusion, one becomes unlimited. If one stops resisting changes, then one is not disturbed by anything that happens.

* * *

The sage has patience with things and does not have patience with himself and with him there is no grasping and rejecting, disliking or liking. The stupid one has patience with himself and does not have patience with things, and with him there is grasping and rejecting, disliking and liking. If you can empty your mind, be unhurried and free and completely forget the world, this is having patience with things and going along with the times, which is easy. Opposing, resisting and changing things is difficult. If something wills to come, let it come and do not resist it; if it wills to depart, let it go and do not chase after it. Whatever you have done is past and not to be regretted. That which you have not yet done (or that which has not yet happened), let go of it and do not think of it. This is to be a practitioner of the Way. Having patience, one leaves the world to its own devices, and gain and loss do not arise from the self. If you have patience and do not oppose, if you let go and do not resist, where and when will you not roam in the remote? (Bodhidharma’s Method for Quieting the Mind)

Meister Eckhart:

Meister Eckhart said to a poor man, ‘God give you good morning, brother.’
‘Keep it for yourself, sir, I have never had a bad one.’
He said, ‘How is that, brother?’
‘Because whatever God has sent me to suffer, I have suffered gladly for His sake and have considered myself unworthy of Him, and so I have never been sad or troubled.’
He asked, ‘Where did you first find God ?’
‘When I left all creatures behind, then I found God.’
He said, ‘Where did you leave God, brother?’
‘In every pure, clean heart.’
He said, ‘What kind of a man are you, brother?’
‘I am a king.’
He asked, ‘Of what?’
‘Of my flesh, for whatever my spirit desired from God, my flesh was always more nimble and quick to perform and endure than my spirit was to receive.’
He said, ‘A king must have a kingdom. What is your realm, brother?’
‘In my soul.’
He said, ‘In what way, brother?’
‘When I have closed the doors of my five senses and desire God with all my heart, I find God in my soul, as radiant and joyous as He is eternal life.’
He said, ‘You must be a saint. Who made you one, brother?’
‘Sitting still and raising my thoughts aloft and uniting with God that has drawn me up to heaven, for I could find no rest in anything that was less than God. Now I have found Him, I have rest and joy in Him eternally, and that surpasses all temporal kingdoms. There is no outward work so perfect, but it hinders the inner life.’ (Walshe, 2009, pp. 580-581)

The Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra:

Furthermore, a Bodhisattva stands firm in the perfection of patience. He instigates, exhorts, leads beings to patience in the following way. Upon taking the vow of enlightenment he puts on the armour thus: “If all beings were to hit me with sticks, clods, fists, or swords, not a single thought of anger should arise in me, and also should I lead all beings to such patience!”

It is as if a clever magician or magician’s apprentice had conjured up a great crowd of people. If they all hit him with sticks, clods, fists, or swords, he would bear towards them not even a single thought of anger. And if he were to lead these magically created beings to such patience, no being at all would have been led to it, however many he had led to it. The same is true of the Bodhisattva. And why? For such is the true nature of things that in fact they are illusory. (Conze, 1975, p. 139)

The Buddha:

Addressing the assembly the Bodhisattva said, “Dharma has many aspects, but in essence it is based on compassion. If one has the same compassion for others as one has for oneself, how could they be swayed by harmful thoughts much less engage in harmful actions? Compassion gives rise to the other virtues and leads to happiness. No anger can arise while the mind remains calm. In brief, compassion is dharma. Therefor treat others with compassion as you would toward yourself.” (

Jataka Tales – Anger is the Real Enemy

The Buddha was once born into a prosperous and noble brahmin family. As a Boddhisatva for numerous lifetimes, he had become accustomed to wisdom and renunciation. He therefore did not enjoy the life of a householder.

He decided to set such a life aside and become a renunciate in the forest. His wife, who loved him very much, was determined to accompany him on this path. He tried to dissuade her, telling her of the difficulties faced by a homeless ascetic.  But she could not be turned aside and so went with him as they wandered off into the lonely forest, like two geese that pair for life.

One day, a local king happened upon them in their forest abode. Struck by the wife’s radiant beauty, the king was determined to have her for his own.  But the king was fearful of the power of an ascetic’s curse.  He thought to test the Boddhisatva to see if his fears were grounded. If he were a true renunciate, he would show no sign of anger or attachment.  If he did show such signs, there would be no powers to fear.

“What would you do if someone tried to carry off your wife from this lonely place?” the king asked.

The Boddhisatva replied, “If anyone were to act against me here, he will never escape me while I live.”

The king thought that if this ascetic shows such attachment and hostility, he surely cannot have the magic powers of a true renunciate.  And so the king ordered his men to carry off the wife. At this, the Boddhisatva showed not the slightest sign of distress.

“You claimed to vanquish whoever acted against you, yet here you sit without lifting a finger,” said the king.

“The one who acted against me here has not escaped me,” replied the Boddhisatva. “Listen, great king.  There is a demon that causes untold harm wherever it finds refuge. Its name is anger.  It is the enemy within who turns men to evil. Knowing this, who would not vow to vanquish it?  This I have done.  Can you say the same?”

Hearing the words of the Boddhisatva, the king’s mind was pacified.  He fell at the great man’s feet and begged forgiveness. With a word, the wife was returned and the king became the Bodhisattva’s servant.

King Kali cuts off the Buddha’s ears, nose, hands and feet

In a previous existence, when the Buddha was a bodhisattva, he dwelt in a certain mountain. Kaliraja, or King Kalinga, went on a hunting trip to this mountain, bringing along his queen and concubines. While the king was off hunting, the women found the Buddha and stayed to listen to him teach. The king came upon the scene and accused the Buddha of harboring passions. When the Buddha denied knowledge (samjna) of any passions the king cut off first his ears, then his nose, then his hands and feet in order to test him. Every part of his body grew back, which proved that the Buddha had not experienced any passions. (This story is mentioned in the Diamond Sutra, and the original story is in Cp. 14 of the Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra –

Lester Levenson: When we want to change the world, it is the ego playing God

Q: I have no interest in politics, or all these things which at one time seemed so important.
Lester: You are right. The higher you go the more you see the perfection and therefore the less you see the problems. The more one sees problems, the lower one is. What you’re talking about is problems.
Q: So, I should just do everything with a desire to help, and that is love.
Lester: Yes, just feel love–you don’t necessarily have to do anything. Love, and your thoughts are positive. Thought is far more powerful than action. It’s the basis of and effects action; it’s the initiator. It comes before it and determines action. A realized being sitting in a cave somewhere all by himself is doing more good for the world than organizations of action. He is aiding everyone, his help being subconsciously received by all.

The right way is letting go and letting God, and then everything falls into line perfectly, no effort. But when I have to do it, it’s not God; it’s me, the ego, wanting to do, to change things, correct this world and so forth.


Conze, Edward (1975). The Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom. University of California Press. (download)

Jorgensen, John A. (1979). The Earliest Text of Ch’an Buddhism: The Long Scroll. The Australian National University. (download)

Levenson, Lester (1993). Keys to the Ultimate Freedom. (keys-to-the-ultimate-freedom)

Suzuki, D. T. (1950). Living By Zen. New York: Samuel Weiser, Inc.

M. O’C. Walshe (1987). Meister Eckhart: Sermons and Treatises Volume II. UK: Element Books Limited.

Walshe, Maurice O’C. (2009). The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company. (download)

Useful resources for the practice of acceptance:

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