In whatever we do, we need to exercise patience. As stated in the Diamond Sutra, “All natural laws of the universes attribute their success to patience.” Without it, we cannot succeed in anything. For example, to complete our college education, we have to be patient for four years. Without patience, we can never achieve anything, no matter how good our conditions are. Of the Six Paramitas, Buddha Shakyamuni in the Diamond Sutra stressed giving and patience in particular. They are the keys to success in cultivation.
It has been said that “It is difficult to handle matters, but it is even more difficult to interact with people.” It was not so difficult to with people in the past, but now, it is. Why? Education in the past taught people the proper manner and behavior in which to conduct themselves. Today it teaches people how to make a living. It is no wonder that we do not know how to conduct ourselves. We are unable to understand the changing of our own emotions, much less those of others. Therefore, it has become increasingly difficult to get along with other people.
There are three categories of patience. First, tolerate the injuries of physical and verbal abuse. Patience is a virtue. With patience, we will have a quiet and pure mind; thus, it will be easier to attain deep concentration and achievement. When we successfully practice patience, we will gain the greatest good fortune. Second, we would do well to be patient with variations of the natural elements, hot and cold, summer and winter, hunger and thirst, as well as natural disasters.
Third, be patient in the arduous course of our practice. Before attaining the joy of cultivation and before our cultivation become strong, we will encounter many obstacles. However, once we get through this phase, we attain happiness. Why? Because we are on the right path. This is like traveling on an expressway. Before we can get on it, we keep circling and driving around trying to find the entrance. This is very frustrating because there are many cars in our way and we cannot drive fast. We have to remain patient. Once we get on the expressway, it is much more pleasant because traffic moves smoother and faster with no hindrances. Our practice of Buddhism is like this.
In the beginning, we move around, trying different methods and schools. Which one shall I choose? What shall I learn? Some people are fortunate because hey only spend a few years to find the right method. Others are not so fortunate, and may take ten to twenty years or even a lifetime in the attempt to find the right method. Fortune is the result of our good root, merit and virtue, cause and condition. With these, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will surely help us, as they never abandon anyone. And once we have the mind to accept their teachings, we will be helped by the Buddha to find awakening. Then our future will be bright.
Why, does the Buddha not simply tell us with what we need to know? He did? But we did not listen. We were told the method, but thought to ourselves, “Well this may not be a good method. I heard that another one is better.” We have thus argued with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. So, they have chosen not to come to us. Please carefully consider this. We need to be very patient before we can attain achievement. Without patience, we cannot advances to a higher stage, for patience is the prerequisite for deep concentration and diligence.