Happy Tsog Day: How to practise the perfection of patience

In order to remember and mark our tsog days, holy days on the Kadampa calendar, I am sharing my understanding of the practice of Offering to the Spiritual Guide with tsog.  This is part 37 of a 44-part series.

I seek your blessings to complete the perfection of patience
So that even if every single being in the three realms,
Out of anger were to abuse me, criticize me, threaten me, or even take my life,
Undisturbed, I would repay their harm by helping them.

Geshe-la explains in How to Solve our Human Problems, “Patience is a mind that is able to accept, fully and happily, whatever occurs. It is much more than just gritting our teeth and putting up with things. Being patient means to welcome wholeheartedly whatever arises, having given up the idea that things should be other than what they are. It is always possible to be patient; there is no situation so bad that it cannot be accepted patiently, with an open, accommodating and peaceful heart.” This definition is worth memorizing. The perfection of patience is engaging in the practice of patience with a bodhichitta motivation.

There is no virtue greater than patience and there is no evil greater than anger. Thus, if we were to take only one thing as our main practice, it should be abandoning anger and practicing patience. Because we live in degenerate times, the causes of suffering and adversity are growing. As a result, our opportunities to practice patience are increasing as well. Patience is the cause of great beauty. We may wonder why we want beauty? Geshe-la explains in Joyful Path of Good Fortune that beauty creates the causes for others to be pleasantly disposed towards us, to naturally generate faith in us, and to wish to be around us. All these help us to become a more qualified spiritual guide capable of leading many living beings along the path. Patience is also one of the most profound causes of inner peace. If we are able to accept whatever happens, then our mind remains peaceful all the time. A peaceful mind is a happy mind.

Anger is like a communicable disease that remains in this world and spreads like wildfire. When one person gets angry, they hurt others, those people in turn get angry, they then hurt others and so forth. Further, when we express anger and frustration, such as on social media, we are likewise inciting others to also get angry and generate such negative minds. Some families have deep currents of anger. There may be for example one extremely angry person in a family who then infects everyone else in the family with anger, and that becomes the only way they know how to deal with problems that arise in life. It could take many decades of difficult inner work to undo the destructive effects of growing up in an angry home. But if we apply effort to eliminate anger, we can put an end to the lineage of anger in our family. And create a new lineage of patience within our family that continues for generation after generation.

Our ability to accept difficult circumstances depends primarily upon our ability to transform them into the path to enlightenment. If we know how to transform adverse circumstances into the path, then when they arise, they will not be a problem for us, rather they will be an opportunity. This only works, however, if our primary motivation is to make progress along the spiritual path. If our worldly desire to never encounter adversity is stronger than our spiritual desire to make progress along the path, even if we know how to transform adverse conditions into the path, it will not matter and things will still be a problem for us. But if our motivation is primarily spiritual, and we possess experience on how to transform adverse conditions into the path, then nothing will be a problem for us and there will be no basis for anger.

For me, I resolve about 90 to 95% of my otherwise anger-provoking problems through my reliance upon Dorje Shugden. With a motivation to make progress along the path, I request Dorje Shugden with faith to arrange the perfect conditions for my swiftest possible enlightenment. I then am able to accept whatever subsequently arises as the perfect conditions he has arranged for me. This faith will open my mind to receive his blessings to be able to understand how and why whatever has happened is perfect for my spiritual training. I will know what I need to do and be motivated to do it. In this way, nothing is a problem for me, and there is no basis for generating anger.

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