What follows is a rough transcript of a Dhamma talk. One can listen to the talk here.
Homage to the Blessed One, Noble One, the Rightly Self-Awakened One
Welcome to all the monks and novices and blessings to all the laity. This Friday we will continue to learn more about the Dhamma topic of khanti, patient endurance. The Dhamma of Khanti, or patience and forbearance, is an extremely important Dhamma quality. And especially so in this present-day society, which is lacking in virtue and is very deficient in this Dhamma quality of patience. When people in present-day society have no patience, no forbearance/endurance, then wherever they go for work, they aren’t able to endure the moods and emotions that come up in their hearts from what they come into contact with. And these people then have to change their jobs and work often.
The reasons are because 1. They can’t get along with their boss or superiors. When they receive orders and have various pressures, they can’t endure it. So they look for new jobs often. They think that the next job will be better. This present job they have is no good or is not right for them. And 2. is that they can’t get along with fellow workers, like, the workers and people under them. The people under them don’t like them. It’s another type of force or pressure on them, and ultimately they can’t endure it. Or they won’t endure it and they don’t like it, so they need to leave that job and go find another job. They keep changing jobs like this.
Wherever they go they have a problem with their boss, wherever they go they have problems with other workers under them. So like this is no good. They may be skilled and have good expertise, but they are attached to their skill, and won’t endure with anything. And this may have arisen from 1. As a child, they did not train in patient endurance before. And especially when they don’t do bhavana, they don’t make the mind have peace, so then their patience will be even less. So they have problems with needing to change work often, and it is an obstacle to them leading their life. If it’s a woman, and they have a husband who can work, then he can be a support for her. But if he is a man, and he has no patient endurance, then his wife will be unable to depend on him. This will give their family problems. So patience is something that must be trained in. We need to have a lot of patience, from one’s education to doing work and duties.
And being a child, they need to have patience in their studies. Some subjects we may not like, but we must be patient. Be patient with the teachers who are teaching us. They may push us with their good hopes for us. But we may not like it. Because this is normal for these minds of ours, of people. Whatever makes us happy, we like. Whatever is painful, we don’t like. But if we train in patience since we are a child, then when we are older, we will have some immunity to all the inner moods and emotions coming up. So all children and students should train in patience a lot.
From being a child and a student you must train in patience. Try to learn and be diligent in going over what you need to learn. Be able to memorise it. Have intelligence to be able to succeed in your studies and achieve your goals. Then when we are older, we have a job and work, we need to be patient with all types of things that come up with being together with our boss and other workers. And especially, if we have our own family, then we need to have even more patience. For a woman, they must have patience with their moods and emotions (arom). They should not be someone who follows or uses their moods. Don’t be someone who complains every day. Otherwise in the end, their partner may get bored and run off to somewhere else. Or if they don’t want to stay together, this will give problems to their household.
So, the Buddha said that living the household life, one must have khanti, have patience with each other, have Dhamma, have restraint over the mind (komjai), have self-sacrifice to each other imbued with metta, loving-kindness, have an even temper, and do all this regularly. This is having metta and compassion to each other. Then the family will be able to stay together. But if one has no virtue, then the family will lack warmth, and one may go off with bad friends that lead them to do things that lead to their ruin. This will then lead to even greater problems for them and their family. This is because having an incorrect way of living will lead the family to chaos and troubles. And there is much of this in present-day society.
So having patience has great benefits. And we must train and practice having this patience. Even when sometimes we feel like we can’t endure it, we must put effort into trying to keep being patient, keeping even more restraint/control over the mind. And if we don’t do this, we have no patience, then even if we have close friends, these friends may leave us. There is no harmony there. So the root cause of all of this is ditthi, views, and mana, conceit. And these 2 things added together, is having views and opinions, having attachment & clinging. Having a sense of self. Not being able to give in and concede to other people. And the cause for chaos and troubles is the feeling that we are better than others, we are at the same level as others, or that we are lower than others.
So we need Dhamma to burn this mental defilement up, that is, having patient endurance. And especially in present-day society, when we need to use a car or vehicle, and sometimes a mood comes up suddenly. The cars may have scraped or bumped into each other together, and there are strong emotions coming up, and no-one wants to give in or back down, and they may end up harming each other. Many have lost their lives like this. Or maybe even going to jail or getting in trouble with the law. And this gives trouble to their family.
So we need to train to have forbearance and to restrain our minds (yapyaangchangjai). There are 3 types of this patience and forbearance. There is the patience to the kilesas, the inner mental defilements that disturb the mind. At the time when we want to do something out of delusion, like engaging in corruption and cheating others, this is when bad sila, bad morality comes up. But when we have a chance to cheat others, and we don’t do it, we don’t follow it, that means our virtue here can overcome (fight against) those things that try to entice our minds. There is also patience towards hardships and difficulties, towards doing work, towards hunger, loss, and painful feelings. This must be trained in and we must keep instructing ourselves in it. As adults, we would have already had a lot of experience in this. And this is something that children must learn since being a student. And when they go to work they must be very patient with inner moods and emotions, because they have to be a part of society. And we also must be patient in practicing Dhamma and in meditation.
A lot of times, it isn’t easy for us to come to practice meditation. Why? Because greed, anger, and delusion are full in our minds. And for those ordained, you are at first just monks by convention. And we must make vimutti, liberation, arise. To become a true monk. But in the beginning, a monk must be a monk having khanti, a monk having mindfulness, a monk having samadhi concentration, a monk having panya, wisdom, a monk having effort, a monk who is determined, doing all the practices of a monk, doing Morning and evening chanting, doing the monastic duties and practices following what the great teachers (Kruba Ajahns), have given us many teachings on already. So don’t be heedless. We must patiently endure all of it. And more so as a newly ordained monk, you need to bring up patient endurance. You may think that if you get to be a senior monk you will be comfortable. But being a senior monk, you again need to have patience, because you then will have more duties and work. So whatever level you are at, you need to have patience and endurance. So may you be determined.
And for those who can be patient, who don’t get angry, they will have good skin that does not look dejected, (sao mong), and they will have few enemies. But for those who can’t be patient and endure, they will have many enemies, many who dislike them, their skin will look miserable (sao moong), and enemies may harm them, and they may lose their wealth. If we don’t have patience, then we won’t attain success.
In one era, there was a Venerable monk named Punna. Venerable Punna wanted to go back to his hometown, named Sunaparanta. The Buddha asked that “if you go back there, the people of Sunaparanta are fierce and rough. If they abuse and threaten you, what will you do then?” Ven. Punna answered the Buddha, “If they abuse and threaten me like that, then it’s good that the people of Sunaparanta didn’t hit me with their fists.” And the Buddha followed up by asking, “But, what if they hit you with their fists?” Ven. Punna answered, “Then it’s good that they didn’t throw stones at me.” “And what if they throw stones at you?” It’s better than if they beat me with a club.” “And if they beat you with a club?” “Then it’s better than if they took my life with a sharp knife.” “And if they took your life with a sharp knife?” “Then it’s better that they kill me like this, then I won’t need to find a weapon to do it myself, because this body is disgusting, repelling, and full of suffering. There are disciples of the Buddha, who were disgusted with the body and who looked for someone to assist them with taking away this body. But if someone came to kill me like this, then it would be good as well.” So the Buddha said, “Good, good Punna! Having such self-control and peacefulness, you will be quite capable of living in Sunaparanta town. Because that place is very fierce and rough. Ven. Punna went back to his hometown and he taught Dhamma there and gained 500 lay men and women followers. And in the end, he attained Arahantship.
So especially in the present time, the virtue of patience of those who come to ordain has diminished. Yesterday there was one layperson who came from overseas, aged 20. He wanted to learn and practice in the monastic form. He had come from a monastery in Ubon province, where he said it was too strict and it was too difficult to practice there. And so he wanted to try out WMJ. When he came to WMJ, he was filling out the registration form, just that much and he hadn’t done anything else yet, and he already thought that this monastery’s practice was too strict for him. It would be too hard to practice here. He was just here for 2 hours, and he asked to go to another monastery over there in Ubon pronvince. He looked as if he didn’t have much patient endurance.
It’s not like in the past, where each monk who came was determined to come and was determined to practice and train. Ven. Ajahn Chah had said that Western monks had a lot of patient endurance. They were like someone who had died and been revived again (dtaai kuun). It’s like they passed out, as if they had died, and they came back alive. This was because they had to struggle with the food, weather, environment, society, and all sorts of things. But they had the aspiration to get to Nibbana. They were able to endure, they could endure all things. They wanted to stay with a great teacher. They wanted to learn Dhamma. They wanted the right way of practice. Wanted to see Dhamma, attain Dhamma. And so they could endure it. And they had great patience and endurance in Dhamma practice.
So may you try to train in patience. Sometimes if we feel like we can’t endure, then we can think of the Lord Buddha. In a past life when the Buddha was an ascetic, he praised patience and forbearance. The Buddha was hit with a stick 2000 times, but the Buddha still endured. And he praised sublime patience. This patience was in his heart. They cut off his hands, cut off his feet, cut off his ears, cut off his nose, but the Buddha still praised patience. His patience, the khanti was in his heart, there was no-one who could damage it. They could only harm him on the outside, but they couldn’t damage his khanti inside. The Buddha endured to the fullest, and in the end, he died. So the Buddha taught and praised the Dhamma virtue of khanti.
And we won’t have to receive pain to this level. So even if we have some pain or a lot of pain, we should endure and train in patience. Think of the Buddha. Think of the practice and training of the Buddha or of the Venerable disciples. Let this be our ideal to remind us to be patient and to endure. So that we can achieve our aspirations.
For children, students, they must be determined to study well and graduate. They need to have patience. They shouldn’t get caught up in things that entice – like playing games beyond the normal times, playing games too much, playing with friends too much, or they aren’t interested in studying. This is not acceptable. They must be firm and determined in their studies till they succeed. And those that have graduated, who have passed having patience on the level of a student, then they must have patience in doing their work. They must be able to get past it. And especially, if you have a family, then you must have even more patience. And especially coming to Dhamma practice and bhavana, then we must have patience towards the practice and bhavana – standing, walking, sitting, and lying down with effort. To aspire to Nibbana, we must be determined to practice seriously. Then ultimately we will gain peace in the mind. We will then know and see the Dhamma.
So those without patience and forbearance/endurance will receive many disadvantages. But those who train the mind to have patience will gain benefits, whether they are of the studying age, working-age, in their married life, and in Dhamma practice and bhavana. They will be able to gain success. So may you all have this dhamma virtue of Khanti . And use it in order to develop sila, samadhi, Panya. May you all see the Dhamma.