Time : Saturday 2pm-4.15pm
Platform : ZOOM Cloud Meeting
Topic of Discussion : The Six Paramitas (Part 2) | Perfections of Forbearance
On 29 August 2020, Guan Yin Citta, Singapore held yet another online Buddhism in Plain Terms (BIPT) Group Study (in English) that focused on the Perfection of Forbearance. Forbearance, which is one of the Six Paramitas or Perfections, is critical as the absence or the lack of it could leave one with regrets in life. It also sets the foundation for the Perfection of Diligence.
The session started off by highlighting that forbearance is not a manifestation of cowardice, but a reflection of one’s unmoving suchness state-of-mind that exudes one’s inner strength to exercise self restraint and endures the humiliation despite not being at fault.
The facilitator emphasized the importance to internalize forbearance, which is a higher level of patience compared with an external or superficial manifestation of tolerance.
In the session, three categories of forbearance were highlighted: patience under humiliation (forbear, as there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in this world, only the law of causality), patience in enduring the changes in nature (it strengthens one’s physical and mental states), and patience in spiritual cultivation. The aim of spiritual cultivation is to overcome one’s shortcomings before one can advance to a higher spiritual state.
The participants learnt the five methods to cultivate forbearance: Common (basic), Strength, Causal, Reflective and Compassionate (advanced). Common forbearance teaches us to be strong when faced with insults but it is an immature type of forbearance as hatred and/or anger still resides in one’s heart. At the other end of the spectrum is Compassionate forbearance where one regards oneself as Bodhisattva by exercising compassion towards those who humiliate or insult us.
Last but not least, the participants were reminded that it is also equally important to forbear when one is showered with praises in order to avoid the emotion of non-equanimity.
Let us now look at some comments from participants:
“The most enlightening thing I have learned today is that if we exercise tolerance by enduring hardship and being patient in our spiritual cultivation, our effort will definitely come to fruition. Despite reading about forbearance frequently, I occasionally fail to put theory to practise. However, today’s sharing really reinforced that continuous spiritual cultivation is a must.”
“Tolerance is not only towards people, but can also be towards our environment and also daily matters. My biggest takeaway is “one must remain indifferent when they are praised or humiliated”. I get proud very easily and it makes others uncomfortable and therefore the session presented a useful reminder that I need to learn to remain humble.”
? Join us in our next session
Please contact Loh SX (96978356) / Woan Yi SX (82182248) for more information
⏰ Date and time:
Saturday 5 Sep 2020 (2.oopm – 4.00pm)
Please click here to download the Summary Slides shared during the Group Study:
ACTING ON IMPULSE CAN ONLY LEAVE YOU WITH REGRETS!
Moral of the story:
Do not be hasty in life. More often than not, things are not as bad as it seems. Impulsivity is demonic and ACTING ON IMPULSE CAN ONLY LEAVE YOU WITH REGRETS!
< The Perfection of Forbearance >
Common Terminologies used: 忍辱
Forbearance, Tolerance, Endurance, Patience, Patience under Humiliation
Master Jun Hong Lu’s related discourses (cross references):
< ANALYSIS OF THE CHINESE CHARACTER 忍 (FORBEARANCE) >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 11 Chapter 11 (An Excerpt)
In Chinese, the word “Forbearance 忍” has the character of a “knife’ on top.
This “knife” represents worries whichdepicts a knife that cuts through a person’s heart each time they let their hearts be troubled.
Hence, it is important to always bring ourselves to a calm state-of-mind whenever we encounter things that upset us. Learn to be tolerant, as only then, the grievances and unhappiness in us can slowly dissipate. This is the way of Diligence for all Buddhist practitioners.
< Overview: The difference between “Tolerance” and “Cowardice”? >
wenda20131201A 45:25 (Master Lu’s radio call-in programme)
Caller: What is the difference between “Tolerance” and “Cowardly”?
Master Jun Hong Lu: Cowardice means the person has no psychological endurance. This person is afraid of everything and dare not deal with others. Such a person is weak in their heart, they have neither strong willpower nor determination. Hence, they fear everything they encounter. This is called “Cowardice”.
Tolerance on the other hand is when you are certain that the other party is at fault but because you are a Buddhist practitioner, you are determined to exercise restraint and resolve the issue. This is what “Tolerance” means.
To explain in more detail. When your husband scolds you, if you keep silent, this is endurance. In another case, when he starts to scold you, you hide yourself in the room in fright and you are scared of every remark he makes. This is cowardice. In the former example, you are not afraid, but in order to upkeep the family and avoid quarrelling with him, you tell yourself, “I shall tolerate”.
< Internal Forbearance vs External Forbearance >
shuohua20130308 18:08 (Master Lu’s radio call-in programme)
Caller: For those who are accomplished in their spiritual cultivation, when they endure humiliation, their heart is in a state of unmoving suchness. As for us with lower-level of spiritual cultivation, though on the surface we may appear to be able to restrain from committing negative karma of speech, but internally we may still feel uneasy and may even sin in our mind.
Can this superficial endurance be considered as practice of endurance at all? Or is this just a stage that one needs to go through to be able to truly practise forbearance in the future?
Master Jun Hong Lu:
As a matter of fact, forbearance can be divided into External Forbearance (外忍辱) and Internal Forbearance (内忍辱).
To endure humiliation on the outside is to keep one’s silence and not to scold the other party, while he may be violently active, or even cursing internally.
It is as good as not enduring at all except that he has managed to show endurance in his action, not knowing that he has already violated the precept on his conscious level. (意识已经犯戒)
It is best for any external manifestation of tolerance to be based on the internal existence of this propensity, (外忍辱能够有一点内忍辱作基础) as this will have an eventual effect on one’s innermost being (内心).
When you cease talking, there is a chance that you will gradually gain control of your mind. This is also one way to help you practise forbearance from inside your heart.
That said, what’s best is that one does not even feel like he is tolerating; this is when his external appearance will be most natural.
< Transition from External Forbearance to Internal Forbearance >
Shuohua20131227 17:15 (Master Lu’s radio call-in programme)
Caller: At the early stages of cultivating forbearance, we are mostly forbearing on the “outside” as the ability to forbear has yet to be internalized. We may still feel unhappy and unwilling to endure the humiliation when conflicts arise.
Should we be natural and let our
unhappiness be revealed or should we “digest”
them and put up a good front, that is all smiles?
Master Jun Hong Lu: It is commendable that you have reached a state of cultivation where you are able to put up a front that is all smiles. However, a higher state of spirituality will be if you are able to completely transform your grievances (修到自己完全化掉).
Being able to force a smile is way better than to pull a long face. To be strong enough to laugh it off is also a form of cultivation. Though it may not help in transforming the situation nor solve the problem, it’s still better than putting on a fierce-looking face. Smiling is one way to resolve conflicts while fierceness will only cause them to deepen.
Master Jun Hong Lu: Smile. A fake smile is better than no smile. However, if you can manage a fake smile why don’t you attempt a real one? The brightest smiles come after all conflicts are resolved (化解矛盾).
It can be awkward, or even appalling if you put up a good front that is all smiles. Some people are just fine when they don’t smile because they look like they are crying when they do.
Caller: Will it be considered dishonest or insincere in this case?
Master Jun Hong Lu: On this path of spiritual cultivation, we undergo a continuous process of restraint and discipline (在克制和戒律当中), there is nothing insincere about it. When you say, “I am trying to change for the better, I am not there yet but I’m trying.” Would you consider this to be insincere?
For example, a young man with gambling addiction is now trying to overcome this addiction. When he sees the slot machine, he says “I am not going there”. Would you consider him to be insincere? He saw the machine and he was torn getting to that machine and avoiding it. In this process, he is considered sincere and that’s because he was sincere in wanting to change himself for the better.
< Patience under Humiliation: Do not Take in those Words >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 3 Chapter 31 (An Excerpt)
The first type of tolerance is to tolerate man-made harm (人为的加害).
You must learn to endure the harm and humiliation when others spread rumours about you.
Be strong, you don’t have to believe or take in any of those words that are meant to dishonour you. Otherwise, you are only causing harm to yourself.
For you young couples, please remember, arguments happen. There will be exchange of unkind words, just don’t take it in. If you do, you will be troubled.
< Patience under Humiliation: The Golden Practice to Avoid Negative Ties >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 1 Chapter 2 (An Excerpt)
Interpersonal relationships are inevitable as long as we live in this world. Although self-discipline may help save us from forming negative karmic affinities with others, we cannot expect the same from the people around us. When others engender negative karmic affinities with us, that is when we are faced with unjust encounters and we find ourselves being misunderstood, or even reviled. In times like these, the practice of patience under humiliation (忍辱) is the means to upkeep the purity of our spiritual self. (保持我们心灵纯净的方式)
Being patient when insulted, is not a manifestation of cowardice but a golden practice that saves us from establishing negative karmic affinities (不“接”恶缘的法宝). The moment we take offence when someone launches a string of negative affinity at us, we will be infected by its potential ramification, which sets the karma of negative affinity in motion (恶缘的因果就形成了).
It is only through practising patience under insult that we are able to prevent the anger from getting the better of us and the negative affinity (恶缘) from reaching ground and taking root.
The virtue of patience is but an outward expression. Its essence lies in ensuring our mind is unswayed irrespective of circumstances and that we are able to see the voidness of humiliation (视外辱如无物).
This is in line with the principle of mind cultivation, that is, “As external conditions change, let the mind remain unperturbed”. (境转心不转)
< Patience under Humiliation: Being Impatient only Undermine your Wisdom >
Master Lu’s Story Telling, Story No. 75
Joe Louis is well-known American boxing champion, reigned as the world’s heavyweight champion and had defeated many in the ring. Interestingly, there was a big contrast in his character when he was off the ring. He was a very humble and friendly guy.
One day, when he and his friend were out for a drive. Their car was blocking the truck behind them. The truck driver gave out some long horn honks, cut and stopped his truck right in front of theirs and gestured at them angrily. After the truck driver left, his friend asked him, “Hey, that guy is so rude, why don’t you fix him, you are a boxing champion, aren’t you?”
Joe Louis replied easily: “If someone insults Enrico Caruso, do you think he will sing a song for him?”
Master Lu says, “This is wisdom. When others attack you and if you quarrel with them, you are just undermining your wisdom (降低自己的智慧). The same goes when your wife or husband scolds you, why would you want to bring yourself to the same mortal level as them?” (凡人)
< Patience under Humiliation: A Tip from a Senior Monk >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Volume 1, Chapter 16 (An Excerpt)
There is no such thing as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the human realm, only the law of causality prevails. Let me impart a method on practising self-restrain passed down by a senior monk:
If he slanders me, I must tolerate him;
If he bullies me, I must yield to him;
If he humiliates me, I must avoid him;
If he belittles me, I must let him be;
If he looks down on me, I must be respectful towards him.
< Endure Changes in Nature >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Volume 3, Chapter 31 (An Excerpt)
Second, be patient in enduring the changes in nature which includes changes in the weather, whether it’s cold or hot. When you can’t bear the cold or hot weather, it means you have not cultivated well.
When the monks and nuns meditate and when the weather turns cold, they wouldn’t get up to get a sweater. Do you think you can do that? One must also endure thirst, dry mouth, and natural disasters.
When natural disasters happen, it may take away our house. Some people couldn’t bear with such loss and commit suicide. When one’s house is right opposite a factory, he may suffer from the noise pollution from 8am – 5pm. It can be so unbearable that he may even commit suicide because of it. This is what happens when one fails to endure.
Do you know how the monks train patient endurance? Have you seen stories of the Shaolin Temple? Monks are made to stand still and carry buckets of water on shoulder poles.
This is to strengthen their physical and mental endurance. In fact, when those senior monks scold their disciples, it is not that they are fierce. It is to train their ability to accept the changes in the natural environment so as to elevate their state-of-mind. It is only when they have the ability to endure, that they can attain calmness.
< Patience in Spiritual Cultivation: Be Diligent in Overcoming one’s Shortcomings >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Volume 3, Chapter 31 (An Excerpt)
Third, both mind-cultivation and Buddhism practice requires patience. It is never too late to succeed, as long as you are diligent. All of you who are sitting down there listening, are you experiencing any discomfort? Do you wish to stand up and move about? But, you can’t. This calls forth patience, doesn’t it?
After so long, do you wish to get a sip of water? Sometimes when you hear me say something, you may even feel that you can’t hold back anymore. When you hear me reprimand the disciples, sometimes I made some mistakes in doing so, do you think they will be angry?
Even if I have made a mistake and you know you have been wronged, you still have to think, “Yes, I need to be more careful…”.
This is what being “Well-cultivated” is about. If you are someone who likes to reason with others, talk back or claim that others are in the wrong, this is what “Lack of Cultivation” means.
The aim of spiritual cultivation is to overcome our shortcomings (修心就是要把身上的毛病修掉); you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone.
< Patience in Spiritual Cultivation: A Prerequisite to Attain a Higher Spiritual State >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Discourse at Guan Yin Hall (An Excerpt) -25 June 2011
Spiritual cultivation requires a great degree of patience. There would be no accomplishment without patience. A calm person is a patient person. Without patience, one is not able to advance to a higher spiritual state.
Patience is like a ladder that prepares one’s ascend, step by step. Only when there is patience can one speak about diligence (有忍耐，才能谈得上精进); lacking patience, diligence is inconceivable.
< Be Patient: Success comes to those who Endure Hardship >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk, Sydney, Australia – 27 January 2019
Up in a mountain, there were two identical looking stones with very different endings in life. The first one was carved into a Buddha statue and was regarded with veneration by the people; while the second one was made into a non-significant stone step.
With much grievance, the second stone said, “My friend, since we are stones of the same type, why is there such great disparity between our fate?” The first stone answered, “Do you still remember? A few years ago, when a sculptor came along, you were terrified by the pain inflicted on you from the sculptor’s knife. You couldn’t bear the suffering.
Hence, with that few cuts from the chisel, you ended up as a stone step. As for me, I lived through the pain that turned me into a statue of a Buddha. Success comes to those who can endure hardship (吃苦才能成功) – which explains why today I am held in veneration by the people while you, unfortunately, is just their stone step.”
< Be Patient: Everything is the Best Arrangement >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,December 14, 2015
EVERYTHING IS THE BEST ARRANGEMENT
As long as we put in our best effort, success will come to us slowly but surely. We may not see immediate return; however, with a little patience, oftentimes it will come to us when we least expect it.
Everything is the best arrangement (一切都是最好的安排).
Disaster and happiness (祸福) are twins. Behind every disaster, there is a drop of happiness, and there is always a hidden side of happiness where disaster may just be on the horizon.
< Summary of Three Types of Forbearance >
< Five Methods to Cultivate Forbearance >
< Five Methods to Cultivate Forbearance: Common Forbearance >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 11 Chapter 44 (An Excerpt)
Among the 84,000 methods, there is a method called “Patience under Humiliation” which comes in five levels of cultivation – from basic to profound.
The first one is, Common Forbearance (生忍). It means, when your friends suddenly insults, slanders you or you encounter situations that you cannot avoid and you are in no position to resist, firstly, you must learn to be strong.
Being strong here means having “Common Endurance” when you patiently let the other party continue to put his point through even though you don’t agree to his actions. Endurance, though can be painful, needs to be cultivated. The first step is to temporarily put the matter aside.
Otherwise, you will be immediately angered, and things will get out of control. Hence, to have “Common Endurance” is to put things aside when you are unsure of the intention of the other party.
Be patient and choke down your anger (notice that there is still anger). Hence, this is an immature type of forbearance (不成熟的忍耐).
The second type is Strength Forbearance (力忍). When others insult or slander you, first of all, you have to use your own mental strength (心力) to tell yourself, “I did not do any of those things they claimed I did. I am not like how they said I am.”
With this, you are able to suppress the issue. You have faith in Bodhisattva. Where did you get the strength? How can you be so patient? This is because you have Buddha and Bodhisattva in your heart. You trust that They will definitely help you.
Please remember this, a person with mental strength (心力) is able to turn around others’ insult and consider them as an exercise to see if there’s still hatred in themselves.
It is common for the victim of insults to give rise to hatred, hence, if you don’t, you have a high level of spirituality (境界高). This is what Strength Endurance means.
The third type is Causal Forbearance (缘忍). This is when others insult you, you apply wisdom to observe its causes and conditions (用智慧来观照因缘).
The practice of patience is made possible through a good understanding that the many negative retributions you are suffering today is caused by your karmic obstacles (业障所致).No one will scold or hate you for no reason.
You have to think along this line: “This is caused by the karmic obstacles in me, hence, I must repay these karmic debts”. How do you go about repaying? The next time someone insults you, you need to endure it. When you do that, you are paying off your karmic debts. In this way, you will understand the truth behind every insult.
Fourthly, Reflective Forbearance (观忍). What do you do when others dishonour you or pick a fight with you?
You need to elevate your state-of-mind (境界要高) i.e. to Reflect on the Wisdom of Emptiness (空观智慧).
You imagine the light of the Buddha shining all over you and understand that fundamentally, all dharmas are devoid of self(诸法无我).
In other words, you understand that you are a Buddhist practitioner, and you have no ego (没有自我).
In this case, who is he scolding? You are empty of the notion of self. An egoless person is able to endure as he doesn’t regard himself highly. This will render others’ insults invalid. We need to learn not to be angry. With this method of reflection on emptiness (观空的方法), you will be able to overcome the hatred in you.
Lastly, Compassionate Forbearance (慈忍). At this stage, you regard yourself as a Bodhisattva. Hence, in times of adversities or when you are humiliated, not only do you not hate others, you are compassionate towards them, and you feel that they are really pitiable.
While others are scolding you, you think, “He is so mad, I hope his heart and his blood pressure can take it.” or “He is making such baseless accusations and offending many, he is so pitiable. In life, ignorant are the ones who get angry; they are the most pathetic”.
With this mentality, not only do you not hate them, you find their behaviour heart-rending.
< SUMMARY: Five Methods to Cultivate Forbearance >
< How much can you Forbear >
Wenda20180504 15:02 (Master Lu’s call-in radio programme)
You have to remember that there are different levels of forbearance. How much can you bear? Can you tolerate the effect of past life, or the current life – just what level of spirituality are you in your tolerance?
I once told you a story about a soldier who tried to open fire at an old monk. The old monk, with his supernatural power in an instant, rose high into the air and then fell back to the ground on his head. And, he died. Why did he do that?
Because he was afraid that this soldier would commit the sin of killing. Even at the point of death, his thought was only to save the soldier. He didn’t want the soldier to commit the act of killing. Hence, he chose to take his own life. Think about it, what is the level of tolerance are we talking about here? Isn’t it far from the tolerance that we practise when others scold or hit us? How can you compare with the level of tolerance in this story?
< The Essence of True Forbearance >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol.2 Chapter 38 (An Excerpt)
The Essence of True Forbearance
A tolerant person does not think of the need to exercise tolerance.
Neither does a person who practises restraint,
as their daily practice has been perfected thus.
Just like with true meditative concentration,
where no concentration is aspired as all phenomena is empty thus.
< What else to Forbear? (i): Praises >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol.1 Chapter 15 (An Excerpt)
Today, I would like to expound on the concept of favour and humiliation (“宠”与“辱”) both of which are appalling phenomena. Even a person who is perpetually being doted on, lives in fear towards the possibility of being unloved and abandoned in the future.
Let me quote you an example: An ordinary employee suddenly got promoted to a managerial position. It is likely that in that instant, he would be shocked yet happy.However, it is also a form of distress for him.
Hence, being favoured and humiliated are both forms of disquietude which brings about the greatest sense of misery within our psyche.
Hence, as the saying goes, we should “Remain indifferent whether when granted favours or subjected to humiliation(宠辱不惊)”.
In other words, you should think, “Though I have been promoted today, I shall remain unmoved. If tomorrow I am reprimanded and demoted from my position, I will also remain unmoved.”
This is a good mentality to adopt as you will not be subjected to manipulation by feelings of happiness and sadness that come along with the rise and fall of prestige, respectively. Hence, do not allow misery to be retained in your heart.
< What else to Forbear? (ii): Praises >
Wenda20150901 (Master Lu’s call-in radio program)
Master Jun Hong Lu: ….given that someone scolded or slandered you, you are able to practise tolerance. What about if they sing yourpraises? What’s most challenging is for one to bear praises.
When this happens, you have to understand that everything in this world is illusory and unreal. Regardless if they scold or praise you, take it as they are not a true statement and you will not give rise to non-equanimity (不平等的心) in your mind. The problem with people is that when they are praised, they will go into a state of immeasurable self-satisfaction (沾沾自喜).
Just like me today, so many people are praising me because of my Dharma propagation effort. If I am not propagating the Dharma, I am just an insignificant radio station master; I am nobody.
Therefore, one should always be in touch with one’s Buddha nature (佛性). Do not indulge in self-satisfaction when others praise us (不要再赞誉面前沾沾自喜) or feel that we are superior.
What is there to be proud of? You are just a human. You are still doing so many unwholesome deeds every single day; your body stinks so is your mind – do you still believe you are superior?
Hence, even when we are being praised, we should learn to restrain ourselves. Think, “I have not done good enough and I have to put in even more effort. I am not worthy of their praises”.
People may comment, “your face resembles Bodhisattva,” does that mean you are one? You are nothing if not for the light of Buddha that is shining on you!
A person who propagates Buddhism should never be arrogant or self-righteous (不能自以为是). You will have to think lowly of ourselves and that we are worthless. Only then you will not be arrogant, and you will not give rise toInequanimity (不平等心). There is nothing to be proud of really. So what you are Napoleon or Julius Caesar?
A Poem by Patriarch Maitreya:
Planting Green seedlings all over the rice field,
As one’s head lowered, the sky in the water is revealed,
When all Six Sense Organs are pure, understanding is yield,
It is through Retreat that advancement is revealed.
< Compromise makes conflict easier to resolve | 退一步海阔天空！>
Master Jun Hong Lu,
“In life, often times, we need to retreat in order to advance. When others attack you, the more you fight the more badly you will fail.
Instead, try stepping back, as Forbearance will then take you on the advancing path.”