Cultivating Skillful Means

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Patience — the antidote to anger (continued)

How would you characterize your ability to be patient in the face of negative thoughts and emotions? Is there a difference between your ability to respond to your own thoughts and emotions and your ability to respond to those of others?

Can you think of an instance in which you were not able to react with patience? Can you recall a time you were able to? What helped you to cultivate patience when you were faced with negativity?

Cultivating patience

Because we need patience most when it is most difficult for us to call it forth — those occasions when we feel injured or threatened — we need to learn how to cultivate patience, to learn to access it regardless of the situation. If we wait until we are actually experiencing trouble, we are unlikely to be able to practice patience and withstand provocation.

We need to put the practice of patience at the heart of our daily lives. It is a question of familiarizing ourselves with it, at the deepest level.

Recognizing the benefits of patience

Reflecting on the benefits of patience is a valuable first method for cultivating patience. Before reading the Dalai Lama's thoughts on patience, reflect on what do you think patience can offer to you.

Benefits of patience include:

  • Patience is the source of forgiveness. When so pa is combined with our ability to discriminate between action and agent, forgiveness arises naturally.

  • Patience has no equal in protecting our concern for others, whatever their behavior toward us. It enables us to reserve our judgment toward the act, and it enables us to have compassion for the individual.

  • When we develop the ability patiently to forebear, we find that we develop a proportionate reserve of calmness and tranquility. We tend to be less antagonistic and more pleasant to associate with. This, in turn, creates a positive atmosphere around us so that it is easy for others to relate to us.

  • being better grounded emotionally through the practice of patience, we find that not only do we become much stronger mentally and spiritually — we enjoy to a generally calm and peaceful mind.

  • most importantly patient forbearance acts as a powerful antidote to the affliction of anger — the greatest threat to our inner peace. Indeed, we find that patience is the best means we have of defending ourselves internally from anger's destructive effects. Ethics for the New Millennium


Riches are no defense against anger. Nor is a person's education, no matter how accomplished and intelligent they may be. Nor, for that matter, can the law be of any help. And fame is useless. Only the inner protection of patient forbearance can keep us from experiencing the turmoil of negative thoughts and emotions. The mind, or spirit, is not physical. It cannot be touched or harmed directly. Only negative thoughts and emotions can harm it. Therefore, only the corresponding positive quality can protect it. Ethics for the New Millennium

Anger — our true enemy

So anger and hatred are always harmful, and unless we train our minds and work to reduce their negative force, they will continue to disturb us and disrupt our attempts to develop a calm mind. Anger and hatred are our real enemies. These are the forces we most need to confront and defeat, not the temporary "enemies" who appear intermittently throughout life.

When we are harmed by another, we can reflect on our response: what sense does it make to single out specific people as the focus of our anger.