Chapter 7 - On Forbearance

1. Be patient and tolerant when under attack or criticism. Even when falsely accused, feel grateful for the opportunity to practice "forbearance". "No attainment in practice is possible without forbearance". Those who can bear insult without resentment have attained genuine wisdom.

2. Forbearance does not mean that you should keep reminding yourself "I have to tolerate this", or feel "I am being patient". If such reminders are necessary, you are still clinging to the "form" of forbearance. Practice to the extent that external circumstances will have no bearing on either your emotions or your mind. For example, when people reprimand you, you do not feel being reproached. This is "formless", hence genuine, forbearance.

3. You should express your repentance when others insist that you are wrong, even though you might be in the right. It is to acquire such forbearance that we practice.

4. Be tolerant even when others blame us for things they have messed up. Regard it as a good opportunity to practice "forbearance" and "selflessness".

5. Do not regard those who attack, criticize, or reprimand us as evil. From the perspective of practice, they are providing us with adverse conditions that can help our endeavors. Those who know how to transform circumstances will use these opportunities to exercise forbearance and attain a higher stage in their practice. They will also feel grateful because these adversities are assets upon which they can depend to be reborn in the Pure Land. (Therefore, when facing blame, criticism, or accusation, you should) accept it and endure it instead of weeping about it. Otherwise, you are just being foolish!

6. Only by bearing all distresses can you expect to make progress in practice. Repent to your accuser even though you are in the right. If you were able to do this, you would have attained a certain level in practice.

7. If we can tolerate insults, bullying, and being taken advantage of without seeking retribution or being vexed, not only will we eradicate our karmic obstructions but we also will attain instant peace of the mind. And as we are free of vexations, our merits and wisdom will grow.

8. Forbearance is the foundation of practice and the most important precept. It is the largest source of merit. Those who can practice forbearance will enjoy the greatest blessed rewards. Forbearance will also help to strengthen self-control, alleviate karmic obstructions, and unfold wisdom.

9. Most people are unwilling to be taken advantage of or to acknowledge that they are in the wrong. Thus, they constantly argue rights from wrongs, bitterly pointing fingers at others, even using words sharp as knives when making their accusations. We monastic practitioners, with our practice based on forbearance and compassion, should act differently. Whatever the nature of the circumstances we come across, however unmistakably unreasonable, we should invariably handle them with gentleness and compassion. Try to tolerate everything and practice forbearance against all adverse circumstances. This is the true virtue of monastic practitioners.

10. In the course of seeking guidance, we should not expect to be treated well or gain any advantage. Rather, try to learn through adverse conditions. If you won't tolerate being taken advantage of, you won't learn anything. Hence, "forbearance" is of utmost importance. We should endure not only physical hardships but also challenges of all sorts. For example, when others resent us, not only should we bear no hard feelings but we also should foster good affinity by reciting "Amitabha Buddha" for them. Only those who practice forbearance can expect to have their wisdom fully unfold.

11. The minds of monastic practitioners should be free of anger and resentment. The worse people treat us, the more compassionate we should be in our attempt to deliver them. Do not harbor resentment or take revenge, as any lay people would.

12. The monastery is a place where people from all different places come for practice, so everyone here has his/her own unique character. We have to adapt to this environment, not vise versa. For all we know, it is impossible to ask even our own parents or siblings, not to mention people from different places, to accommodate us. Therefore, learn tolerance and humbleness so that our minds can settle and our practice can be on the right track.

13. Monastic practice is quite different from lay practice. In the monastery, instead of arguing right or wrong with your master, you have to accept all instructions. If you can be so patient and tolerant, your attachment to the "form of self" will be expelled gradually.

14. If someone finds faults with us, we should remind ourselves: "This is a good chance to exercise forbearance and make progress in practice". So, instead of blaming others, we should reflect upon ourselves. Remember, no matter how we feel, our sentiments are nothing but distinctions made by our minds.