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Kshanti – The Perfection of Forbearance

Kshanti – The Perfection of Forbearance

Postby Carol on Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:59 pm

Last year our sangha spent several months reading and discussing Robert Aitken's book: The Practice of Perfection: The Paramitas from a Zen Perspective. -- now out of print, but I see there is a new kindle edition at Amazon.com as well as some reasonably priced used copies.

Aitken Roshi emphasized the development of character in Zen practice a lot.

I just came across a good blog post on the Paramita of Forbearance by Domyo Burk here

She says:

Domyo Burk wrote:[...]
Kshanti is often translated as patience, and sometimes it does involve patience, but patience implies that there is something we are looking forward to. Much of Kshanti practice involves enduring external or internal conditions that we are afraid will never improve, and sometimes it involves acceptance of conditions that really won’t, so patience seems too limited a translation. Alternatively, Kshanti can be thought of as endurance or forbearance, depending on the whether you want to focus on the “doing” or the “not-doing” required.

If I have to pick one word to translate Kshanti, however, I would pick forbearance, which emphasizes the “not-doing” aspect of this perfection. This is because endurance can seem like awfully tough row to hoe when things get really difficult; any aspiration can pale in comparison with what we have to put up with, and once the aspirations are gone, endurance can seem like a life sentence of drudgery. The word forbearance, on the other hand, evokes the moment by moment experience of Kshanti: “to control oneself when provoked.” This points to how Kshanti involves refraining from all the things we would like to do when we encounter discomfort or pain: react in anger, escape the sensations by any means available, perseverate in denial, or struggle ceaselessly for a solution to our problem even when our actions don’t seem to be doing any good at all.

I'm wondering how you work with this "forbearance" in your practice ... what kinds of issues bring it up for you, or have you thought about it?

For me, it comes up most around my smoking, I think, and how little I seem to be able to do about it -- which seems to be an inversion or perversion of this paramita which should be about practicing forbearance by not smoking.

Anyway, anything you'd like to share about your experience with this paramita, I'd be interested to hear.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: Kshanti – The Perfection of Forbearance

Postby Nonin on Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:02 am

Kshanti is mostly translated as "patience," or as some translate it, "endurance," or "forbearance." This is a bit off topic, but I'll post it any way. My master used "patience," which is "nin" in Japanese. His dharma name was Dainin, great patience, and we all knew that. When I was lay ordained, a couple of years before priest ordination, I went up to the altar during the ceremony to pick up my lineage papers, and Katagiri-roshi called out my dharma name: "Nonin." I thought, "O boy," he named me "no patience," how appropriate! "No" in Japanese is not the same, however, as it is in English, as I soon found out! It means "capability," or "talent," and I was much relieved to find out that he thought I was at least "capable" of patience.

Hands palm-to-palm,

Soto Zen Buddhist Priest. Transmitted Dharma Heir of Dainin Katagiri Roshi.
Abbot and Head Teacher, Nebraska Zen Center / Heartland Temple, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
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