The third topic in our series of six posts about the bodhisattva practices known as the paramitas is kshanti or patience.
Overall, I think of kshanti as an aspect that balances the others. Generally one can see the first two paramitas - giving and ethics - as compassion in action, and the last two - meditation and wisdom - as equally expressions of wisdom. Balancing compassion and wisdom, the two broadest areas of Buddhist practice, are the two paramitas in the middle of the list - patience and effort. Effort, or virya, is our topic for next time. For now, I would like to say a few words about kshanti.
Kshanti is the practice of patience. You might say that it has two primary aspects. The first aspect is that of forbearance. This may be closest to its original meaning, when the teaching was developed, around the beginning of the Common Era. This means that when you practice kshanti, you cultivate the ability to endure hardships. You practice being present with even the most difficult things in your life, receiving them in a way that doesn't reject them or turn away.
This way of practice brings to mind a teaching by Shantideva, the 8th Century Indian sage whose teaching was very encouraging. Shantideva taught, "If you can do something about it (your problem), why be discouraged? If you can't do something about it, why be discouraged?" One can equally say, either way, why be impatient? Either way, you don't turn away.