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Jewel Ornament of Liberation Chapters 14 and 15 - Patience and Strenuousness - Unchecked

by Sangharakshita

DISCLAIMER - This transcript has not been checked, and may contain mistakes and mishearings.


Chapters 14 and 15: The Perfection of Patience and Strenuousness.
June 1980
Participants: Ven. Sangharakshita, Anoma, Sanghadevi, Anne McMillan (Parami), Liz
Pankhurst (Jayaprabha), Paula Turner, Eve Gill, Gay Voller, Margaret Tisch, Norma
Macauley, Faith Johnson, Hilary Swain, Sarah Child, Lois Paull, Vida Browning and Srimala.
Chapter Fourteen - The perfection of patience, and if we have time, we'll also be going
through the next chapter on the Perfection of Strenuousness. So that we get a balance as it
were, between Patience on the one hand and strenuousness on the other. So let's start reading.
"The Perfection of patience
Is summarized under seven heads: The consideration of its defects and qualities, Its essence,
its classification, The primary characteristics of each class, Its increase, purification and
IF AN ETHICAL MAN is impatient, he is roused to anger and loses in a moment
whatever merit he has acquired from previous liberal behaviour. Therefore it is said in the
'Byan.chub.- sems.dpa'i sde.snod' ('Bodhisattvapitaka'):
Anger, indeed, destroys the basis of the good and whole- some that has been accumulated
through hundred thousands of aeons.
So let's just stop and consider that. One recalls patience, Ksanti is the third of the six
paramitas, the third of the
six perfections. So we're arrived as it were practically in the midst of the Perfections. First
one has practiced dana, then one practiced sila, and now one comes onto the practice of Ks
anti, so why is this? Why are they mentioned, or why are they talked or practiced in that sort
of order? First of all you get, dana you learn to give, to be generous and in that way you
practice non-attachment, and then you consolidate your ethical behaviour, you perform
skillful rather than unskilful actions. You are responsible in your dealings with other people
and so on. And in this way you practice dana and sila and as a result of your practice of dana,
as a result of your practice of sila you acquire a certain amount of what is called merit, you
develop to a certain point. You make a cer-
2 tain amount of progress. But it's not very difficult to undo that. You've only got to get angry
once andkou undo; you threw away all that merit, all that punya, and you're virtually back
where you started. It's therefore very important to avoid anger and how do you avoid anger,
you avoid anger by practicing Ksanti, patience. And this is how patience comes to be intro-
duced at this point, at this stage, at this level. Because you've made a certain amount of
progress, you've consolidated certain,what we might refer to as spiritual gains, but you want
to be able to go on consolidating, you want to go on, as it were, accumulating; you don't want
to disipate your gains and you need a remedy against what is most likely to dissipate your
gains: namely, anger and that remedy is Ksanti or Patience and therefore Patience comes in at
this stage. The little summary at the beginning just gives the headings under which the whole
subject of Patience will be discussed. But first of all there's a statement, and various
quotations just under- lining the seriousness of the situation, the danger of giving way to
anger and therefore by implication, the importance of developing anti. So the text says "If an
ethical man is impatient, he's roused to anger, and loses in a moment what- ever merit he has
aquired from previous liberal behaviour, - that is to say generous behaviour - therefore it is
said in the Bodhisattva pitaka anger indeed destroys the basis of the good and wholesome,
that has been accumulated through hundreds and thousands of aeons". Now in a sense the
question arises how literally are we to take that? Hundreds of thou- sands of aeons is quite a
long time. You could have accumu- lated quite alot of merit in that time. And is it all to be
shattered by anger? So perhaps we can admit here a certain element of oriental hyperbole, but
nonetheless the statement stands that anger destroys merit. Anger disrupts your spiri- tual life
so far.So let's go into that a little. Let's see as it were a bit how that happens. Anger indeed
destroys the basis of the good and wholesome, that has been accumula- ted. Let's take it as far
as that. Do you see how this is so?
3Have you ever experienced this? If you get really angry with somebody, well what happens to
your previous practice, let's say your practice of dana, of sila, of the dharma generally. Do you
actually find that giving way to anger has this dis- rupting effect so that you~virtually back
where you started from? Have you ever actually experienced this?
_______ It's immobilizing.
Immob~lizing, in what sort of way?
: If you're caught up in anger, then you're immobilized.
Marg Tisch: I think I quite often experience this. I sort of quite often feel that my anger
causes, it intoxicates me and I have no sPace to let anything else come through.
Well that is just sort of blocking the further accumulation of merit in the present, but
the text says that whatever merit you have accumulated in the past is dissipated, which
suggests that anger puts you right back. Do you actually feel that? Is it simply that anger
prevents you going forward or do you actually damage yourself by indulging in anger to such
an extent that you actually fall back. Does this actually happen? Or perhaps you don't ever get
angry? (Laughter).
Sanghadevi: Well you lose your awareness.
Yes you lose your awareness, but it's more than that surely. How do you feel when
you've got really angry?
Sanghadevi: Sometimes I've felt really good.
~A£~k: I feel out of control.
Out of control. I think with some people it can be a very, in a way, demoralizing
experience to realize that you've got out of control. I don't think it's just that you've, what shall
I say, you've relaxed a control that was over-rigid. But ~hen you get angry, what goes, what
snaps, is almost your ordinary human control on which you're dependant, on the maintenance
of which you're dePendant, actually for being a human at all. Do you see what I mean? If you
lose control in that sense, you can sink to not just an animal level, it's worse than that, you can
sink to a demonic sort of level and that experience can rea+ly have a shattering effect upon
you because you realize then how frail is your own human individuality. How frail your
sense of human responsibility, how easily it can be swept away, and how easily it can be
disrupted. And after all your spiritual life is built upon that, grows out of that. So in this way
anger can be very shattering, very demoralizing experience. And can put you right back, well
it can do more than Put you right back, and isn't just that it puts you back in your spiritual life
and development, it puts you back onto a level where there is no question of spiritual life and
develo~nt, a level which is below the level of spiritual life and development and it is that
which is so disruptive and you find it very difficult to make the connection again. As it were
to get back onto the human level. If you do get back there with having to start all over again
as it were, because the disruption has been so complete. So you mentioned Sanghadevi about
feeling good after getting angry. Do you think that is the same sort of experience as Faith
seems to be referring to when one goes out of control, one is so angry that one goes out of
control. I mean is there a difference? and if so, what is that dif- ference?
Sanghadevi: I wasn't using it in that sense.
We're using the word anger for both these sorts of experiences perhaps we should use
different words. Perhaps
the translator should have used different words. So what was your experience, or what is the
experience when that sort of thing happens, when yes you get angry and you feel good, far e
poison is something which is
S: Tht's true. Also an arrow just sort of hits you, and it's an immediate thing. I mean anger,
rage can be like that, can arise in an instant. And your reaction, just as when the arrow hits
you,when the arrow pierces you, you feel the pain instantly, in the%&w~a~, when someone
says something to you that you don't like or something happens to you that you don ' t like,
the rage arises instantly. It's incompat~ble with patience. So when we are impatient we're like
a man pierced by a poisoned arrow , that instantaneous unskilful response because
malevolence has entered and then in our mental distress ... malevolence is
i 11-will. It's the actual will to do harm to others, and this is where rage or fury differ from
anger. In anger, though it is unskilful in a sense, there is not that same desire~ that same will
to actually harm otherS. ~t's more as though you're concerned4breaking through the obstacles.
But in the case of rage, or in the case of +ury, there is that element of malevolence, that
ill-will towards others which even wishes to cause them serious injury, even wishes to destroy
them. To make them suffer, and that is quite a different thing. "And then in our mental
distress we do not experience joy, happiness, or peace and cannot even sleep". So when
you're impatient, when you're overcome with rage, with ...

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