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Last night in my Lam Rim class (Gradual Path to Enlightenment by Tsongkhapa as taught by Gelek Rimpoche in only 64 short "easy" steps), we were discussing the Paramita (Perfection) of patience. Patience is the antedote to anger and traditionally, students review the hazards of not being patient, the benefits of being patient, and finally decide to develop patience.
I shared that my anger is usually rooted in frustration and that it from there that the anger blooms into a fiery barage of explicitives, gestures, and the occasional kicked object. In my defense, I always tended to be slow to the anger and I have made strides in recent years to keep a lid on what did bubble to the surface. But what I am now left with is the precursor frustration and I find that things that worked as I felt the anger arise, doesn't have much effect on the frustration.
Sometimes the frustration dissipates on its own, sometimes not. But just saying to myself, "Be patient, Steve" and hoping for the best doesn't quite have the control I'm supposed to be developing in this Buddhist mindtraining work. So I threw it out to my classmates, "How do I create patience in the face of frustration before anger arises?" The answers are amazing:
- Be aware of the frustration. To know it is there is the first step to doing something about it.
- Take yourself out it. Being the center of the universe has a big burden with it. Being on the periphery gives perspective and removes the pressure.
- Find a realistic time perspective. With a multi-life view, time becomes less critical. Who gives a yutz in a hundred years?
- Recognize that others are reacting out the illness of delusion, the same illness you are working to recover from. Cut them some slack.
- Have a sense of humor. Most of the time the object of frustration is so minor, its laughable.
- Keep working on it. Don't get frustrated by frustration (see number 4)
The cool thing is that the classleader didn't have to help at all. It was all from my classmates, most of whom have been learning this stuff at the same time and rate that I have. All contributed, not to show off how much more they read than me, but from a pure desire to help me get by a difficult part of my spiritual development. The 6 Paramitas are central to the actions of bodhisattvas and it seems that my class, my Sangha are learning it in earnest.
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