The Paramita of Forbearance
by Tai Situ Rinpoche

This too can be explained through three principal aspects. The first is to refrain from hurting those who have hurt us. The second is to cope with whatever suffering we have to endure, without fighting it uselessly or developing strong feelings of resentment. The third is to have confidence in the ultimate truth.

Non-retaliation means that when someone hits us, abuses us, does anything to injure us, our possessions or those dear to us, or anything which might increase our anger, we do not react negatively. Very simply, it means that when we are struck, if we hit that person in return then they have really struck us; if we do not retaliate, they have not really struck us. Furthermore, it is not that their blow came from nowhere. It arose from causes and conditions created in the past; it is the result of some cause that we ourselves have generated. By just accepting that blow, the cause of that particular suffering is removed, and at the same time the blow itself can become the object of diligent practice. Thus the striking becomes beneficial rather than harmful.

This is a very easy thing to say but very hard to practice. This was especially true in Tibet where, through the cultural conditioning which totally ignored the proper way of dealing with the situation, anyone who did not retaliate when struck was looked down upon; they felt ashamed. I saw, though, something which really amazed me when I was in Sikkim. There was a monk there who was a very nice and very funny man. One day he made a frivolous comment to another monk who was short-tempered. This other monk was angered by his remarks and first kicked him and then struck him on the head with a piece of wood. The monk who had been struck remained as soft as cotton, without getting uptight or angry and said, “Thank you, thank you very much. If there was no one with anger, I would never be able to develop my forbearance. Thank you.” He really meant what he was saying. When such a situation arises we have to be ready to cope with it in that way. We have to begin with the most simple things: first, when someone says something annoying but not very important then we just say, “Yes, yes – it’s very true.” We do not really mean that but it saves argument and we must avoid being led into argument. What they say is just words. By developing forbearance on the less relevant things, we will eventually be able to deal with the difficult ones.

The second aspect of forbearance concerns not avoiding suffering. It does not mean that we should look for suffering or be happy to suffer, even if it does sound like that. From beginningless time until the present, each individual being has been suffering in the six realms of existence. During that enormous span of time it is certain that we have suffered billions of centuries in the hell realms, billions of centuries in the animal realm and so forth. In one way, it could be said that all that suffering was beneficial because we are here at present and have little suffering. In another way, it has not really done much good. Now as we sit down to a session of meditation, we have very little forbearance or patience, and it is a great effort to sit in the right posture, form the right attitude of mind and recite the necessary things. If we do have the forbearance, it will be highly beneficial for both ourselves and others. Buddha practised intensively for six years on the banks of the river Neranjara before achieving his enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. The result of his endeavour has endured until the present day and will continue until the end of everything. That benefit was not only for this planet but for all beings in all states. Thus, we should not regard as difficulties all our petty troubles encountered in meditation and Dharma practice.

Sometimes we do suffer intensely, when we are sick and so on. When we are sick we should resort to medicines and when we get into trouble with people we should try to get out of that trouble. Definitely. However, our attitude to the suffering and the trouble should not be one that defines them as solely negative. Suffering is like a broom that sweeps away the causes of suffering and when we understand this then the suffering is reduced to its true stature. Without the understanding it tends to become amplified to twice, ten or a hundred times its true size. The way we develop our understanding is to think, “The suffering that I am now experiencing is the result of previous karmic causes. Just as I do not want to suffer, neither does any being. Thus may this present suffering be of true benefit in removing the sufferings of all beings.” In such a way we mentally take the sufferings of all beings to ourselves and remove them by our own suffering.

If we do not do this with the fullest confidence and if there is no karmic connection between ourselves and those suffering whereby their suffering can be removed by us, then this practice can only benefit our Mind Training and cannot actually help them. If we really mean what we think then it can accomplish much more than just the taking of their suffering to ourselves. Practice involving such thinking is called tonglen in Tibetan: taking (len) the sufferings of others and giving (tong) them our happiness.

The third sort of forbearance is to have confidence in the excellent qualities of the Three Jewels. It comes about through taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and through practising Dharma. We should constantly remember to seek our inspiration in the Three Jewels and to apply ourselves to comprehending the absolute and relative aspects of truth. In the relative world, karma, cause and effect, exist and we should do good and avoid bad action. In the absolute truth there is neither good nor bad and all is seen as illusion. To strive hard to understand these two simultaneous levels of truth, hard for most people to grasp, especially to understand the absolute, is to forbear the ultimate truth.

We start the practice of this third aspect from a very basic position, such as the understanding of the precious human existence, how good our life is and how we can do whatever we wish with it. We have exactly what is right for us to be good – all the required qualities are present in this precious human body. Since we have these qualities it would be a waste not to use them. If a poor family has a hundred kilos of gold buried beneath the floor of their house and yet do not dig it up to use it to buy food and so forth, then they are wasting the gold’s value, it serves for nothing. In exactly the same way is our human life of great value ; it is extremely precious but if we do not use it, it is just wasted. It will not last very long. By developing such understanding to the point where we use our lives to the full, and then deepening the understanding step by step, we cultivate this third aspect of forbearance.

Son, after realising the things of this world are unreal, there is little benefit in dwelling in solitude. When the falsehoods of phenomenal appearances have collapsed into their own nature (emptiness), and the unaltered nature of phenomena has been recognised – Do not nit-pick the subtle concepts of grasping and grasped or attach to the contaminated virtuous deeds. Please maintain the stronghold of the vast expanse of primordial pure nature.

– Padmasambhava, Guru Rinpoche

A Special Message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama
March 30, 2020

My dear brothers and sisters,

I am writing these words in response to repeated requests from many people around the world. Today, we are passing through an exceptionally difficult time due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to this, further problems confront humanity such as extreme climate change. I would like to take this opportunity to express my admiration and gratitude to governments across the world, including the Government of India, for the steps they are taking to meet these challenges.

Ancient Indian tradition describes the creation, abiding and destruction of worlds over time. Among the causes of such destruction are armed conflict and disease, which seems to accord with what we are experiencing today. However, despite the enormous challenges we face, living beings, including humans, have shown a remarkable ability to survive.

No matter how difficult the situation may be, we should employ science and human ingenuity with determination and courage to overcome the problems that confront us. Faced with threats to our health and well-being, it is natural to feel anxiety and fear. Nevertheless, I take great solace in the following wise advice to examine the problems before us: If there is something to be done — do it, without any need to worry; if there’s nothing to be done, worrying about it further will not help.

Everyone at present is doing their best to contain the spread of the coronavirus. I applaud the concerted efforts of nations to limit the threat. In particular, I appreciate the initiative India has taken with other SAARC countries to set up an emergency fund and an electronic platform to exchange information, knowledge and expertise to tackle the spread of Covid-19. This will serve as a model for dealing with such crises in future as well.

I understand that as a result of the necessary lockdowns across the world, many people are facing tremendous hardship due to a loss of livelihood. For those with no stable income life is a daily struggle for survival. I earnestly appeal to all concerned to do everything possible to care for the vulnerable members of our communities.

I offer special gratitude to the medical staff — doctors, nurses and other support personnel — who are working on the frontline to save lives at great personal risk. Their service is indeed compassion in action.

With heartfelt feelings of concern for my brothers and sisters around the world who are passing through these difficult times, I pray for an early end to this pandemic so that your peace and happiness may soon be restored.

With my prayers,
Dalai Lama


Singapore gives coronavirus frontliners a round of applause

SINGAPORE – At 8pm on Monday night (March 30), applause rang out across the rooftops of Singapore.

The ovation was part of Clap For #SGUnited, a campaign to get the public to show their appreciation for those on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Whether from their windows, doors or balconies, people clapped, cheered, sang Ole and even banged saucepans.

The call was started over the weekend by British expatriate Martin Verga, who works in finance and has lived in Singapore for 10 years.

He was inspired by #ClapforNHS, which saw millions of Britons applauding National Health Service staff last Thursday, and wanted to do the same for workers here.

“For the doctors, nurses, carers, emergency services, delivery workers, warehouse workers, cleaners, supermarket staff and everyone else keeping Singapore safe and stocked at this time,” he wrote on Facebook. “We will be forever grateful.”

Mr Verga, 30, does not know exactly how many people responded to his call, though as of 8pm last night, 4,600 people had indicated they would join his event on Facebook and the comments section was filled with videos of people clapping.

“Novena was amazing,” he said of the response in his own neighbourhood. “So many claps, saucepans banging.”

At 8pm, the cheers and claps rang out in spots across the island, from Pasir Ris to Jurong.

Real estate consultant Chan Yee Yin, 50, saw the event as a chance to educate her children about the strength of community spirit and asked three generations of her family – from her parents to her five-year-old nephew and her elder daughter in Melbourne – to join in the clapping. “It’s a small thing we can do to show our appreciation.”

Author Eva Wong Nava, 51, heard about the event from a friend and shared it with many in her network. “I thought it was such a wonderful way to show support for the key workers who are keeping us safe, alive and comfortable in this trying time,” she said.

Her sister is a doctor in the United States and her husband’s family live in Bergamo, Italy, which has been devastated by the coronavirus. She says she clapped for her loved ones too, and for those who are risking their lives to keep them safe. “This virus needs a united humanity to stand together.”

A 31-year-old healthcare worker who gave his name as Kai said coming home to the clapping was very encouraging. “It does brighten me up a little after a long day at work.”
















To meditate means to realise inwardly the imperturbability of the Essence of Mind. The reason why we are perturbed is because we allow ourselves to be carried away by the circumstances we are in. Those who are able to keep their mind unperturbed, irrespective of circumstances, have attained Inner Peace.

— Venerable Hui Neng

How to Make a Spectacular Mistake
by Anita Feng

Mistakes are easy. As soon as we’re born, they begin. And without fail, they mark our inevitable rite of passage in the long, drawn out business of growing up. Hot stoves hurt. Hitting your brother is not nice. What we make up in our own minds is mistaken, over and over again, for reality.

It reminds me of some of the challenges of being a parent — a job that provides endless opportunities for error. In particular, I remember an incident when my son was a sophomore in high school, close to flunking yet another class. We both knew he was smart enough to do well, if he could just remember to do his homework and turn it in. One day I had reached such a point of frustration that I turned to him and said, “Look, do you want to continue on like this and end up working as a truck driver for the rest of your life, or do you want to get with the program and make something out of yourself?”

This was not my shining moment as a parent. There I was, with already twenty years of meditation practice under my belt, and I was throwing a completely dualistic fabrication of a story at him that was more a reflection of my lack of composure than anything else. For one thing, what’s wrong with driving a truck? And surely, there would be a great many opportunities beyond that, regardless of his scholastic achievements or lack thereof.

The saving grace was that I saw what I was doing right away. This is what meditation offers us. The fruit of our practice is not miraculously never making mistakes again. It is, rather, seeing clearly what’s actually going on, so that we can then find our fitting course of action.

A few days after that incident with my son, I was driving him to school. He was unprepared, as usual. But this time I simply asked him, “Are you really suffering?”

He said, “Yes.”

“Then why don’t you quit school? We’ll figure out something else, okay?”

We were both stunned. I hadn’t planned on saying that. We had never discussed the possibility before, even though my son had suffered difficulties and indignities in school since kindergarten. Now, suddenly, our world opened up to change.

To make a long story short, over the course of the next few years we cobbled together an unconventional learning experience for him. He ended up graduating from the University of Washington with honours and went on to establish himself in a rich and stimulating career and life.

While this may seem to be an over-tidy account of failure and redemption, it provides an example of ordinary human life. Many of us were raised by imperfect parents and schooled as apprentice human beings in a sometimes dysfunctional world. Whether the upbringing was overbearing or lax, painful or coddled, at a certain point we were let loose. Mayhem ensued. Which way to go? Here and there, gross and minor errors appeared.

Mistakes are inevitable and in order to live a meaningful life, we have to, first of all, resist buying into a narrative of failure. Instead, we pick up the pieces and transmute them into a fitting, beautiful change.

In other words, it’s all about the repair.

In Japan, in a practice dating back to the fifteenth century, highly skilled craftspeople developed the craft of pottery repair into a fine art, called kintsugi. The process basically consists of repairing broken pottery with lacquer that’s dusted and burnished with powdered gold. Rather than trying to hide the flaws, the pieces of bowls or pots or plates are lovingly reassembled and the lines where they were broken become highlighted with gold, marking them as precious objects honoured and even prized for their imperfections.

In kintsugi, the reality of brokenness represents an opportunity for the transformation of consciousness. What a wonderful metaphor for our lives. During the years while my son was in school, I was continually called upon to let go of my idea of what his and our reality should be. And on the other hand, we also had to be careful not to give up or deny the truth of our challenges. It was not an option to say that we were in a hopeless mess and leave it at that.

What to do? This kintsugi art of golden repair requires, first of all, a clear-eyed seeing of what is. All the fabricated stories about how impossible the situation is, or how our devastations might be assigned, categorised, or clung to — all are brushed away. A space is made clear for repair.

From that place, we can find the pieces through inquiry, as I did when I managed to finally ask my son, “Are you suffering?” Once found, the pieces can be assembled. Present moment reality, along with the love and compassion we bear for it, provides the glue. The gold dust is, I suspect, the wonder of being so unmistakably alive.

Recently I met up with my son for lunch and we were talking over some old times. I asked if he remembered that incident from high school, twenty years ago, when I told him that he was going to end up as a truck driver if he didn’t start doing his homework. He didn’t remember it, and laughed when I described how ashamed I was of my reactive, dualistic behaviour then.

But then, somewhat sheepishly, my son smiled and said that he and his partner were now struggling with their son, my beloved ten-year-old grandson, who had begun to develop a stubborn aversion to doing his homework, just like his equally beloved father.

And so it goes, the fragile, spectacular process of taking up what is broken and making repairs begins all over again. Just imagine the fine art of kintsugi extended so thoroughly throughout time and space, tenderly addressing every conceivable broken place until all of it is sheer gold. May it be so.

Through being partial towards our lama, lineage and practice, we believe we are upholding them. But to praise our own side whilst disparaging others is the source of attachment and aversion. ‘To give all this up’ is my heart advice.

— Longchenpa





































To recognise that the nature of mind is Buddha-Nature is the beginning of the process of revealing that nature. By revealing that nature, we can dispel all the suffering and all the fears of samsara. [One needs to] recognise that our mind’s nature is Buddha-Nature, to have confidence or faith in this, and to have the aspiration and commitment to reveal this.

— 7th Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche