Home » Excerpts » Patience With Big & Small Frustrations Is Needed

Turning away and touching
are both wrong.
For it is like a massive fire.

— Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi

Hakuin Zenji was falsely accused of impregnating a young girl who lived in the village near his hermitage. When her parents and villagers came to accuse him, he said merely, ‘Is that so?’ When the baby was born, Hakuin received the infant and cared for the child with the help of a wet nurse. Sometime later, the girl confessed to her parents that a village boy was the father of her child. Those who had accused him earlier came then to reclaim the child and to praise Hakuin. In response to their praise, he simply said again, ‘Is that so?

Hakuin was patient when they blamed him, and he was patient when they praised him. The story does not say that he did not care that they blamed or praised him. It also does not say he didn’t feel anything… In this story, Hakuin Zenji was patient with others, he was also patient with his feelings when he was blamed, and he was patient with his feelings when he was praised.

Big insults can sometimes be easier to welcome than little ones. Sometimes people find it quite natural to be patent and accepting of big shocks that come to their lives because they see that trying to control those situations is useless. Sometimes it’s easier to be present with huge shocks because we can see that complaining is a distraction from being patient with our pain. We may be able to say, ‘I’ve been practicing in preparation for this big one my whole life and here it is. I’m ready to meet this.’

But when little insults come, we may think being patient is not necessary and that complaining is appropriate and will get us what we want. I might say, ‘I don’t need this. This is ridiculous.’ In a way, this is insulting the insult. Sometimes the insults where we forget our practice of patience are very small… Part of what makes this a difficult situation is that we had an expectation. Being patient with small insults and frustrations in our relationships is at the heart of the practice of patience. In order to have continuity in our practice, we need to be ready to meet both the big and small frustrations with patience.

Entering the Mind of Buddha:
Zen and the Six Heroic Practices of Bodhisattvas
Reb Anderson

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