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Cannot Patiently Endure

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  • Cannot Patiently Endure

    Ajahn,

    I was reading the Anguttara Nikaya and came across a passage that didn't elaborate very much on something said. In book five, 85 (5), it states "he can patiently endure forms, sounds, odors, tastes, and tactile objects." This is all in reference to how an elder monk is either agreeable or disable to his peers. I sort of understand what's being said here but, unlike a lot of verses, this one doesn't seem to offer any examples of someone who can endure these various forms. Normally, if you read ahead a couple of pages, you'll find more on the topic but I didn't seem to find one.

    Could you give some examples of someone who can patiently endure these things?

  • #2
    Dear Rocky,

    MN2, the Sabbāsava-sutta, explains "enduring" in detail. Here is the relevant passage:

    "And what are the corruptions to be abandoned by enduring? Here a monk, reflecting wisely, endures. He endures cold, heat, hunger, and thirst; the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, and reptiles; ill-spoken, unwelcome words and bodily feelings that, when they arise, are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, disagreeable, displeasing, and menacing to life. The corruptions, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to endure these things do not arise for him when he endures them. These are called the corruptions to be abandoned by enduring."
    The idea of enduring revolves around understanding what one can and what one cannot do something about. Once you understand that you cannot do anything to change a particular situation, you have little choice but to endure. For instance, you cannot get everyone to always say pleasant things to you. You understand that hearing unpleasant things is unavoidable. Reflecting like this you start to endure unpleasant speech, rather than reacting to it. A parallel situation obtains for the other five senses. This is an effective way of counteracting anger and negativity.

    With metta.

    Comment


    • #3
      Dear Ajahn Brahmali,

      Is there an easy way to differentiate between "situations where we can do something" from "situations where we cannot do anything about it"? Do the suttas offer any insight?

      Metta,
      Daniel.

      Comment


      • #4
        Ajahn Brahmali,

        Thanks you for elaborating on this. I actually did find a passage today (a lot further towards the end of the book of fives) where the Buddha used a simile of a kings elephant. Although in the links you provided, it's referred to as resilience rather than patiently enduring.

        AN
        :

        "And how is a king's elephant not resilient to sights? There is the case where a king's elephant, having gone into battle, sees a troop of elephants, a troop of cavalry, a troop of chariots, a troop of foot soldiers, and so he falters, faints, doesn't steel himself, can't engage in the battle. This is how a king's elephant is not resilient to sights.

        "And how is a king's elephant not resilient to sounds? There is the case where a king's elephant, having gone into battle, hears the sound of elephants, the sound of cavalry, the sound of chariots, the sound of foot soldiers, the resounding din of drums, cymbals, conchs, & tom-toms, and so he falters, faints, doesn't steel himself, can't engage in the battle. This is how a king's elephant is not resilient to sounds.


        "And how is a king's elephant not resilient to aromas? There is the case where a king's elephant, having gone into battle, smells the stench of the urine & feces of those pedigreed royal elephants who are at home in the battlefield, and so he falters, faints, doesn't steel himself, can't engage in the battle. This is how a king's elephant is not resilient to aromas.


        "And how is a king's elephant not resilient to flavors? There is the case where a king's elephant, having gone into battle, goes without his ration of grass & water for one day, two days, three days, four days, five, and so he falters, faints, doesn't steel himself, can't engage in the battle. This is how a king's elephant is not resilient to flavors.


        "And how is a king's elephant not resilient to tactile sensations? There is the case where a king's elephant, having gone into battle, is pierced by a flight of arrows, two flights, three flights, four flights, five flights of arrows, and so he falters, faints, doesn't steel himself, can't engage in the battle. This is how a king's elephant is not resilient to tactile sensations.

        Comment


        • #5
          Dear Daniel,

          I am not aware of any explicit instructions in the suttas. As a general ideal, I would say that one should simply do what is right without having any expectations for the outcome. When you have no expectations, you cannot get disappointed and you will be able to endure virtually anything. Of course, this is a very lofty ideal, which in practice can only be fully realized by an arahant. But at least we can try to lean in that direction.

          With metta.

          Comment

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