Saturday, August 28, 2010


Gentle Forbearance

The first aspect of patience is gentle forbearance. We may be the exhausted parent of a child who is having a fit over some baffling homework; perhaps patience in this case means taking a few deep breaths instead of yelling in frustration. Or we may be on the verge of making a brilliant retort to a coworker, but we hold our tongue rather than say something hurtful. Even though our impatience is triggered, we can tap into the deeper reservoir of our motivation not to do harm. Gentle forbearance may feel difficult-even contrived-because it doesn't constitute true acceptance of how things are. But it is nonetheless a critical aspect of patience because it helps us restrain ourselves long enough to determine the most skillful action for the moment.
- Michele McDonald, Finding Patience

For me, the most intriguing part of Michele McDonald’s quote is that it is part of a three-fold offering that develops a path, a process. Saying “patience is a virtue” may not be enough for those of us who wish to develop patience. Here is a three step process that passes through achieving acceptance and then reaches true patience. The primary virtue of patience is that it is a principal step in healing anger.

The process has the following three steps:

Gentle Forbearance, which leads toward acceptance
Endurance of Hardship, which prepares for acceptance
Acceptance of the Truth, which establishes the back story of the incident.

The implication is that reaching true patience involves each of these steps, though the actual process may be unitary if one is skilled in the practice of patience. I really love having access to a tool like the understanding of a three step process through acceptance to reach patience. Note that acceptance is actually about the back story, the understanding that every situation has a cause that extends into the past beyond the present moment and the present participants, and the achieved patience is about the present moment.

If you wish to explore further, click on the provided link to Michele’s article and her further suggestions for followers of Buddhism. It appears that Michele has based her teaching on the work of Shantideva, an eighth century Indian Buddhist scholar and a current major resource in the practice of Buddhism. The name “Shantideva” is a Sanskrit compound that loosely translates as “the Divine Soul of Peace”. He apparently went by the name, Shantivarman, which uses the Sanskrit surname honorific “Varma” and translates loosely as “Master of Peace”.


It is the blessing of those who love to say all is well.

It is the blessing of those who are loved
to feel the weight of love and wish to rise
that they may carry it lightly and with joy.

So burdened with blessing
we are ever mirrors, in loving one to another.

July 5, 2009 1:01 PM


  1. Acceptance of truth. Ha! My poor son has elected to take Algebra. I said, "You realize I will be of no help to you here" to which he nodded his 21 years of understanding. Momma don't do math. And in this given truth and receptive understanding, I need not be impatient as I have in the past. Now my brother would flay me alive for this. He is a math teacher and feels it is my duty to learn and understand it in order to aid my child. To hell with it. He is better served with a tutor than my impatience at my own inability to teach what I do not know. My child being 21 :)

  2. The math brain is a curious mix of left and right hemispheres. The geometrician is especially right brained and the proofs of geometry are often visualized before they are written from the left hemisphere. I did better with geometry than any other math, and better with chemistry than geometry.

    Algebra is a left brained activity for the most part, I believe. Even so, math utilizes a distinct set of symbols and operations that are derived from our language but are not our language. In fact mathematics transcends all our languages and is equally understood or not understood in any language.

    That is why when one of our probes was sent beyond our solar system the gold record it contained was extensively coded with a wide array of mathematical theorems. They felt confident that even alien beings, should they find our probe, would be able to decode the math first and use it as a Rosetta Stone for the rest.

    Thank you for sharing your love for your child with me.

  3. Clicked here, read the first few lines, and had an hour conversation with this as a jumping off point. Real and great work I've taken part in with myself in the last year in regards to this. Patience. The notion of this, "Note that acceptance is actually about the back story, the understanding that every situation has a cause that extends into the past beyond the present moment." So incredibly important in understanding. And too, when I fail, when I lose my patience, I try, oh I try, to have my children especially, understand that my loss of patience comes from somewhere else, not at their hand.

    I am working at it. Always a process and a working at it, but this gentle exercise helps me understand others and myself better, always holding that there is more, always more, to explain a situation.

    beautiful sunday to you

  4. Erin, I am so pleased to read these words. You are my beautiful friend. Here's hoping that you do not falter along the way. I have every confidence that the passing of time will continue to age you as it does fine wines.

    I am happy to join with you along your Way.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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