If we practise the patience of voluntarily accepting suffering, we can maintain a peaceful mind even when experiencing suffering and pain.
If we practise the patience of voluntarily accepting suffering, we can maintain a peaceful mind even when experiencing suffering and pain. If we maintain this peaceful and positive state of mind through the force of mindfulness, unhappy minds will have no opportunity to arise. On the other hand, if we allow ourself to dwell on unhappy thoughts there will be no way for us to prevent anger from arising. For this reason Geshe Chekhawa said ‘Always rely upon a happy mind alone.’
If there is a way to remedy an unpleasant, difficult situation, what point is there in being unhappy? On the other hand, if it is completely impossible to remedy the situation or to fulfil our wishes, there is also no reason to get upset, for how will our becoming unhappy help? This line of reasoning is very useful, for we can apply it to any situation.
By training our mind to look at frustrating situations in a more realistic manner, we can free ourself from a lot of unnecessary mental suffering.
Patient acceptance does not necessarily mean that we do not take practical steps to improve our situation. If it is possible to remedy the situation, then of course we should; but to do this we do not need to become unhappy and impatient. For example, when we have a headache there is no contradiction between practising patience and taking a tablet, but until the tablet takes effect we need to accept whatever discomfort we feel with a calm and patient mind. If instead of accepting our present pain we become unhappy and fight against it, we shall just become tense, and as a result it will take longer to get rid of our headache. For as long as we are in samsara we cannot avoid unpleasant, difficult situations and a certain amount of physical discomfort, but by training our mind to look at frustrating situations in a more realistic manner, we can free ourself from a lot of unnecessary mental suffering.
Instead of reacting blindly through the force of emotional habit, we should examine whether it is helpful or realistic to become unhappy in such situations. We do not need to become unhappy just because things do not go our way. Although until now this has indeed been our reaction to difficulties, once we recognize that it does not work we are free to respond in a more realistic and constructive way.