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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

Jul 28, 2019

As we conclude the chapter called "Violence" in the Dhammapada, we look at the perfection of patience. What makes this practice of patience a 'perfection' is that it is motivated by bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is the spontaneous wish to attain enlightenment motivated by great compassion for all living beings. A person who has this motivation of bodhicitta is called a bodhisattva. We try to become familiar with the following practice of the perfection of patience this week:

  1. Notice when unpleasant feelings are arising in our mind
  2. Instead of giving inappropriate attention to the faults of the situation or person, we instead think, "my problem is inside my mind. My problem is not outside my mind." 
  3. Try to let this wisdom sink in and calm the mind. 
  4. What is the spiritual lesson this situation is trying to teach me?
  5. I embrace the spiritual lesson. I need the spiritual lesson because I am a bodhisattva. I must attain Enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.

Remember that Buddhism requires no leaps of faith. You need only hold true what is confirmed by your own experience. Even the concept of the bodhisattva is compatible with other religious perspectives. It does not seek the rejection of other spiritual and philosophical viewpoints. Embrace the bodhisattva identity if it touches your heart. Let it go if it doesn’t and simply practice these methods of patience.

Four Vows of a Bodhisattva

Although there are many versions of these four classic vows which are phrased with slight differences, their essence is this:

Living beings are countless, I vow to lead them all to the shore beyond suffering.

Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to extinguish them all.

The dharmas are numberless, I vow to master them all. 

Enlightenment is supreme, I vow to attain it for the benefit of all. 

No filth, dust or dirt,

No fasting or sleeping on bare ground,

No austerities in a squatting posture

Purify a mortal who has not overcome doubt.


Even though well-adorned,

If one lives at peace,

Calmed, controlled, assured, and chaste,

Having given up violence toward all beings,

Then one is a brahmin, a renunciant, a monastic.


Where in this world does one find 

Someone restrained by conscience, 

Who knows little of blame, 

As a good horse knows little of the whip? (143)*


Like a good horse alert to the whip, 

Be ardent and alarmed. 

With faith, virtue, effort, 

Concentration, and discernment, 

Accomplished in knowledge and good conduct, 

Mindful, You will leave this great suffering behind. (144)* 

Irrigators guide water; 

Fletchers shape arrows; 

Carpenters fashion wood; 

The well-practiced tame themselves.

— Buddha, The Dhammapada 



Buddha.The Dhammapada. Translated by Gil Fronsdale. Shambala, Boston and London, 2011, pp. 37-38.

Je Tsongkhapa. Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment., Volume 2. Pages 151-167. Translated by the Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee. Joshua Cutler, Editor-in-Chief, and Guy Newlan, Editor.