Practicing Patience with the Enemy

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1981 (Archive #119)

Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche advised how to practice patience and avoid the eight worldly dharmas, at the 14th Kopan Course in 1981. This is an edited excerpt from Lecture 22, Section Five of the course. Click here to read more.   

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching at the 12th Meditation Course at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1979. Photo: Ina Van Delden.

The four undesirable things [of the eight worldly dharmas] are suffering, not receiving material things, uninteresting words and a bad reputation. We wish to avoid these four undesirable objects, for ourselves or for our friends and relatives. We wish for the opposite of these four undesirable things—happiness, receiving material things, sweet words, and a good reputation for ourselves, our friends and relatives. But what we wish for the enemy is the complete opposite—we wish that they receive the four undesirable things and do not receive the four desirable things. We seek the eight worldly dharmas for ourselves, our relatives and our friends.

Practicing patience with the four undesirable things is like this. Whenever we meet suffering, we must practice patience. When somebody treats us badly and doesn’t give us material help, we must practice patience. When somebody insults us, we must practice patience. When somebody gives us a bad reputation, we must practice patience. When we meet these four undesirable things, we must practice patience. When the four undesirable things happen to our friends and relatives, we must also practice patience. When somebody harms our close friends and relatives and when they suffer, then we must also practice patience. When material help is not given to our friends and relatives, we must practice patience with that person who doesn’t help them. We must also practice patience with those who insult our friends and relatives, and give them a bad reputation.

When our enemy is happy, or when somebody causes our enemy to receive perfections and to be happy, it is unbearable. It is unbearable that our enemy is happy. We dislike that our enemy is happy, comfortable and doesn’t have problems. However, when somebody makes our enemy happy, we must practice patience. Because we dislike that, again we must practice patience.

When our enemy receives material offerings, again we must practice patience. If we don’t practice patience, we become jealous and when we see or hear that, we become very confused and unhappy. So, again, we must practice patience when we see that our enemy has received material things.

When our enemy receives compliments and sweet words, again we can’t stand it and we become mad. When somebody says nice things about our enemy, suddenly we have to stop talking. If we were having a conversation before and we were so excited and involved, but somebody talks nicely about our enemy, suddenly we are in retreat. We are in silence, without choice and with a heavy face. So, we must practice patience. When we hear nice things and compliments about the enemy, we must practice patience.

When we find out that our enemy has received a good reputation, again we must practice patience. Instead of criticizing and saying, “He is not worth receiving a good reputation, he is not qualified,” or “He didn’t do that,” again this is a good time to practice patience. So like this, there are twelve objects for the practice of patience.

If somebody disturbs our pleasure and comfort while we are having a good time, while we are very warm in our sleeping bag, sleeping very comfortably, again practice patience. While we are in such great comfort, having a very good sleep or having a very pleasant dream—with a friend going to a beautiful park, or having very great entertainment or great excitement, something is going to happen, we are going to do something like that, and we are having a good sleep or a good dream—then suddenly a flea bites us on the leg or under the thumb, and disturbs our comfort, again, practice patience.

Similarly, when somebody prevents us from receiving material things—when someone sends us a present, but somebody else uses it or eats it, or doesn’t give us the money, the clothes or whatever the possession is. When somebody disturbs us from receiving material things, again practice patience. Also, when somebody disturbs us and complains about us, then practice patience. When somebody disturbs our reputation, then practice patience.

We need to practice patience when these four hindrances prevent us from receiving the four desirable things or when this happens to our parents and relatives.

While someone stops our enemy suffering, such as a doctor giving him medicine, when we see this, we can’t stand the doctor ending our enemy’s suffering. So, again we must practice patience. If somebody assists, rather than blocks our enemy from receiving material things, when we can’t stand it, we should practice patience. If somebody assists him to receive sweet words, then again practice patience, and if somebody helps him avoid a bad reputation, again we should practice patience.

There are about 24 objects of patience with which we can stop anger arising towards the sentient beings who do undesirable things. We can stop anger arising toward the sentient beings who harm us and harm our relatives; and we can stop the anger towards our enemies and the sentient beings who help our enemies.

If we meditate on patience, we can stop the anger towards the sentient beings who harm us.  When suffering arises, we can voluntarily take on this suffering and bear the suffering, and we can particularly think that samsara and these contaminated aggregates of attachment are not beyond the nature of suffering.