or (Skt.) or
) has been translated as patience, forbearance and forgiveness. It is one of the practices of perfection (Skt./Pali: paramita
) of both Theravada
and Mahayana Buddhism
Kshanti is the practice of exercising patience toward behavior or situations that might not necessarily deserve it — it is seen as a conscious choice to actively give patience as if a gift, rather than being in a state of oppression in which one feels obligated to act in such a way.
Examples in the Pali Canon identify using forbearance in response to others' anger, cuckolding, torture and even fatal assaults.
is the first word of the Ovada-Patimokkha Gatha
(Pali for "Patimokkha
Exhortation Verse"), also found in the Dhammapada
, verse 184:
- the foremost austerity.
- the foremost,
He who injures another
- so say the Awakened.
He who mistreats another,
- is no contemplative.
- no monk.
Elsewhere in the Dhammapada khanti
is found in verse 399:
- He endures — unangered —
- insult, assault, & imprisonment.
- His army is strength;
- his strength, forbearance:
- he's what I call
- a brahman.
Lord Sakka's restraint
In the Samyutta Nikaya
, the Buddha tells of a long-ago battle between devas
during which the devas were victorious and the asura king Vepacitti
was captured and imprisoned. When the deva lord, Sakka
, visited Vepacitti in prison, Vepacitti "abused and reviled him with rude, harsh words," to which Sakka did not respond in kind. Afterwards, Sakka's charioteer questioned Sakka about this, expressing concern that some would see Sakka's response as indicative of fear or weakness. Sakka replied:
- "'It is neither through fear nor weakness
- That I am patient with Vepacitti.
- How can a wise person like me
- Engage in combat with a fool?
- "... Of goals that culminate in one's own good
- None is found better than patience.
- "...One who repays an angry man with anger
- Thereby makes things worse for himself.
- Not repaying an angry man with anger,
- One wins a battle hard to win.
- "He practices for the welfare of both,
- His own and the other's,
- When, knowing that his foe is angry,
- He mindfully maintains his peace.
- "When he achieves the cure of both —
- His own and the other's —
- The people who consider him a fool
- Are unskilled in the Dhamma.'
The Buddha then commended to his followers Sakka's praise for "patience and gentleness" (khantisoraccassa
A cuckold's forbearance
In a Jataka tale
entitled, ("Exposition on Patience Birth Story," J
225), the Buddha tells of a former life when he was Brahmadatta, a king of Benares. At the time, a courtier of the king "fell into an intrigue in the king's harem." This same courtier was being similarly betrayed by one of his own servants and this courtier complained to the king about his own servant. In response, the king disclosed his knowledge of the courtier's betrayal and stated:
- "Good men, I trow, are rare enow: so patience is my rede.
Shamed by the king's awareness of their deeds, the courtier and his servant henceforth ceased their betrayals.
Parables of torture
In the Majjhima Nikaya
, a classic parable of Buddhist forbearance can be found in the Buddha
's "Simile of the Saw":
- "Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: 'Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading these people with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with them, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.' That's how you should train yourselves.
Similarly, in the Jataka Tale entitled, Khantivādī Jātaka ("Patience Teacher Birth Story," J 313), a jealous king repeatedly asked an ascetic what the ascetic taught, to which the ascetic replied, "Patience," which the ascetic further defined as "not to get angry when injured, criticized or struck." To test the ascetic's patience, the king had the ascetic struck two thousand times with a whip of thorns, had the ascetic's hands and feet axed off, cut off the ascetic's nose and ears, and then kicked the ascetic in the heart. After the king left, the ascetic wished the king a long life and said, "Those like myself do not feel wrath." The ascetic died later that day.
- Bodhi, Bhikkhu (trans.) (2000). The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the . Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-331-1.
- Dhammayut Order in the United States of America (1994). A Chanting Guide. Retrieved 3 Jul 2007 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/dhammayut/chanting.html.
- Nandisena, Bhikkhu (2000). Khantivadi Jataka (J 313). Retrieved 8 Jul 2007 from "El Centro Mexicano del Buddhismo Theravada" at http://www.cmbt.org/fdd/khantivadijataka.htm.
- Rhys Davids, T.W. & William Stede (eds.) (1921-5). The Pali Text Society’s Pali–English Dictionary. Chipstead: Pali Text Society. A general on-line search engine for this dictionary is available at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/pali/.
- Rouse, W.H.D. (trans.) and E.B. Cowell (ed.) (1895, 2006). The Jātaka or Stories of the Buddha's Former Births (Vol. II). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 4 Jul 2007 from "The Internet Sacred Text Archive" at http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/j2/index.htm.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997a). Brahmanavagga: Brahmans (Dhp XXVI). Retrieved 3 Jul 2007 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.26.than.html.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997b). Buddhavagga: Awakened (Dhp XIV). Retrieved 3 Jul 2007 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.14.than.html.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997c). Kakacupama Sutta: The Simile of the Saw (excerpt) (MN 21). Retrieved 3 Jul 2007 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.021x.than.html.