Sixth Perfection: Patience.
Many, many years ago, during the Kaya-panidhana kala, our Bodhisatta was born into a priest’s family and, giving up the pleasures of day to-day life, took to the life of an ascetic. He was well known for His practice of patience, kindness and compassion and also for His skill in teaching others. His real name was soon forgotten and he became known as Khantivadia, the teacher of forbearance. The Bodhisatta lived in a beautiful grotto in a forest, near a clear pond which was fragrant with blue and white lotus flowers.
One hot summer day the king, his wives, and attendants decided to visit the forest in which the Bodhisatta lived. There among the beautiful flowers the king enjoyed the singing, dancing and frolicking of his beautiful wives. Intoxicated by the beauty of the place and the fragrance of the flowers, the king lay down to relax and enjoy the singing and dancing of his wives. Within a short time he fell asleep, lulled by the soft music and warm sun.
The king’s wives, seeing their lord asleep, wandered into the forest in search of fresh merriment. Enchanted by the beauty of the forest, they roamed deeper and deeper in search of exotic flowers. Before long they came to a sweet-scented grotto where the Bodhisatta sat in meditation. On seeing the calm and serene ascetic they sat down around Him and asked Him to share His wisdom with them.
Before long the king awoke to find that his wives and female attendants were missing. Following the trail strewn with flowers and flower petals the princesses had been picked, the king came upon the calm and gentle ascetic surrounded by his wives. He became enraged with jealousy. Unleashing his wrath, he accused the Bodhisatta of misconduct saying, “This man has cast his eyes upon my wives. He only preaches forbearance and compassion. He is a hypocrite.” Unsheathing his sword, he advanced to kill the Bodhisatta.
The king’s wives then pleaded with him, saying the ascetic had done naught but preach to them the virtues of forbearance and patience. This, however, enraged the king further. Maddened by the thought that his wives were now defending the ascetic, he screamed, “Let us see your practice of forbearance.” Swinging his sword, he cut off the outstretched hand of the ascetic. Then, seeing the calm and gentle expression in the eyes of the ascetic, he slashed again and again, cutting off his arms, nose, ears, and feet. Blood gushed from the Bodhisatta’s body and formed a pool around Him. And yet not a word of anger passed His lips. Compassion and pity filled the heart of the Bodhisatta at the folly of the king. Knowing that he was dying, the Bodhisatta forgave the king with calm and patience by saying:
“Long live the king whose cruel hand
my body thus has marred.
Pure souls like mine such deeds as these,
With anger never regard.”
The cruel king, however, had to reap the effects of his monstrous deed. A violent earthquake and fearful rumbling thundered through the air as the ground broke opon and swallowed him. He died in torment engulfed by the fires of his rage.
Even though the bodily pain under the sword of the cruel king was unbearable, the Bodhisatta retained His calm and patience and felt no anger or malice towards the king. And in doing so, after many, many years of practicing patience, He completed the virtue of Patience.
Continue to Seventh Perfection: Truth.