Forbearance - Return Good for Evil

Sutra on the Collection of the Six Perfections  Vol. 5, Section 42


  There was once a bodhisattva who saw the atrocious and chaotic condition of social unrest in a country, where the citizens were unethical and corrupt. The leader was incompetent and was not a good role model to his subordinates. Likewise, his subordinates were not good advisers to him. Those who were governing were untruthful and unjust, perverse and ridiculous, and lacked credibility to educate and lead the people. As such, this bodhisattva lived anonymously and alone in a remote cemetery to practice various kinds of forbearance.

  The difficulty of finding food to sustain himself and to continue his practice led the bodhisattva to ease his hunger or thirst by ingesting the stool or urine of the newborn calves that he found near the cemetery. He was unconcerned about not being clothed or not having a roof over his head. He was single-minded in his meditative contemplation, diligent in observation, and captivated by deep pondering. Due to his assiduous practice and his negligence of his appearance, he looked dark, ugly, and repulsive to other people. Such people even spread rumors that the area was haunted by a ghost. They detested him, spat on him, and even threw stones at him. Despite the insults and attacks he had received, however, he did not harbor the slightest resentment but even spoke with compassion: “It’s disheartening to see these ignorant people lacking virtue. They have acted viciously because they do not approach the Buddha or listen to His teachings. I vow that when I attain the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment, I will help liberate them.”

  In the past, when Bodhisattva Śākyamuni practiced cultivation of the six pāramitās, He patiently persevered amidst all undesirable phenomena, tolerated them and embraced all suffering on account of them so He could perfect the practice on the Path to Buddhahood. With such forbearance and perseverance, the countless adverse conditions He had found Himself in moved Him toward compassion and pity for the people who were committing unwholesome acts, and made Him want to save them.

This article is an excerpt from Electronic Journal of True Enlightenment, Issue 45