Monday, July 27, 2009

Patience: Kshanti/Khanti

"Ksanti" (WQ Wikipedia edit)

There are Ten Perfections (dasa pāramī) in Buddhism. They are developed and consummated on the Path to enlightenment:
  1. Generosity (dāna)
  2. Virtue (sīla)
  3. Renunciation (nekkhamma)
  4. Wisdom (paññā)
  5. Energy (viriya)
  6. Patience (khanti)
  7. Truthfulness (sacca)
  8. Resolve (adhiṭṭhāna)
  9. Friendliness (mettā)
  10. Equanimity (upekkhā)

Some traditions speak of six or more perfections (pāramitā):

  1. Generosity (dāna)
  2. Virtue (sīla)
  3. Forbearance (kṣānti)
  4. Effort (vīriya)
  5. Meditative-absorption (dhyāna)
  6. Wisdom (prajñā)

To these an additional four are sometimes added:

7. Skillful means (upāya)
8. Determination (praṇidhāna)
9. Psychic power (bala)
10. Knowledge (jñāna)

Kṣhānti (Sanskrit) or khanti (Pali) is translated as patience, forbearance, and forgiveness. It is one of the practices (paramita) or developed character traits one attempts to cultivate and bring to perfection as a means of gaining full enlightenment and final liberation in both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism.


It is not necessary to actually bring them to full perfection to gain the full enlightenment and liberation of a disciple (a savaka-buddha). But they are needed to become an imperfect pacceka-buddha and absolutely necessary for becoming a perfectly-enlightened sammasam-buddha. (See discussion of the various forms of enlightenment at arahant).

Kshanti is the practice of exercising patience in the face of conduct or situations that might not necessarily deserve it — a conscious choice to give patience as if it is a gift. This, rather than being in a state of oppression in which one feels obligated to act in such a way, is said to be the "highest virtue."

Canonical sources
Examples in the Pali Canon identify using forbearance in response to others' anger, cuckolding, torture, and even fatal assaults.

Dhammapada ("Footprints of the Dharma")
Khanti is the first word of the "Patimokkha Exhortation Verse," which monastics utter before confessing their transgressions to one another to reform and behave more in accordance with the Vinaya in the future. It is also found in the Dhammapada, Verse 184:

Forbearance (patient endurance) is the highest virtue;
Nirvana is supreme say those Awakened;
One who harms others is no recluse!

Khantī paramaṃ tapo tītikkhā;
Nibbānaṃ paramaṃ, vadanti buddhā;
Na hi pabbajito parūpaghātī samaṇo hoti paraṃ viheṭhayanto.