By Panyaden School Director, Neil Amas
We are currently practicing Khanti, or patient endurance with our students. Here is some further information on Khanti that you may find useful.
Khanti (pronounced kan-tee, with an emphasis on the second syllable) originates from the Sanskrit word kshanti and means ‘patient endurance’ or forbearance. It means to be able to tolerate provocation, hardship, pain and all obstacles in your life. It is the voluntary control of mood and temper by the training of the mind.
In Buddhist texts it is considered to be one of the ‘ten perfections’ (parami), a high and noble quality that, far from indicating weakness or passivity, is seen as a great strength. It is a patience that endures being hurt without thoughts of revenge, arduous tasks without complaint and illness without despondency. Khanti is the acceptance of the first Noble Truth, the truth of dukkha (suffering). As we learn to accept that life is full of happiness that does not last and unhappiness that seems to last forever, we also see how much time and energy we have been wasting trying to avoid or deny dukkha. We stop feeling defeated and sorry for ourselves.
Khanti relates closely to other wise habits, including viriya (perseverance) and samathi (being calm and focused). Without khanti, no matter how much we persevere we will become agitated and frustrated by the obstacles in our path. If we allow the distractions that inevitably arise in our minds when we are trying to stay focused to irritate and discourage us, concentration becomes more difficult than if we simply accept them as natural occurrences. By the same token, without viriya and samathi we are unlikely to muster the vigour and maintain the concentration to train the mind to be patient.
In a talk at Panyaden last year, Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro drew our attention to research that, contrary to traditional views, reveals that high IQ is not related to being successful in life, whether in academic study or work. The old beliefs in IQ are now outdated. Contemporary studies show that the most important indicator for success in studies, family and career is impulse, or emotional control (this is major part of what is often referred to as ‘EQ,’ or ’emotional intelligence’, in modern educational terms). Or in other words, khanti. Children who have little tolerance, are selfish or spoiled will grow up wanting an easy life and lacking emotion control. The tendency to later develop destructive habits or addictions becomes high. Having the patience and tolerance to resist unwholesome acts is a virtue that will protect a child from such negative consequences. Venerable Jayasaro writes in 12 Ways to Happiness, ‘’If your 5 year old child has khanti you can be sure that he will have a good future.’’
As parents and teachers we all know that patience is one of the most important and yet most challenging requisites in raising children. How many times do we hear ourselves say – or think – ‘’I am losing my patience!’’ In his recent visit to Panyaden, Venerable Ajahn Cheeradej said that in the teaching of children we must not only control our temper, but also patiently resist the urge to ‘give in’ to unreasonable demands from our children. We all know how difficult this is at times when, tired and fed up, we think ‘’OK, OK, have another cookie, anything for an easy life!’’ By making our children wait, by delaying their gratification, we are teaching patience.
We should use every opportunity to point out the effects of their patience, or lack of it. ‘’You waited patiently for your turn and now you are playing so happily!’’ And finally Venerable Cheeradej reminds us that rules and discipline are essential at home as well as at school as they give a child the opportunity to practise self-control instead of eating whenever she wants or watching cartoons without a time limit.
Each day things happen we do not want and things we want do not happen. Khanti enables us to respond to the ups and downs in life with thoughtfulness and composure, creating the possibility for positive change to take place. Having khanti is a truly wise habit. It will earn us respect and admiration from others and create success and happiness for ourselves.