Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VI– verse 14

Transglomeration: There isn’t anything whatsoever that can remain difficult by itself and that doesn’t become easier to accomplish through familiarity, through practice, through acquaintance.   And so through tolerance and habituation with slight pain and difficulty even great suffering and adversity is gradually rendered bearable as I learn to practise acceptance, endurance, forbearance.

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

Reflection: the beginning of meditation, just becoming familiar (cf. the Tibetan for ‘meditation’ is ‘goms’, familiarity), getting into the habit; accustomed, repetition, familiarity, acquaintance, practice, habituation; and not with the mind ‘I must endure this; I – will – not – get – angry’ with gritted teeth {scene of so many disappointments} but with the lightness and un-localised view of a slight smile, not letting my precious, little self become anywhere-near involved in it at all

Practice: … and this is to be practised with a courageous heart, a heart that has a Great Purpose in mind (in life), (in lifetimes), a heart which has realised – like a flash of lightning in the dark of night – that suffering is concomitant with living within saṃsāra, so therefore I will put up with it, I will work it through, it is only what it is, I will make use of it (with my wider, stepped-back understanding of what’s going on here), I will use it to motivate me to get out of this predicament of saṃsāra, I shall use it to develop compassion for others still involved within saṃsāra, and, as this verse describes, I shall just get more and more familiar with this attitude of volunteering to put up with it all – there it is, an attitude, with a fair bit of understanding, of putting up with it all, that’s all; possibly, even, joy if I really get behind this attitude – and this is just the first step of the practice of patience

Actual Practice: and notice, implicitly, how the practice of this is to be conducted: through familiarity, habituation, step by step; the implicit emphasis is, as Pema Chodron and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche would have it, to start where you are; pay attention, Mark: not to start with where you’d like to think yourself to be when starting, not to start with where you think your decision to start puts you and certainly not to start with the result and arrogantly think I am going through the motions here for the benefit of others – it means start where you are right now, with your peevishness and your touchiness and your ‘I’ll do it my own way’-ness, and don’t indulge in any of this spiritual materialism which all just keeps you where you are, without change or development; and the development in this practice won’t be noticeable – there won’t be any sense of frontier-breaking, here – there’ll just be the impression, as you get on with things over the years, that you seem to be able to put up with more than you used to, that you are more even about things which happen in life; so I don’t need to go around looking for things to be patient about (unless I have perfected patience; and I haven’t), I could spend all day sitting in a chair and becoming familiar with the slight annoyances that come my way almost constantly, and bear with them, eventually becoming stable-enough in the practice to be able to get up from my chair and face the further annoyances of going about my business; maintaining an evenness, an equanimity, in any and (eventually) all circumstances, which is completely balanced in relation to the eight worldly dharmas; OK, Mark, don’t wait for your buttons to be pushed, practise familiarity with the smaller stuff that you can bear with equanimity now, make that strong and stronger, and naturally and effortlessly encompass things which now just push my buttons; ‘oh, so much to remember, there are so many different things which annoy me, most of which annoy me without me even noticing, let alone having to think why I shouldn’t be getting annoyed with them and what I should be doing …’ … and, of course, no: I should just be alert and honest with myself – a nice, clean grate through which all of ‘me’ flows – and just notice ‘uh, oh, you’re getting a little annoyed here, let-it-go-quick, stand down, soldier, there you go; oh, what’s over there’