To be patient and obedient, to associate with monks and to have religious discussions on due occasions — this is the greatest blessing.-Mangala Sutta
Patience is a virtue to be developed and perfected. To be patient in the face of adversities requires a calm mind; That can only be achieved through years of training.
It is an ability to stay cool headed while interacting with situations in life.
Possessing such ability is indeed a blessing.
It is not complicated to understand how patience is important in our daily life.
It could be work or family. In a meeting or at a dinner.
How many times have we loose our patience and lash out at others; only to regret our actions and speech immediately?
Being patient with our kids, with our pets, with our parents, with our friends, with our co-workers, with that guy at McDonalds and the list is never ending.
A moment of patience promotes peace and wellness. Therefore it is a blessing.
Obedience to the Dharma refers to an inner quality of humbleness to correct oneself in the light of Buddha Dharma.
For example, our meditation teacher may observe that we are too impatient to see results in meditation.
When charged with a criticism, our first reaction is to defend ourselves.
“NO! I am not impatient, just enthusiastic….” We may deny the charge immediately without any self-reflection.
We may try to deflect it by thinking about our other “better” qualities, telling ourselves “Surely, I am not that bad. I am actually very patient with animals…. oh! I had been patiently coming to this meditation class every Sunday.”
We may also counter charge our criticizer by finding faults in them. “I caught you being irritated at lunch just now OK? Me impatient? Huh! You better take care of yourself first”
We may also “stone wall” ourselves and be thick skinned. Although we are quiet, not a single word enter us.
The Buddha advice us to be humble towards our teachers and Dharma friends. Their observations and criticism will help us improve our spiritual development. Therefore, it is important to be obedient in this manner. Such obedience will help us improve. Therefore it is a Blessing.
Buddhists are respectful towards monks and nuns and hold them in high regards. This is because of the numbers of precepts that they hold is mind boggling indeed. The effort of observing these precepts faultlessly is admirable. A person being so restrained and trained in conduct is admirable.
Since monks and nuns are engaged in training for enlightenment on a full time basis, 24 hours a day, it makes sense to associate with them if we want to learn Dharma. They will have invaluable insights and tips to help us in our spiritual path.
Therefore, it is important to note that; when associating with the monks and nuns, it is only appropriate for us to enquire about matters relating to spiritual development. Do not engage in frivolous chatter.
Therefore having the opportunity to associate with real practising monks and nuns is a blessing.
Religious discussion refers to insightful discussion of Buddha Dharma, at the right place and at the right time and with the right people.
For example, discussing dharma over dinner as a merriment or entertainment does not count.
When discussing Dharma, we must have the right frame of mind. The environment must be peaceful and conducive. The people involved must not be distracted and sincere in discussion.
Under such circumstances, Dharma discussion will be beneficial. Buddhist believe that the positive energy generated from such discussion will benefit the environment and all beings around. This is indeed a blessing.