Perfect patience

Patrul Rimpoche was roaming the Tibetan mountains. One day he heard about a great hermit who had spent twenty years in a cave meditating on the Perfection of Patience. Desirous to meet such a saintly being, he went in search of his cave. Poking his head around the entrance, he called out, “Hello there, what are you doing?”

His meditation disrupted by this impertinent hollering, the hermit opened his eye and inquired,

“What do you want?”

The beggar crouched down in front of him, his eyes glinting with mischief, without uttering a word.

“Who are you? Where do you come from?” pressed the hermit.

“I come from behind my back, and I’m going in the direction I am facing.”

Nonplussed, the hermit continued, “Where were you born?”

“On earth.”

“OK,” he said, trying to contain his rising frustration, “What – do – you – want?”

“Well, I was curious to know what you’re doing here.”

The hermit was keen to impress this simpleton. “You see my son, I have been meditating here for twenty
years on Lord Buddha’s Perfection of Patience.

The beggar howled with laughter, poking him in the ribs with a dirty finger, and said, “Oh, what a great
scam. Gullible locals, are they? How much are you making these days?”

The hermit thundered, “How dare you! You barge in here. You give me all these crazy lines. Now you
insult me. Out. Out.”

As he rose to leave, Patrul Rinpoche calmly observed, “And where’s your perfect patience now?”
The hermit’s anger froze instantly, as he realized the vanity of his claim. Sitting down and taking a deep
breath, he started meditating in earnest for the first time.


Patrul Rimpoche lived in the nineteenth century and was one of the greatest scholar in Buddhism. This highly realized saint roamed all over Tibet anonymously, dressed as a beggar, creating mischief along the way. His primary goal was to focus the mind of people on true spiritual pursuits, while exposing false teachings and fake spirituality.This hermit had deluded himself for over twenty years, and grew comfortable in it. But a single encounter with a master can shatter a lifetime of delusions and re-establish us on the true path. Were these twenty years of previous meditation a waste of time? Quite the contrary. They were the necessary preparation to bring about this profound transformation.


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