Patience is a mind that abides in its natural state unaffected by harm and suffering. It strongly abides in the Dharma.
The division is threefold:
- Patience bearing suffering
- Patience not paying heed to those who cause harm
- Patience stable in the Dharma
To be a fully qualified perfection, it must be conjoined with the wisdom realizing emptiness and effortless bodhicitta. The perfection of patience is so perfected on the level of the 3rd ground (bhumi) on the supra-mundane path.
The six perfections are related to the two accumulations of (1) merits and (2) wisdom that lead to buddhahood. The accumulation of merits is related to the first three perfections: generosity, ethics and patience. (that partly explains why patience is a perfection)
Indeed, from the point of view of the result: the fruit of patience [and so forth] is buddhahood. The two essential causes for that fruit are: (1) myself practicing patience, and (2) the enemy that is the object of patience. One can not achieve enlightenment in isolation, since it depends on others. As in Shantideva:
6.108 Because I am able to practice this, He is worthy of being the very first to be given The fruit of my patience, For in this way he is
the cause of it.
The relationship between ethics (2nd perfection) and patience (3rd perfection) is such that if one wants to practice the three aspects of ethics, it will involve hardships. This is where patience comes into the picture. We need to learn how to endure those hardships. (that also explains that it is a perfection, since it is in that sequence)
In terms of benefits, as anger is greatly disadvantageous since it destroys roots of virtue (the meaning of which is discussed at length by Tsongkhapa in the Middle Length Lam Rim and the Chen Mo as well), patience, on the other hand, is the direct antidote to anger. Thus, it prevents one from getting his roots of virtue destroyed: As in Gyaltsab Je's commentary to Shantideva:
Although one meditates the virtue of generosity and the like for eons,
they are destroyed by the fire tongue of anger. Therefore, one needs
to generate the force of patience again and again and not give anger
Patience has other benefits as well, such as:
- Being a way to purify negativities
- Being “the best way to accumulate merit” (I quote here one of my teachers, Kyabje Geshe Gyaltsen)
- Increasing our qualities and happiness (i.e. if one did not react with anger but practiced patience the mind would not be affected by the harm and pain)
- Being a way to take the essence of this precious human rebirth
That cultivating patience is a way to accumulate merit is shown in Shantideva:
6.103 If by my own fault I am not patient with this, Then it is only I myself hindering Involvement in the cause of merit.