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Fortitude review

Fortitude review

The text turns to training the mind on the stages of the path of advanced level practitioners. Part of a series of teachings on the Gomchen Lamrim by Gomchen Ngawang Drakpa. Visit Gomchen Lamrim Study Guide for a full list of contemplation points for the series.

  • Benefits of fortitude and the disadvantages of not practicing it
  • Antidotes to anger when you are harmed
  • How to work with mental and physical pain
  • Enduring hardships for the sake of the Dharma
  • Five good qualities of suffering

Gomchen Lamrim 117: Fortitude Review (download)

Contemplation points

  1. Venerable Chodron prefers the term “fortitude” to “patience” because it has more of a feel of internal strength, of a strong mind. What does it mean to have a strong mind and internal strength? Does that have a different flavor in your own mind than does patience?
  2. Venerable Jampa defined fortitude as an undisturbed mind that can bear harm inflicted by others, suffering such as illness, and difficulties that we encounter when we practice the Dharma. From whom can you draw inspiration on how to embody fortitude? What are examples of this quality in stories of the Buddhas life? In people living in the world today?
  3. To cultivate fortitude, the first step is to consider the benefits of it:
    • Some of the benefits discussed in the teaching were that you won’t harm others, you will have more peace and happiness, you will get a lot more accomplished, you’ll have no enemies in the world, you will not be plagued by irritation, you will have more enthusiasm, and you will have a peaceful death. What other benefits might have not been mentioned in the teaching? What is the connection between cultivating fortitude and experiencing these results?
    • What is your experience? How has practicing fortitude benefitted you in your life? Be specific.
  4. Also consider the disadvantages of NOT cultivating fortitude.
    • Some disadvantages mentioned in the review were: you’re in a bad mood all the time, no one wants to be around you, it destroys your merit and slows down your spiritual progress, you make impulsive decisions without wisdom, you don’t sleep well, and the happiness you experience will be difficult to regain. Are there other disadvantages you’ve seen in your own life or in the world? What is the connection between not cultivating fortitude and these results?
    • What is your experience? How has not cultivating fortitude harmed you? Be specific.
  5. Regarding the fortitude of not retaliating when others harm you, consider some conditions that might contribute to you wanting to harm others?
    • Were you taught growing up to retaliate when harmed? What in society, even as an adult, encourages this?
    • Do you have trouble identifying anger in its many forms and thus struggle with applying antidotes?
    • Are there certain situations in which refraining from retaliation is more difficult for you than in other situations?
    • What antidotes and thought transformation techniques does the Dharma offer to help you overcome anger and the wish to retaliate when you are harmed?
  6. Regarding the fortitude of willingly bearing suffering like physical illness, injury, etc.:
    • How do you often react when you are suffering in this way?
    • How does reacting in your usual way harm yourself and others?
    • Consider specific situations in which you were suffering. What would you like to have done differently?
    • What antidotes and thought transformation techniques does the Dharma offer to help you overcome the wish to reject the experience of mental and physical suffering?
  7. Regarding the fortitude to practice the Dharma:
    • What obstacles arise in your own practice that keep you from practicing the Dharma?
    • What problems have arisen because of these obstacles?
    • What antidotes and thought transformation techniques does the Dharma offer to help you work through these obstacles?
  8. Resolve to think about the benefits of practicing fortitude and the disadvantage of not practicing, as well as to apply antidotes and thought transformation techniques to help you work with your experience in a beneficial way.
Venerable Thubten Jigme

Venerable Jigme met Venerable Chodron in 1998 at Cloud Mountain Retreat Center. She took refuge in 1999 and attended Dharma Friendship Foundation in Seattle. She moved to the Abbey in 2008 and took sramanerika and sikasamana vows with Venerable Chodron as her preceptor in March 2009. She received bhikshuni ordination at Fo Guang Shan in Taiwan in 2011. Before moving to Sravasti Abbey, Venerable Jigme (then Dianne Pratt) worked as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner in private practice in Seattle. In her career as a nurse, she worked in hospitals, clinics and educational settings. At the Abbey, Ven. Jigme is the Guest Master, manages the prison outreach program and oversees the video program.

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