Lama Zopa Rinpoche outside his room at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, December 2016. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

In October 2016, a student wrote to Lama Zopa Rinpoche asking how to deal with a situation in which an individual behaved in ways that were angry and unkind. Rinpoche typed out the following reply himself from Buddha Amitabha Pure Land in Washington State, US:

Usually when you are being sincerely kind towards a person, that person learns from you. Then they become kind to you. Sometimes this takes time.

Patience is unbelievable when you practice it. It brings success and happiness in this life and future lives, for hundreds of thousands of lifetimes. Through the development of patience, you can achieve enlightenment and free yourself from the oceans of suffering of samsara. Also you can enlighten the other person. With bodhichitta, you can utilize the harm to achieve enlightenment and the happiness of every sentient being of the six realms. You can benefit the other person in that way.

In Sydney, Australia, I heard about a family that bought a new car. The neighbor did not like the family, and he made marks on the car once or twice. Then the mother of the family asked a Dharma student what to do about this. The student explained to the mother what he thought Lama Zopa would do to the neighbors who were marking the car. He thought Lama Zopa would buy them a present, whatever they liked. So the mother checked what the neighbor liked, and it seemed that he would like a ball very much. So she bought a few balls. At the beginning he did not accept. But then he accepted the balls, and he was very happy. And he erased the marks he had made on the car.

Your friend who is angry towards you can be the most kind person in your life if you use the opportunity to practice patience or compassion towards her. Then you will be able to achieve enlightenment quickly. And after that, you will be able to liberate mother sentient beings from the oceans of suffering of samsara and bring them to full enlightenment. If someone is just nice to you, flattering you, giving you food and so forth, that just brings attachment, and that becomes cause of samsara and the lower realms.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with Khandro-la, Bodh Gaya, India, January 2017. Photo by Bill Kane.

Lightly edited by Ven. Holly Ansett and Mandala.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), a Tibetan Buddhist organization dedicated to the transmission of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and values worldwide through teaching, meditation and community service.