downtown Nashville, Tennessee - BroadwayDiscipline of self is necessary for the development of any virtue, and patience is no exception. One’s external actions begin with interior dispositions. One’s path is crossed, darkness falls, giving way to resentment and anger. One must learn to remain unmoved and with tranquil countenance avoid all expression of annoyance, being slow to act and slow to anger.

Whenever I wish to move or speak,
First I shall examine my state of mind,
And firmly act in a suitable way.

Whenever my mind becomes attached or angry,
I shall not react, nor shall I speak;
I shall remain mum and unmoved like a tree.
Shantideva, 8th-century Indian Buddhist scholar

Remaining calm certainly seems a large part of patience. Exterior patience or calming oneself physically helps enormously in the calming of one’s emotions or inner turmoil. Peace will soon return if one but keeps a serene face and quiet demeanor. Exterior calmness opens the door to interior calmness.

Nothing can be more useful to you than a determination not to be hurried.
Henry David Thoreau, 19th-century American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, and leading transcendentalist

How much abuse should be endured while we continue to turn the other cheek, even when being taken advantage of and trodden upon? Under what circumstances is anger appropriate? These are difficult questions.

Someone who will endure only so much as he pleases, and from whom he pleases, is not truly patient. A truly patient person accepts everything[1]. He is not concerned if the person who afflicts him is a saint or a sinner. But whenever adversity comes his way, regardless, of what it is, who it comes from, and how frequently, the truly patient person accepts everything as coming from the hand of God.
Thomas à Kempis, 15th-century Christian mystic, German canon regular of the late medieval period and the most probable author of The Imitation of Christ, one of the best known Christian writings on the subject of devotion

The repression of external signs of anger has no inherent value other than being a step towards acquiring interior virtue. When unkindness or injury is done to me, there arises a double feeling of pain and hurt. In this there is no real harm; however, arising with breakneck speed are darker feelings and thoughts. These must be expelled from my being if I am to continue along my path toward inner peace. I must meditate upon calmness and forgiveness, and I must pray for and engender loving kindness and compassion toward the offender:

The Persian poet Rumi writes about a priest who prays for thieves and muggers on the streets. Why is this? ‘Because they have done me such generous favors. Every time I turn back toward the things they want I run into them. They beat me and leave me in the road, and I understand again, that what they want is not what I want.’ Those that make you return, for whatever reason, to the spirit, be grateful to them. Worry about the others who give you delicious comfort that keeps you from prayer.
Jack Kornfield, teacher in the vipassana movement of American Theravada Buddhism, quoting Rumi, 13th-century Persian poet, theologian, and Sufi mystic

Such wounds and offenses, troubles and trials are very useful for me. In time, I will be convinced of this. They are indispensable for the beating down of my pride, peeling away the layers of my ego, of self.

The fool thinks he has won a battle when he bullies with harsh speech, but knowing how to be forbearing alone makes one victorious.
— The Buddha, Samyutta Nikaya I, 163

Patience defined

  1. The quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like[2]
  2. An ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay[2]
  3. Quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence[2]
  4. The act or power of calmly or contentedly waiting for something due or hoped for; forbearance[3]

Notes

[1] A truly patient person accepts everything
I interpret this as the quality of calm, measured reaction to anything that is done "to" you, said of you, etc. rather than the outright acceptance of any act (e.g., violent or depraved acts).

[2] Source: Patience at Dictionary.com

[3] Source: Patience at Wordnik.com

Resources: Patience as a virtue, spiritual principle

More quotes about patience

There is no royal road to anything, one thing at a time, all things in succession. That which grows fast, withers as rapidly. That which grows slowly, endures.
— Josiah Gilbert Holland

The patience of man, which is right and laudable and worthy of the name of virtue, is understood to be that by which we tolerate evil things with an even mind, that we may not with a mind uneven desert good things, through which we may arrive at better. Wherefore the impatient, while they will not suffer ills, effect not a deliverance from ills, but only the suffering of heavier ills. Whereas the patient who choose rather by not committing to bear, than by not bearing to commit, evil, both make lighter what through patience they suffer, and also escape worse ills in which through impatience they would be sunk…
St. Augustine of Hippo

Patience, that blending of moral courage with physical timidity…
— Thomas Hardy

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In speaking of patience, beloved brethren, and in preaching on its benefits and advantages, how can I better begin than by pointing out the fact that now, just for you to listen to me, I see that patience is necessary, as you could not even do this, namely, listen and learn, without patience. For only then is the word of God and way of salvation effectively learned, if one listens with patience to what is being said. Nor do I find, beloved brethren, among all the ways of heavenly discipline whereby we Christians are directed to seek the God-given rewards of our hope and faith, any other thing that is preferable, whether as more useful for life or more significant in attaining glory, than that we who are subject to the precepts of the Lord with an obedient fear and devotion should maintain patience especially and with extreme care…
— St. Cyprian, The Good of Patience

Painfully slow strides in the pursuit of patience are being made here. Someone close to me told me a few days ago (mid-August 2002 as I write this) that she detected a difference in my level of patience — my acceptance of the circumstances of the moment, whatever they may be — from only a few months ago.