At Sixty We Become Tolerant of Things Not Pleasing to the Ears
According to Confucius’ commentary on the I Ching, the Responding hexagram (the KUN hexagram) says that: “The moral person is a person who is yielding and submissive, yet steadfast in abiding to ethical principles.” It means that a noble and moral person should be gentle but stick to the right path and not just follow the herd, and this will bring him good fortune. This is how a moral person should conduct himself.
Confucius said: “At fifteen, I set my mind on learning. At thirty, I established the right world view. At forty, I was perceptive and did not let any doubts confuse my decisions. At fifty, I accepted that not everything is within our control and we should just let nature take its course. At sixty, I could take harsh and unpleasant things said of me with a ‘tolerant ear’. At seventy, I could follow my heart’s desire without overstepping the bounds.”
To have a “tolerant ear” has a profound connotation and many levels of interpretation. But, to Amitabha-reciters, it can be easily understood as having humility and not entering into disputes with others, serving the interests of sentient beings, bringing joy to them and not causing them distress.
From age fifteen, a person aspires to become a learned man by exploring all things; at thirty, he establishes his own worldview; at forty, nothing bewilders him anymore; and at fifty, he knows to live by the law of Nature. After having experienced the vicissitudes of life, the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows for sixty years, he can now take criticism with a tolerant ear. Looking back on his past, he realizes that he has made so many enemies because of his intolerance of what he saw and heard and because he was competitive and unyielding. As a result, both he and his enemies suffered. Therefore, by the age of sixty, he has learned to take whatever is said of him, be it positive or negative, in a relaxed fashion and with equanimity. And so it is said that:
“It takes a great deal of learning to gain insight into worldly matters, and a clear perception of human nature and an appropriate attitude towards others is like a fine piece of literature.”
If a person reaches the age of sixty and still takes offence easily at what he sees and hears, his life is likely to be rough and bumpy without the benefit of any good fortune or blessings.
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Householder Fojin)
Faith in, and acceptance of, Amitabha’s deliverance
Single-minded recitation of Amitabha’s name
Aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land
Comprehensive deliverance of all sentient beings