A Brief Discussion on the Chinese Character "Ren" (忍, Forbearance)
(Clearwisdom.net) The Chinese character "Ren" is pictophonetics (a character that is formed by combining one element indicating meaning and the other sound). The character "Ren" (忍, forbearance) is composed of the element "xin" (心, heart) which represents the meaning, and the element "ren" (刃, knife blade) which represents the sound. "Ren" means to endure, to forbear, and to tolerate. It also contains the connotation of self-restraint and self-control. The character "Ren" (forbearance) is formed by placing the "knife" over the "heart," as if implying "Ren" (forbearance) is not easily achieved by ordinary people, but requires a higher level of cultivation, discipline, and will.
Why should we forbear? What are the positive outcomes of forbearing? One can read in Words of Admonition (author anonymous) concerning forbearance: "If the wealthy can forbear, they will preserve their ancestryif the poor can forbear, they will be freed from humiliation. If father and son can forbear, they will treat each other with filial piety and parental tenderness. If brothers can forbear, they will treat each other with righteousness and sincerity. If friends can forbear, their friendship will last. If husband and wife can forbear, their relationship will be harmonious. In the middle of a tribulation, those who forbear may be ridiculed and laughed at by others. But, once one overcomes the tribulation, those who ridiculed and laughed will be ashamed and mortified."
During thousands glorious years of divine culture, the virtuous sages took great pains to teach people to be tolerant and forgiving, to endure humiliation, and to forbear great responsibilities, thus creating a rich and precious "culture of forbearance." There are numerous inspiring "stories of forbearance" that have been recorded in history books and chronicles. Yet, the inner meaning of forbearance goes beyond that. Falun Gong's scriptures mention that the characteristic of the universe is "Zhen-Shan-Ren" ("Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance"), the highest Buddha Fa of the universe. "Ren" (Forbearance) has far more profound meanings in that practitioners can only become enlightened to it at different levels of their cultivation practice.