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Explore meaning behind Chinese character composition#3


忍 means to be patient; to endure and to restrain oneself. It is formed in two parts, above: 刃 [ rèn ] edged tool, cutlery, knife edge; Below: 心 [ xīn ] heart; mind; soul. To restrain oneself, to be patient is like having a knife 刃 hanging on the heart 心; if indulging oneself to seek momentary gratification, the heart will be hurt.

Patience is a virtue, they say. And it’s a sentiment that’s been echoed throughout the ages. But what does it mean to be patient? What does it mean to restrain oneself?

The character for patience 忍 is composed of two radicals: 刃 (knife) and 心 (heart). This juxtaposition provides a visual representation of the meaning behind patience. The knife represents the act of restraining oneself, while the heart represents the motive or reason for doing so. Together, these two radicals illustrate that patience is an act of self-restraint driven by compassion or love. 

Being patient isn’t always easy. It takes practice and willpower to resist indulging in our impulses and desires. But when we can control ourselves through patience, we’re able to achieve great things both for ourselves and for others.


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