When the life is simple,
the mind is spacious.
But which comes first?
Happy New Year
The value of Patience
The cultivation of patience is the highest practice
and Nibbana is the highest truth.
The one who harms or upsets another
is not a true disciple.
Dhammapada: verse 184
There is an enormous tendency to separate spiritual training from our ordinary life. To see them always as two different and distinct things, but so many times it has been said by Dhamma masters, that they are always one.
Our spiritual life is our worldly life, and our worldly life is our spiritual life. We do not need to be meditating in a monastery or a cave in the Himalayas to train, we need only to raise the intention to change how we live. In this respect, the teaching is always around us.
So, as a spiritual discipline the development of patience can often be seen as something beautiful and even romantic, but in our everyday life not really something useful or even practical. However, according to our Dhamma tradition, the Buddha has said that ‘patient endurance is the highest teaching’, and this highest teaching is to be found in every moment of our life.
To surrender into the reality of the moment is what will ultimately free us from the suffering of the moment. To be with things ‘as they are’, and ‘to be here now’, are all manifestations of the power of patience. If we are stuck in traffic or waiting for an appointment, being angry and impatient will not help us or the situation, but patient endurance will. This does not mean giving up our turn in the queue, but it does mean changing our attitude from ‘waiting’ to ‘simply being’. To cultivate patience by surrendering into the moment is the highest practice.
On one retreat I was leading some years ago in Thailand, the temperature in the afternoon was so high that the only thing we could do individually and as a group, was to surrender into it. To sit in meditation and feel the endless streams of perspiration, beginning on the face and slowly trickling down the body to be caught in the waistband of our trousers, was a wonderful practice. Not romantic or spiritual, but eminently practical. To give up our idea of how it should be and be with the conditions as they are.
Without patience our life becomes and endless series of frustrations and irritations as we continually give our power away to conditions that we cannot change. In this place we are easily able to hurt and upset others as our compounding frustration means that we are no longer in control of ourselves. This is not the way of pure Dhamma, which is established in love and awareness, peace and joy, but is the way of the world, established only in desires and impatience.
To cultivate patience is to practice the highest Dhamma.
To practice the highest Dhamma is to cultivate patience.
May all beings be happy
Let life come to you.
It is said that ‘patience is a virtue’, but in our ordinary, everyday life we can often feel very, very far from this particular quality. It seems that the clock is always ticking and that time is rarely on our side. Everything is needed now, or sooner, and we are always behind.
As a consequence to the external pressures we meet in life, we loose our balance and so loose the sense of patience, the ability to allow things to take their own time.
Our food is forced with chemicals and steroids so we can have it earlier than its natural time, our children develop adult bodies and mentalities earlier than necessary and so miss the joy of childhood, and to wait five seconds for the internet to send or receive a message now, is almost intolerable!
When we live from this position it is easy to miss what life truly offers. To be fixated on a particular idea or thing alone means that we loose our peripheral vision of life and so don’t see other possibilities. Because of this there can be so many beautiful opportunities missed.
Ambition is not the quality to empower, but clarity is!
Know what you want, know what you don’t want and patiently, lovingly and gently put your energy in that direction. Make the space in your day to let life come to you.
From the new version of Life is not Personal
May 2007 bring only the best for you
May you bring only the best for 2007
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