Cultivating Patience

Dear Friends and Students,

“May I ever be patient

May I be able to bear and forbear the wrongs of others

May I ever be tolerant and see the good will in others.”

– Buddhist Meditative words for Patience

Patience is a quality that many of us find difficult to cultivate. In the post-modern world as technology increases, higher production levels demand more from us, timelines force us to speed up, and we feel a need to multitask,what can we do? Our ability to take our time and let processes unfold at a slower pace is something from bygone days. 

These conditions cause a negative uproar within us; we feel overwhelmed and our behaviors tend to lead to frustration, anger, worry, and doubt toward ourselves and others. We feel the pressure of ”get it done yesterday”. This places us in a state of mental, emotional, and often bodily suffering. These burdens in the long run make us less productive and content in our lives.

I remember several years ago I was asked to write a blog about “How to Live in Balance at Holiday Time”. My contact was a young woman who worked for a Spa magazine in New York City, whose behavior was frantic, restless, and panicked. She kept calling and emailing me asking when the writing would be complete. I told her I was working as quickly as possible on it. I felt sorry for her because she was so driven, did not recognize it in herself, and was in what the Pali language called “Dukkha” or un-satisfactoriness. This experience felt ironic because it was so at odds with the nature of the article I was writing about living in balance. This is actually called impatience. The influence of a patient being and action would have been the way to freedom in this place.

Patience is a beautiful quality of mind that happens when the time is right. The Buddha said it took him uncountable eons to perfect patience; of all the “Ten Perfections it took him the longest to develop patience”. The Pali word “Khanti” offers a broader meaning of patience: persistence, forbearance, acceptance, and forgiveness.

Patience is a “pausing” that Tara Brach calls the “sacred pause”– a moment to slow down and experience what is truly present, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. It has energy of gentle forbearance, remaining with a process, an enduring quality with tenderness of heart. Here we are not caught in judgment or blame; we may find ourselves in mindfulness, seeing clearly and understanding the root of our actions with love and wakefulness.

There was a Buddhist teacher in India called Munindra. He demonstrated this quality of patience when some of his students asked the same questions over and over again. He was also this way with students who had no dharma training; he would answer them in understandable dharma terms. It is said he had the “patience of a saint”, and that he was never bothered by life’s ups and downs. If his students were troubled he would listen with a patient ear. He was generous with his time and knowledge.

“When the fruit is ripe it will fall from the tree.” 

– Munindra

Please give some consideration to your relationship with patience. Notice when it is missing, notice when it is present. Please ask yourself if you can take time to pause, slow down and look around? Be prepared for what the benefits of patience feel like in the mind and body and how you can bring them into daily living.

In Lovingkindness,