Patience is one of the Six Perfections that guide us out of the weeds and the mire. It’s the
strength we need to endure negative emotions, difficult circumstances and continue a lifelong practice of meditation. Patience is the ability to ‘wait’ with faith in an outcome that we hope to achieve. ‘Faith’ means ‘trust or conviction’ in some direction. Out of the practice of ‘patience’ we realize ‘composure and tolerance’ and find our own ground to look on the world with equanimity. ‘Equanimity’ is the ability to look on all things as being of ‘equal
importance.’Equanimity does not ignore or diminish what needs to change, up close or in the world, but to look with calmness to decide what one can do, to decide how to best restore balance. Through patience we learn to forgive, forget and put away judgment of ourselves, in order to look outward to see how to help. This is much like a doctor who looks on a sick person with composure to decide which course of healing to take.
With patience, a dynamic awareness develops because spaciousness is present. Usually dynamic movement happens only in our surface activity, but not much awareness develops with it because our thinking mind is too busy. We are enclosed with ideas. But in the practice of patience, we develop composure in our activity with stillness and our thinking mind relaxes. However our interior is in motion and charged with small awakenings over and over again. We’ve made time and space to look at our interior and exterior ‘present’ without expecting immediate results. These small awakenings can happen because patience is a dynamic form rather than a static one. Each small awakening reveals tolerance, kindness, compassion and composure in varying degrees, that eventually lead to flowering of the mind and heart in its true potential.
We look at the world from a position of noise and activity and struggle for composure. With the practice of patience, we learn to look on the world from a position of self-possession to see things clearly from our own ground, rather than putting another’s mind in place of our own. We want to act from direct information, rather than incomplete, secondhand information. Our course of action will come from a place of stillness. We match stillness with activity of change, like a plus and minus balance, rather than activity with excitability, like a plus and a plus, or a minus and a minus with no balance. In patience we have time and spaciousness to decide a plus and a minus balance, rather than to be pushed by emotional needs, which becomes a plus/plus or minus/minus imbalance.
How can you apply this to daily life? Meditation is a good beginning. A lot of bad news is filling the TV and newspapers and if we believe everything we read in its entirety, our emotions and thoughts will take on the same negativity. There will be no balance. In the midst of negativity a lot of good things happen and good people abound, but that won’t be in the news, except rarely. Such happenings are mostly invisible to our view because we look for spectacular, and they are very ordinary in their extraordinary activities. So the news presents a very one-sided version of the world, not just one-sided opinions, but one-sided understanding of reality. What can you do to balance the effects of one-sided information?
Look at the world around you.
What can you do to maintain balance here and now? Meditation, tolerance of the people in your lives, kindness in difficult situations, compassion for the suffering of others and patience, especially in routines and limitations of a locked-down situation. Fear of sickness and death are in the background, but ever-present. Balance that with meditation and finding your own ground here and now. Bring all the details of your life into focus and live with your people, your pets, your objects and all the incidents with equanimity and learn to see the ‘unknowable’ within the ‘known’ in your everyday life. The ‘knowable’ is the present limitation of your lives, but the ‘unknowable’ is beyond limitation, or description. Anything can happen in the ‘unknowable’ where all possibilities exist.
Approach this time to explore and study new aspects of yourself and spiritually stretch your mind and heart. In meditation you can touch this activity, but you can’t manage it as you can the ‘knowable’ side of your lives.This area of your lives is where ‘unknown you’ and ‘known you’ come together. It’s like plus and minus again, there is a balance. If you try to manage the activity while it’s in motion, that would be a plus/plus imbalance. First of all, it’s from new areas of understanding and we’re not ready to fully grasp it yet. But if you acquaint yourself with change and limitation as a new ‘unknown’ as well as a ‘known,’ all things are possible in this time, or any time after. Patience is the tool that unlocks this new activity. Patience keeps up grounded and empowered. When you feel dis-empowered stop and take note of what you are doing. Meditate and bring all the loose ends back to where they belong, you, as-you-are. Prodded by the world, inside and outside, we can move with some confidence in knowing our own ground, but allow he unknowable ‘us’ to call the shots to learn about ‘us’ on a much wider scale, that is, ‘us,’ as we don’t know ourselves yet. If we want to discover new dimensions of being, we have to let that newness first move in, and shake and move our interior and exterior without resistance. This is maybe the most difficult part of change and we imperceptibly slip from imperturbability to vulnerability. But we can remain in an empowered state if we keep choices clearly in mind. If we want to know this new dimension within, we have to be willing to listen patiently and maintain composure in our immediate world. We have to greet the new understanding, not with trepidation, but with faith in our own providence, like a lotus growing steadily towards its own flowering.