A great blog form Norma Woodcock about patience, and an approach to understanding its meaning. Read it online here or just keep reading.
I have been reading about patience.
As I write the word, it seems to me to be one of those words that looks odd and unfamiliar. Like a word from a foreign language. I have twice now glanced back at the word to make sure that I have spelled it correctly. Maybe because I have experienced so little of it in my life.
Zen master, Suzuki Roshi had a problem with the word patience. He felt that “it implied we are waiting for something to get better, we are waiting for something good that will come.” He felt that a more accurate word for this quality is “constancy”. This would indicate the capacity to be with what is a true moment after moment. “Patience means understanding that what we seek is always here. It is what we are.”
All I really know about patience is that during the times when I put out a call for it…..it is usually because my frustration is high and all my habitual strategies to get what I want, when I want it, have failed…..it only arrives after I have surrendered my needs.
True patience is not about gaining or grasping. It does not seek accomplishment. To open to patience requires a surrender to the illusion of the present moments illusion of my needs.
Jack Kornfield writes that patience “asks for steady commitment, that we “take the one seat” in our hearts and willingly open to the unfolding of life.” This clearly requires a surrender of any control that we think we may have over what life is bringing down the path.
No wonder the red flag for a request for patience is the sensations of frustration.
Patience requires that we assess the “one who is not busy”…..it’s arrival allows us to open to that which is beyond time.
I love this story from Zorba the Greek that Jack Kornfield tells in his book, “Bringing Home the Dharma”. It speaks to the steady commitment of “taking our seat” and opening to life’s unfolding. Let me tell the story.
"I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the bark of a tree just as the butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited awhile but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened, the butterfly started slowly crawling out, and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath. In vain. It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings needed to be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear, all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand."
We are not the masters of our life. It is not a matter of weeks or years or lifetime……..then we will not need to be patient anymore…..we will have become….we will have arrived….but a loving and patient unfolding into the mystery of just now.
It takes faith. It takes surrender. It takes practice.
And you really don’t know what patience is until it is required.
Prevent. Perform. Recover.
Equinox Health Clinic