Wisdom Living

Patience

Introduction

The next attitude which assists in wisdom training is patience. It is adapted from the paramita called kshanti in Sanskrit, which means endurance or patience.

In the context of wisdom training,  the attitude of patience means that we continue whatever we decided to do until we finished it, or we decided that further continuation makes no sense, and it should be stopped. It also means the absence of irritation if the situation does not fit our expectations.

However, the attitude of patience acquired pious, religious, and moral connotations. Because of that, we sometimes rebel against it treating it as something externally imposed. Here we will show that patience is an innate quality of Homo Sapiens while impatience and irritation are results of situations typical to social and economic stratification.

In nature, most forms of life require patience to survive and continue.  Beginning with bacteria that patiently grow until it is ready to divide, bees are patiently collecting nectar to feed the queen-mother, and the larvas, termites are patiently building their colossal hills, and even dogs can patiently dig holes under the fence until they succeed or we stop them.

How patience became its opposite

When Homo Sapiens arrived on the scene several hundred years ago, patience took a new, more extensive dimension. It was not only genetically programmed like among termites or bees but became a quality of human wisdom. Particularly together with the ability to cooperate, became one of the cornerstones of human development. We admire the phenomenal cave art like 32,000  years old in Chauvet or  25,000 old in  Lascaux but rarely think about unbelievable patience and cooperation needed to accomplish them.  Please, realize that there was no natural light in these caves, and the necessary tools and materials were extremely primitive. Nevertheless, our paleolithic ancestors did it voluntarily and systematically, generation after generation.

So what are the sources of our present impatience? Most likely, it happened during the neolithic era when privet ownership of land, pastoral animals, and products coming from them became the norm. The owners tried speedily to increase their wealth to climb on a higher social position.  In this situation, we can find the original sources of impatience.

The attitude of patience was reserved for the lower classes who had to endure the hardship of their position. The punishment for not fulfilling the expectation of their masters was not fully sufficient, so there arose a need for proper indoctrination. That, as often was the case with other social ideas, was accomplished by religions imposing the moral view that patience is a virtue which we should maintain.

This indoctrination was not entirely successful and often produced reverse results. In spite, that since childhood, we are taught to be obedient and patient we become impatient and irritable. It seems to be illogical, but nevertheless, it became the fact of life. What is distressing our impatience increases and takes more and more aggressive form. If you need an extreme example, read the newest tweets produced abundantly every day daily by Donal Trump.

Manifestations of impatience

The impatience, very often combined with irritation, became the everyday experience. We are impatient because we have to stay in line to pay a cashier in a supermarket; because someone in front of us drives slowly or we did not get a ticket to the opera. It reaches levels of absurdity, becoming one of the most frequent and popular forms of self-inflicted punishment.

 We are making ourselves miserable because the situations are happening against our wishes, so we react with frustration, irritation, and impatience. Such behaviour becomes an integral part of our personality, destructive to ourselves and colouring our relations with others.

To make the issue of the impact of impatience on our lives more tangible, I will provide more examples.  The conversations with others are one of the most common ground for manifestation of impatience. We often are not able to listen to views expressed by them if they are different than ours and react by interrupting or keeping our irritation inside to avoid conflicts.

Another frequent source of impatience combined with irritation is driving a car. If there is sufficiently dense traffic, invariably something goes against our expectations: somebody in front of us is going to slow,  turned onto our lane, or honk on us.

We may be irritated impatiently waiting for the weather to change because it rains to long, it is too hot, too windy, etc.

Another, maybe again, a personal example relates to reading books. I have to confess that often I look at the end to find out what finally has happened. It looks childish and innocent, but it indicates mine (though I doubt I am isolated) attitude showing how the natural curiosity may become distorted. I could continue providing more examples, but I do not think it really needed: each of us can find them from her or his life history.

The most destructive effect of impatience comes from its very frequent combination with irritation and disappointment. If we look closer at our experiences of impatience, we very often find underneath a smouldering or even burning flame of irritation. It arises from the same source as impatience because reality does not fulfill our wishes or expectations. That relation is useful to realize because it gives us a clue about how to deal with impatience in the context of wisdom training.

But it is not the end; the less recognized impact of impatience is often limiting or even destroying our creativity. Since creativity, as a rule, implies that we are doing something new, we do not have a reference point, which could tell us if we are going in the right direction. In such situations, we often get confused, lose our patience to continue and find out. As a result, we become frustrated, disappointed, and discouraged.  

Joy of patience

Combining patients with openness appears to be contradictory. Being open often is confused with being fatalistic by accepting whatever is going on. There is nothing more erroneous; to the contrary, being open means that you are not fixed on one idea but search for such which best fit in the situation. This approach requires patience because the course of action may not offer an immediate solution.

The best example of how openness and patience may work together is our approach to the current world situation. Without the veil of ignorance, we can clearly see that the current form of capitalism cannot be “repaired,” so it may offer a solution to the ecological and social world crisis. The very premise of capitalism to gain more wealth, and everything else is secondary.

However, impatience, in this case, would lead to committing the same errors as those done in the past by numerous revolutions that were looking for a quick fix. As a result, they only modified the existing social and economic stratification, replacing it by another, usually even more drastic. Only openness together with patience and cooperation, which permit us to be precise, we can find a solution.

On a personal level, patience, combined with openness, permits us to interact with others without fear and aggression. We are able not only to talk but to listen without preconceptions and trying to be on top. We can slow down and begin to see the world around us in all its details. While standing in line in the supermarket instead of looking at how many items is on the belt in front of us, we can look at people, their faces and feelings they express. It is definitely far more interesting.

Regarding patience is critically important in the course of wisdom training. Since, as a rule, since our impatience is a deeply ingrained habitual pattern, then after a moment of resting the mind in wisdom, impatience reoccurs, again and again. It makes us frustrated and irritated, but if we try to speed up the training by a more aggressive approach, it guarantees adverse results. The only solution is patience to continue and continue.

More generally, the experience of patience opens a world around us: we are not confined to a narrow inner imperative to finish, to get it over with as soon as possible.  We can effort the sense of relief, space, and even humour.

I could continue praising the joys and virtues of patience, but more appropriate and important is the issue of how to regain it.

How to regain our patience

Even though impatience is a form of self-punishment, we continue to indulge in it. Strangely, it often brings a feeling of some perverse satisfaction; by being impatient and, particularly by demonstrating it, we make ourselves believe that we accomplished something, we are true to oneself, or at least we demonstrated our discontent.

As I mentioned earlier for a long time in human history, patience was a natural quality of our species, and only since the era of stratification, it became viewed as something which we are forced to adhere. However, in spite of a few (few in comparison hundreds) thousand years of enduring the stratification, the original patience is still innately embedded in our consciousness, so it is not lost,  and it is possible to regain it.

Unfortunately, regaining is complicated by the fact that the original, innate patience can be confused with the imposed one to which we often rebel. It is a similar situation to other naturally fascinating and beneficial ideas that are distorted by pushing them on us via education, religions and morality.

To regain patience, it is useful to remember that impatience is closely related to irritation and anger; therefore, it is one of the emotions. Consequently, we deal with it in the same way as with others: once we realize that we experience it, we return to the state of MR.  Once it happens, we may notice that the resulting resting state of mind is energetic and vibrant. The intensity of this energy may lead to its reoccurrence of impatience or irritation, so we should be prepared for that, and once we feel it, return again to the state of rest. Particularly, if others and ourselves consider us as an impatient and irritable person, we should focus on the likelihood of reoccurrence.

Before ending this section, I would like to add that it is vital not to confuse patience with hesitation to enter into a new, unknown situation. In other words, if in mids of something, we feel a flash of inspiration and our intelligence confirms it, we can follow it without hesitation and fear that it is a symptom of impatience.  Here is a rather simple example: if during our practice of MR, we suddenly recall that we forgot to turn the burner and left a pot with a soup boiling, then getting up and turning it off is not a manifestation of impatience,  but common sense.

Concluding remarks

The attitude of patience is particularly important when it comes to cooperation, the topic,  which we will discuss in more detail later on. Cooperation, as a rule, requires discussion of numerous issues during which the participants express different views. Since the goal of that process is to reach consensus finally, then someone’s manifestation of irritation coming from impatience may be destructive because of others aware of that may assume a defensive attitude or respond with counter-irritation.

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