by Jayaram V
If you walk slowly you will have an opportunity to see many wonderful
on the way. But if you run most of the time, what you get
to see is a blur. It is what we see mostly in
our lives, a blur. In our eagerness to accomplish our goals, we
miss to a great extent the richness and wholeness
of our lives. We do not consider being alive in
an otherwise empty and inanimate universe is in itself a rare blessing
and a great opportunity.
Once we are born, the race is on. We live like comets, although
we love to be stars. In fact, in a fast paced world like ours it
is difficult to be patient. If you have any doubts try to drive
slowly on a highway and see how many angry glares you will receive.
For most of us, living itself is a chore just as driving is. Our
impatience is reflected in many aspects of our lives. It is profoundly
obvious when we are on the internet. We browse in a hurry. We do
not read any information with enough attention. We look for what we want and move on.
In the real world, many
times we don’t even remember what we have done during the day or
the previous days. Since we have a lot of choice in making our selections,
we just don't appreciate anything easily. Whether it is movies,
music, books, games, gadgets or entertainment, we keep looking for
something new and exciting. If we don't like friends, we just ignore
them and look for new ones. We don’t listen to other patiently.
We don’t give them a chance to be themselves or prove themselves.
We want instant results. We look for instant gratification. Our
bonds are loose. Our commitments are shaky. We bring our restlessness
into every aspect of our lives, whether it is watching television
or drinking a cup of coffee or having lunch. In a need driven society,
where you are judged by what you accomplish and what you have, how
can anyone practice patience? How can we assure ourselves that if
we wait for something or someone, we will not lose our competitive
edge or our valuable time and resources? Most importantly, how can
we cultivate patience in a fast changing world, amidst impatient
It may not be prudent to be patient on all occasions. We need
discretion to know when to slowdown and when to run in the race
of our lives. Our resources are limited. We have only a limited
window to live our lives fully here upon earth. We cannot recover
the time we lose as the days flip by. We cannot rewind what we have
experienced, what we have lost or let go.
So the first thing we need to do to cultivate patience is to
exercise proper discretion. In matters that are important for our
survival and success where we need to be extra careful, we have
to be patient till we get the results we want. There is a time for
everything. In certain matters we cannot push ourselves beyond point.
There is a natural limitations and natural order of things which
we all must obey. So we must learn when to wait and when to move
on. For example patience is necessary:
- When you are negotiating with someone
- When you are working for your career goals
- When you are dealing with sensitive matters
- When you are learning a new skill or
- When you are communicating with those who matter most
We need patience when we are dealing with financial matters.
When you apply for a loan or a credit card, please make sure that
you understand carefully the terms and conditions and sign the paper
only after you are fully satisfied. The same goes for any agreement
you may sign with your telephone company or a cable company. You
have to be especially careful with cable companies, such as Dish
network because they make you sign an agreement upfront at the time
of installing the connection, with no cancellation provision in
the contract. Once you sign an agreement with them, you are stuck
for one or two years and there is no way you can get out of the
contract unless you agree to pay hundreds of dollars in penalties
to them. If you have any doubt, please search the internet and you
will see hundreds and thousands of complaints lodged by people who
signed up in a hurry various contracts with big companies only to
realize that they got a raw deal in the end.
Patience is also required when you are investing your money in
stocks. Investing in stock market requires a lot of patience and study.
Just as you cannot swing your bat at every ball that is coming your
way while playing cricket or baseball, you cannot blindly invest
in any stock that you find on the internet or in the stock market.
You have to do a lot of research and wait for the right opportunity.
When you buy a stock or sell it, you must exercise great patience
and caution. Sometimes, why most of the time, the stocks do not
move according to your expectations. So you have to keep your emotions
under control and stick to your original plan or trading strategy.
Patience is also required in marital relationships and in your
dealings with your children. Marriage is a responsibility. It is
whereyour patience is tested to the core. When you speak the words
that you don't intend to speak, when you engage in actions impulsively,
you may rock your marriage and make any reconciliation impossible.
Same is the case with children, who are growing up and developing
their own individuality. They may not like to trust you as much
as they did when they were small. They may not find your advice
and your words as interesting and comforting as before. Unless you
give them space and allow them to return to you in a circuitous
way, after going through many experiences, you will probably lose
When you are young, it is difficult to be patient. But as you
grow in age, you have to learn to slow down and take things in your
stride. Patience is also an important requirement in religion and
spiritual practice. It may take years before you see any tangible
results with your spiritual practice. You may spend countless days
and nights praying to God with no positive results. God is personification
of patience. He gives us immense freedom to live our lives and exercise
our discretion. He does not react to evil as quickly and decisively
as we all want Him to in our moments of impatience. Since He is
not attached to anything, His patience is a natural outcome of His
essential nature. If we also cultivate detachment, we will also
be patient under all circumstances.
The Buddhist Approach to Cultivating Patience
From a Buddhist perspective there are three important areas
where you can practice patience.
- Your thinking and behavior.
- While dealing problems and suffering.
- While accepting the world as it is
The first one is what happens to you internally when you
react to the events that unfold in front of you. It is about how
you respond and tolerate all the injustices, negativity and evil
that you perceive in the external world. What do you do
when you are ill treated or misunderstood or misinterpreted by
others. What do you do when you encounter situations that hurt
you and disturb you? Do you rush into judgment and counter
attack them or view the events with detachment and let your
higher thinking prevail? If you control your thoughts with
paitence, if you can change your perspective with forebearance,
perhaps you will be less troubled by what you see and experience
in your life.
The second one is about how you deal with hardship and
suffering in your life. Many people just can't tolerate problems
and suffering. They feel shaken and anxious when problems begin
to overwhelm them and rush to resolve them in their anxiety to
take control and avoid suffering. Do your react impatiently to
the problems and difficulties you face in your life or treat
them as challenges and deal with them rationally and
intelligently without losing your inner balance? With time,
patience and perseverance you can solve many problem in life.
The third one is about the ways of the world, which you
cannot change and over which you have no control. How you manage
your feelings and expectations while dealing with the naked
realities of life is of great importance. If you are overly
judgmental and sensitive, you will suffer a lot at every turn
and twist of life as you are presented with a slice of reality
that is not to your liking. The world is a transient place.
Things change here from one moment to another. There is nothing
we can take for granted. People often behave in the most
confusing and convoluted manner. They may not care for the nicer
aspects of life. They may not understand the value of your life
or in the values in which you believe. The best way to live in
such a world is to let go of your attachments and expectations
and accept the world, the people and things for what they are,
without judgment, ill will and resentment. You require immense
patience to cultivate such an attitude and accept the world as
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