The Lion’s Whiskers
There is an ancient Ethiopian story of a man and woman who fall in love and marry. The man has a little boy from his previous marriage, who is still full of sorrow over his mother’s death. He is hostile towards his father’s new wife and rejects her as a mother. She always tries to be kind to him but he does not even speak to her. The woman consults a sorcerer: “What can I do to be accepted?” The sorcerer tells her, “Come back to me with three lion’s whiskers.” The woman is incredulous. How can anyone take three whiskers from a lion without being devoured?
The woman looks for a lion. It takes a long time, but at last she finds one. She keeps her distance initially. For a long time, she just watches it from afar. It comes and goes, and finally the woman decides to offer it food. Every day, she leaves some meat and goes away. Gradually, the lion gets used to her, till finally the woman is part of its life. The lion is calm with the woman – by now it can only expect good things from her – and she is less afraid. One day, when the lion is asleep, she removes the three whiskers. Easy.
The woman does not need to return to the sorcerer. Now she understands. During these months, she has changed, for she has now understood the value of patience. With patience, the woman has learned that even something that at first seemed impossible became possible.
Despite the advancement of technology and the many time-saving options we have available today, it seems as if we have become more impatient. We need everything done at the click of a button, and if for whatever reason we are not able to get things done in a quick and efficient manner, we become annoyed and feel we have wasted our time.
The impatience we have developed has an effect on our meditation. As disciples on a spiritual path, it is necessary for us to understand the importance of patience. We are told to sit each day in silence and give time to meditation. Giving that time daily is a struggle for most of us; even harder is to let ourselves absorb the calmness and peace available to us during that time.
We sometimes feel we are not getting anywhere in spite of putting in our best efforts. Each day we put forth our best, but we question if that is really taking us anywhere. And if it is not, then what is the point? We become impatient. How are we supposed to develop that patience in our meditation?
Imagine workers who are digging a tunnel. Each day, they work in darkness. It takes days, months and sometimes even years to reach the goal of seeing the light at the end. Suppose they were to give up at some point, tired of working and doubting whether they would actually get anywhere. However, they continue and persevere in their efforts each day and eventually see the tunnel built. It is the same with us – even if we do not see immediate results, we have to continue to do our best because we know that our Master has placed his faith in us.
The Masters come to us as living examples, and their patience with us is one of the many qualities we can learn from them. We have often heard Hazur Maharaj Ji answer questions about meditation by saying ‘bring me your failures’. The Master awaits us each and every single day – patiently. Even with our often half-hearted attempts, he showers us with his love and grace, never for a minute giving up on us.
Yet how quick are we to give up on him. How often do we become impatient because we feel like our meditation is taking us on a never-ending journey. We have to learn to place our trust in him, just as he has placed his trust in us. We have to learn to be as patient with him as he is with us. The way to build that up is to continue to persevere in our meditation.
As Hazur Maharaj Ji said, we have no alternative but to have patience, because nothing is in our hands. If it were in our hands, we wouldn’t remain separated from the Father. So when it is in his hands, then the question of impatience does not arise. We can only put forth an effort and then leave everything to him.
Patience comes from love, and in love there is no calculation. Each day that we sit for our allotted time, we have to remind ourselves that we have to give our very best, and slowly but surely we will grow closer to our goal.
Have patience! In time, even grass becomes milk!
Maharaj Charan Singh, as quoted in Legacy of Love