A Path of Patience
Lord, grant me patience, but hurry!
One thing we all learn fairly quickly on this path of the saints is that it is not a sprint, but a marathon. Cheap tricks and quick results are not a part of this way to the self. Weeds spring up in days and mature in weeks, while a giant oak tree takes a lifetime to develop and mature.
Baba Ji speaks a lot about spiritual maturity. It’s the opposite of the petulant little ‘me’ that wants all the goodies now without the requisite time and sacrifice. This is a path of patience. After all, who is it in you that is pushing and demanding? It is your ego-self, the very part of you that must die in order to enter the light. Patience and time destroy this barrier of the self which stands between the soul and union with its Lord.
Supreme discipline, concentration and patience are required to master this path. First we must frame and focus our attention completely and then eliminate all competing centres of mental energy and conflicting agendas. These drain precious attention that would otherwise be channelled towards our ultimate goal.
On the path of patience we learn the difference between force and technique. One might take the example of the macho (egotistical) golfer who, full of gusto and zeal, attempts to crack the ball with full force down the fairway. What happens? It inevitably slices to one side or dribbles a few paces forwards. In contrast, a young lady (much weaker and humbler) with a beautiful technique and timing drives the ball effortlessly down the fairway.
There is a fine line between spiritual greed and well-intentioned effort. A good meditation technique takes longer and requires patience to develop, but in the long term yields superior results. Nevertheless it is quite subtle: it is that ‘effortless effort’ or ‘relaxed concentration’ that we are striving for. Grasping at enlightenment causes us to stumble over our own egos.
Ultimately, patience is humility. After all, what power does the small self have? Is it not a humble surrender to the overwhelming pull of the all-knowing Shabd that sets us free? Patience is an attitude that says “You know best, O Lord. May your will be done in your own sweet time.”
Do we really know what we are asking for? In truth, the immature soul could never deal with an instant surge of spiritual power. The Masters have always said that the soul is released the way a silk cloth is removed from a thorny bush – one thorn at a time, with great patience and care. Haste, the impatience born of ego, only damages the delicate process. Hence Baba Jaimal Singh’s aphorism that “to hasten is satanic”, meaning that it is the way of Kal or the mind.. We cannot force the rosebud open; all we can really do is tend and water the soil and sit in that sunlight, day after day, and the beautiful work is done seemingly of itself. Knowing how to wait, to endure, these are the qualities of a mature soul.
It is a thing of great beauty to be in the presence of those old souls who have completed a lifetime of devotion and inner work. There is an indefinable lightness and purity that gently radiates from their ageing forms. There is no apparent force or counterfeit spirituality, just a gentle surrender cloaked in the sweet fragrance of humility and devotion. With patience and time we are eventually refashioned and formed into the image and likeness of the Lord upon whom we steadfastly contemplate. This is a path of gradual transformation and becoming.