Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Patience Is The Reward of Patience

I have chosen this little collage to keep today's writing company because in my mind the tea ceremony is the epitome of patience.... the care and attention to detail, the slow moving pace of the ceremony, now that takes patience. No racing up to the drive thru window for a bagful of something warm and greasy.

Yesterday when I visited my friend the Buddhist monk and we talked Dharma I remarked on how long it took to get some aspects of training.  And her comment was "yes it takes patience."  And when I thought about it, it seemed like such an important part of any spiritual practice, giving oneself time for it to all settle in and percolate and come together in some whohlistic and meaningful way.... the time it takes for practice to seep into every aspect of our lives.  Sometimes we don't even know it's happening until bingo, we do something differently one day, we think a different thought, see our life or someone in it from a wider perspective.

It seems to me there are two aspects of  patience.  There is patience with oneself and patience with the process.  I find my natural inclination is to put some effort into something and then expect some results (impatience with the process).  When the results aren't coming after I've put in whatever I've deemed to be acceptable effort I feel disappointed.  I watch myself repeat this process.  And it's not that I don't know better.  It's just that sometimes I just forget.  This has come up as my Dharma for today for a couple of reasons.  I was feeling disappointed that I hadn't sold anything at my on-line site.  I was reminded by a fellow artist and Dharma friend that it takes time and to keep on, keeping on.  Ours is not to choose the timelines but to do what seems good in our heart of hearts and let go.  This creates the atmosphere of patience that can fill our space and help us carry on in a steady, grounded way.  It was wonderful advice and just what I needed to hear. .... See things from a wider perspective, the bigger view.

In terms of practice itself I have found that after 4 years of training I am only beginning to see results in some areas of my life.  And that is just how it is.  It takes time and patience.  If I'd given up at one year or two years of training I would not have seen some of the results I am seeing in my life, a lessening of anger, a growing compassion, the ability to let go (sometimes).  And in this respect it has been not only patience with the process but patience with myself ... to be willing to cut myself some slack,  to not hold myself to impossibly high standards.   This is sometimes the hardest part of patience, one we often miss, I think, patience with ourselves.

And there is a little saying I love about patience - "Patience is the reward of patience," which I believe is attributed to St Augustine.

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