Patience is quite easy when life is good and the sun is shining, but…
Patience is an often-celebrated virtue, but sometimes we really deify it as opposed to practice it. Patience means to allow things to unfold at their own pace as opposed to jumping in with your habitual response. It is not developed in good or safe times, but rather in times of uncertainty, frustration, and fear. When everything is honky dory, patience is easily and rather unnecessary. So how do you stack up? Pema Chodron in “Start Where You Are” relays this story:
“A hermit well known for his austerity had been practicing in a cave for twenty years. An unconventional teacher named Patrul Rinpoche showed up at the cave, and the hermit humbly and sweetly welcomed him in. Patrul Rinpoche said, “Tell me, what have you been doing in here?” “I’ve been practicing the practice of patience,” the hermit answered. Putting his face very close to the hermit’s face, Patrul Rinpoche said, “But a pair of old scoundrels like us, we don’t care anything about patience really. We only do this to get everyone’s admiration, right? We just do this to get people to think we are big shots, don’t we?” And the hermit started getting irritated. But Patrul Pinpoche wouldn’t stop. He kept laughing and patting him on the back and saying, “Yeah, we sure know how to dupe people don’t we? We really know. I’ll bet they bring you a lot of gifts don’t they? At this point, the hermit stood up and screamed, “Why did you come here? Why are you tormenting me? Go away and leave me in peace!” And then Rinpoche said, “So now, where is your perfection of patience?”
Rinpoche’s point was when the pressure is on, are you really patient or are you kidding yourself. This is a question I often have to ask myself. And if the answer is that I may not be as patient as I have thought or would like to be, that is a good thing. I can then forgive myself and also rejoice, for I am awake and being real and cognizant, not deluding myself. We can always create the perfect scenario for us to showcase our supposed virtues, but what happens when life happens? Your answer may open up another path for growth.