The first thing to understand about patience is that patience is a state of mind. Learning to be patient is a quality which we apply to our actions, to our work, and simply to how we mentally and emotionally go about acting in general. But specifically in our relationship and awareness towards the cultivation of our dreams and goals, and towards mastery and skill in our arts.
At any time in our lives there will be obstacles that seem to be blocking our path ahead. Many of which will have been with us for a very long time. But we need to shift our awareness of these obstacles and challenges from being things “to be got through first” that seem to be in our way, to being precisely the challenges necessary in order to grow and evolve in the ways that we need to.
The obstacles that we face in life are the physical and circumstantial manifestation of exactly how we need to learn and to grow. And these obstacles persist because we have not faced them, and realized them for what they are. But by learning to be patient, we can claim the knowledge inherent within them, and grow accordingly in order to overcome them. All so that we may move on, and essentially be faced with new obstacles and challenges, which is an elemental quality of the process of life, learning, and creativity.
As such, we must understand this adversity as an intrinsic part of life. For if we can learn to deal with this adversity by learning to be patient, and from there learn to enjoy the challenge and revel in it as we allow it to guide us deeper into ourselves and our path of personal growth, then there is really nothing that we cannot accomplish. For there will be no challenge that we cannot overcome.
These are all benefits of the art of learning to be patient. Although the greatest reward of all is in the experience itself. Patience is an element along the path of mastery. But it is in no way an end in and of itself, but rather a principle, a state of mind, which changes the quality of our action, enabling us to grow and achieve in the ways that we desire.
Be Patient to Overcome Any Obstacle In Life
“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” – Alfred D’Souza
Firstly, these challenges do not need to be dreary circumstances we avoid at all costs. It is essential to look at these obstacles in a different way and realize they are saying something about us. They are illustrating our weaknesses and our faults, because if we were confident and strong in the area of perceived difficulty, it would not be so difficult, nor a challenge, nor an obstacle.
Everyone looks to the future, the past, or to a whole host of diverse potentialities at any point in life. Part of this is natural. Yet often times it is but a mechanism of distraction to avoid looking directly in front of us, in the here and now, where there is often an obstacle or difficult situation which we don’t want to see. But I think we avoid these obstacles also due to the fact that we intuitively know that they say something about ourselves which we would rather not accept because it is usually difficult, frustrating, and painful in some sense.
All obstacles that we face in life persist because we have not learned how to be patient and sit in front of them, resolutely observing ourselves and staying with the challenge and difficulty which we are faced with in order to understand it. Instead the tendency is to become frustrated and to be overwhelmed by the perceived difficulty. As a result we end up ramming against these blockages and obstacles without even trying to understand them. Let alone listening to what they are telling us about ourselves. For solutions to our problems and to overcoming the obstacles in our path reside in subtle inner changes in awareness, and in how we think, act, and behave. Which we could discover if we would be patient and observe, seeking to understand.
But in order to do this, we first require the ability to be patient. For patience is what enables us to stay with one thing for long enough to figure out how to do/achieve/overcome it and manifest a change in our lives. For without that patience, we think about the challenge only briefly, and recognizing that there is indeed some sort of obstacle in our way. But that is where the journey usually ends. But in that case no insight into a possible solution is gained because our minds generally shift in the face of the (emotional or mental) pressure of the obstacle or blockage, wandering aimlessly to something else – anything else. Unless we train ourselves to be patient, and maintain our attention on the problem we are facing.
The challenges and obstacles we face in our lives are instructing us on how we need to grow. And we need to recognize them as such, instead of just becoming frustrated when faced with them. As a result we can then change how we relate to challenges and obstacles in general. For each obstacle that we overcome is one more step towards freedom and liberation. Moreover, with each challenge that we overcome we move forwards, freeing up time, energy, and space in our lives wherein we can find new ways to learn, to expand, and to grow. New challenges to take on, new things to achieve, and new ways to express ourselves because we have resolved that problem which was previously in our way.
I believe that we become frustrated by challenges not just because we have not learned to be patient, but also because we have been faced with the same challenge, routine, and pattern for so long that it has just become a dreary, lifeless, quagmire in our lives that we are simply done with and want to be free of. Nonetheless, the solution is still to be patient. Not just to be patient and wait for a solution while distracting ourselves with other things. That is why the problem has persisted in the first place. No, the solution is to be patient and look more deeply into the obstacle so that we can understand it more thoroughly, and what it says about us as individuals (about how we act, think, behave, and in general are) in order to find a solution based in personal change and growth. Once we grow, then we will be free to move on. Resolving problems and obstacles in our lives and overcoming these challenges is, above anything else, a personal transformation which renders the challenge obsolete.
Translating Desire Into Action, and Change
What I have found is that it is relatively easy to know what we want. To a degree at least, because much of the time our understanding of our path and of our aspirations shifts as our awareness and self-knowledge deepens through learning and growth along the path. Yet identifying what we want, what our desires are, is the first step towards overcoming those obstacles in our lives, and learning to be patient, because that self-knowledge and self-awareness is the first step in being able to positively change our actions and habits.
But once we have clearly defined what we want as a solution to the obstacle that we face, we then need to act in accordance with that desire and thereby foster a personal change and a small, yet important, personal transformation. For it is much more difficult to actually hone and deconstruct that desire into a plan of action for us to achieve it. And even more difficult to actually channel our energy and our desire into consistent action practically designed to help us reach that goal. But this only works if we have understood the obstacle – and ourselves – properly, resulting in the new action being a lasting solution.
We are always thinking, but we forget that thinking is just a tool. Thoughts and words have their place, but acting is ultimately what is important. And beyond this, acting patiently while deeply reveling in the action in ecstasy and joy for the sake of the act itself, is a step beyond.
How an individual acts is a greater testament to who they are than what they say. Our actions and habits better capture who we are in the present moment. On the other hand, our thoughts, emotions, spiritual awareness and dreams are peerless in defining who we really are and who we can become. But without consistent action we cannot truly become that person who we have realized ourselves to be.
Our thoughts are for creative and analytical thinking to inform our actions. But without corresponding action, those thoughts have little power. Once we are inspired by a dream, then we can use our mind to deconstruct that dream and create a basic plan, schedule, routine, or strategy towards achieving it. And then we must follow it. But that is not the end of the process! For as we practice and learn, we gain knowledge, skill, experience, and insight into the subtleties of the art or dream we are embodying, as well as insight into ourselves. Then from there we use our creative and analytical mind to hone our strategy, our schedule, our practice and training, and our approach as we further consider – and understand – what we need and want out of our practice and our work, and the true form we desire our work to take.
Then the process is one of adding and subtracting from our existing practice as we grow and cultivate ourselves over time. All the while making consistent and subtle changes within ourselves, subtle shifts in the orientation of our attention and to the nature and quality of our practice so that we stay on course, heading true towards what we have envisioned for ourselves, and towards who we want to become. But also in accordance with our intuition and how we change and grow along the way. For our desires become refined over time, and while the general feel and idea may remain unchanged, the subtleties do change, oftentimes dramatically. In a sense, everything always leads back to ourselves. Not in a self-centered way, however. But from the understanding that what we are able to create and achieve in life is but a reciprocal image of who we are.
This is when our minds and our thoughts are at their most powerful and effective. Used in corroboration with action, but not during the acting, or in place of it. Every tool has a specific job that it is designed for. But the tool of our thinking minds for the majority of people is not used correctly because it is always turned on. And because of this, it is in the way of all other tools and aspects of ourselves that are available. Which only decreases our power and ability to think, and gets in the way of our ability to do everything else, especially of our ability to make progress.
This process is how we must grow everything in our lives, for it is essentially the fundamental process of mastery, learning and growth. It therefore applies to everything that we could do. The specifics will change from art to art, from discipline to discipline, from dream to dream, and from person to person. But ultimately this is how mastery, skill, knowledge, and habits are cultivated, and it is one crucial process through which we can realize profound and lasting change in our lives.
Sometimes change occurs spontaneously. However, to deeply understand and learn the process makes it possible to achieve this consciously and deliberately. Just like with intuition, inspiration, insight, spiritual states of awareness, and heightened consciousness. These come about spontaneously in many cases. But once we learn the process, then we can create the conditions to achieve them deliberately, with practice. Which is remarkably liberating and empowering, for this knowledge is the foundation of profound growth and spiritual awakening.
However, in all cases even spontaneous achievement and growth is the result of gradual, patient, and consistent work and progress. We grow our lives from within us. From our thoughts and desires first, then turning them into habits and ways of being and living, which result in a manifestation of our efforts, ideas, and habits into success in our lives in whatever path we choose.
To Be Patient is to Know Oneself
Patience is a state born of a deep spiritual connection and understanding of who we are. In other words, it is a state born out of presence. Not in all cases for all people, but in the sense that I refer to it. For when we are acting in accordance with ourselves, when we are being ourselves and living – or at least on the path to – realizing our highest potential and our purpose in life, then we are deeply animated and excited by the path we are on. And in this case the ability to be patient takes on the form of being able to slow down and channel our enthusiasm and energy into one action or purpose, rather than the ability to stay with adversity or an obstacle as I described above. Thereby learning how to focus our energy and attention efficiently and effectively into more powerful and potent works, creations, and actions.
Do less, Achieve more.
– Lao Tzu
It is for this reason that I find the development of spiritual awareness is so crucial to this art of learning to be patient. For spiritual awareness and the development of spiritual awareness is, in essence, the cultivation of knowledge and understanding of who we are. This is achieved as a result of patiently training our attention inwards and observing ourselves in order to understand both who we are, and how we are obstructing ourselves. From there we can discern how to get out of our own way and better express ourselves in life, translating that new awareness and understanding into action with a greater degree of truth, creativity, love, and power.
Cultivating internally directed attention also develops penetrating single-pointed attention. The result being that we penetrate gradually over time towards the core of our being, to the essence of who we are, from which our awareness of what we need to do become infinitely clearer, by degrees. This is how the ability to be patient both results in and is required along the path of self-realization.
Meditation is the tool which I would recommend for this, for after all it certainly requires the ability to be patient in order to sit quietly and observe our internal reality even for just a few minutes at first. As such, meditation is a direct way to develop patience. But more than that, it is the practice of coming to know ourselves and expressing who we are more clearly and powerfully.
This patience is in part found in the absence of a desperate need for something. Which is precisely why the first step in learning to be patient is in finding ways to act that are meaningful and inspiring to us. For without that meaning, what do we have to be patient for? What end result or outcome is on the horizon that can motivate us? Which gives us something – some reason – to continue moving forwards in the face of every challenge that comes our way?
It is ironic that when we lose the quality of desperation in our desires and actions, the change and desire we covet comes about much faster, if not immediately. For we lose that sense of desperation when we are consistently engaged productively in meaningful and inspired actions that are satisfying and fulfilling. Especially when we are moving towards a vision or future that is also deeply meaningful to us, and which is directly related to the expression of who we really are and the cultivation of our highest potential.
For the state of creative and inspired flow that humans can achieve (mentally, emotionally and spiritually as a function of the level and orientation of our awareness) is when humans are most effective, productive, happy, and at peace. It is also when we are growing at our fastest pace. And when you are in that state, you are acting in the present moment. Time is no longer a concern, and obstacles dissolve before you. The concern then is no longer to be patient, because we have achieved through patience the inspired flow which is the end in and of itself.
Be Patient Along The Path: The Road To Awareness
What determines our destination in life is not the path which we choose, but how we walk that path. The old adage ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’ holds true here. Or my new favorite: ‘Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity,’ which illustrates poignantly that if the means contradict the end, those means will not deliver us the desired outcome. The destination is chosen by our actions upon it, and not by our initial choice of which path to walk. It is the quality of our actions, and the awareness, emotions, and energy we hold while working towards something that determines the end result.
Furthermore, the worth of a thing is in the act itself, not in its completion. As such, it is the level and quality of awareness – how we feel, how deep we get, how engaged we are and the degree of our connection to Spirit – during action which is the journey in and of itself.
It doesn’t matter how quickly we reach a desired outcome, unless we are unhappy, unfulfilled, or out of balance in the present moment. And, moreover, if we are not enjoying the action itself. It is only under those conditions that we are concerned with how quickly we can change things because we are unhappy with how they (and we) are now! That is where impatience arises.
But if we can be patient and direct our attention inwards, regardless of the pace or stress of our current circumstances, then we will find the creativity, energy, insight, power, and inspiration within ourselves in the present moment so that we can redirect our energy into positive and inspired action. Action which helps us to move forwards, grow, learn, and achieve what we desire in life. Then the process can really get underway in a deep fashion because we are engaged in the process, and not looking perpetually towards the goal as an escape from what we dislike about the present moment.
The journey is in the quality and level of our awareness. Whatever we are learning is really just a shift in how our mind, body, and awareness works, understands, moves, and perceives. A physicist has simply learned to look at and understand the world through physical laws and mathematics. Likewise, a musician feels music, rhythm, harmony, discord, and flow wherever they look. But in order to change anything about ourselves (which is done by learning how to think, act, feel, or behave in different and new ways – which is the crux of learning anything) we must be patient. For these changes take time. You cannot learn a subject or art fully, nor deeply, in a day. Maybe in a year. But any truly deep and complete understanding of something takes far longer than that.
People are always trying to do as much as they can thinking it will get them somewhere faster. But the problem is that when we strain in order to “do” as much as possible, we invariably ending up acting in too many ways at once and overly directing our attention outwards which disconnects us from spirit and from a deep sense and experience of ourselves. So in other words, be patient! For that disconnection is our downfall because that space which I have described throughout is where we find ourselves – our talents and abilities, creativity, self-knowledge, and of course, inspiration – which is from where we can act, create, learn, achieve, and grow at the highest level.
Be Patient To Enter A Space of Heightened Awareness
Living in that space engages us in a process of eternally moving inwards, towards our spiritual source, while at the same time flowering and blossoming creatively in our works, in life, and in all ways. This is the ideal path regardless of what the specifics may be. Which is achieved through a process of training our conscious-awareness to penetrate ever deeper into the presence of the infinite awareness, Spirit, all the while translating that awareness into action so we grow ever upwards to greater heights of creativity, awareness, and love.
With the ability to be patient and the desire to change and to know truth for yourself, you will come to your own experience of this. And you will use your own words to describe it. But the essential meaning will be the same. Just like if you follow every root of every tree, you will arrive at the Earth. The same earth, no matter where you stand. And this is the nature of genuine spiritual knowledge. It is repeated in every tradition regardless of time or distance because it is a description of the roots of our being, or rather the nature and quality of Spirit, the field, the cosmic source from which everything emanates.
We work for those moments where we break through to a great and expansive vista within us of pure potential, connection, abundance, beauty, and power. Sensing for a moment the unfathomable mystery of existence in a reality beyond comprehension, and without limitation. And in that moment we see that we are that way as well. For after all, we must be like what we came from. We inherit genes from our parents. So too do we inherit the properties of the infinite source from which we arose. But if we do not learn to be patient, none of this is possible.
We are so focused on doing things all of the time, as if this will make up for the dissatisfaction that we feel towards ourselves and our lives. We think that if we do ‘x’ we can achieve or become ‘y’. Which isn’t necessarily an incorrect mentality, and in some ways it is still important and useful. However, unless the action that we have determined will lead to a desired outcome is something that we deeply love and enjoy doing, which we have found genuine meaning and purpose in, then the outcome will never satisfy us. Because all the time and energy we spent, all of the work that we did, was moving us away from Spirit and ourselves the whole time because it was not done in-spirit. Or, in other words, from a place of inspiration. From a place where we are One with ourselves, and acting in complete congruence with our deepest nature. There are infinite possibilities of what we each can do and achieve in our lives. Yet that statement is not completely true, because only a select fraction of those infinite possibilities hold genuine meaning for us. And only when an act or path has meaning can we act from a place of inspiration and inner peace, with the totality of ourselves both recognized, and engaged. But within those few things that hold true meaning for us, lies infinite potential for growth and expansion.
More than anything else our aim should be in awareness. When we reach an elevated level of awareness relative to our normal state, then what we want to do and become already is. And we just flow creatively and organically from that space. As a result we then see more fluid and profound results from our actions, which in itself is motivating and truly enjoyable. It is a positive feedback loop.
This is the value and the reward for learning to be patient. And only with this patience can we break through the limits imposed upon us by our habits, conditioning, and ourselves into new ways of being, living, and experiencing reality. And into new forms and levels of expressing ourselves and impacting the world.
The ability to be patient as we put our plans into action and move persistently towards a dream without being deterred by setbacks or by slow progress is what will allow us to overcome any obstacle in our path. And the ability be patient as we learn to wait for inspiration to strike and to penetrate into the depths of our nature and awareness, is what will ultimately allow the veil wrapped around Spirit and our true selves to fall away so that we can remember how things really are, and what we really are, even if it is just for a fleeting moment, a glimpse beyond the veil.
The pressure of adversity that all obstacles in life represent is naught but a challenge for us to change, and to grow. And when we can face that adversity and endure it until progress is made or a solution presents itself, then we can transform all of that difficulty and all of our emotions into power. Enabling us surpass our own self-imposed limitations, to reach levels of awareness, creativity, living, achieving, and being that we would not have thought possible beforehand. For until you try, you can never know. And only when we give up, do we truly fail.