447 Relax and Succeed - Patience is the companion

I’m sorry, but a lot of you are not going to like the very healthy message in today’s blog. The reason you won’t is because it will remind you that your spiritual health—your enlightenment—is not an achievement or title, it is a practice. It requires vigilance, dedication and persistence. Our spiritual health does not happen by accident. It is a conscious choice. But it’s a choice worth making.

We can’t expect to attain psycho-spiritual health just by posting some 4000 year old Asian quotes on our social media, or by having some books on Buddhism in our bookcase. One of the easiest ways to test our own actual spirituality is by how patient we are. A wise person can still behave impatiently. But if we’re consistently impatient, then we can’t be a wise person, nor can we understand true spirituality.

The reason a wise person can be patient is because they understand. They may not necessarily understand why they are waiting in any given instance. But they know from experience that waiting is common for many reasons. And so the wise person, accepting reality, does not live with the expectation that there will be no waiting. They hit no mental wall of ‘not-allowedness’ when told they must wait.

To the contrary, our ego-self doesn’t live in reality. It lives in the world of its own egocentric desires. So, because we make a plan for how we want the future to go, we tend to act like our plan will actually be the future. Then later, when reality meets our expectations, a conflict ensues, and our emotions—from anger to disappointment to sadness—emerge from that conflict. We see that expectation versus realization gap quite often in life.

447 Relax and Succeed - Mindset is everything

One example of us refusing to accept reality is the way in which people whine about waiting in lines, or in traffic. A sociologist I heard once on the radio had calculated that the average urban North American spends four months of their life stopped at red lights. Unless we want to move out of all cities, that waiting is inevitable. So, we can use that time to get angry, or worry, or think uncharitable thoughts about someone we don’t like. Or, we can use that time to meditate.

To make our spirituality into a practice we must work with what the world gives us. If we’re sitting in traffic frustrated, then rather than see that as a problem, we can learn to see that as a gift. When it comes to giving us a chance to get used to unpleasant things, waiting in traffic is not that different than a martial artist who pays money, and invests their time, in a teacher that literally beats them up as a lesson. In either case, the practice builds up a sense of resilience through experience.

All we do when we go to martial arts training is have someone else boss us around, and order us to do difficult and sometimes painful things. And what is our goal in all of this strenuous and stressful practice? So that we can earn our way into a ring where we get to have someone try to hit us. And why is this okay? Because we see it as an aspect of our development as a person. We allow it.

We will even deem violence toward us as being ‘okay’ if it is in a context of bettering our life. Well, the same can be true with traffic, and patience. We simply have to see the building of patience as just another form of resilience. This makes whoever, (or whatever), is challenging us mentally, into some kind of wise Sensei, who sneaks up behind us and then suddenly pushes us—all to test our mental balance.

We can choose to see that action as an attack on our life by getting mad at traffic. Or, we can see our mental challenge as a type of rock that we are learning to flow around. Resistance is what we offer the tests we do not want. Flow is what a martial arts student has when they embrace, and volunteer for, the challenges of training and the growth that emerges from it. And we can apply that sense of flow and growth to any challenge in life.

Driving, at the office, with your kids, with yourself—foster more patience; more tolerance. Let us live with less expectation that everything will go perfectly so that we can be grateful if it goes well. After all, people are imperfect, us included. So we all need other people’s patience and they need ours. And with more tolerance, we can easily help release the best in the people around us.

Don’t think about it. Live your spirituality. Practice it as often as you are able. Humour, patience, compassion, love. These are signs we are being spiritual. And a sure sign that we are locked in ego is when we start thinking things should be different than they are. We must accept things as they are and quiet our argumentative mind. Instead, we need only be aware. Only then will we notice that we always gain more by embracing our challenges, than our suffering mind could have ever have wanted to achieve by avoiding them.

peace. s