Swamiji, how do we develop patience in our lives?
During our lifetime we need patience for many things. As a child lying helplessly in a crib, as a young adult wanting to change and conquer the whole world or as a student working to earn a Ph.D., we need patience. Similarly, when we go to a government office or to the lawyer or a doctor, we need to have a lot of patience. When we go to watch a movie (especially in India), or when there is a new release of an i-device/gadget, people stand in lines for hours together with patience.
With our spiritual practices, too, we need to have patience as the results of the practices are not immediate. Many people stop their practices saying, “I am not getting any results; why I should continue my sadhana?" These days people are promised instant moksha, "realization in 10 days," etc. Even our prayer is - “Oh, God, give me patience, and right now." We must understand that results are not quick to come and will take a long time.
Patience is an indicator of maturity. When we are young adults, we hardly have any patience, but slowly we build patience. Children and youngsters are impatient but as we grow older and maturity dawns, we become more patient through the tough lessons in life.
The reward of patience is indescribable. Look at the life cycle of a tree – it sprouts, flowers, and gives fruit; and that fruit contains the seed which gives birth to another tree. The whole cycle is a lesson in patience and is beautiful. The height of patience is seen in a mother carrying a child in her womb. She suffers various discomforts and problems, but the reward is a new life. The peak of patience is seen in the Guru. The Guru is the Mount Everest of patience. The Guru has infinite patience for His/her disciples. It is through this patience of the Guru that the disciple matures. When we go to Amma, even though She has been sitting for hours giving Darshan, She does not asks us, “Why did you come today? Don’t you see that I have hugged thousands of people and don’t you understand that I am feeling tired, why can’t you come tomorrow?” Amma does not say that. She sits patiently until everybody gets Darshan and even calls out in the end to those who have not yet come for Darshan.
Patience is a virtue we need to cultivate. Though we say ‘cultivate,’ patience is within us, it is inherent. It is our intrinsic nature. When we are patient, we feel more peaceful and thus our problems seem more manageable. Because of our vasanas and negative tendencies, we have forgotten our real nature, and when we do spiritual practices our real nature blooms forth from within. Amma says that it is like the opening of a bud into a flower. If you force it open the beauty cannot manifest.
Great Mahatmas like Amma are the embodiments of such virtues. There is a beautiful story about Eknath, a great saint from Maharashtra, India. Eknath was revered by everyone but there was one bitter skeptic who really hated the saint. One day as Eknath was returning from his bath at the river, the skeptic, standing on top of a tall building, spit a mouthful of betel leaf juice on Eknath. Without any reaction, Eknath walked back to the river and bathed again. As he was coming back, the wicked skeptic spat again. Eknath again went and took a bath. This continued many times, and finally seeing his patience, the wicked person, at last, felt repentant and was full of remorse. He ran downstairs and fell at the feet of saint Eknath and said “Swami, please forgive me. I spat on you due to my ignorance.” Seeing this Eknath said, “My dear son, what is there to be forgiven? You have done nothing wrong.” The man was totally surprised and said, “Did I not spit on your head; isn’t that a sin? I am a sinner and a contemptible person. I do not deserve your kindness.” Eknath replied saying “My dear son, you have done me no wrong. On the other hand, you have done me a great service. Generally, I bathe in the river only once a day. Today you have helped bathe in the holy river so many times. I wish I could give you something to show my gratefulness. Let me prostrate you.” Saying so, Eknath prostrated at the feet of the man. The skeptic became a changed person after the incident. This is real patience, such greatness. This is the sign of a real Mahatma.
When we watch Amma sitting for hours giving darshan, we are in absolute awe of what She is doing. We feel this way because of Amma’s patience and love for the person who has come up for Darshan. If we observe subtly, we see that Amma is in no hurry while She is embracing someone. In fact, Amma lets them go because they are feeling restless in Her arms. The love that Amma has for each person brings about that patience within the devotee. Amma’s embrace of each person is a poem of love. It is signed with Her expression of compassion and motherly tenderness.
Read Part 2 of the article here..