Swamiji, how do we develop patience in our lives?
Part 1 Part 2
Amma shows us through Her actions that, if we have love for anything that we do, we will naturally develop patience. As noted earlier, people wait in lines for hours together to watch a new movie or buy the latest iPhone. With our Sadhana, though, as the results are not immediate, we start to become impatient and eventually stop doing our spiritual practices.
Amma tells a story about some children who planted rice kernels in a field. Having covered the kernels with soil, the children then stood there, staring at the ground, waiting impatiently for the rice to grow. They stood there staring and wouldn't leave because they feared the rice plant would pop through the soil without them knowing about it. After about an hour they knelt down and looked closely to see if anything had sprouted up. Not finding anything above the ground, they started removing the soil to check if the seeds had germinated, but they found the rice kernels unchanged. Similarly, with our Sadhana, we are impatient and start digging to check our progress. We must understand that the very process of being patient by itself is progress. We cannot be like children expecting seeds to become fruit instantly. Amma says that in many situations in life, we need to develop patience. The reward of patience is indescribable.
There is a beautiful story about a taxi driver in New York City who got a call one day for a ride. He drove to the address and waited for the customer for some time but no one showed up. He honked and waited but still did not see anyone. After waiting for 15 minutes, he became impatient. He was about to give up and drive away but something in him said that he should try one more time. He parked the car and walked to the door and knocked. A frail voice replied, "Just a minute." He could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her nineties dressed like she was from the 1940ís stood before him. The apartment looked like no one had lived in there for years. He carried her suitcase to the car and came back to assist her. She took his arm and slowly they walked to the car. She kept thanking him for his kindness. "Oh, it is nothing. I try to treat my passengers the way I like to treat my mother." Though it was a lie, he just wanted to comfort her. She gave the address and asked him if he can drive through midtown before getting to her destination. The taxi driver told her it was not the shortest route, but she replied saying, "I donít mind. I am in no hurry.Ē Through the rear-view mirror, he could see her eyes glistening. She continued in her soft voice saying, "I donít have any family and the doctors said that I donít have very long." The cabdriver slowly reached over and shut off his meter. For the next two hours, they drove through midtown and downtown. She showed him the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. They drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived as newlyweds. She asked him to pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had been a ballroom where she had her first dance. She made him stop in front of buildings and corners and would gaze for minutes without saying anything. As the sun began to set in the horizon, she suddenly said, "I am tired, letís go." They drove in silence to the convalescent home.
As they pulled up, two orderlies helped her to a wheelchair. "How much do I owe you?" she asked. He said, "nothing." She replied saying "You have to make a living, don't you?" He said, "Oh there are other passengers." Without thinking, he bent down and gave her a hug. The old woman said, "Thank you, you made my day." As she went inside, he heard the door shut. For him, it was the sound of the closing of life. He drove back aimlessly lost in thought. He kept thinking, "What if she had gotten an angry driver? What if I had become impatient and left her place after not seeing her?" He realized that he had not done anything more important in his life.
We think great moments come when we do great things, but the beautiful moments come mostly quietly and unexpectedly -- what others might consider small. If we have the virtue of patience, we can accomplish many great things in life. Similarly, in our sadhana if we have patience, results will come to us. May Amma give us the ability to develop patience.