A question came recently from someone wondering how to be more patient–and who has not wished for that? Nevertheless such a question is like standing on one bank of a river: I am on the bank of impatience, and I believe that on the other shore there is patience. How can I get across? And yet both banks exist only because of the flowing of the river.
There are many things, small and large, that test our patience. As Hazrat Inayat Khan observed in a recent post, ‘Life is difficult, even for the rich.’ But the origin of impatience is separation from something, probably coupled with the feeling that ‘I’ am not in control. If we continue in this state of duality, we will go from moment to moment through life, sometimes temporarily satisfied, sometimes frustrated as our satisfaction is snatched away, but never really at peace; peace is found only when we discover the unity of all life.
Therefore, the solution to the problem of impatience is, as Hazrat Inayat Khan often advised, to rise above the situation. This makes our horizon larger, so that we are not confined in the same small, frustrating space. It also reminds us that our ‘I’ that is not in control is part of a larger ‘I’–which perhaps has a different agenda.
To return to our image of the riverbank: as the river flows to the sea, for a moment one bank may be green and inviting, while the opposite shore is rocky and difficult; at the next bend, the situation may be reversed. But the river is unconcerned with these changes; it is flowing onward, following its destiny to merge at last in the vast and welcoming sea.
And while the river flows the lesson of patience continues, as Hazrat Inayat says in this verse from the Gayan, Gamakas:
Patience is the lesson I had given to me
from the moment I stepped on the earth;
ever since I have tried to practice it,
but there is more to be learnt.