Patience, the 6th of 10 perfections or manifestations of Buddha- mind, is the underpinning of much of what we cultivate in practice. To discover the perfection of patience is to discover the quality of resting, waiting & calling forth what needs to unfold. It is in the waiting itself, in the listening, in what the poet Rilke called “living the question,” in staying with the process of life, that spiritual practice is fulfilled. It is taking a breath & resting in how things are.
Suzuki Roshi taught that a wonderful word that captures the spirit of patience is constancy-the willingness to be ever present for what is. Patience calls us to simply sit, breathe out and in, and be aware of what is present, however it is–thinking, anxiety, discomfort, sadness, joy, love–allowing what is, to arise and pass in its own way and time, resting in the rhythm of life and nature. Really, what’s the hurry? Where are we going? Our striving can be like a bud on a branch hoping for its petals to be pulled so it can hurry up and open. Rather, it fills itself out gradually according to conditions, and then one day it blooms. Patience is a slow walk in the country, holding hands, sitting in the sun–like planting an orchard that takes however long it takes to bear fruit.
Kindness and contentment transform impatience, helping us to grow in patience, in which the capacity to rest and to trust in a spirit of wonder, develop and inhere. It uncurls the fist of expectation and relaxes the body, mind and spirit. Aaaaaaaaah……..
Reflect: How does patience manifest in your own life? Have you developed the capacity to plant now what may blossom far into the future, beyond your own life?