Patience – A Wholesome Journey
by Bhakta Kieron bhai Webber
Once a Muslim cleric told me that the one who has patience is the one who has trained himself to handle difficulties, and also it meant to keep close to God and accept calmly the trials HE sends, without complaining or feeling sad.
Being incarcerated for over 20 years, I’ve had to learn how to be patient. At certain times I was willingly patient, at other times patience was forced upon me. Either way, sometimes it was easy, sometimes it was hard. Eventually, I found that by practicing patience, I begin to develop good human characteristics. I also started gaining a positive psychological attitude, by virtue of which I refrained from doing that which comes so easily within a violent environment such as prison, e.g., bring involved with homosexuality, drugging, drinking, gambling on fighting, stabbing and killing other inmates. You name it, and if it was self-destructive, it was happening within these walls.
When I started doing yoga, I began pondering more deeply on patience. I asked myself, was it better to have patience during a time of difficulty, or during a time of ease. Then I realised that patience meant not seeing any different between times of ease or times of difficulty. Patience meant being content, whatever my situation might be.
My father told me that patience means that one’s common sense and religious motives are stronger than one’s whims and desires. Here it is easy for prisoners to have inclinations towards their desires. But I find common sense and principles to help limit those inclinations.
The two are at war: Sometimes reason and morals win, and sometimes whims and desires prevail. The battlefield is within our hearts.
Patience has many other names. If patience consists of restraining sexual desire, it is called honor, the opposite of which is called adultery and promiscuity. If it consists of controlling one’s stomach, it is called self-control, the opposite of which is greed. If it consists of refraining from being greedy or stingy, then it is called generosity, the opposite of which is called miserliness. If it consists of controlling one’s anger, then it is called forbearance. If it consists of being content with what is sufficient for one’s needs, it is called abstemiousness, the opposite of which is covetousness. Different names, I’ve found, may be applied to patience, in different situations, but all are covered by the idea of patience.
My happiness in this life and my salvation in the next rely heavily upon patience. I hope that what I’ve written is of beneficence to someone. Until next time…
Bhakta Kieron bhai Webber
Thank you Kieron for your beautifully written and deeply contemplative piece! We most certainly agree that patience is crucial for one’s spiritual practice and even simply one’s happiness, and it most definitely contributes to the example set by Nityananda Prabhu of not giving in to one’s anger. Shrila Rupa Gosvami lists six qualities that nourish bhakti and one’s spiritual development:
utsahan nishchayad dhairyat
sanga-tyagat sato vritteh
sadbhir bhaktih prasidhyati
[(1) Enthusiasm (for performing sadhana, or one’s spiritual practice), (2) firm faith and determination, (3) patience, (4) performing activities favorable for bhakti, (5) giving up bad association, and (6) adopting the pure behavior of sadhus (pure Vaishnavas) – by these six qualities bhakti is nourished and accomplished.] Sri Upadesamrtam, verse 3
As you can see, patience is among these qualities highly valued and utterly necessary qualities. Thank you for inspiring us Kieron, to continue our own development of patience and the qualities that are necessary for bhakti.
Shrila Rupa Gosvami’s Sri Upadesamrtam with a commentary by Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja can be ordered from us.
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