Monday, 29 June 2009

Being Patient

Last week I was lucky enough to share a flight with a practicing Buddhist on her way to a Buddhist retreat in London. After talking throughout our flight she sent me a book produced by her Buddhism Centre, called the 16 Guidelines for Life. Last week I wrote about how the worst of times can lead to the best of times, if we manage to ride the wave of immediate crisis. This blog carries forward the idea of dealing with crises with patience and less fear, taking the lead from her chapter on Patience.

"Patience starts with each one of us. Imagine never getting irritated or angry again. Of not feeling your buttons pushed and your mind going dark and closed. Never again feeling your body tense up, your fists clench and your face contort. Or not obsessing in the middle of the night about what someone did or didn't say...

..Often we learn the most from uncomfortable situations, providing we are willing to stay the course. It takes a special kind of patience to allow events to come to maturity and to be fulfilled. To be open to the unexpected outcome, rather than the one we might originally have pushed for...

.. The real work of patience happens in the quiet moments when we have removed ourselves from the person or the situation that upsets us; when it's possible to take a deep breath and let go of tangled feelings; when we can find the space and honesty to admit that we may have acted unskilfully ourselves.

An eighth century Indian teacher called Shantideva commented that since there will always be things that irritate and annoy us, it's better to cover our own feet with leather rather than attempt to make the whole world smooth and comfortable for ourselves...

.. To expect life to go smoothly is to miss the point."

"Do you have patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?" - Lao Tzu, China

Thanks to Marian who so kindly sent me this book (extracted from 16 Guidelines for Life: The Basics, Alison Murdoch & Deyki-Lee Oldershaw).