Dharma Glimpse: Learning Patience

Dharma Glimpse – Sharon Aaron

The Sangha has been part of my life for about the last 8 years. The Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha have been front and center! I love my practice and the opportunity I have had to learn, to grow, and to serve.

That said I was very surprised and disappointed in myself with my experience of not being patient this past two weeks over my course of not healing quickly enough. As you can probably see I’m still hiding behind sunglasses since my eye surgery, and will be yet a while longer. On the worst of these days I was too deep into the experience itself to step aside and see it from a distance. It didn’t make sense, but I felt anxious, depressed, and alone. I literally couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Whatever my expectations were, they were not being met. I couldn’t use any of my usual distraction of reading or even watching tv.

Once I did get past those days I went back to take a closer look at what might be going on and what I might take away from the experience.

First I looked up the word. The dictionary describes patience, a noun, as being the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.  No, I didn’t think I was angry, not really. Upset? Yes. I was very upset. No tolerance for any of it.

In Buddhism what does patience mean? Patience is the sixth of the ten perfections. Patience is motivated by our desire for inward and outward peace and by faith in our ability to accept things as they are.

I found an article in Tricycle Magazine archives I want to share a couple of paragraphs from: Finding Patience by Michele McDonald

Quote” Gentle forbearance helps to anchor our attention in the movement of the breath. Can we truly receive just one breath? Can we sustain the attention from the birth of the breath, through its life, and through its passing away? We notice that in these moments of attention we are temporarily freed from mental torment. There is no need to focus on our expectations or attachment to results. Impatient thoughts come and go by themselves, just as the breath comes and goes by itself.

Any time we want life to be different than it is, we are caught in impatience. We lose our sense of humor… Self-pity, despair, and blame seep into the heart… The practice of forgiveness happens when we are able to realize the underlying cause of our anger and impatience, and this allows us to distinguish between… unskillful behavior and essential goodness. Serenity and calm develop as we learn to accept imperfection in others and ourselves.” End quote

Although my healing process is obviously still ongoing, I’m in a significantly better space than I was emotionally for a few days. My patience with myself has expanded exponentially because I was able to step back a minute and notice what was happening. And I’m in the process of letting go the disappointment I had in my own reactions to the situation.

 I love the analogy in the article “Impatient thoughts come and go by themselves, just as the breath comes and goes by itself”.  Right now I am watching as those thoughts still come, but I am also able to watch as they leave and not hold onto them so tightly. Its Buddhist practice not Buddhist perfect.

Just keep breathing.

Namu Amida Butsu

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