To Catch A Thief
My first journey through India began in early October 2005 when I left Mumbai from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station. Sitting closer to the eastern side of India, it was early December before I reached the village of Bodhgaya. Bodhgaya being the place of enlightenment of the Great Buddha, is now (naturally), a sacred place of pilgrimage for Buddhists. Even I, I realize now, arrived there on a pilgrimage of my own, rake thin and weathered, carrying my backpack and wearing clothes that just always looked dirty at this point. Western comprehension of such a journey is in stark contrast to that of the East. The relative comfort of having traveled cross continent by Indian train (including the over-crowded, rock-hard wooden benches of 2nd class at some points) was radically swift and privileged in comparison to the Buddhist pilgrims who reach Bodhgaya from Tibet and beyond, prostrating themselves every step of the way, their resolute journey of Devotion taking them three years or thereabouts, to reach Bodhgaya. Whether my outset to this village began three years previously I will never know, but the timeline of the Tibetan pilgrimage to that of mine, when running parallel, clearly defines that in reality, there is no Time, there is only Devotion, and how we go about living out that Devotion.
The construct of manmade Time removes a devotional quality from our experience because we'll generally answer first and foremost to it. Though impermanence is the fullest expression of Life, manmade Time ironically has a finality to it. It faces us with death as an end point. This back-of-the-mind awareness inspires both good and bad in people; and one quality that it will awaken is (im)Patience.
My level of patience for riding the Indian train, and the patience of a pilgrim prostrating himself along a three year journey to his destination are worlds apart. The immediacy of the train's availability triggers an illusory entitlement of expectations being met; we assume that things will be as we plan them to be, on schedule, and with few disruptions or inconveniences. When real life interrupts those expectations the destructiveness of Impatience arises. It's our perspective on Time and what we think it's meant to hold, that creates that pressure cooker.
Patience is a key element in the practice of Asteya (Yoga's 3rd Yama of Non-stealing). This can be a tough one to address because Impatience is impulsive, filled with "I want what I want". But asteya is best experienced after having learned the hard way, when we almost seem to relish the wisdom gained because at last we know better.
Learning from challenge and overcoming insecurities are pretty much the same thing, and both increase Patience. Impatience usually rests on an insecurity of believing that there is something we "don't have" or "will lose", so we seek, and we seek quickly to fill it or save it. Our inner world shrinks into the fear based, lower mind, causing impatience...which is a demanding energy. And this demand that impatience is, is forceful, whether it be of another person or a situation, we try to make it meet the inner demand.
To demand is to take what isn’t naturally or gracefully available to us in the moment...we either take what isn’t ours or we take through pushing the timing of something. When we're taking it's from an undeveloped inner space (that insecurity mentioned earlier), think about how many bad relationships exist because we were impatient to be in one, or we don’t like facing loneliness or aloneness...from friendships to intimate relationships to “bad” clients. The more impatient we become, the further out of alignment we travel, and we compensate by forcing or pushing someone or something into our regime.
This is where we falter in character. Most of us carry good intent, so why would we want to falter when what we could do instead is test the strength of our patience, increase it’s current ability to contain more, so that we're more grounded in patience in our life. Impatience gives us the opportunity to question what is it that I'm really feeling about this situation? Fear? Lack of Control? Lack of Trust? Overwhelming distraction?
If we can reign in our actions by slowing down to understand our inner world, we broaden our perspective; we might need to learn a thing or two, but at least then we'll meet the moment from a wise position, we'll then uphold the person we actually envision ourselves to be. There is patience in admitting "I want to know better. I want to do better. I want to be better...than I am right now"...from the heart, this is a devotional approach to Life...it's not in the perfection, it's in the willingness.
All of us have had moments of feeling that Life just dropped Grace into our hands; and the awe, this being struck dumb, is when we're really comprehending and understanding Life. We don't comprehend them with the lower mind, we comprehend them through how fully alive they make us feel in the moment as it is. We don't have a need for anything more. This is contentment. Given the chance, life meets expectation beyond our dreams, showing us that Life has its own plans for us and we're better off to trust that. So when we try to make a push through circumstance or other people, we're really taking from ourselves.
top image credit: Photo by 和 平 on Unsplash