In the hurly-burly of our busy lives, the number of important and not-so-important tasks in our to-do lists are only growing, leaving us tired and anxious. We tend to run out of patience – not wanting to wait, seeking instant gratification, and feeling disappointed over small things. Impatience affects people in different ways: it may leave some feeling like a victim, others may indulge in self-defeating or impulsive behaviours, and still others may force their way at any cost or display unbridled aggression. Those who are impatient suffer mood swings, take bad decisions, and often land themselves in messy situations. But they refuse to change, passionately believing that if they want something, they have to have it right now.In a fast-moving world, the concept of patience is understood as moving at a snail’s pace. In earlier times, people had to wait for things to happen: the telephone calls would try to find their way through busy lines, messages did not travel at the speed of light, and information had to be sourced painstakingly from multiple sources because the Internet did not exist.In the meantime, people would occupy themselves with work, tasks or hobbies during interim periods, and waiting for something was not normally seen as something painful or extraordinary.Hermann Hesse’s classic novel ‘Siddhartha’, written during that era, depicts the value of patience. The central protagonist Siddhartha is a monk who wishes to experience worldly life. He approaches Kamala, a courtesan and Kamaswami, a wealthy merchant, for help. When they ask him what his greatest qualities are, and what he has learnt, the young monk answers that he can think, he can wait, and he can fast.In a nutshell, these three qualities embody patience and when we cultivate them, our life becomes easy. When things are not moving as per our expectations, we are bombarded by negative feelings from within and these emotions often compel us to react without thinking. But if we get into the bit of thinking before acting, we may be able to choose a response that determines the outcome. If our thinking is immature, it will intensify the feeling and create chaos but if it is rooted in wisdom, it will assuage the raging emotion and induce a state of calm. When we know how to wait, we can choose the right path and keep walking, braving adverse circumstances and obstacles till we reach our destination. Those who do not know how to wait often give in to the urge for instant gratifications; living a superficial existence, they neglect their long-term goals, deeper talents, and purpose of life.Fasting signifies self-control. When a person can abstain from what appeals to him the most, when he can overpower his physical, biological, and psychological cravings, he develops the power to pursue his dreams. Patience cleanses the mind from impurities and strengthens it for spiritual practice.By: Pulkit Sharma
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