July 7- Patience – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These are your greatest treasures. ┬áPatient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are.” Lao-Tzu

Patience is the second of Lao-Tau’s central teachings, and it is a hard bit of wisdom to accept, for the place of waiting is always trying and very difficult to live out. Yet, quite honestly, it is waiting that saved my life – clearly the most demanding and rewarding practice I have encountered.

Had I not withstood the confusion and indecision and ambiguity and the pain and alarm of imagining the worst during the endless diagnostic gauntlet, I would never have made it to the right course of treatment that carried me through my experience of cancer. Had I not waited – which is different than avoiding what needs to be done – I would not be able to write these very words to you. For I would have undergone unnecessary procedures that would have severed me from my memory and my ability to speak.

Fear wants us to act too soon. But patience, hard as it is, helps us outlast our preconceptions. This is how tired soldiers, all out of ammo, can discover through their inescapable waiting that they have no reason to hurt each other.

It is the same with tired lovers and with hurtful and tiresome friends. Given enough time, most of our enemies cease to be enemies, because waiting allows us to see ourselves in them. Patience devastates us with the truth that, in essence, when we fear another, we fear ourselves; when we distrust another, we distrust ourselves; when we hurt another, we hurt ourselves; when we kill another, we kill ourselves.

So when or afraid or confused, when feeling urgent to find your place on Earth, hard as it is, wait and things as you fear them will, more often than not, shrink into the hard irreplaceable beauty of things as they are, of which you have no choice but to be part.

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