An essential spiritual force is missing from our lives. We are about to gather ample evidence of this fact, and learn ways to recover this crucial force that we unknowingly give away.

The power we're missing is patience. Real patience is not about waiting for one's expectations to be fulfilled. This is the kind of patience that we have now, and as we will see, it is necessarily filled with impatience; so, it isn't so much that we are actually patient, as it is that we are hanging around, impatiently, waiting for that moment to get what we have hoped for....

This kind of patience is a contrivance. We pretend to have patience while inwardly our own unappeased thoughts and feelings pound on us. What we are about to study are some facts about the true nature of patience, and what it is that we have to acquire - meaning what we have to understand - if there is any chance for any of us to become a different order of human being.

The way our present mind meets life is much like a machine. Most of our lives are spent in automatic reactions to moments where an expectation of ours meets either the fulfillment or the denial of our dreams. We have yet to see that our own conditioned expectations always set us up for a sorrow of some kind or another.

And what a sad state of affairs this is; our hopes are tied to the secret source of our heartaches - not just for our pressing wish to acquire more money, a better house, more respect, another relationship, what have you, but also according to the degree to which we demand that these expectations be met.

What must we do to change our unconscious condition? First, we must get to the point where we see, and admit, our essential powerlessness to provide for ourselves what we believe can make us happy. This is a necessary stage in our spiritual development: to realize we don't have a clue how to help ourselves become whole. This discovery alone makes it possible for us to learn real patience.

There are many references to the nature of real patience throughout all great scriptures the world over, including both New and Old Testaments. From Luke: "In your patience possess ye your souls." From James: "But let patience have her perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourself." And the last one that I'll mention here comes from Romans 8:24: "For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope. For what a man seeth why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."

What these passages would convey to us is that the true spiritual path can't have anything to do with some imagined quality of consciousness that we can give to ourselves because, for one thing, in the very imagining of that quality, whatever its name, we end up becoming impatient to possess it! This is a vital point: Our desires create an extremely powerful second force in us; and gradually, as we struggle to be seen as we hope others will see us - loving, wise, strong, gentle, and patient - we come unglued! Instead of being patient, kind, and compassionate, we become the opposite: a raging volcano of conflicting desires that finally explodes. Clearly this approach doesn't work.

In order to achieve our hope for what is not seen - a new and true patience, a forgiveness of others that sets us free, whatever that spiritual state may be that we know exists but that eludes us - we must learn something altogether new: We must learn what it means to be patient with what we can no longer do and be. There is an immense difference in this idea versus setting out to win a pleasing identity.

At present, our impatience with what we hope to do or become is born out of a series of mental images and expectations that are created in a mind asleep to its own considerations. From these images we take imagined pleasure and power, without ever coming to understand why we remain unable to manifest these self-pleasing images except under certain favorable conditions.

Here is a whole different idea: We must stop pretending. We must learn a new kind of patience - not with regard to getting what we want, but with those pressing, stressed parts of us that insist we must have (or be) what we want when we want it!

Can we see the difference between these two actions? The former patience is an illusion: the idea that if we are just patient and swallow what we must to get our hands on what we want, that patience will prove itself in the end and we will get our reward. This new and conscious patience that we speak of has nothing to do with the love of things, or of sensations, but with the love of what is True, what is good and graceful, spiritual in nature. It embraces the love of that which cannot be owned outright by any human being but that must be permitted to possess us if we are ever to know its peace-giving and perfectly patient presence.

Inside of this new idea of patience we can begin to understand so much of what has been so elusive for us, including freeing ourselves from this terrible sense of emptiness that always follows having expectations either fulfilled or dashed.
Until we understand and develop a patience born of true and higher self-knowledge, we cannot hope for anything approaching the calm contentment of a fully conscious life. Real patience has nothing to do with that familiar opposite of impatience we tolerate while waiting for what we want. Not wanting to show just how impatient we feel is not the same as being patient.

Real patience never feels like a punishment or an enforced morality; it is a pleasurable act born of consciously participating in the process of God's life as it unfolds within us moment-to-moment. Such patience is a natural feature of a life awakened to its real place and role in the cosmos; it is both seed and fruit of a faith that cannot be shaken.

To help us grow in the new understanding we need to realize this higher order of ourselves, and to give us a practical way to incorporate some of these higher ideas into our everyday lives, I have designed some special spiritual exercises. Following are five ways that we can work to develop real patience within ourselves:

  1. We must develop the patience to let disturbances pass by without picking them up: This means we need to see that the reason we painfully resist any moment of life as it unfolds is that it runs contrary to our present notions of what we need to be happy and free. But the fact is, in spite of all our best ideas, we have never found this freedom from what pains us. Why? Each time we are drawn into a struggle with what disturbs us - meaning that we become identified with it - this struggle strengthens our conviction that our expectation is legitimate. How can the source of what sits behind our suffering liberate us from itself? It can't; but to practice the patience of letting disturbances pass by frees us from both our expectations and their pain.
     
  2. We must develop the patience to be concerned with the character of our own consciousness before we attempt to make over the character of another: We are in everybody's life: Nobody walks by us - not even strangers - to whom we don't give a makeover in our minds. We unconsciously sit in judgment of all we meet. What causes this mechanical reaction in us? Our present nature is limited to knowing itself through what amounts to a constant considering of anyone (and everything) that it perceives to be different from itself. So, this false nature necessarily looks, as a rule, upon the manifestations of others as a disturbance, a disturbance that we don't know what to do with, except for trying to straighten out what has offended us. So, we must learn to patiently observe and consciously bear this part of our nature that gets negative when anyone or anything doesn't match its desire. We need to put this judgmental aspect of ourselves behind us, and that takes patiently learning to ignore its demands that others conform to our expectations. New freedom follows.
     
  3. We must develop the patience to be kind to those who do not care for us as we believe they should: This means that we can no longer do and be someone who meets others with the expectation that unless they give us our proper due, we will have nothing to do with them. What kind of human being is that? This level of self-work takes rigorous self-examination, beginning with wondering why we see some people as foes. The answer is simple: They don't give us the deference we deserve. The unconscious nature that runs us through its resentments would prove, by the pain it produces in us, that others are wrong for being the way they are. Now we know that it is what has to go.
     
  4. We must develop the patience to realize that we are not the only one who suffers: When we are suffering, we are sure that absolutely nobody else endures the kind of pain that we do. So, to consider the suffering of another human being almost never enters into our mind, unless it's self-serving in some way. Then we envision ourselves as a rescuing hero. On the other hand, we can learn to realize that whenever someone we know is angry or anxious, whose heart is aching, that he or she is suffering just as we do. This kind of higher self-awareness awakens compassion. And in this awakened state we are willing to be patient towards both that person in pain, as well as towards the pain in us that this same person has stimulated.
     
  5. We must develop the patience to work for what is True until the truth in our work reveals itself to us: If all that a flower needs to bloom is given to it, how much more so must this be true when it comes to the spiritual education of a soul? If we have hope in things unseen, and work patiently for their fruition in us, how could it be that we wouldn't be given all that we need? Our task is to watch and wait; to do the work it takes to come to the end of that false nature within us under whose impatient influence we presently live. This dark nature is the soil out of which grows a level of self that is insatiable; whereas our True Self, and the true patience in which it is rooted, fulfill and perfect each other for all time.

Let us work to realize that long patience within us that we will need for the long run. Remember: Patient persistence in our labors, coupled with persistent patience throughout each one - these two powers serve not only to perfect the task at hand, but also work in harmony to perfect the hand that undertakes the task.

Author's Bio: 

Guy Finley is the acclaimed author of more than 35 books and audio programs on the subject of self-realization, including the international bestseller, "The Secret of Letting Go" and the #1 Amazon bestseller, "The Essential Laws of Fearless Living." His popular works, published in 16 languages, are widely endorsed by doctors, professionals, and religious leaders of all denominations. To learn more about the work of Guy Finley and his non-profit center for self-study, Life of Learning Foundation, visit www.guyfinley.org for a wealth of free helpful information, free audio and video downloads, and to request your FREE Self-Improvement Starter Kit.