Patience, Tolerance, Repression

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Do you know how to be patient? If yes, then rest assured the ultimate can happen anytime to you. It is on the way. Rest assured that the flower of love, the flower of beauty, the flower of bliss can blossom anytime within you, because patience is the key. It is the key that can unlock the greatest mysteries of existence. All that is highest and deepest, the infinite and the eternal, the real, the pure, all these things come through patience. Patience creates the way for these things to happen. Patience has great value on the path of love and on the path of meditation.
            What is patience? Patience simply means to be at ease, to be relaxed. It means not to be in conflict with anything. It means to accept everything. It means to drop all demands. It is contentment that does not ask for things to be different from what they are. It does not demand people to change themselves from what they are. Patience means stillness. When there are no ripples of dissatisfaction, of discontentment, when we realise a calm silence inside us, that we call patience. Patience has the capacity to gift us the best that is available in life. Patience is a rare virtue.
            You might have noticed about your own life and the life of the people that you know – your loved ones, your acquaintances – most of them live very unhappy lives. There is deep discontentment. Why does it happen? Just observe: The degree in which they are unhappy is equal to the degree of their patience. The less patient we are, the less joyful we are. Now, we see human beings eternally impatient. There is something called bustle hour. What is the bustle hour? It is the time of the day when there is too much activity, people are moving to and fro their workplaces and there is so much crowd in the streets, so much traffic. This time is called bustle hour because there is so much hustle and bustle all around. So we generally think that people are impatient during bustle hour, somewhere around 9 o’clock in the morning and 5 o’clock in the evening, these hours are called bustle hours. But for majority of the humans every hour is a bustle hour, every minute is a bustle minute. They are bustling, hustling all around, huffing, puffing, moving around; they just can’t relax. There is so much impatience everywhere.
            Just observe people, on a railway platform, standing in a queue to get tickets. They get so impatient, they feel tired and fatigued. Some start even cursing the people standing ahead of them. They want things to happen very fast so that their turn comes and they get tickets. And see what happens once they have bought tickets. They go to the platform, they wait on the train and they again start getting impatient. They start pacing up and down, looking at the direction of train. Have you seen people standing in a queue to pay electricity bills? You will observe same impatience. Impatience is just everywhere.
            Impatience is the cause of all our miseries. Deep down, this impatience makes us against life.
            Impatience is a kind of darkness. Patience brings light, light of understanding. Patience gives us insight. Patience gives us capacity to penetrate things, to see what is behind curtains, what is beneath the surface, what is the reality of things. When you are patient, just notice, you are able to concentrate better. When you are patient, your focus is deeper, your vision is sharper. Let us take an example : Hold a picture in front of your eyes and start shaking your head lightly from side to side. What do you see? The picture loses clarity. You are unable to perceive the picture because your vision is upset. Now, stop moving the head and the same picture you perceive with so much clarity. This simple example tells us that how when we are impatient, we lose clarity of vision. The picture of life, the picture of human reality is blurred. It escapes our notice because of that poor concentration. Impatience creates this restlessness inside us and we lose that natural visionary quality. Patience gives us an insight.
            There is an incidence in Nanak’s life : Nanak went for haj. It was Nanak’s mission to awaken people, to bring them out of their conditioned spirituality, to give them a fresh way of looking at the divine. So he decided to go to haj along with Mardana, his best companion, and lifelong friend. Nanak stayed there in a place. Intentionally, Nanak lay in a way that his feet were towards Qaba. Qaba is a holy place of Muslims and it is an unforgivable sin to point one’s feet towards Qaba. It is disrespect, dishonor to god to show him your feet. A person noticed it that Nanak’s feet were towards Qaba and he was furious. He hit Nanak awake and started shouting at him, “How dare you? How dare you defile this place? How dare you commit this sin in this holy city, to show your feet to god?” He was all anger, shaking with anger at Nanak. But Nanak kept calm and when the man was exhausted, Nanak simply told him, “You can turn my feet in direction where God is not. I don’t see any direction, any corner where God is not. So, no matter where I turned my feet, they would always be towards god.” Such calm answer moved the person. Remember, Nanak didn’t shout back, he did not react. Because of his patience Nanak could see that the man did not mean any harm, he was simply ignorant, his mind was just designed to think in the way he was thinking. It was Nanak’s patience that gave him that insight, that penetrating insight into the being of the person and he could see what was what. The man was impatient and he poured hatred on Nanak and Nanak was patient so he returned the others’ hatred with love. He could see because he was awake. The man failed to see because he was asleep.
            I am reminded of a similar incident in Buddha’s life also. Angulimal, as we know, was a murderer and robber. It was his passion, rather his pastime to rob the passersby, cutoff their fingers and make garlands of those fingers. The whole place was haunted by him. People were too afraid even to go where he was said to be living. Once the Buddha decided to meet Angulimal. When he reached there, Angulimal reacted the way he always used to react: he grew violent, he was ready to attack the Buddha. But the Buddha didn’t react to his violent approach. He kept calm. In this patience the Buddha could see, he could peep into the heart of Angulimal. This patience had a magical effect on the robber. He had a sudden change of heart, this single meeting with the Buddha changed entire life of Angulimal.
            Nanak’s and Buddha’s examples show us that patience gifts us an insight and with that insight we are able to see things in totality. It gives us a broader vision.
            Some of us feel that we are patient. But we have to understand the difference between the words repression, tolerance, and patience, so that we have a clear idea of what patience is. Patience simply grows out of awareness. One who is conscious, one who is awake will definitely be patient. Patience, remember, cannot be cultivated. Patience is not a matter of cultivation. Patience is just a byproduct of conscious living. Why do we fail to create this patience in our life? Because we start training ourselves in being patient. We start cultivating patience and then what we learn is how to repress things. So let us discuss these three words repression, tolerance, and patience.
            These can be defined in terms of consciousness. Repression is the state of utmost unconsciousness, in tolerance, you are slightly aware, and in patience you are completely aware. In appearance repression, tolerance, and patience appear just the same; outwardly they are one and the same thing. But inwardly there substance is different.
            Let us start with repression. Repression simply means you agree with something although you disagree with it. Superficially you say yes but inside you say no. So you have to pretend something, you have to behave the way you don’t want to behave. There is a kind of inconsistency, there is a division, a conflict, a fracture in what you feel and what you act. There is a difference between the two things and it is not only difference, but, in fact, there is a clear opposition. You force yourself to believe what you refuse to believe. So repression is a kind of acceptance which at heart is just rejection. You embrace something although you hate it, although you would like to refuse it, throw it away; but then you have to accept it. This is what is repression.
            Repression is a state of division, so is tolerance. In tolerance also you force yourself to accept something although you are unwilling to do so. You push yourself, you impose something on yourself whereas there is opposition inside. However, in tolerance you are slightly aware. This distinguishes tolerance from repression. Take for example, in India Hindu women keep fasts for the long life of their husbands and during the fast they don’t eat or drink anything throughout the day. Evidently, it is a very hard fast. They don’t have to drink even a single drop of water. They do it for the sake of their own husbands. It is very strange that women should never ask their husbands that aren’t their lives equally important as those of husbands’ and if yes why shouldn’t husbands too keep the same fast? Why should the wife alone or the beloved alone carry this burden of responsibility? When I asked several women such a question, “Why don’t your husband keep fast for your well-being, don’t take care of you as much as you do?” Certain women were offended. They thought I was talking ill of their husbands. This is what repression is. Men are enjoying at the cost of women, yet women are defending men themselves. They can’t question, they can’t see such a commonsense thing. Why does it happen? Because of the ages-long conditioning. When I came off age I was really taken aback to see these things! How submissively women perform these rituals. It does not occur to them even a bit – I am talking about majority of women, not all – certain women, indeed, are conscious. They have been trained to be obedient so much so that they have begun to worship their prosecutors. This is an example of repression. Repression goes so deep into one’s psyche, it is so well mixed with the blood, with the very sap of life that one forgets that this poison is killing them insidiously. It has made them slaves. Further, there is some fast for the long life of the children. The same question arises here. Why does not the father keep it? And when I asked this question I was mocked at, ridiculed by women themselves. This is the height of conditioning.
            Repression, I repeat, is a very unconscious process so you can’t even recognise that you have repressed yourself. Certain desires have been repressed. You start taking them to be something natural. Take for example: It is generally observed that Indian girls, after a particular age, are taught to laugh decently, politely. Aloud, uproarious laughter is considered uncouth and girls are reminded again and again to behave themselves. Boys are equal victims. It is considered below dignity for boys to cry because tears are considered signs of weakness, signs of womanliness. The one who is a real man must not cry and this foolish, stupid nonsense is the cause of several mental diseases. The point is that we fail to see repression because it is so unconscious. In fact, we live in a repressed atmosphere so much so that it becomes part of our upbringing.
            Moving on to tolerance, in it also similar thing happens that we force ourselves to do something, we have to pretend, we have to make a show of accepting something, we have to act. But in tolerance one is aware. There is a certain degree of awareness that one is being forced to do a thing. For example, we are taught that anger is bad, it is sinful. So, whenever we feel angry we have to control it, bottle it up, tame it, we can’t let it loose. It has to be domesticated. The anger has to be domesticated and the tolerance is the way to domesticate it. When you do it, you know that it is still wild although you are trying to make it calmer.
            What do we see? The difference between tolerance and repression is that repression is a completely unconscious process whereas tolerance has certain awareness. However, over a period of time the same tolerance, the same tolerated things start turning into repression.
            When we talk about patience, we see a clear difference between tolerance, repression and patience. Patience is an altogether different quality. It is acceptance and real acceptance. It is agreement with life and a real agreement. What it is outwardly it is inwardly too. There is no hypocrisy. There is no show-off. Patience is natural whereas tolerance and repression are artificial. One who is patient will see one thing that with patience comes joy, with patience comes bliss, with patience comes relaxation, calmness. Whereas with repression and tolerance there is something always simmering inside just like a volcano. Its mouth appears peaceful but who knows when it would explode? Patience never.
            We have been deceiving ourselves in various ways. Most of us feel that we know patience. We don’t know it. What we call patience may be just a label of patience; deep down it is the sane repression. Maybe we have named our tolerance as patience. How to find out this deception? It is very easy. If your patience is giving you pain, misery, if it is filling you with some kind of discontentment or dissatisfaction, if it is unsettling you, then it is clear proof that there is no patience; patience is just a name. In reality, it is tolerance or repression. If the patience is real, if it is true, it definitely gives you peace, indefinable joy. One who wants to be patient must live a conscious life. He must know what is repression, what is tolerance and what is patience. This clarity of understanding will help you to know real patience, and one who knows real patience will know real bliss too because patience is the path to bliss.

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