Beliefnet
Letting Go with Guy Finley

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.

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…. [to be continued]

 

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