07 January 2009

patience

illusion and duality

Things have been a bit unsettled at chez Teabird, so much so that the best hour of the day often is the drivetime to and from work. Sometimes I enhance my happy hour by listening to an audiobook. "
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, " for example, was a total delight, and made me a much better companion at home and at work. (Not that I ever get snarky. Not me.)

I've been listening to "The Path to Tranquility written by the Dalai Lama, and read by (amongst others) Laurie Andersen (whose voice is one of my favorite sounds. Ever.)

Sometimes a sentence just bongs. Forgive me, I don't remember the exact wording, but the Dalai Lama says that one should practice (cultivate?) patience to avoid disappointment. Now, I've read about curtailing one's expectations (in my case, at times, to nothing) to avoid disappointment. I've applied (imperfectly) the philosophies of knowing you only can control what you do and be mindful of your own choices.

But - bong! - what is patience? Without a dictionary in the car, I couldn't look up preferred or archaic meanings. Obviously, the Dalai Lama was not referring to the game, Patience, nor the lion, Patience, nor the operetta. Just as well, really, that I didn't have a dictionary, because it made me think of meanings, implications, and images. The famous image of the shifting woman/vase came to mind first.

Is patience active or passive? Are you patiently awaiting something to appear, happen, or grow? If the change doesn't occur, your disappointment might result in good changes : new methods of gardening, for example, or better ways of teaching your child to read. Disappointment might be a good outcome.

If you are patiently observing eternally unchanging, what is the reason to observe? It's illogical to be disappointed if you don't expect change or growth, and yet - even the static object will change as light shifts, or shadows pass by. Where would disappointment even come into the equation?

I do realize that my thoughts lack coherence (does the phrase "half-baked" apply?), but I wonder if I even want to avoid being disappointed. The path of no-expectation in the real world doesn't encourage lovingkindness or activism. It builds a ripe nest for entropy. That can't be right. And that's why listening to the Dalai Lama and waiting for the bong! moment really can make my day - because I know I'm listening to something right, and it steers my wrongheaded mind.

(When I first started to mull this over, my friend Maven mentioned Seneca, who said that man would cease to be disappointed if he would abandon hope itself. Now I have another way to spin...)

6 comments:

Paula said...

I must cultivate patience.
I too need the hour long drive to unsnarky before communicating with my family.
:)

By the way, I just read a book called Three Bowls by Seppo Ed Farrey. It is a recipe book that reads like a novel and has the most wonderful insights and daily mantras. Check it out from your library, it will take one day to read.

Carrie K said...

Coincidentaly, my middle name is Patience. Wait. No it isn't.

Intriguing half baked musings! Patience for an expected/hoped for outcome? What else would require patience?

Hmm. That half baked musing thing is strangely contagious.

KSD said...

Sometimes, I can't hold my breath long enough to get down to where you like to swim. . .

knitseashore said...

I loved Miss Pettigrew! The movie is great too, if you haven't seen it, though it's not as good as the book.

There are some interesting things to find about hope and patience and Miss Pettigrew, always leaving a little space in her life for the possibility that something unexpectedly wonderful could happen. It would be sad to leave no room for miracles, I think.

sunt_lacrimae_rerum said...

I am far to phlegmnatic to even think about "patience". Speaking of which--I've been writing upon a letter to you for so long it's now able to walk and talk on its own.

There was a day--a week ago? Two weeks ago? I cannot recall--called "Give a Friend a Book Day." I picked you. Look for a used (because it's out of print) Virago book to land at your address.

I thought you might like it and if you've already read it, you can pass it on.

Do feel better!

Jennifer said...

I think of patience as an active thing as it seems to take so much effort to fight down impatience.