Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Patience - lifting the cover

As we have seen in my previous post, we can easily become victims of our desires. Making our happiness conditional on the continual success of satisfying our desires or on the possession of outer, material things is a sure way to disappointment.

If you seek this or that, if you wish to be here or there, without any other object but to satisfy yourself, and to live more in accordance with your liking, you will never have rest, and you will never be free from worry, because in everything you will find something that injures you, and everywhere someone who impedes you.
(My translation from Imitation de N.-S. J.-C. Livre III, Ch. XXVII.)

Yet this is the way we mostly live. This is the ‘default mode of living’ unless we make a conscious effort to uplift our thoughts to higher planes. There is nothing wrong with wanting a better life and working towards it. Where we go wrong is neglecting inner goals in favour of fleeting, chimerical outer goals, whereas the only real happiness comes from within. This outer world is only a means to an end.

The visible world is like a cover thrown over the invisible world, not only to keep out the wet and dirt, but also to stop it being seen. Otherwise the game of hide-and-seek would be over too soon, and we’d have to find something else to do with eternity…
The visible outer world of form and appearance, the arena and stage upon which we collectively play out the human drama, is a metaphor for the invisible, inner realm… The purpose of ceremonial magic, including that practiced by official religions and other occult organizations, is to remind us to access the door to the invisible realm within…
(The Barefoot Doctor’s Guide to the Tao, Stephen Russel)

What has this to do with patience? Everything, in that it gives us a deeper perspective. We can see disappointments (or anything else for that matter) at one remove as it were. We can ‘lift up the corner of the cover’ and try to see the invisible meaning hiding under the visible disappointment. And that helps us to deal with the situation and not become a prey to impatience, or even, God forbid, anger. This is, in fact, the only right way to live.

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Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond