By Jenny Keating
The old saying, “patience is a virtue,” seems to be something that might have originated with the advent of the Avatar. Baba talks about it, His Mandali talk about it; it seems it’s one of the key qualities needed on the spiritual path. And often linked with patience is the need to cultivate contentment. A key reference to these two qualities is found in Baba’s How to Love God message: “If we endure our lot with patience and contentment, accepting it as His Will, we are loving God.” And other, just-as-strong quotes on patience, are to found in Baba’s Discourses: “. . . one of the first requirements of the aspirant is that he should combine unfailing enthusiasm with unyielding patience.” (Vol. 111, p. 121); and “The fleeting and evasive thoughts and desires of the mind can be curbed only with great patience and persistent practice.” (Vol 1, p. 72).
Lots of stories from the lives of the Mandali have patience as their theme. There is this delightful picture of Dr Goher in the New Life, (where the patience of the Mandali must have been fully tested!) singing this following song to entertain Baba:
Patience, patience, patience, be patient.
Your patience will be rewarded by God.
Patience is a divine attribute of God,
Be devoted and dedicated to patience.
Through patience your trials and tribulations will be dissolved.
And I remember Eruch once said regarding his job as Baba’s mouthpiece: “In spite of my difficulties at times, Baba was very patient. He was patience personified, and whenever I found myself unable to follow his fingers on the board or his hand gestures, he would constantly repeat them with infinite patience until I made headway.” But one of my favourites on this theme would have to be this telling story from Mehera’s life told in her own words in the book ‘Mehera’:
“I remember one year that the monsoon had failed, and we badly needed rain. We complained to Baba, “Why isn’t it raining?”
And Baba told us, “Wait, it will rain one day, just have patience.”
Baba always wants us to have patience. He had told us that it would rain, and after a few days it did rain. While it was still raining Baba called me to watch the rain and He said, “See, aren’t you happy?”
“Yes, Baba,” I replied. And then I asked Him, “It’s raining well now, Baba, but once it stops will it rain again soon? Will it rain again in fifteen days?”
Baba told me, “It’s raining now, so be happy about that. Don’t think about what will happen in fifteen days!”
On and off, over the years, I’ve been keeping a journal as I find it helps process what I am thinking and feeling at a particular time in my life. Recently, I was re-reading some entries and was bemused to find that the same issues I was dealing with in earlier years are the issues I am still dealing with today! I was somewhat shocked to see how little things had changed. The contexts may have slightly altered but the issues have remained pretty much the same. They are to do with family matters, with my interactions with people, with my work and most of all with issues about my own nature. But what I now realise is that a lot of the “sting” that once surrounded these issues has gradually subsided. I’m not so much troubled as I used to be in wanting to change things. I’m not so personally invested in wanting a particular outcome.
The issues are still there, no doubt, and require me to exercise patience but they are less troublesome. Maybe this is what contentment means; maybe this is the benefit of getting older. I remember Eruch once said – “be patient, the sweetness does come. Just remember Him.” And I recall too what Francis wrote towards the end of his biography,The Wind of the Word which I found to be helpful advice: “Endure. Remember that the only thing that matters is the love with which one does what one does, with which one says what one says” – in other words, one needs patience.
Everyone seems to have a favourite photograph of Baba’s, a favourite Baba story, a favourite Baba song. It is the way, I think, that Baba establishes a very intimate and personal relationship with each of us. And all of us seem to have a favourite saying of Baba’s, one that seems to address their particular needs and nature. In one of my first journal entries I had written one of my early favourites that now seems to speak to me even more vividly. It is part of Baba’s message on the “Eternal Now.”
Reading it now in the light of what I have recorded in my journals, I can start to see why Baba has repeatedly thrown things in my way that have tested my patience, and continues to do so. It is not so much to teach me patience as an end in itself, but so He can make me depend on Him ever more deeply so I can begin to know and experience that the only real abode of contentment in my life is in Him: “Not by fruitless surveys of the past, nor by elusive longings for the future, nor by enslavement to the fleeting moment, but by staking everything for God, is it possible for you to experience yourself as the illimitable ocean of love. Here and nowhere else is the final solution of all your problems.”