Buddhas teaching on patience


Have you ever set a goal, but not followed through? Maybe you started a business, but you gave up since it was not profitable within 6 months or a year, or maybe you subscribed to a gym membership and quit since you didn’t build the Superman body you were dreaming about. You see, one of the reasons you didn’t follow through may be a lack of patience. Think for just a moment, everybody wants immediate gratification nowadays. It shouldn't be surprising, after all, we have the world at our fingertips. We google something and we can have an answer in the twinkling of an eye. It didn't use to be that way 15-20 years ago when you had to go to the library and hope to find a book with the answer you were looking for. What’s more, we are bombarded every day by ads that tell us how we can achieve our goals in a fraction of the time. The point is that now everything is so immediate that we are more and more disinclined to wait, above all, when it comes to achieving our goals or making our dreams come true. Whether it is relationships with others, expectations of ourselves, work ambitions, material desires, or fitness shapes we have the same attitude; we want everything now. We tend to react. We prefer to change choices rather than be patient. We tend to give up more than to chase our dreams no matter what, especially if the fruits we desire need time to ripen. In doing so, we push away from us the basis of wisdom, which is the calmness of mind. The following Buddha's teaching will help you develop mental calm and the much-needed patience, indispensable not only for achieving one's goals but also for everyday life. Let’s dive into what it takes to achieve more out of our lives.


hourglass depicting concept of patience

Buddha and his disciples embarked on a long journey during which they passed through several cities. One day when it was very hot, they spotted a lake and stopped exhausted from thirst. Buddha asked his youngest disciple, famous for his impatient nature,

"I am thirsty. Can you bring me some water from that lake".

The disciple went to the lake, but when he arrived, he saw that at that very moment, an ox-drawn chariot was crossing it. As a result, the water had become very murky. The disciple thought, "I cannot give the master this muddy water to drink."

So he came back and said to Buddha, "The water in the lake is very muddy. I don't think we can drink it".

After half an hour, Buddha asked the same disciple to return to the lake and bring him water to drink. The disciple returned to the lake.

However, to his dismay, he saw that the water was still dirty.

He returned and reiterated, this time more firmly, "The water in that lake cannot be drunk, we had better get to the village where the villagers can give us clean water to drink".

Buddha did not answer him, but he did not move either.

After a while, he again asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and bring him water.

The disciple went to the lake again because he did not want to challenge the master, but he was furious that the master was sending him back and forth from the lake when he already knew that the muddy water could not be drunk.

But this time, when he reached the shore of the lake the water was clear and crystal clear. So he collected some and brought it to Buddha.

Buddha looked at the water, and then said to his disciple, "What did you do to clean the water"?

The disciple did not understand the question; it was obvious that he had done nothing. Hence, he did not answer, and so, the master explained to him, "You waited. In this way, the mud settled on its own and now we can drink clean water. Well, your mind also works the same way. When it is disturbed, you just have to let it be. Just give it some time and don't be impatient. On the contrary, be patient. You will find the balance on your own".


three snails in single file depicting the concept of being patient

Is it passive resignation or courage to face difficulties with proper reflection and the appropriate criterion of reality check?

Patience is a skill that allows us to postpone "re-action" to adversity, maintaining an attitude towards the situation that is not passive, but reflective. Patience is a higher quality that draws lifeblood from the wisdom and enables us to keep our perseverance in action. It is the necessary calm, assiduity, and relentless application which finds its fertile ground in facing the difficulties of daily living.

Two old proverbs say, "Patience is a virtue" and "Rome wasn’t built in a day." 

Regaining patience does not mean being weak. On the contrary, it does mean becoming strong and balanced again - in an increasingly weak and crooked world.


stressed man with steam around his head depicting lack of mental calm and patience

Not reacting to emotional distress, allowing time, and waiting are good tips for calming the agitated mind or, as Buddhists call it, the "monkey mind." The one that jumps from one thought to another in an agitated manner until we feel exhausted and confused.

If we get carried away by impatience, anger, stress, or frustration, in addition to feeling bad, we will surely end up making hasty decisions - the result of our impulses. Better to take a few minutes to breathe, distance ourselves emotionally from what has happened, and get in touch with ourselves. Only in this way will we reach a higher state of mental calmness, as illustrated in the Buddhist story.

Sometimes it is best to avoid fidgeting and doing something with excessive haste.

Remaining calm and not getting carried away by the desire to fulfill a need or achieve a goal right away is by all means much better than reacting impulsively.

To calm the mind we only need to wait for the necessary time.

Because when we can achieve mental calmness, the bad thoughts (the mud) will settle to the bottom of the lake (the mind), allowing emotions and dreams to flow and flow clearly and smoothly (the crystal clear water).

Time is the key. Don't fall into the trap of frenzy. Do not desire "everything right away," because then you will start a thousand things and not complete a single one.

On the contrary, give yourself time. Be patient!

Your life, as well as the pursuit of your goals, becomes easier if you approach them as a journey to enjoy rather than one to finish asap.

"The irony of the human condition is that we are so focused on reaching some point in our journey, some happiness, or some goal, that we seem to forget that the journey itself is where life happens". - Author Unknown

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