Friday, June 6, 2008

Faith And Patience

Faith and Patience, these two virtues are complementary. Each is both, the cause as well as the effect of the other; and both are the means as well as the end of the other. Between them they contain a complete code of conduct for life.

Shraddha is devotion. It is faith that helps one accept all happenings — the good and bad — with equanimity. Faith is what makes a disciple trust his guru and a child, its parent. Saburi or patience is not just the ability to overcome the urge for instant gratification. Patience is not the art of ad hoc management of mental restlessness. Patience is the intuition that inspires you to just be and wait for the will of God to unfold and work itself out. Patience helps you to live uncomplainingly, and so you are able to accept without anger what you know cannot be changed.

Patience is what enables a tree to let all its leaves fall without demur. The tree stands denuded, without a sense of shame, despondency or heartbreak. It stands as comfortably as ever. It lets the sun, the air, the rain and the season to work their magic. They denude it; they later laden it. The tree surrenders to them, not out of helplessness but out of natural design.

When the season turns, tender new leaves dress it with flowers and fruits in due course. Patience is not to stoically brave winter in the hope of spring; rather, it is to accept spring and winter alike. It is to surrender with a joyous heart to the will of God as represented by the current moment and condition.

Faith is the insight that tells you that patience and surrender to the will of God is the best course your life can take. Wisdom is in understanding and valuing both faith and patience. Patience is born of faith and in due course it serves to strengthen faith.

If patience and faith are so intricately woven, why did the sage emphasise these as two virtues? Why did he not advocate either this one or that? If faith is exclusively emphasised, it can promote blind belief. On the other hand, if patience is singularly emphasised, it can lead to the shirking of responsibility and indolence.

Patience without faith can become sloth. Faith minus patience can turn banal. Either way, the result will be counterproductive. In tandem, the two virtues uplift. If both patience and faith are required, which among these comes first? Where does one begin?

Asking which came first, patience or faith, is very similar to asking which came first, the egg or the chicken? It perhaps depends on an individual’s spiritual configuration as to which path suits his psyche best: faith or patience. Whichever route one may begin with, the two paths keep twinning and finally the two converge towards a common goal.

Does patience of the tree-type not kill enterprise? Surely not! Otherwise the tree would never grow and bring forth its wonderful flowers and fruits! Yet, yes: patience and faith, as they mature and begin to lodge in one’s mind, kill such enterprise as is inspired by sheer greed for material gain, unrelated to honest need.

Greed is contra life and nature. Is there any religion anywhere in the world that has upheld greedy enterprise and glorified it? No tree competes with its neighbour to double its output just to outperform the other. The supreme enterprise in life is self-realisation. Patience and faith proactively support this enterprise.

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