Sunday, July 20, 2008

Patience: The Watchful Waiting

While as individuals we may still regard patience as a virtue, much of society is structured to ignore it, in fact to disdain it: Do it now! Don’t wait! He who lingers misses the big rewards; e.g., big paycheck, big house, big SUV.

In my recent re-reading of the American psychic Edgar Cayce (1877-1945), I’ve been reminded of the extraordinary emphasis he put on patience. In his trance state where he channeled thousands of health readings, prophesies and instructions on spiritual guidance, he clearly put patience high on the list of necessary human qualities. In fact, he regarded it as part of a metaphysical triad, along with the dimensions of time and space.

This quote from one of his trance readings illustrates how highly he ranked patience:
Then begin now to sow the seeds of the spirit in your mental attitudes. And the first of these is patience. For in patience you possess your soul. In patience you become aware that the body is but a temple, but an outward appearance; that the mind and soul are that with which you dwell constantly.

With Time and Space

In his book The Essential Edgar Cayce, Mark Thurston, a longtime affiliate of the Association for Research and Enlightenment that Cayce founded, writes, “In Cayce’s scheme of an orderly universe, humans live in a three-dimensional state of consciousness. Time and space, two of the dimensions, are complemented by patience, allowing us to effectively meet the demands, paradoxes, and limitations imposed by time and space.”

That’s a complicated yet profound concept – that patience is what enables us to function in the time/space construct in which we physically exist. The wrinkle is that patience is also what allows us to perceive beyond time and space. Gina Cerminara noted this in her book Many Mansions: The Edgar Cayce Story on Reincarnation:
Patience is not merely a passive thing … It is a watchful waiting, a positive rather than a negative virtue. It is the attitude of a soul that knows time and space to be, in a sense, illusory restrictions. When consciousness becomes unfettered by time and space, then is patience made perfect.

Practicing Patience

There’s the type of patience we usually associate with the word – accepting or tolerating things, situations and people who disturb, disrupt or annoy us – but Cayce’s brand of patience makes larger demands, and bestows larger rewards.

With it, we look beyond the petty annoyances and contemplate our lives with a cosmic proportion, sensing how the spiritual reality intersects with the physical reality. We “understand the purposefulness” of time and space, while accepting that our spiritual existence transcends them.

Here’s how Thurston explains it:
Patience and tolerance force us to shift gears and to look at life in a new way, requiring that we go beyond appearances. In other words, our consciousness shifts and we see and feel things in a different way. When we’re patient, we have a new sense of time. When we’re tolerant, we see the behavior of other people in a way that leaves room for understanding and forgiveness. Neither quality makes much sense from a materialistic point of view; for example, the appearance we’re going to miss the boat if we don’t hurry up, or that people are going to get the best of us if we let them get away with it. But even though patience and tolerance don’t always seem very logical, they are qualities that awaken us to the realization that we are indeed souls. It’s that awareness that is so very key to our mission here on earth.
Well put.

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