The power of Patience
The importance of Patience in our pursuit of Wisdom and Illumination
Guest article by Seán Mac Gréine
Introduction by Occult Mysteries
We are delighted to publish this perceptive essay by Seán Mac Gréine on a subject that should be of vital interest to all of us on the path to the Light—Patience. We feel sure that the methodical and comprehensive way in which the author develops his subject, and the constructive conclusions he reaches will be of benefit to all our readers, regardless of their level of occult knowledge or personal beliefs.
Impatience is not normally considered in the same category as greed, selfishness or anger, but it is no less harmful a trait of the lower self. The dictionary defines impatience as "restlessness or shortness of temper especially under irritation, delay, or opposition." Synonyms of the word include intolerance, agitation, rashness and frustration." In contradistinction to this, the ancient Druids of Britain and Ireland taught that "patience is the fairest light of man." As Light in the occult sense of the word is the finest quality of the Soul, which illuminates the Higher self with its Wisdom, impatience must be its opposite in every way, born out of the darkness and ignorance of the lower self.
The arrival of social media and its immense popularity has greatly encouraged impatience. Millions now react hastily to any news which feeds people's hunger for gossip and scandal, often without the slightest consideration for the affect their rash contributions may have on others. Millions more broadcast and stream every incident in their lives in the desire to obtain fleeting notoriety or voyeuristically 'follow' the lives of others in case they should outdo them in some way or other. It is the blind leading the blind. "How poor are they that have not patience!" declares William Shakespeare and how many nowadays conduct their lives in order to impress others on the basis of how many 'likes' it will attract to their social media accounts? How many react to the whims of the many, and by reacting thoughtlessly and impatiently, descend further into ignorance and unhappiness! "Oh, woe is me", might well be their Shakespearian slogan.
The perception of what is a good life is in the eye of the beholder, and I am reminded of Proverbs 23:7, "for as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Few today think with their Hearts and Higher selves attuned to the Light of Goodness, for if they did they would all be searching for Truth and Wisdom rather than restlessly following other people's lives and doings on social media.
Hermes Trismegistus says, "Everything that is, is double", and in this spiritual-material universe humanity is double-natured, for each one of us has the choice to view everything with the Light of the Higher Self or the shadow of the lower self and physical senses. It must be clear to all genuine seekers after Truth that the majority of human beings at all times have always thought predominantly with their lower minds, and this is one of the main reasons why there is so much greed, anger and envy today, as there has been throughout the many countless ages of mankind.
If we consult the dictionary again, we find patience defined as "the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious." The synonyms of the word are all qualities any thinking seeker after Truth would associate with the Higher self, such as forbearance, tolerance, self-restraint, resignation, stoicism, fortitude, and endurance." To which I would add faith too, for as J Michaud PhD, says in Occult Enigmas: "a patient person is someone who is filled with faith and trust that their needs will be met." These definitions show that patience is a power of the Higher self we can consciously use to control our lower mind and in doing so, place the troubles, trials, tests and frustrations of earthly life in their true and proper perspective.
When we know that the earth is a school in which we learn the hard lessons of material existence that will further the evolution of both our minds, we begin to see the world with new eyes; our whole outlook changes. We understand the need for the tests and trials that breed impatience, annoyance and frustration in us. The pursuit of Peace is the means to raise the vibration of our Higher Self towards our Soul and so gain freedom and control over the clinging lower mind. But we must still live with the lower mind for the time we are here, and to do this successfully we need to cultivate patience. Cultivate is a good word in this context, and the occult writer Bulwer-Lytton expressed it earnestly and wisely when he wrote, "Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength." In other words, patience is a positive power, whereas impatience is a negative condition. And the whole aim of our lives—if we are sincere in our desire for light and liberation—should be to use the positive powers within us to overcome the negative conditions that we encounter in our everyday lives, whether in ourselves, in others, or the world in general.
We saw earlier that some of the synonyms for patience are resignation, stoicism, fortitude, and endurance. Now, those of us who are searching for our purpose in this life, or even if we have some idea of what it might be, accept it may take many years to fulfil it. Meanwhile, if that purpose is not one that can provide an income, our workaday lives and material responsibilities continue. The nobler and higher that purpose may be, say in the arts, charitable activities, or healing, the longer the wait may be before we can realise our goals. Time seems to drag on interminably, our emotions are on tenterhooks, and our lives do not change fast enough for our liking, so that we are left wondering and worrying if we are doing the right thing and are on the right path.
Where shall we look for guidance, encouragement and comfort? John Temple has given us several clues in his wonderful article the metaphysics of Talent, published on this website. His words are worth quoting in full: "Occult Science teaches that according to our talents, or the lack of them, do we proceed to the place where our talents can be of the greatest use, or else to the place where our talents may be polished, and groomed and unfolded." He goes on to say: "There are talents within the Higher Self of every man or woman." So here we have an important clue, for where your talent is there will your purpose be also, if I may be forgiven for paraphrasing the well-known verse from Matthew 6:21. For our greatest 'treasure' consists in those talents and abilities we have acquired during our many incarnations.
But we must also remember what I said earlier, when I quoted from Occult Enigmas: "a patient person is someone who is filled with faith and trust that their needs will be met." If we have a talent or gift, and no one does not, then it stands to reason that it takes time and effort to develop and use it to fulfil our purpose. We must be patient and cultivate resignation, stoicism, fortitude, and endurance. At the same time we should not be idle either, for God helps those who help themselves. It is no good wishing we had a purpose and hoping that someone or something will come along next week, or next year to magically reveal it to us and allow us to fulfil it without any effort on our part. The world is full of such people who never achieve anything, for they lack both patience and faith.
Such forget, or do not know that the Higher Powers guide and protect us at all times, provided that we do our part by being proactive rather than idle like poor Mr Micawber in Charles Dickens' novel David Copperfield, who was always 'hoping' something would turn up! Learning to trust that we will always be provided with all that we need to fulfil our purpose takes a great deal of strength, courage and PATIENCE. But once we have patiently and peacefully developed complete trust in the Higher Powers, we will have undergone a most magical transmutation!
It is by exercising the power of Patience that we understand the nature of the physical body and earthly life with all its negative conditions. This desirable mental state can only come about through cultivating Inner Peace. And it is also worth remembering that the pursuit of Peace requires patience, as Inner Peace takes a long time to acquire as the good writers of this website wisely state.
For those of us waiting and wondering, what we are waiting for will happen when the time is right so there is little point in being impatient and worried for then we attune with the lower vibrations of the material world. In doing this we may inadvertently cause those good things that were destined to happen not to happen and end up having to be reborn here again—and who wants that?! We rarely see behind the veil that shields us from the unseen, but if we do trust in the Higher Powers we may be sure that our purpose will reveal itself in good time.
For those of us on the path to the Light, it is easy to become impatient and frustrated when we do not make the progress we would like as quickly as we might wish. As the authors of this website tell us over and over again in their articles, there are no easy shortcuts to illumination; it is the work of many lifetimes. If we stop to think for a moment and consider how many countless incarnations we have been through already to reach our present level of awareness, and how many more are still to come, impatience is seen for the pointless error it is.
When we turn to our greatest teacher, Nature, we watch the seasons of life pass by gradually and patiently, and we can take comfort that the Spirits of Goodness are guiding our lives gradually and patiently and we are always under their watchful and protecting eyes. I would like to end this short essay on Patience with a verse from the gospel of Luke: "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience" (Luke 8:15). Those of us who have found solace and instruction within the pages of this website are on good ground and have heard the Word, and now we need only look forward with Peace and Patience to the times when our pursuit of Wisdom and Illumination will lead us to the Land of Light so beautifully described in the Revelation of Peter (also referred to as 'The Apocryphal Gospel of St. Peter').
"And the Lord showed me a very great region outside this world exceeding bright with light, and the air of that place illuminated with the beams of the sun, and the earth of itself flowering with blossoms that fade not, and full of spices and plants, fair-flowering and incorruptible, and bearing blessed fruit. And so great was the blossom that the odour thereof was borne thence even unto us. And the dwellers in that place were clad with the raiment of shining angels, and their raiment was like unto their land in beauty and splendour."
NOTE: The illustration accompanying this article has been chosen by the author. It is a drawing by the Irish poet, artist and mystic George William Russell ('AE'), entitled The Stolen Child completed in 1948. You can find a complete list of all the articles written by our contributors on our Readers' Comments page.
Article © Seán Mac Gréine. Commentary © Copyright occult-mysteries.org.
All worldwide rights reserved. Published 12 March 2018. Updated 3 March 2021.