All beginnings are from stillness. A sound arises from no-sound.
In stillness, waiting, we have the opportunity to experience patience. In the stillness, before the arising of form, we see patience is Truth and an aspect of the Way.
Patience should be practiced not only because it is good, ethical behavior to extend patience to our neighbor, but Patience should be practiced because it is of God and is one type of Truth. The recognition of Truth, in this case Patience, is transformative and heals its opposite –– non acceptance, and the emotional states of anger and annoyance that arise from impatience.
Patience is not tolerance, nor delayed gratification, nor restraint, nor kindness. Patience is acknowledgment of both stillness before manifestation, AND the potential for manifestation.
Impatience is suffering. Impatience ignores the true stillness of the moment and attempts an impossible leap into a future that does not, nor will not ever exist. When acting impatiently one not only poisons the present moment but all successive moments directed toward an illusory “future”.
Listening to sound, with intent, heals our impatient ways.
Patience requires acceptance. One can design a personal patience practice in which one chooses a sound that is nearer to being naturally agreeable, and acceptable, than another sound that is not so easily accepted.
Of course, at later stages in the development of your patience practice ANY sound, no matter how strident or dissonant, can be used as for patience contemplation.
To begin, find some sound object, or object that can produce a sound that is immediately pleasing. Note that we still admit judgement and analysis into our practice period (through finding and choosing based on personal preference). At later stages, no judgment or analysis will arise. But as we are starting at the beginning …
…. allow your judgment, your preference, your analysis, to guide you to a sound object or object that can produce a pleasing sound. One can use the sounds in one’s room, audio recordings of nature or simple sound producing objects. It does not matter, the practice is the same –– once the sound object has been chosen for its easy-to-listen-to qualities, one simply sits with and listens to the sound with intentional attention, now free from evaluative judgment, but with patient awareness.
For example, let us consider the example of a small bowl or bell and its accompanying striker. One need not buy a special Tibetan singing bowl or meditation bell. A common glass or metal kitchen bowl will suffice.
Sit with the bowl and striker such as a pencil (or other nonmetallic striker to make the impact softer and less jarring). Notice the system you have assembled –– a striker (a means of activating the bowl) and the bowl, the sound object of your attention.
Notice the empty space between the striker and the bowl. Notice the potentiality of sound contained in this empty space. When it arises, notice your acceptance of the stillness when both striker and bowl are at rest. This acceptance is patience.
The practice of noticing both stillness, and potentiality (and accepting the current-moment reality of both Truths), is a transformative healing-state experienced as true patience. One could say this is an acceptance of the is-ness of the moment.
After sitting this way for a few moments, notice the rising urge to strike the bowl. This is desire to create (which we will speak of at another time). Allow the urge to strike the bowl to grow. Notice … while desire to strike the bowl and create sound grows, there is no particular time-based goal attached to this desire. Notice the freedom of being able to sit in stillness and observe your little world of potentiality and desire, but not act. Notice the freedom of not being a slave to the thought-concept that you must do a certain thing, at a certain time, in a certain place.
This is a powerful mediation on true Patience. The patience that holds both stillness and potentiality together. Patience free of the type of condescending “bemused tolerance” we too frequently extend to a person whom we have judged to be lesser than ourselves.
This is patient observation proceeding from stillness. There is another patient observation that proceeds from activity.
Strike the bowl!
Notice the impact of the striker hitting the bowl. Notice how the bowl begins to clang, ring and sustain a tone. Notice how the tone instantly starts to evolve, to waver, to flutter and yes … to fade.
Bring your attention to the moment-to-moment evolution of the sound-form you have created. Notice that when your attention is brought to the evolving sound of the ringing bowl there is no impatience. There is wordless interest. Not “I am impatient for the bowl to stop ringing so I can hit it again”. Not “I am impatient for this exercise to end so that I may go on to my pressing concerns”. Notice how intentional moment-to-moment awareness of the evolving sound-form does not allow the mental construct of time, of “later”, to arise. When the illusion of “later” is dispelled, one is left with true Patience. This is how patience can be practiced from the perspective of action.
Allow the bowl to finish ringing. Observe again the stillness of the striker at rest and the potentiality within it, and within the bowl itself. This is how patience can be practiced from the perspective of stillness.
Patience is beyond “kind forebearance”. Patience is experiencing the Truth that both Stillness and Potentiality are companions. And when Truth is experienced, lies dissolve and “the peace that surpasseth all understanding” is Present.