Just Patience.

The Great Bodhisattva of Patience wields a fiery spoonful of pudding!

I’m finding more and more that I’ve reached a bit of a plateau when it comes to this blog and Buddhism in general. Part of the reason I started this blog was to openly explore the dharma as I started on the path. I am nowhere near any kind of expert, realized master, or authority or any such person when it comes to Buddhism. But I do feel like I have a grip on enough of the basics that I have little where else to go as far as the online world is concerned. I’m finding more and more that what I’m looking for isn’t here, but lies closer to where my feet are planted, and my fingers meet the keyboard.

After awhile the basics start to get boring. I can only read the same thing said a million different ways so many times before it becomes Geography class. Geography class was always required in middle and high school. But it was useless. Once you learned where Bolivia was, that was it. But we had to learn where Bolivia was and what their climate and chief exports and natural landmarks were year after year. But nothing changed. Most of the basic concepts of Buddhism are like this, at least on an intellectual level. And quite frankly, you can only do so much with text.

Also quite frankly, you can only do so much while sleep deprived. I haven’t had but maybe 4 good nights of sleep in the past 2 years or so. Kids can do this to you. My kids do this to me. My wife has it worse. So I haven’t been meditating, and I struggle to even read the past few weeks. For my son Corbin, it’s been a struggle to get him to go down for the night. Once he does, he’s been mostly sleeping through the night (finally, after almost 2 years) but wakes between 5-6am. This wouldn’t be too bad if our daughter Zoa would allow us to put her down to sleep at a decent hour, but she’s a bit of a night owl and frequently won’t lay down for the night until between 11pm-1am.

Needless to say, I’m running short on patience. Patience with my wife, children, situation, self, work, strangers, family, you name it. It manifests in many forms. Anger, rudeness, non-compassion are the usual ones, though cold distance is there at times as well.

Concepts are great, but they don’t mean shit off the paper.

Spiritual traditions are great, but they don’t mean shit if you can’t apply them to your life. They don’t mean shit if they can’t help you deal with your issues in a way that brings about real, actual change. And those changes don’t mean shit if you can’t use them to better deal with those you love the most and keep the closest.

So I’m dedicating my practice to the pursuit of patience.

Patience.

                 Patience.

Patience.

It really couldn’t be a better time to do so. Financially, we’re hoping to put ourselves in the house market by the end of 2011. This will take work, sacrifice, and a ton of patience and non-attachment. Starting in January, I’m going back to school to pursue a degree in Enviromental Policy and Planning. The A.A.S. part will hopefully be done by Summer 2012, but looking down the road this is going to be tough. I’m going to have to put in a lot of work for this, and working 40+ hours while trying to be a family man and go to school full-time is going to really test ability to remain patient, calm, and present.

Oh, and I have 2 kids! Wow! They are a daily test of patience. My son’s new favorite game is just to knock shit over. He walks up to a chair, and just knocks it over, bam! Vacuum? Bam! High Chair? Bam! Our neighbors below must love us…

So what I’m getting at here in this long “me me me” post is that what I really need to do is forget some of my loftier dreams of group meditation or kensho and just go for what matters most to my life right now: developing patience. My family will thank me for it. I will thank me for it. To me it is more beneficial than digging through Nagarjuna’s thoughts on Dharmadhatu, though I do hope to make it there someday as well. Right now my practice needs to meet the pavement where I commute daily, in hope that my passengers will benefit.

Cheers.

16 Comments

Filed under Buddhism, Parenting, Personal

16 responses to “Just Patience.

  1. You’ve got quite a lot going on. I totally agree with you that any spiritual discipline has to apply to everyday life, or else it’s just pretty talk. All I can say is just break everything down into small segments – our teacher had the sangha do a three breath meditation for a month. Anytime you feel the need, or just notice your breath, you can stop and take three breaths. Offer those breaths to patience for everyone because we all need it! Take care.

  2. This is a terrific blog piece about being busy and struggling to find a place for practice within that. Seung Sahn used to say, if you’re too busy, do “action zen.” He was suggesting that in the midst of running around, picking up the house after Corbin wreaks havoc, commuting to work, taking your seat at the dinner table, and so on, it is all a chance to find center as when you sit for zazen, to breathe as you do in zazen, to notice whatever crap appears as you do in zazen, and simply do what needs to be done next. It doesn’t have to look like formal zazen every moment (as helpful and even enjoyable as that is).

    Your practice doesn’t ever need to stop but it might have to change form for a while.

  3. P.S. I hardly ever take the time to read Buddhist books anymore. Maybe while I’m on vacation or something. That’s one thing that can go by the wayside until you have more loose time. You don’t really need that stuff to practice connecting with your life. If you want to learn about Buddhism, sure; but in terms of priorities…

    • Really I’m finding the only time I have to read is while sitting on my porcelin throne. It makes reading slower than I’d like, but I find it also helps to process things a little better that way, and to really be able to immerse myself in the writing and teachings that way.

      I’ve put some books on hiatus, but others I’m still seeking out and have in my queue. Most of which deal with the specifics of Zen, or are by some of the old masters.

  4. Having and raising kids is practice enough. They are the future, not some nugget of written wisdom. Some day, Corbin & Zoa will be 27 years old, look at you as you leave for yet another retreat, and sigh: How did we get to be so neglected?! And you can smile and know they weren’t.

    I’d write more but I have to go abandon my daughter for the zillionth time this year… poor, sweet baby!

  5. rangster

    Interesting thing about sleep cycles and patterns is the (apparent) disconnect from nature that is signaled by the practice of not being in sync with daylight. What a different world it must have been before electric light, climate controlled transport machines and the whole chronological lockstep of time ‘zones’!

    For all of us who bemoan lack of sleep, may practice reveal paths to give ourselves the strength to compose new mindfulness; a mindfulness necessary to achieve the small, daily goals of meeting those needs that have been casually compromised.

    When my kids wouldn’t sleep, they usually hadn’t gotten enough physical activity. Reading under the covers after ‘bedtime’ was silently excused.

    • I’m sure that will be excused in our house as well, but my son won’t be 2 until the end of the month and my daughter is only 2 months. A little early for that yet… :)

      And yes, I often wonder about what life was like during the height of the solstices in the northern lattitudes before we were able to extend day time with artificial lights.

  6. Great post. Thank you. And, as others have already said, and as you have said, looking after yourself and your family IS the practice.

    “The path of becoming a Buddha lies in the midst of taking care of your family and looking after the people in your life”
    – Daehaeng Sunim, ‘No River to Cross’, p.76

    All the best and thank you again,

    _/\_

  7. Thanks for sharing. I am really with you on a lot of this – really frustrated lately with my inability to put the Teaching into practice! Remembering that the little irritations of daily life are not other than the dharma… often, for me, I see the way out and I just don’t do it, preferring to believe some form of ‘things should be other than what they are’
    I like the mention of Seung Sahn and ‘action zen’ :)

    • At times I feel frustrated as a home-practitioner convert, with no real-life example to look at how one incorporates the entire path into their daily life. I think that those that have been at it longer and are part of a sangha or family that practices would have better experience at this, especially those paramitas that are so valuable to life and practice.

      • I think I’ve asked you this before, can’t remember, but are you familiar with Byron Katie? I love the way she describes her experience. A 1000 Names for Joy is a really good book, I listen to it in my car, so busy lately.

  8. G

    What a wonderfully honest post!
    Ten years ago when we got married my wife and I asked Ajahn Jayasaro (then abbott of Wat Pah Nanachat here in Ubon, Thailand) what was the most important quality to foster in our marriage, and he replied,”Patience.”
    Patience (khanti) is an essential quality that we need to cultivate both wisdom and compassion. It’s something that Ajahn Chah emphasized again and again, and it’s great that you remind us of it. Thank you!

    • Thank you G. I’m finding that by coming back to patience, many other virtues are being exposed at the same time (love, compassion, widsom, laughter).