Spiritual practice (sadhana) is not just about meditation. Cultivation of love and beauty, cultivation of a peaceful and tranquil mind, ego training and personality development, observing the mind from a higher level, community service, and many other practices including meditation should be considered sadhana.
Speaking of ego training, when I was young I did not consider ego and spirituality to be in the same context. Back then I had an intellectual conception of spirituality and it did not even occur to me that ego training would be part of the spiritual practice. Ego and spirituality were in different compartments in my mind.
When I was younger I meditated to gain knowledge. I was practicing meditation to attain esoteric knowledge. This is not spirituality. As I matured, my meditation practice changed and I meditated to reach the ‘profound silence.’ In the last few years, my practice has changed again. There is a greater devotional component in my meditative practice now.
With every passing year I am also becoming more aware of the importance of ego training and personality development in spiritual practice. Sufis emphasize personality development. I understand the Sufi approach better now.
When I think of personality development I think of it as knowing the dimensions of ego. This is a journey. It is not easy. Since there are numerous dimensions of ego it is recommended that we watch out for the most negative ones – the 6 enemies – lust, anger, avarice, delusion, pride, envy. Reflecting his Christian philosophy Dante mentioned 7 deadly sins: pride, envy, anger, sloth, avarice, gluttony, lust. Dante cautioned us against pride. In his mind pride was the worst sin.
I live in the New York City area and I am surrounded by the “6 enemies.” I am watchful. I watch my ego. I have to admit that this practice is not easy. Ego always finds a justification for its antics.
I have made some progress against the “6 enemies” but I am not sure that it counts because this progress may be a side effect of the aging process.
Impatience is not in the “6 enemies” list. It is not in Dante’s list either. It sounds innocent but it should be taken seriously. Despite years of sadhana I have made little progress in controlling my impatience. I have decided to examine impatience in the hope that I may someday succeed in controlling it.
The dictionary definition of impatience is the right place to start
- irritation with anything that causes delay
- a restless desire for change and excitement
In the process of web search I discovered a very nice blog titled “Personality & Spirituality.” I will quote from Barry’s “Impatience” essay.
“To be impatient is to feel and show hostility towards (or at least about) things which obstruct, frustrate or delay one’s goals. Impatient people resent being held up, whether intentionally by another person or just accidentally in the normal course of events.
Impatience has some similarity to the emotion of anger. Animals and people alike become enraged in response to deliberate outside threats to their well-being, or the well-being of their loved ones. The anger is partly an expression of the fear that comes from being threatened, invaded or mistreated, and partly a sort of warning shot, a firm “No!” to deter the outside threat from going any further.
Impatience is also somewhat different from anger, however, in that the impatient person is predisposed to perceive virtually all situations as threatening—not to their survival per se but to their goals. More exactly, it is as if their survival depends upon the accomplishment of as many goals as possible as quickly as possible.”
In my career I have been infinitely patient. After many years of career frustrations I have learned to be patient with the business matters but I am extremely impatient with little things.
When I approach a cash register a line forms in front of me magically. This is not my subjective opinion. This is an objective phenomenon. I have many witnesses. They are also amazed how this happens. Obviously, God is teaching me a lesson.
Driving is an ordeal for me. I am extremely impatient when I am driving. I am even worse when I am in the passenger seat. I just cannot take the Holland Tunnel traffic in car. Thankfully, it is possible for me to avoid driving in the NYC area. There are trains and subways. Most of the time I just walk!
I know how ugly it is when other people are impatient with me but I become impatient with other people too. I am embarrassed by this character flaw. From now on, I will treat “impatience” as seriously as the “6 enemies.”