Patience is humility, not apathy

Our culture infatuates us with instant things: instant tea, instant food, instant messaging, to name a few. This infatuation often makes us impatient about things that work at their own pace. Such impatience can be detrimental, even lethal, for our spiritual life, which centers on redirecting our love from matter to Krishna. As we have misdirected our love for many lifetimes, its redirection is unlikely to happen overnight.

That’s why the Bhagavad-gita (04.38) declares kalenatmani vindati: in due course of time, we will relish inner happiness. As an illustration, the expansion of our love from matter to Krishna is often compared to the blossoming of a flower.

Just as a bud is constricted in size, our love is presently constricted to the limited arena of matter. Just as the bud blossoms gradually and actualizes its potential beauty, our love gradually expands by devotional service till it reaches and embraces Krishna, and thereby actualizes our potential spiritual beauty. Just as we can’t accelerate the blossoming of a flower beyond the rate decided by nature, we can’t accelerate the expansion of our love beyond the rate decided by Krishna. That’s why patience is indispensable on the spiritual path.

At the same time, being patient doesn’t mean being apathetic about our spiritual practices. It essentially means being humble and not expecting instant spiritual happiness prematurely or unrealistically. We can surely desire to love Krishna purely and fully. But instead of presumptuously demanding that love and its concomitant ecstasy, we can modestly express that desire through our diligence in devotional service. The more we render expectation-free service, the more we relish satisfaction in that service itself. And we advance towards a love and happiness that exceeds all our expectations.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 04 Text 38

“In this world, there is nothing so sublime and pure as transcendental knowledge. Such knowledge is the mature fruit of all mysticism. And one who has become accomplished in the practice of devotional service enjoys this knowledge within himself in due course of time.”


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