“Intensity without Impatience” – Nolini Kanta Gupta

One of the cardinal requirements for success in yoga sadhana is utsāha, zeal. The seeker has to give top priority to the demands of the sadhana — he cannot simply treat it as one of his interests. The spiritual life becomes the foremost concern, with all else playing subsidiary, if not contributory, roles. It is understood that the central aspiration is gradually communicated to all the parts of the being, and the whole complex of the body, vital and mind is made to participate in the effort.

The effort must be intense, indeed, but not exhausting. There should be no impatience of any kind. Intensity in application and spirit relates to the personal side of the individual. Impatience relates to the results, the fruit, which is not in the hands of the individual; it is a straining after something that has its own hour. Restlessness, tension, despair — the usual consequences of impatience — do not in the least help the situation; on the contrary they vitiate it by making the ādhāra, the base, unsteady.

This is not to say that things must be taken easily and allowed to develop at their own sweet pace. A degree of concentration in one’s effort, of one-pointedness in one’s outlook and inlook is indispensable. Only there should not be a feverish straining for response, a kind of claim for the fruit of the effort put in. There should be a trustful attitude of waiting upon the Divine Will. There should be, says the Mother, an equilibrium in the being between intensity of effort and restful reliance on the Divine.

The Self, says the Upanishad, cannot be won by effort alone; it is the choice of the Self that decides. Only to him whom it chooses, the Self bares its body. One has to patiently await the hour and the sanction of the Will.

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And there is more to it. Impatience is unyogic. The very first requirement of a sadhak, as enunciated by the Gita, is equanimity, a composure that is unhurried, unagitated. It has been an exaggeration in some of the traditions of the Vaishnava cult to glorify impatience as āturatā, eagerness, for the Darshan of the Lord; it is considered to be a positive sign of progress to be seized with such impatience. A natural consequence of this attitude has been a culture of abhimāna, offended spirit, a sense of unrequited claim on the Divine. Needless to say, such developments lead the sadhak into blind emotional alleys with no relevance to the central purpose of yoga.

Further, as the Mother points out, impatience leads to imitation. This is especially so when we seek an experience; it may be a vision of the Divine, a seeking for the illumination of knowledge or the descent of Power or whatever. When there is this impatience in the being for the experience, there is a subtle pressure of the vital on the mental faculties (for example, the faculty of imagination) to anticipate what is wanted. This urge of anticipation, semi-conscious or subconscious, tends to reproduce in ourselves a simulacrum of the desired experience. Things project themselves from the subconscious under the drive of the force of impatience and the gates are opened for all kinds of pseudo-experiences. And in our zeal, our enthusiasm for quick achievement, we seize on the seeming experience and shut ourselves up in its enchantment. Such a misprision becomes possible because the restlessness caused by impatience covers up the discriminative sense of the psychic within. And that is not the end of it. The error tends to multiply itself and a positive falsehood enters into the situation. We begin to live in a wholly subjective world which has no touch with the reality. We get so attached to our falsehood that we become angry with anyone pointing out our possible mistake. One thing leads to another and we get caught up.

From a spiritual angle impatience is childish, immature. It betokens a want of trust in the Divine, a lack of harmony between the inner being of peace and faith and the outer person, tossed from keen expectation to quick disappointment.

Published November 1983

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