A disciple was having tea with his Zen master when a postman arrived with a letter from the master's family in Korea. Knowing he had been eagerly anticipating the letter the disciple paused in his conversation to allow his master to tear open the envelope and hastily pursue the contents. Instead, he put the letter aside, and continued with the conversation.
The following day the disciple praised the self-control of the master, saying that he would have read the letter at once.
"I did what I would have done had I been alone," the master said. "I put the letter aside until I had conquered haste. Then when I set my hand to it, I opened it as though it were something precious." This allowed him to open the envelope slowly and carefully.
The disciple enquired what such patience led to.
"Those who are patient in trivial things in life and control themselves will one day have the same mastery in great and important things," replied the master.
Like so many things we may not have pondered about the significance of patience or how haste spoils the things we do. You'll probably be surprised when you sit down to jot what damage you do to yourself and others by being hasty.
A commuter was boarding a departing train during the heavy morning rush hours in Mumbai. He managed to land his feet in the packed compartment but a little movement from inside threw him off balance. He slipped and his left foot got caught between the moving train and the platform. He was dragged along like a doll with the train. The scene was horrifying. The emergency cord was pulled. The train came to a halt. The man, still conscious, was lifted from the gap. His foot was mangled and soaking in blood. His left leg was later amputated.
A few seconds of haste cost him his leg and a lot more!
Squeezing through the closing doors of a train, alighting a moving bus or hurriedly crossing a busy road or putting your foot on the accelerator when the light is amber (advancing to red) are some common symptoms of haste. You've probably escaped without any harm till now but what if the day when you don't! The commuter, instead of waiting for the next train that would have been empty, lost a leg, spent six months at home and ruined a brilliant career. Haste never pays! A Chinese wisdom quote says:
"One moment of patience may ward of great disaster,
One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life."
A student, poor in patience, finds it torturing to sit through the long classes each day. He hurriedly completes his daily assignments feeling satisfied with what little he has understood. Many, sprint their pens through the exam paper at the signal of go, spending little or no time in understanding the questions entirely. The loss is invariably great!
At work you become feverishly hasty when you fail to meet your boss or client's deadline. And to get things done briskly you breathe down on your juniors. You are easily given to verbal eruptions at the slightest flaw or further delay. Haste distorts your character. You part from your normal self-losing hold of courtesy, understanding, calmness, foresight and discrimination between right and wrong.
In any avenue of life (including 'Satsang') we find haste makes one vulnerable to forming false opinions about others. The haste impulse is so strong that one passes judgement without knowing the why and what of the situation. One becomes highly sensitive! Waiting for a friend who is late; or when everyone's in the car and you're waiting for your brother; when a player fails to turn up for your team, or you have to wait for your food - these are some situations where you react bitterly. You bark out the most nastiest of things.
A hasty person rushes into his work without prior preparation or planning. He simply does not now the lesson of exploring the assignment from different angles before plunging headlong into it. He thus fails to score high on the success sheet.
A person loses patience when he experiences a financial loss. He then becomes prone to doing something foolish which he regrets later. The opportunity for riches, fame and status drastically changes the mental chemistry of a man. To see that he gets it first he does the vilest and silliest of things. The affinity for worldly things distort his outlook and action.
In times of insult and praise you lose your composure and get agitated. Insult prods you to react explosively and praise makes room for arrogance. Either way one incurs damage to oneself.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan emphasizes in the Shikshapatri that one should not take hasty decisions on mundane matters, and neither should one, out of moral lapses hastily punish oneself or another by cutting a hand or any part of the body.
To foster patience you need to ponder on the monuments of patience around you. The apple tree or mango tree in your garden did not flourish and bear fruit within a day of planting. Your grown up child is a testament to your patient nurturing and care. Greatness too, does not come instantly.
An aspirant went to a Guru for moksha. He prostrated before the master and asked him how long it would take him to realise God. The Guru looked at the aspirant and murmured, "Ten years!"
The aspirant breathed with impatience, "Ten years!"
The Guru then calmly murmured, "It'll take twenty years!"
The aspirant was irritated. "But you just said ten a minute ago!" He was losing his patience.
The Guru was quick to observe this and replied, "It will take thirty years!"
The aspirant fumed and left.
The more the haste the more the time required to impart and assimilate.
Once, someone asked Pramukh Swami Maharaj that in this age of 'instantness' he should bestow him with instant happiness. Swamiji replied back brilliantly, saying, "People who have invented or discovered 'instant' objects have put in years of patient intelligence and labor. For God's happiness one must patiently engage in spiritual efforts."
Patience and effort go towards making a man great; towards making him divine. Bhagwan Swaminarayan says:
"One cannot, out of haste, cultivate equanimity towards the good and bad or glamorous and ugly objects of the world. Only through patient effort can this ideal be attained. It is like a rope that gradually grooves the stone of a well while drawing water, which cannot be done instantly even by using an iron chain instead. And that is why one should not become hasty and indignant while persevering to attain equanimity for one's moksha."
(Vachanamrut Gadhada Sec.II.No.1)