We live in a culture of convenience and quick fixes, and when it comes to spirituality and personal growth we often expect instant results. But what usually happens is that we either bypass the process entirely, by repressing our shadow side and putting on a false show of positivity, or we get so frustrated that we become deeply depressed.
What we have to understand is that much of what we’re dealing with is cultural programming that goes back many generations, or at the least conditioning that is deeply rooted in childhood. And the very fact that we’re beginning to wake up from this is itself a spectacular thing. This is something to feel good about. However, waking up is also a process. And the process can take time. So we need to understand this and learn to be patient, not only with the process, but with ourselves.
Remember when you were a kid and you were in a rush to grow up. But no matter how much you pretended to be an adult, you were still a kid. Growing up took years. And perhaps in some ways you still haven’t quite grown up. Many of us are this way when it comes to enlightenment. We’re in a rush to get there, but we’re not willing to be patient with the process. So, like children, we might try to act like we’re enlightened, but we’re really just putting on a show.
Spirituality is really about personal growth. I like the term personal growth because growth implies something which takes time. Growth is a process. You don’t plant a seed only to watch it burst into a tree. The seed has to germinate. For a while you don’t see anything. The soil appears to be still. And for all you know, nothing is happening. But then something breaks through the soil. And slowly it rises. But even then it can’t be rushed. You can’t pull at it to make it grow any faster. The best you can do is nourish it. Give it water and sunlight, and space to grow.
Our own growth is like this. Whether we’re seeking to overcome fear and insecurities, to be more happy or content, to live more authentically, or to be fully enlightened. Whatever it is we’re striving for, we have to allow the process to unfold at it’s own rate. We can’t rush it. We need to be patient.
Often these things take practice. For example, if we’re trying to release attachments, we shouldn’t expect to become fully detached all in one day. We might try to let go of something entirely, but usually it doesn’t work. What we can do is learn to loosen our grip a little. We might be faced with similar circumstances over a lifetime. And we might find this frustrating. But each time we’re being offered the opportunity to practice letting go. Each time we learn to loosen our grip a little more. And eventually we’re able to experience that situation without becoming attached.
But if we try to rush the process, or even bypass it, we don’t make any real lasting progress. We don’t really get anywhere at all. We might fool ourselves for a little while, but then we’re faced with that situation again. And we’ll never move past it fully until we take the time to go through the process.
So again, we need to have patience, and we need to recognize that practice is something we do, not once, but over and over again. And the more we practice the easier it gets. But the key to practice is patience, because patience allows us to be fully present. If we’re in a rush, that means we’re thinking too much about the future. We’re trying to get to the future, rather than being here in the moment. When we’re patient, our attention is in the present. And when we’re present, the process actually goes smoother and quicker. That’s the irony. The more we rush, the longer it takes. The more patient we are, the quicker we get there.