Patience Is The Greatest Virtue A Human Being Can Possess

By Zile Singh


“Even the saddest things can become a source of wisdom and strength, once we have made peace with them.” – unknown

Patience is a state of mind when one is in  difficult and different circumstances than expected.  A remedy against bad times is to have patience with them.   It is one of the several virtues.  In Hindi, it is called ‘ Shanti’.

In Arabic, Sabar and in Punjabi, Nimarta.  Some synonyms of Patience are: calmness, composure, equanimity,  forbearance, peace,  perseverance,  restraint, self-control, tolerance and understanding.

The  antonym of patience is Impatience.  Patience does not mean that one should just sit in difficult times or situations and wait for some magic to happen to overcome it.  Patience is to do something to fix  the problem  and wait for the result.  It should not be misunderstood with just losing the time and wait indefinitely.  The voluntary and the imposed patience are opposite to one another.  An incapable person can be patient because for him there is no option.  Patience is a virtuous  weapon in the hands  of a strong and capable person.

Patience is an antidote to anger, hatred and aggression.  Under these three conditions there are practices that develop patience. First, see how anger, hatred and aggression  arise and not get impacted by it.  Second, be willing to bear its discomforts temporarily and  Third try to find out the root cause of these situations and work on a solution with fair and just mind patiently.

In this age of super fast competition,  we want everything to happen in an instant.  If not, we become frustrated and  impatient.  Whether we are at home, in office, in a traffic  on the road or waiting for a table  in a restaurant, there are occasions which can make us impatient if we do not have an understanding of the others’ need.  In my younger days, I remember the height of impatience when after dialing a particular telephone number for at least a dozen  times, the number  was still unreachable.  If something happens out of our control, then we create unnecessary stress for ourselves and lose mental focus.  In the rat race of amassing wealth, many youngsters involve themselves in drug-trafficking and ultimately land into the jails or in the lap of death in a rivalry. Instead of waiting patiently, everybody is trying for a quick fix to get the best of results.  There are better solutions to success in life, and it is called to be patient.

About patience,  Albert Einstein said, “ It is not that I am so smart; it is just that I stay with problems longer.”  Some ways to begin practicing patience is by committing to your dreams, keeping a positive attitude and pursuing your goals patiently to the end.

Similarly, “Success is no accident.  It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do” – Pele

In a 2012 study involving tens of millions of users who watched videos on the Internet, show that online users lose patience in as little as two seconds while waiting for their chosen video to start playing. The study also shows that users who are connected to the Internet at faster speeds are less patient than their counterparts connected at slower speeds, demonstrating a link between the human expectation of speed and human patience. These and other scientific studies of patience have led many social commentators to conclude that the rapid pace of technology is rewiring humans to be less and less patient.

All religions have taught to be patient. In the Hebrew Torah, the patience is referred as, “The patient man shows much good sense, but the quick-tempered man displays folly at its height.”  In Christianity, the Book of Proverbs notes, “ Through patience, a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.”  In Islam, “ Allah is with those who are patient, more specifically during calamity and suffering.” In Buddhism, “ Enduring patience is the highest austerity.”  In Hinduism, “ It is the capacity to wait, endure opposites – such as pain and pleasure, cold and heat, sorrows and joys – calmly without anxiety and without a desire to seek revenge.” In Sikhism, “ Patience pays.  Wait.  Let the hand of God work for you.”

Finally, two things define you, – “Your patience when you have nothing, and your attitude when you have everything.”

Zile Singh is a former Ambassador(Retd.) of India and a Vipassana Meditator. He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca .

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