“Patience has the effect of attraction, impatience the effect of repulsion on the treasures of higher knowledge. In the higher regions of existence nothing can be attained by haste and unrest. Above all things, desires and cravings must be silenced, for these are qualities of the soul before which all higher knowledge shyly withdraws. However precious this knowledge is accounted, the student must not crave it if he wish to attain it. If he wishes to have it for his own sake, he will never attain it. … He must in no case be under any illusion concerning his own self. … He must look his own faults, weaknesses, and unfitness in the face [and work to overcome them]. … Such self-knowledge is, of course, difficult, for the temptation to self-deception is immeasurably great. Anyone making a habit of being truthful with himself opens the portal leading to a deeper insight.” ~Rudolf Steiner
Just as fear often attracts to us the very thing we are afraid of, patience also attracts those things that are most important to us, while impatience pushes them away. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual things. We do have to be careful, however, to not confuse patience and procrastination. Procrastination will not get you anywhere, patience will. The patient person acts, but is patient for results, he doesn’t plant seeds one day and expect fruit trees the next. The patient person carefully carves away at a block of ice to produce a fine ice sculpture, the impatient person blows it apart with dynamite, and the procrastinator sits pondering the best approach to take while the ice melts away and his opportunity is lost. When Mr. Miyagi had The Karate Kid run errands and polish cars, he was teaching patience. And the person who balanced the rocks in the photo couldn’t have done it without patience.
Steiner tells us our desires and cravings must be silenced if we are to make spiritual progress. I think that is true only with selfish desires and cravings, thinks we want for our own comfort and enjoyment. If our desire is to learn these secrets to help others as well as ourselves, then the desire can be a good thing—as long as we have the patience to achieve it. Harry Potter gets the Sorcerer’s Stone because he wants it, but doesn’t want to use it for himself, just keep it away from Voldemort.
He then goes on to tell us one of the major reasons we need such patience. To accomplish much on the path of spiritual enlightenment, we have to overcome our own faults and weaknesses, our false beliefs and assumptions, particularly regarding the spiritual worlds. This means that we must regularly examine ourselves, the things we say and the things we do, and work to improve. If we get angry with certain people, we must examine what it is about us that makes us get angry with them. If we are impatient with someone who does things slowly, we must practice being patient with him. If we get too emotional over things that are really not important ( a football game, a TV show), we need to examine why we get so caught up in such fantasies. As Steiner says, we need to get rid of self-deception and that is not an overnight process. That alone takes great patience for most of us. The good news is we can work on spiritual growth at the same time that we work on developing patience and ridding ourselves of false beliefs and habits.