“Patience is mother of will,” G. I. Gurdjieff said. In fact, it is hard to imagine how will can be developed if man has no patience. Impatience always results from a desire, the same way as the mind’s need to accomplish what has been started in order to get rid of tension. This tension is caused by the unaccomplished situation or unfulfilled desire, so the mind wants to finish it off as soon as possible. That is why patience is always a forced thing in man’s ordinary state of mind. We have to bear physical pain or bodily discomfort when we fall ill. We have to exercise patience when we control our negative emotions. One cannot go without patience when the mind is filled with the desire that cannot be fulfilled at once.
In other words, patience in ordinary life is always closely associated with unconscious suffering. It is the state in which we have no choice and have to go through unpleasant feelings. If we could get rid of pain, rage, sorrow or desire, we would immediately get released from them. But we are helpless, and, by taking painkillers in the broad sense, we must exercise patience until they take effect. Our suffering is unconscious because we are unaware of its source, we do not see why a certain emotion appears, and we cannot influence the situation. So we exercise patience and get irritated since we do not want to tolerate anything; we keep being sorry for ourselves. Self-development shapes another type of patience. Sportsmen and all those taking real actions to change their being know this type. The difference is that man taking a decision to do an exercise does it and bears the resulting discomfort out of his own will. For instance, when he starts observing his breathing, he faces the situation when his mind deprived of any activity starts running idle frenziedly. It creates maximum noise and anxiety inside at that moment. Man faces the choice: either to keep observing the inhale and exhale or to couple with the mind and lose his observation. Since he does not want to give up on his decision because of the very first obstacle, he keeps sitting and tolerating the fuss created by his mind inside. That is his choice, conscious suffering he can stop any moment. Yet, he keeps sitting and sees his brain calming down gradually as it cannot get the energy of attention it is used to. At this moment, man is in the driver’s seat and ceases to be a fool of circumstances.
The more efforts are exerted then, the deeper the Seeker’s patience gets, and the stronger his independent will grows. His efforts in awareness result in the Seeker’s readiness to exercise patience since the decoupling work weakens the pressure of desires, which used to be unbearable.
Impatience resulting from desires entails anxiety and hurry. When man is ready to exercise patience, he becomes relaxed and calm. Patience resulting from personal choice brings the doer special calmness and serenity. This serenity is the fruit of acceptance, readiness to accept anything that happens. Such acceptance makes man very strong and, when it comes to internal work, invincible.
Patience is the only thing preventing emotional and mental reactions from throwing the Seeker back into absolute unconsciousness. It also enables entering deeper and deeper layers of our being. It facilitates approximation to the Truth. In the end, one cannot pass even the first part of the Path without patience.