Pace & Patience

Zibin and I bought the classic series of 济公 and we have been enjoying it these past few days. Last time I watched the series, I enjoyed the catchy song, funny character and interesting stories about justice and kindness. This time around, I was deeply impressed by something that had escaped me previously. Ji Gong’s pace and patience in meting out justice and enlightening others.

When people refuse to listen to him, he never forces himself to be heard. When their stubbornness lead to graver misunderstanding and deeper suffering, Ji Gong never kicks up a fuss. He lets them make their mistakes until they come to a point where they are ready to receive his message. But he is never the one to teach them anything. He facilitates and prompts them a little along the way, but only steps in when they realize their error and asks him for help.

When I was a child watching this show, such antics drove me insane with impatience. I’ve always harboured those fantasies where you can intervene in history and just prevent mistakes from being made so that all that suffering need not happen at all. And I would think, if I had Ji Gong’s knowledge and power, I would just find some way to make myself heard! Of course now I realize that such sentiments come because my need not to watch others suffer over-rides my desire for their deepest well-being.

A good and wise teacher never forces a lesson. He understands that every important lesson that must be learned in life can only be truly learned with life. He knows that every learner has a different pace and that the perfect pace is that which life’s experiences help to lay out for each individual. He knows when to nudge and when to step back. When to speak, and when to remain silent. Above all, he can bear to suffer with his students so that they can make the necessary mistakes for enlightenment.

In our own lives, we are both student and teacher, both to others and to ourselves. What do we need to learn about pace? What do we need to learn about patience?

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