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Monday, May 30, 2005


Recently on the International Stoic Forum, a member asked for advice on overcoming impatience, from a Stoic perspective. While I'm still learning about Stoicism, I wrote what seemed to make sense to me...

I too grapple with impatience often, although I think I've improved over the past few years.

When I think of the universe and all of the bodies interacting with one another according the nature of each and the manner of the Logos, it seems to me that being patient is part of being at one with the Logos/Nature.

When we take the concept of the complexity that is the universe and the unfolding of events, and this concept becomes deeply imagined, we start to really "see" it spontaneously with our mind's eye. At this point a concept become more intuitive. Thinking becomes "seeing".

I think that when we see that events will be as they will be, the natural result will be not to get worked up over the inability to bring events sooner than we can bring them. We will see that each thing must happen in the right place, at the right time, for the right reason, and this will not always be consistent with our preferences and concerns.

Of course, sometimes we actually do have some influence over when something happens, such as when we can encourage someone to hurry up or we can alter the functioning of some system, or hurry up ourselves. In these times it is tempting to push that influence to extremes to attempt to bring the event as soon as possible. But we must consider the trade off. What have I lost, what risks have I incurred, and who have I angered or hurt by doing this, and is it really worth the difference in the timing of the event? Often, we may find that our actions have cost us and we didn't really affect the timing of the event at all, and this is truly a waste.

With each act of patience we see the reward. We see our relationships unharmed as they might have been had we acted impatiently, we see that the event really did come to pass without our "assistance", and we experience the joy of knowing that we acted patiently when we might otherwise have not.

All of these experiences create an input-response in our minds, and each time we have such experiences, the notion that patience is beneficial to us moves from concept to realization on an instinctive level. It is at this point that our natural responses begin to alter.

Therefore, acquiring a patient disposition takes patience.

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