By Robert Burns
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
There is a profound spiritual and psychological difference between sitting and waiting. Sitting, not waiting, is perception and wisdom. Waiting is of the world. Sitting is of the soul.
Maybe you’re waiting for a better job or the opportunity to start your own business? Are you waiting for the right time to get married or have children? In whatever form, when you gaze inwardly, do you see a forlorn figure waiting at the dock for a ship to come in? Waiting is the art of the lost and forsaken, but they are forsaken only by themselves.
Loneliness is a form of waiting. Avoidance and clinging, the very pillars of suffering, are forms of waiting. In all discomfort there lies weeds and unfruitful brambles of waiting. Always postponing, always biding one’s time. The physical jails are merely a representation designed to bring you to this state.
It might seem that waiting is passivity. But that is not so – many who wait rip at themselves to pass the time. Many who wait devise endless diversions and amusements. The heaviest exhaustion frequently comes after frantic waiting.
It might seem that the remedy of waiting is proactive behavior. But that is not so either – many who strive at herculean tasks are doing nothing more than tugging at what they hope to be the fabled ship’s anchor lines. The person who spends countless hours on his or her occupation is waiting for financial success. The person who spends countless hours at the gym is waiting for the magazine body. Make no mistake about it – those who wait sweat most profusely.
Sitting, not waiting, is the natural stance of the living. Meditation is the physical arrangement by which we learn to slow way down, by which we learn to sit rather than wait. Sitting, we become aware of all that is going on with our physical manifestation and environment. Sitting, we become aware of all that is going on with our mental aggregate and the cities of mind. Once we can sit, we can bring our controlled attention and mindfulness to other activities – we can inwardly sit while we outwardly walk, chop wood, or carry water. When the mind and spirit remain in meditation even as the body moves, waiting and its diverse forms of suffering dissolve.
If you wait for enlightenment while you meditate, it will never come. The veil is pierced only by sitting without avoiding or clinging.
If you wait for the presence of God while you pray, you will never perceive it. The divine light is already here, if only you look up.
There is nothing to wait for. Perhaps a fabled ship will come in and perhaps it will not. Having planted your seeds for the day, the work is done. No striving or patience will yield the promised land to those who frantically race over it. Whether you sit or wait, the life lessons will come and go. The forms of love will arise and subside and you will cycle through darkness and light regardless. Do not spend the nights waiting for days, for the nights are given to you as gifts too.
Those who wait are impatient for the next gift, but those who sit joyously unwrap the gift they are given.