Patience usually gets a good press. You will need plenty of patience on this journey because you probably will not arrive where you are heading until after you die. But patience is not just putting up with provocation without reacting. Gardeners learn it and gardening is a good way to go. Patience is part of doing things the right way and even the conventional way. In life we learn fast to cut corners if we can and sometimes that is essential although I struggle to find examples. My way is certainly linked with patience and I have attracted criticism for being too placid, not cutting up the motorist who cuts me up, not flashing my lights and using my horn enough. If my beloved is bleeding to death next to me in the car I will drive as fast as I can to hospital without crashing into others or leaving the road upside down, but many drive like that regularly. It will not get you where you are going on your quest. You may well have left it rather late in life to start hunting enlightenment but still you must exercise restraint and caution. Let the others race past you as they find some new sect that promises instant enlightenment. I met a nice man not so long ago who ‘believed’ that the Divine Light Mission under Guru Maharaji (who visited us at Glastonbury Fayre in 1971 when he was just a boy) had with a single touch on his head transferred real enlightenment to him. It had not but what it did was stop him ever finding it or looking for it again. That is also true for the billions of followers of the great religions who believe they will reach paradise or heaven just because they attend church, mosque, temple or synagogue. That is what they are told so why would they look somewhere else? But belief is no substitute for genuine knowledge and makes enlightenment impossible.
This is a silly example I have used for almost forty years but it explains a vital phenomenon or natural law better than anything else I can think of. The unthinkable has happened and you are at the lowest point in your life, in absolute despair. Suicide may even be on your mind. This may be when your doctor tells you that you have a few days left to live, a few months, a year or two. It is the same black feeling that sweeps over you. Your partner may have abandoned you or you may have lost everything. My example though is of a man like me who dreams that treasure is buried in his garden. He takes a spade and starts digging for it. It becomes an obsession and the hole gets ever deeper, the pile of mud and rock next to it higher and higher. The garden has vanished and whenever he can he is digging. Gradually his neighbours become annoyed and his wife especially annoyed. The hole is dangerous now and needs reinforcing and a ladder or two. Still he digs. He is thirty two feet down his hole and his wife is packing to leave him. This is when he gives up. But that treasure is just one spade full away. You are at your lowest ebb, your patience most tested just before you break through and that is when you want most to give up the quest that has taken over your life. That the darkest hour is the herald of dawn was noted long ago as a popular saying. So when that darkness descends on you by all means consider whether you are wrong, but also consider whether you are at this point. On our quest that is probably the case. My example came in for some revision a few years ago when a friend I have who married an Australian woman showed me photographs of his father-in-law’s goldmine. This is in his garden and is just this sort of hole, possible by now thirty two feet deep. From it he found the gold that made his daughter’s wedding ring. But spiritually our treasure is not gold or money.
I must point out that of course breakthrough is lying right next to breakdown.
But there is another example of this that showed me even more about my way. We all have our own way. Just after my father died we were living in a converted warehouse on the Thames next door to the Mayflower Pub from which wharf the Pilgrims had departed for America. On a sparkling morning I distinctly imagined my father speaking to me again. He seemed to be saying that I should go down to the Thames foreshore to find a great treasure which would be near something purple. Imagining the word ‘treasure’ I wasted no time and took a trowel and bucket with me just in case. I climbed down the warehouse steps to the beach if one could call the smelly mud shore that and looked around for this purple sign.
An hour later I was still looking, the tide was coming in and I was becoming quite disillusioned with my little fantasy. I then found a bit of lilac coloured plastic, but nothing valuable near it. At that moment some youths caught my eye. With my back to the river and some fifty yards from the steps I saw a gang of young men making their way over to me. Now Rotherhithe is not the safest place to be at the best of times. Even our wreck of a car was being regularly vandalised there and instead of finding treasure I began to suspect that I was to be mugged. In a panic I scooped the plastic and a few scoops of stinking mud into the bucket and ran.
It was some days later that I thought to look in the bucket which I had put under our sink and which was attracting complaints. Apart from the sewage mud which I washed away there was a broken clay pipe, a piece of lead and a few stones. One was white and had sand stuck to it but as I washed this away a nose, an eye and part of a third eye became visible in the limestone. At which point I heard him say ‘this is the day and way of your enlightenment’. This little object is now my greatest treasure. It also has a link with Egypt as I found a hieroglyph in Gardiner’s book that matched it exactly and which means ‘smell’ and ‘be happy’. Here is my ‘third eye’:
and the hieroglyph:
As for my particular way it says much. My main work in life was dealing with the elderly. Toileting them and cleaning them. Over the years I collected many esoteric books, sayings and meditations but it took most of my years to find the truth in them and separate it from illusion. As for ‘selah’ it appears in the bible over 70 times, mostly in psalms. They do not know what it means however ‘separation’ is a good translation in my opinion.