Radhanath Swami – The Art Of Patience

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Published on Jun 25, 2020 by Radhanath Swami

Many years ago while on a spiritual quest, I passed through Kandahar Afghanistan. Hariz, a kind man invited me into his spacious home. One night while we sat talking on his rooftop terrace, he calmly said, “Please excuse me for a brief moment, I have an obligation to attend to.” Suddenly he jumped up from his chair, cocked his head to the moon and began to howl like a wolf. What was going on I thought. Had he gone mad? He grabbed a long rope with a loop at the end, raced to the edge of his rooftop and threw it down to the road. To my amazement, he pulled up a restless furry Mongoose. As my friend and I resumed speaking, I felt the Mongoose scaling up my back with his sharp pointed claws. He crawled under my then long hair and upon reaching my head he burrowed himself in my thick locks, making a nest, and went to sleep. I felt his warm body deeply breathing. My neck felt as if it were breaking from its weight. I pleaded, “Please take him off.” Hariz became serious. Under the starlit night, he sipped his tea and narrowed his eyes, warning me, “There is an ancient truth: Never wake a sleeping Mongoose. The Mongoose is a ferocious killer when angered. In battle, a mongoose will slay the Cobra, the deadliest of serpents and the symbol of death.” He leaned back and said, “If you suddenly wake him up, he may tear your head to shreds. Do not move until he leaves on his own.” Hours passed as I sat motionless, fearing for my life. That dark sleepless night in Kandahar never seemed to end. My neck throbbed with pain, but I was too terrified to move. I tried to make sense of it all. Then I realized that our free will could convert a curse into a blessing or a blessing into a curse. That mongoose may have been sent to teach me the sacred virtue of patience and forbearance. To transform a crisis into an opportunity is true wisdom. The rest of the night was spent in an unusual state of gratitude. Little did I know what the Mongoose taught me about crisis would give me strength in the hard times that awaited me. When the Sun finally rose, my uninvited guest had enjoyed about six hours of sound sleep. He awoke, crawled down my back, and jumped to the floor. He then did something that moved my heart. The Mongoose stared at me with an innocent affection as if thanking me for my hospitality. The Mongoose taught me a valuable lesson: If even in the apparent darkest of times if we seek light with patience and perseverance, a wonderful transformation of the heart can take place.

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