Updated: Apr 26
“Desires make slaves out of kings and patience makes kings out of slaves” – Hazt Imam Al-Ghazali
Like many other wise sayings, I had seen this before many years ago and thought it made sense. But only through living it, and experiencing it, have I begun to understand it.
A desire is an urge or strong wish for something. This definition sounds rather mundane and practical and most of us simply see some desires as a normal part of life without questioning it. Similar expressions for desire, that stretch our comfort zone on the meaning, are longing, craving, thirst, hunger, passion, yearning, hankering, compulsion, itch, etc. Desires began to take on a more nefarious and potentially destructive role when we use these words. The saying is that “desires make slaves” which means all desires. I suspect we all have a desire to think we can discern which desires we can get away with and which ones we can’t. That is the paradox of desire. Desires are also never fully satisfied. If you desire money for instance, you will never have enough. If you desire more sex, it will never be enough. That is the nature of desire. They become a prison.
Patience is the king maker. Patience is waiting to allow what is trying to happen to unfold without trying to impose your own self-will. It comes from a deep understanding that any life run on self-will can hardly be considered a success and will always be small in comparison to what is available to us. Our self-will is born from our own past experiences and belief systems forged in an indoctrination system we call society. Our past experience is infinitesimal relative to all knowledge, and our belief systems are deeply flawed and biased through personal and collective trauma and near constant exposure to systems of propaganda. Self-will keeps our lives small.
Patience is not reacting and pushing self-will and the impulse to control aside. It is allowing the collective consciousness of the Universe to unfold without your resistance to it. Accepting that what is trying to happen is “for you” even if you don’t understand why. At its essence, it is the practice of releasing desires with a mantra of “I don’t mind what happens next” and believing it. This way of living is simple in theory, but it is incredibly hard in practice, and it may not be for everyone. Live and let live. But I woke up one day and understood that I was a slave to my desires and my life had become unmanageable, and I needed to change. Without a desire to be a king, just faith that I would be free. I feel free today.