Patience- the test of holiness

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“A spiritual aspirant once went to a certain saint and said to him, “Master, please reveal to me the means by which I can obtain the vision of the Divine.”
The saint advised him to retire into isolation and practice uninterrupted prayer for a year.
“At the end of this year,” the Spiritual Guide further advised him, “after you have defeated and annihilated your selfishness, come to me after you take a bath.”
According to this counsel of the wise man, the aspirant withdrew into isolation and began to pray with great sincerity.

A scavenger used to come and sweep the ground near the saint’s hut. On the day when the aspirant fulfilled his year of SADHANA, the saint called that sweeper and, mentioning the place where the aspirant had retired, said to him: “There is a person engaged in the worship of the Divine in that place. When he finishes his bath this morning, shake the dust on him with a broom.”

The sweeper did as he had been instructed. He greatly upset the aspirant. In an outburst of anger, he ran after the sweeper to beat him.
“The thoroughly soiled me,” he said obediently, and, taking the bath for the second time, came to the saint’s hermitage.

“Sir, it’s been a whole year since you gave me these instructions. Can I have the privilege of obtaining God’s vision?”
The saint replied, “My child, your mind is not yet submissive. Even after a year of prayer you still bite angry like a venomous snake. Go and realize your spiritual practice for another year and totally subdue your mind.”

The aspirant therefore withdrew again and engaged in uninterrupted prayer for another year.

On the day when the second year was fulfilled, the saint instructed the sweeper to touch the aspirant with his broom when the latter would finish his bath. The sweeper did exactly as he was told. This time, the aspirant did not run after the sweeper to beat him, but rebuked him with harsh and inappropriate words. Then, taking a bath again, he went to the saint with the request to receive the vision of God.
The saint said to him, “The serpent of your mind even now emits terrible and frightening hisses. How can you expect to see God without killing this serpent? Go and practice prayer again for another year. But beware, if you fall to the test and next time, God will not grant you the Grace of his vision.”

This time the aspirant realized his spiritual practice with great determination. On the day when the third year of practice was celebrated, the saint asked the scavenger to throw on him the entire quantity of garbage he had collected that morning. The sweeper also followed this instruction, but the aspirant this time overcame his anger. Bowing before the scavenger, he said with sincere humility, “Brother, you have done me a great favor. If you had not done so, how could I have freed myself from the trap of anger? Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Then, once again, the aspirant addressed the holy man. This time, the saint blessed him and offered him the initiation. The aspirant then performed a rigorous spiritual practice according to the counsel of his spiritual Guide and soon had the vision of God.”

by Swami Shivananda

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