There is a subtle waiting lingering inside us. Do you feel it? I do. Let’s have a look at it. It’s an expectation, a yearning, a feeling that says that the now, what is happening for me right now, is not quite enough. In whatever way I may look at it, that’s very clear. This is definitely not enough. Period. And off I go, keeping on living as if one day, maybe, if I’m lucky enough, if all the good stars align at last, that might descend upon me. I might get it, that feeling that I’m now complete. Cooked. Finished. Over with it. But that’s really just a fancy idea. Wishful thinking. In the meantime, did I ever look at it carefully? This subtle feeling, this buzz underlying each and every second of my existence, that something is missing? I concede that there are exceptions, fleeting moments when I suddenly find myself whole, silenced, at peace. But this is not satisfactory. So there is comfort in waiting, in not quite engaging. Staying put. Waiting on the platform of life for the next train of thought. The next occurrence. What is this waiting made of? Is it a real feeling? Or maybe just a ghost-feeling? What is here that I don’t see? Why am I waiting?
May we be blessed with a mind that is not waiting, that is not wasting its being with a subtle waiting. For what more perfect way is there to be put afar, at a distance, separate, when we live with this waiting as a background music? Waiting means that we are here and the change that we’re hoping for is ahead, in a distant time or place, away from our own present being. Waiting means that there is something that will have to be achieved, given, offered, bargained for. In short, something has to happen that is not here, not present, not achieved, that is not had already. It’s the perfect trap. We are caught in the pleasant illusion of the waiting room. You know this room where we are asked to be patient, waiting for the door to open, for the help to appear, for the missing piece that will tell me all about what I am, what to do. Am I waiting for any kind of authority to tell me what to do? Am I hiding in this patient waiting room and finding comfort there? With nothing much to do, nothing to be threatened by, and a beautiful aim at hand to feel I’m on the right track? Am I doing this?
What am I waiting for? Have I not seen the elusiveness of the next moment, of the next thing? Have I not felt by now how any new catch is slippery, eager to shake itself off my grab and leave me with only sand in my hands? Why should I be waiting? The availability of life is total. The presence that I am is totally here, totally now. And nothing is going to be better than that. It is all that I am. Nothing more or better stands outside of it. The most achieved, complete evidence of myself is standing naked, eternally, as my own being. There is no waiting in being. We are being always, eternally, and in every possible way or place, no matter what. So this waiting is useless, redundant, one of these little games that are being played inside the head. It comes from the subtle yet real impression that I am a person. A ‘somebody’ is standing here with the rudder in hand, judging, evaluating, thinking that it’s suffering, that it can be more or better. Only a little, haunting, separate voice and feeling that makes me believe that I am lacking, needing, and therefore waiting.
I have the feeling that it is important to watch it, I mean this feeling, this constant waiting. It is not something trivial or innocuous. It is the very signature of this part of myself that is deceitful. To watch it is to uncover the illusory person that thrives on being hidden, unseen, left alone, unchallenged. To watch it is to undermine the separate self’s central root, to unmask its illusory reality. Waiting is its weak spot. For it is not something that can afford to be truly seen — it could be its death warrant. The very seeing of the act of waiting is itself free. It is the falling off of the very activity that it is supposed to be seeing: waiting. For Seeing has no impatience, no expecting, no waiting. Seeing is the motionless activity of the peaceful and aware presence of our own being.
But wait a minute… There was in fact some reason and justification in the act of waiting. I watched Andrei Tarkovski’s movie ‘The Sacrifice’ some time ago. In the opening scene, the postman Otto is cycling, circling leisurely around the hero, and saying: “I’ve always felt as if the living I’ve done, so far, hasn’t actually been real life, but a long wait for it, a long wait for something real, something important”. Yes indeed, it wasn’t the real life. It was a succedaneum, a general repetition, something off the natural track that lacked the pleasantness of being. We weren’t really living. And the waiting was a call. It was the expression that something is dysfunctional, like suffering is. The waiting is not really faulty. It is only a very subtle form of suffering. It sets into motion the longing for a deeper reality. It is the expression of a wrong turn taken, of a mistake, and this little buzzing music has a deafening voice if one only pays attention. This waiting is here as a warning, with little red lights fully on, pointing towards a central failure. And the repairman is just awareness, seeing, the plain consciousness that puts a light on it, a light with a gently dissolving effect. A light that shows this waiting as completely unnecessary. Worse even: the waiting is not really there, is not really happening. It is a ghost-feeling. For the ‘person’ who is doing the waiting is in reality illusory. Yet this subtle feeling alone has the power to keep a truer and very present reality at bay. A reality that is not broken up, not divided, but whole and therefore fully at peace with itself. This reality is here now. There is nothing ahead in time, nothing away in place, that can be waited for. The totality of life is present now, and is to be totally enjoyed. I can ease down, relax, fall back into the presence that I am, in all its generosity, beauty, splendour. I am. That’s just it. I AM.
“If you wait for an event to take place,
for the coming of reality,
you will wait for ever,
for reality neither comes nor goes.
It is to be perceived, not expected.
It is not to be prepared for and anticipated.
But the very longing and search for reality
is the movement, operation, action of reality.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Text by Alain Joly
Painting by Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
Quote by Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981)
– ‘I Am That’, by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (Chetana Pvt.Ltd)
– Pierre Bonnard (Wikipedia)
– Nisargadatta Maharaj (Wikipedia)
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6 thoughts on “The Waiting Room”
Alain, I can not tell you how MUCH this hit the mark with me! As I read this wonderful post, I FELT it. Thank you for putting how I feel into words. I’m immensely enjoying your blog.
Thank you Michael for your kind words! I’m pleased to know that you enjoy… 🙏
Alan, I have crossed the biblical age & an Indian with a strong faith in the theory of karma and divine justice.So this waiting or hope is “as if to merge with the divine” soon.It is more pining and waiting for the divine with only joy as young lovers do!
Yes, a longing that is the expression of the love of God, or truth, like the Bhakti poets. May we be blessed with such a longing… 🙏
Alain. Reading your posts is akin to standing at the foot of a tall cold waterfall. Thank you my friend, for sharing this with so much artful attention
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Thank you Ananda for your so kind comment. I’m happy you appreciate. 🙏